Quartz Daily Brief—Europe Edition—Chavez dead, smaller Citi, Australia GDP, Georgian farming

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What to watch for today

Will Kenya get a president facing allegations of crimes against humanity? With roughly half the votes counted in East Africa’s largest economy, deputy prime minister Uhuru Kenyatta is leading. Kenyatta is accused of funding death squads that killed women and children in the two months of violence that followed the country’s last election in 2007. Here’s a look at Kenya’s election in photos and text messages.

Interest rates set around the world. Central bank policymakers in Canada, Japan, England, Brazil, and Poland meet today to debate whether to continue stimulus measures. The Bank of Japan is not expected to add more stimulus before the bank’s current head, Masaaki Shirakawa, steps down on March 8.

France starts down the path to looser labor laws. An accord between business leaders and the country’s labor unions that would give companies the right to reduce working time and salaries will be submitted to the French cabinet today. The government hopes to pass the agreement in parliament by May.

Results from China’s biggest online book retailer. E-commerce firm China Dangdang reports fourth-quarter results. Last quarter, the company beat analysts’ expectations with revenue of $204.9 million.

While you were sleeping

Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez is dead. After news that Chávez was having trouble breathing because of a new infection, vice president Nicolás Maduro reported his death. Maduro will succeed as interim president, but the country must hold a new election within 30 days. Authorities also expelled two US diplomats for plotting “destabilization projects” against the Venezuelan government.

Australia’s economy expanded the fastest since 2007. Fourth-quarter growth of 0.6% and full-year GDP figures of 3.1% released this morning were in line with expectations, though government spending played a large role.

India’s Rahul Gandhi said he doesn’t want to be prime minister. The son and heir apparent of the Congress party president told reporters that he will not marry, subtly implying that he wants to bring the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty to a close. He also obliquely said he would not put himself forward as a prime ministerial candidate in next year’s election.

Citi in fewer cities. Citigroup CEO Mike Corbat said the bank is considering pulling out of up to 21 countries, shrinking its global network in favor of lower costs.

Britain failed to get the EU to see its point. George Osborne, the UK’s finance minister, found himself alone in opposing caps on bankers’ bonuses. An EU commissioner said it was “crystal clear” the rules will be imposed.

The Dow broke a record. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose to 14,253.77, its highest level ever, topping its previous high of 14,164.52 in October 2007 as investors expect continued easing from central banks.

Quartz obsession interlude

Matt Phillips says US stocks might be back but American people are still hurting. “Since the bleakest hours of early 2009, the stock market has clawed, scampered and inched higher—with some notable slips. Now that venerable equity market metric—the Dow Jones Industrial Average—has summited 14,164.53, its all-time highest close last seen way back on Oct. 9, 2007… OK, but here’s the thing. The stock market alone hasn’t repaired the damage done to American household finances in recent years. In many ways Americans are still sucking wind after the gut punch they suffered in 2008.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Men should change their last names when they get married. The tradition of women taking their husband’s last name hails from coverture, where a woman becomes the property of her husband upon marriage; it’s in bad taste and should be done away with.

The Dow is pumped up on Fed money. The historic rise of the Dow has more to do with performance-enhancing monetary policies. Another view: While the index may be something of a relic, it still matters because it’s so closely followed by Main Street.

Japan’s star is rising. Is the fact that Japan’s stock market has climbed 35% since November a sign of sustainable recovery in a country that’s become an economic cautionary tale? 

America is not good at globalization. American multinationals are failing around the world, especially in fast-growing emerging markets.

Surprising discoveries

Why is Georgia full of Punjabi farmers?  The land is cheap, the government welcoming, and “and there’s no corruption here—unlike India“.

Puerto Ricans have terrible commutes. Almost 14% of Puerto Ricans spend at least two hours commuting to and from work.

The iPhone could have been named “Telepod,” according to a former Apple advertising exec who says other proposed names include “Tripod” and “Mobi.”

Three-meter tall camels roamed the Arctic millions years ago.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, what you think the iPhone should have been named, and commuting stories to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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