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Quartz Daily Brief—Europe Edition—Papal conclave, Angry Birds, Dell’s books, big soda

By Quartz Staff

What to watch for today

The last gasps of BoJ conservatism. The Bank of Japan releases the minutes of its February meeting, the last under outgoing governor Masaaki Shirakawa. His nominated predecessor, Haruhiko Kuroda, will probably open the floodgates of monetary easing.

Start looking for white smoke. Catholic cardinals begin the process of electing a new pope at the Vatican. They’ll cast one vote today, and as many as four each subsequent day until a pope is elected. Whoever they pick, odds are he will call himself Leo.

The state of manufacturing—on both sides of the Atlantic. Both the UK and Mexico will release data on industrial production.

The SEC gets a new head. Mary Jo White, a former federal prosecutor and corporate lawyer, will face the Senate for a confirmation hearing today as head of America’s securities regulator. Her mixed record has some wondering whether she really will be tough on Wall Street.

Budget battles in Washington, DC. Representative Paul Ryan will announce the Republicans’ plan for the 2013 budget, which envisages $4.6 trillion in spending cuts over the next decade. The probable outcome? Gridlock between liberals and conservatives. Yawn.

While you were sleeping

Suntech squeaks by. Chinese solar company Suntech struck a deal with bondholders to defer debt payments until May in order to avoid bankruptcy.

Rovio wants bigger screens. The maker of Angry Birds is inching towards becoming an entertainment company as it looks to expand. Its first show, Angry Birds Toons, will hit a dozen countries this weekend. Rovio is also developing a feature film.

Carl Icahn got his way with Dell. The activist investor, who has been one of the biggest critics of Michael Dell’s attempt to buy out the company he founded, will get a confidential look at the PC-maker’s books.

Mexican telecoms could face a break-up. Legislators will weigh a new law that would espouse more stringent regulation and competition in the phone and broadcasting industries, where Carlos Slim, the world’s richest man, and his América Móvil have long held dominance.

Judge rules Americans can be obese if they want to. An attempt to ban the sale of sugary beverages in sizes bigger than 16 oz (473ml) at movie theaters and restaurants in New York City was halted by a judge. The law was aimed at curbing obesity and set to go into effect March 12.

It’s not just banks that can be accused of securities fraud. The state of Illinois settled a claim by the US Securities and Exchange Commission that it has been misleading investors about the state of its underfunded pension system. (But some take it as proof the SEC is spineless.)

Quartz obsession interlude

Naomi Rovnick on why Chinese stocks are cheaper in Shanghai than in Hong Kong: “In theory, Shanghai and Hong Kong bourses should move more or less in sync. Hong Kong’s stock market is dominated by mainland Chinese companies, so events like rises and falls in China’s GDP ought to have similar effects on both bourses. But they have entirely separate groups of investors. Mainland Chinese funds and individuals are restricted to buying stocks at home, using the tightly controlled renminbi. Hong Kong’s market is for the territory’s locals and international money managers.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Is Britain “a nation in decay”? The UK growth problem, explained.

Electric cars’ dirty secret. Can anyone say “carbon-dioxide emissions“? (paywall)

Italians didn’t just vote for two clowns. They sent a message of disillusionment with parties that should worry politicians everywhere.

Will the last tycoon to leave France please turn out the lights? Some of France’s richest and most successful people are leaving (paywall) as taxes rise and the economy stalls.

Surprising discoveries

Your family history of heart disease is longer than you think. Mummies got atherosclerosis, too.

China’s gripping new public-service campaign implores youth to care for their parents. Sob-worthy commercials aim to fix a social welfare system that is falling apart.

The next Jewish diaspora. Fleeing France.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, mummy-related illnesses, and other reasons to leave France to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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