Quartz Daily Brief—Europe Edition—Basel redux, French miss, new ruble-maker, dubious dolphins

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What to watch for today

Euro-zone industrial production, American retail sales. The latest read on the state of Europe’s fragile economy, and an indication of how US consumers have dealt with a higher payroll tax.

Day two in Vatican City. The first vote to name the next pope turned up black smoke, meaning that deliberations will continue today. White smoke means that the cardinals have reached an agreement.

Basel banters about banks. Members of the Basel Committee of banking supervision will meet in Basel, Switzerland. Debates about the amount of leverage banks should be allowed to take could be at the top of their agenda.

US Democrats propose a budget. The White House’s response to the Republican proposal on March 12 will be balanced, but not balanced.

Inditex reports earnings. The Spain-based retailer and owner of the wildly popular Zara clothing stores will report full-year earnings today. It has consistently beat forecasts and set records but that is getting harder to do.

While you were sleeping

Some respite for Boeing. America’s Federal Aviation Administration gave Boeing the go-ahead to start testing a new battery for its grounded 787 Dreamliner airplane. If all goes well, the aircraft should be back in commercial service by June.

France went the way of the rest of the euro zone. François Hollande, the French president, said his country’s deficit will hit 3.7%, significantly higher than the 3% target set by the EU. Berlin, which will smugly present a zero-deficit budget for 2014, was not pleased (paywall).

Jobs are down in South Korea, improving in America. South Korea’s unemployment rate hit 3.4%, the highest since February last year, as fresh graduates started looking for work. In the US, fewer people were fired in January than in December, and postings for vacant jobs rose 2.2% to 3.69 million.

Running the ruble. Russian president Vladimir Putin named Elvira Nabiullina as Russia’s next central banker, making her the first female central banker in the country and the first in the G8.

Telecom tie-up. The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved Deutsche Telekom’s bid to unite its T-Mobile with MetroPCS. The German company hopes the move will reboot its profitability in US markets. The merger still faces a shareholder vote—and significant opposition—to be held April 12.

Bitcoin flash-crash. A software glitch in bitcoin’s mint sent the digital currency spiraling down 22% before it recovered to record-high levels.

Quartz obsession interlude

Simone Foxman on why emerging markets are more likely to have female central bankers: “With an economy largely based on oil and natural resources, Russia is desperate for demand-driven growth and innovation. Although the country has opposed UN resolutions that advocate harsher penalties for violence against women, Putin’s choice of Nabiullina should make recessionary Europe and even the slow-growing US reexamine their own gender-skew.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Have the Republicans learned anything? Analyzing their latest budget plan.

The New York Times is too soft on Carlos Slim. But the paper will soon have to write more about the monopolist Mexican billionaire who is also its second largest shareholder.

Why markets should be freaking out over Italy. Be cynical, for a change.

Who won the Iraq war? With soaring exports, it looks like it may have been Turkey.

Surprising discoveries

Was there once life on Mars? NASA scientists in charge of a rover examining the red planet’s surface say that they found chemicals in a rock harvested from a dry lake bed that would have been conducive to life. “You could have drank the water that flowed,” said the mission’s chief scientist.

Killer dolphins on a sex romp (perhaps). Three dolphins (possibly) trained by the Ukrainian navy to (maybe) assassinate divers are (unsurprisingly) unaccounted for after a military exercise—but they might just have gone to look for mates.

Let them eat LBOs. Carlyle Group, one of the world’s largest private-equity firms, will allow entry into its buyouts for as little as $50,000 (paywall).

Can a taco save America? Only the Doritos kind.

Hack attack. Hackers stole and published credit reports—including social security numbers, addresses, credit card and banking details—of US celebrities and the heads of the FBI and Los Angeles police.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, high-profile credit reports, and sightings of semi-fictional oversexed dolphins to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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