Quartz Daily Brief—Americas Edition—interest rates, Sharp sale, China’s hukou, Chávez

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Good morning, Quartz readers!

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, which concludes its meeting tomorrow, is not expected to add more stimulus before the bank’s current head, Masaaki Shirakawa, steps down on March 8.

Merkel and Hollande go to Warsaw. The lead actors in the euro zone drama will meet their counterparts from Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic in an effort to win friends and influence people.

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.

While you were sleeping

Samsung agreed to buy a bit of Sharp. The South Korean giant will take a 3% stake in the ailing electronics maker that appears to have lost its edge.

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.

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 Chávez 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. Find everything you ever wanted to know about Hugo Chávez here.

China will ease out hukou. The restrictive system that robbed rural migrants of many rights when they moved to the city is to be dismantled over the next few years, making it easier for China to continue urbanizing.

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.

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.

Cadbury and the imaginary chocolate factory. ”How do you tax a factory that doesn’t exist?

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.”

Hedge fund managers are ditching Hong Kong. Could this mean the end of the caviar-topped baked potato?

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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