Quartz Daily Brief—Europe Edition—Nike earnings, Obama in Israel, Cyprus crisis, LEGO rockers

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What to watch for today

Earnings for a raft of bellwether companies. Nike is expected to halt or reduce its slide in China, where it’s been having trouble. H&M and British high-street fashion retailer Next will take the temperature of consumer sentiment in Europe and North America. Hermès tells us something about how the price-immune global rich are doing. Foxconn, maker of all of Apple’s iPhones and iPads, will be a window into the workings of both Apple and the overall market for mobile devices. (In January Foxconn reported a net loss.)

Will Obama mention the peace process? Some are calling the US president’s trip to Israel “Operation Desert Schmooze”. His first speech was one of rousing support for Israel. He may have been softening the ground for today’s speech, before a group of students, where he may bring up the touchy subject of peace with the Palestinians.

Housing as a guide to America’s recovery. Economists polled by Bloomberg are expecting the home price index to rise 0.7% from last month, and existing home sales to increase 1.6% month over month, to 5 million.

Britain’s new consumer-focused financial regulator gets tough. The newly minted “Financial Conduct Authority” is set to unveil plans for tougher rule enforcement. It is expected to temporarily ban banks from selling a host of personal finance products while it makes sure they aren’t rip-offs.

While you were sleeping

Cyprus turmoil continued. Banks remain closed until at least next week. All possible solutions to the problem—including an emergency bond sale and the nationalization of pensions—are “dreadful” and the country is “running out of options.” Russia’s prime minister, Dmitri Medvedev, said the EU bloc is behaving like a “bull in a China shop.” But US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke said he doesn’t see a major risk from Cyprus and neither, apparently, does investment management company BlackRock.

North Korea claimed it has the ability to attack US overseas military bases. The rogue state has said bases on the Pacific island of Guam and Okinawa in Japan are in its sights and it will attack them if provoked. The US plans to beef up missile defenses along the Pacific coast of the United States.

The Fed left rates unchanged. It admitted the economy is doing a little better, but until improvement in the labor markets looks stable, Bernanke said he won’t slow the central bank’s $85 billion per month in asset purchases.

The US government decided not to shut down. The US Senate voted 73-26 to fund the US government through Sept. 30, but the bill keeps in place the $85 billion in automatic spending cuts that have the potential to become America’s experiment in austerity.

Quartz obsession interlude

Zach Seward on why stationery firm Moleskine is planning a high-priced IPO. “The higher margins are being used by Moleskine’s bankers to justify a valuation between 22 and 29.1 times the company’s earnings last year, which is higher than brands like Burberry and Richemont. But is Moleskine best compared to all these luxury brands, which sell clothing and accessories, or companies that actually make, you know, paper? An illuminating chart from the company’s IPO prospectus makes the case that Moleskine is actually the opposite of a stationery company.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The European Union was set up all wrong. The drafters of the Maastricht treaty learned nothing from history.

Japan should stop pandering to elderly savers and focus on its youth, who are struggling with poverty and unemployment (paywall).

There is no such thing as a “tech company.” It is just a label to increase valuations. All successful corporations innovate with technology.

The truth behind Cyprus’s bank catastrophe. Cypriot banks are really Greek banks in disguise.

Surprising discoveries

The complete guide to note-taking at work. Choose digital over paper; organize obsessively; and doodle.

India’s male tech start-up founders struggle to find wives. Families see them as like impoverished artists, but not as glamorous.

Ben Bernanke’s childhood home is in foreclosure. And one of his relatives is unemployed, he revealed at today’s meeting of the Fed.

Someone has created a rock band made of LEGO robots. 

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Plan Cs for Cyprus and ideas for other jobs for LEGO robots to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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