Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—ECB tries more stimulus, Brazil’s Lula charged, Ikea founder’s thrifty habits

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What to watch for today

The European Central Bank enacts more stimulus. ECB president Mario Draghi is expected to announce another interest-rate cut, and perhaps its intention to buy more government and corporate bonds and raise the penalties (paywall) it charges banks to store money, in an attempt to channel more money into the euro zone.

Myanmar starts to elect its next president. Htin Kyaw, a 70-year-old Oxford university graduate, looks certain to win as he has the backing of Aung San Suu Kyi, who is forbidden to hold the presidency. She has said she will be “above” the president in the new parliament controlled by her National League for Democracy after the first free elections since 1990. 

Dollar General reports its fourth-quarter results. Wall Street is anticipating earnings of $5.3 billion for the latest quarter, compared to $4.9 billion in the fourth quarter last year. The US discount retailer competes with Wal-Mart and Dollar Tree.

While you were sleeping

Brazil’s previous president was indicted. Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was charged by São Paulo state prosecutors with hiding an ownership interest in a luxury beach apartment, which he denies. It’s part of an ongoing corruption probe into Brazil’s biggest building company OAS, which is accused of bribing officials at oil company Petrobras to secure lucrative contracts.

New Zealand’s central bank made a surprise rate cut. Worried about slowing growth in China and challenges in the dairy market, the bank cut its lending rate for the fifth time since June by a quarter point to 2.25%. The nation’s currency hit a one-week low.

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders debated in Miami. Clinton repeatedly portrayed Sanders as being too far to the left. Sanders defended his plan to offer free tuition at public colleges, which Clinton said would be too expensive. In a remarkably raw moment, Clinton said: “I am not a natural politician.”

The head of Volkswagen in the US resigned. Michael Horn has been president and chief executive of the carmaker’s US operations since 2014. The carmaker said it was a mutual decision, but some believe his departure may be part of an internal clear-out in the wake of the emissions scandal that began with the departure of global boss Martin Winterkorn.

Nasdaq bought Deutsche Boerse’s International Securities Exchange. The $1.1-billion deal could help fund the German exchange’s hoped-for acquisition of the London Stock Exchange and makes Nasdaq the biggest player in the US options markets, beating out CBOE Holdings.

Quartz obsession interlude

Erik German on the human implications of Google’s Go-playing artificial intelligence. “Duels like these don’t come often. That’s because the vast majority of human-versus-machine contests are rarely worth watching at all. But every once in awhile, a technological moment comes when the man-machine match-up gives us a fight worth watching.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

America’s productivity miracle is over. The labor-driven growth that created one of the world’s most affluent societies is in the past.

Google is creating a new type of capitalism based on surveillance. The company profits from monitoring and modifying human behavior.

We’re eating too much to fight climate change. The planet can’t cope with the emissions from food production.

Surprising discoveries

Ikea’s founder buys all his clothes at flea markets. “I want to set a good example,” billionaire Ingvar Kamprad told reporters.

Kidney transplants may now be possible for any donor. The “desensitization” method involves rebooting a patient’s immune system (paywall).

An algorithm can identify terrorists from their  “V for victory” hand gestures. Hand geometry may be a useful biometric identifier.

Riding side-saddle is coming back in style. It’s less about modesty and more about elegance.

Jordan’s swim instructors are seeing a jump in business. Syrian refugees are signing up for classes to prepare for dangerous sea journeys.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Go strategies, and previously fashionable riding methods to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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