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Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—HSBC profits, Kenya votes, SpaceX docks, Wall Street wrestles

By Quartz Staff

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

European finance ministers meet, with plenty to fret about. On the agenda for the Brussels talks today are austerity measures, a Cypriot bailout, and, well, what to do about Italy?

Kenyans vote in an historic election. The last national election in 2007 spurred ethnic violence across the country. This time around, poll monitors and new vote-counting technology are being touted as safeguards against violence. It may not be enough; four policemen were killed even before voting started this morning.

American austerity measures set in… Spending cuts, a.k.a. the sequester, kicked in Friday amid political gridlock. Today, American lawmakers face the $85 billion in cuts, which will hit most areas of the federal government aside from entitlement spending—though those, too, may face the ax.

…As Obama announces a new chief for his budget office. Sylvia Mathews Burwell, formerly of the Gates Foundation and the Walmart Foundation, is expected to be announced today as the president’s nominee for head of the Office of Management and Budget. It’s not just the sequester she will have to deal with but also the March 27 cuts to the federal budget and the debt ceiling debates due this summer.

Interest rates are set to fall further. Central banks in Europe, the UK, Australia, Canada, and Japan all make announcements this week that are expected to augur even easier monetary policy.

Over the weekend

HSBC announced full-year earings. British banks have had a lousy year thanks to repayments for mis-sold insurance and fines for all sorts of shady dealings, but HSBC still managed to lift underlying profits 18% even though overall pre-tax profits were down 6% to $20.6 billion.

French and Chadian troops killed two high-ranking militants. Mokhtar Belmokhtar, who was responsible for the hostage crisis at an Algerian gas plant, is said to have been killed by Chadian forces. The French military said it killed Abou Zeid, a senior Al Qaeda leader, two days earlier in Mali. Neither report has yet been confirmed by DNA testing.

Baby cured of HIV. An American baby born with the virus has been cured following two and a half years of aggressive antiretroviral treatment. If doctors are able to replicate the success, the method could be adopted worldwide.

Switzerland followed the EU in curbing executive pay. Hot on the heels of a decision by the European Parliament to cap bankers’ bonuses, the Swiss voted by a majority of 68% in favor of giving shareholders the power to decide management salaries and prohibit golden hellos and goodbyes.

Bomb blasts in Karachi killed 45. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the explosions, which went off in a largely Shia-dominated part of the city—the third attack on Pakistan’s minority community in as many months.

Safe landing for SpaceX. A privately owned supply capsule successfully arrived at the International Space Station after a rocky start.

Quartz obsession interlude

Claudia Bracholdt on Germany versus Google. “Last week, members of parliament asked five German publishers (German) whether they’re in need of government funding. No, said the five publishers in unison. But we do need you to make a law to get money from search engines like Google, or rather just Google, which has a 96% market share in Germany (German). Publishers have accused Google of making money off of their content, which they are especially sensitive to since they haven’t yet figured out how to be profitable online.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Why women can’t have it allthe same reason there were cliques in high school.

But why is the rum gone? A look into India’s drunkest state.

Vote young: why aging leaders might be bad for the world.

Seeing the future better. We might be able to make better predictions about complex connections.

Britain’s economic policy is failing. Things are in a mess.”

Surprising discoveries

Dennis Rodman to Barack Obama: give Kim Jong-Un a call.

Euro zone jitters aren’t bad for everyone.

We swear, your beer isn’t too watery. And Anheuser Busch wants you to know it. But they might be on the verge of a beer monopoly.

Wall Street goes to the mat. Literally—bankers want wrestling back in the Olympics.

Downton Abbey has a lot to teach us about personal finance.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, or foreign policy advice from Dennis Rodman to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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