Quartz Daily Brief—Europe Edition—Sighprus, Dell deal, naughty Apple, temping marriage

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What to watch for today

Cypriot banks remain closed. For ordinary citizens, most banking transactions remain impossible, and as of last night, it’s not even possible to withdraw more than €260 a day from Cyprus Popular Bank ATMs. Euro-zone finance ministers will continue their negotiations.

Mission to Burma: Eric Schmidt edition. Schmidt, Google’s CEO, is in Myanmar, where a censorious internet is slowly giving way to the kind of free-information utopia Google likes to advertise against—if it can only get more people online first. Schmidt brought gifts: the country will get a localized Google search and the Android app store.

To arm the Syrian rebels, or not? EU countries will battle over this issue, with Britain and France virtually the only voices in favor.

Dell will go private or get bought. Friday night (US time) is the deadline for offers for Dell. Blackstone, the private-equity giant, is reportedly considering teaming up with rival TPG to get in a superior bid for the whole enchilada, or teaming up with GE for just Dell’s financial services business (paywall).

BlackBerry’s Z10 goes to America. Although pre-orders have been slow, analysts seem optimistic on the phone’s chances. BlackBerry reports fourth-quarter results next week, which should reveal whether consumers in places such as India and Canada have taken to the Z10.

While you were sleeping

Markets at last get jittery about Cyprus. Under the terms of the European Central Bank’s ultimatum, Cyprus has until Monday to find a way out, which might mean the country exits the euro. Paul Krugman suggested the country “do an Iceland,” and let pretty much all the big creditors—including presumably Russia—go hang. Globally, stocks finally started reacting to the threat: A flight to safety sent US Treasurys up.

But really, the whole thing is just a distraction from other countries’ debt woes. Mainly FranceSlovenia and Latvia.

Apple and Adobe appeared before Australia’s parliament. Along with Microsoft, the firms were summoned to explain why their products are so expensive there—often up to 70% more than in the US. Apple blamed it on archaic rights and inflated wholesale prices while Adobe said the company “can only succeed if we deliver innovation“. Okay, then.

Europe isn’t crazy about Apple either. The European Commission is looking into complaints by carriers that Apple’s contracts to sell the iPhones are anticompetitive, specially for smaller networks.

Sarkozy too cosy? France’s former president was formally placed under investigation for accepting illegal donations for his 2007 election campaign from L’Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt.

Nike took a running jump. The sportswear maker’s profits rose 55%, beating expectations—with an especially big rise in orders, interestingly, in North America. But wait, why’s it doing so badly in China?

A good year for Hollywood. Box office takings went up 6% to $34.7 billion, much of it coming from outside America.

Quartz obsession interlude

Jeremy Neuner on why 40% of Americans will be freelance by 2020. “In 2006, the last time the federal government counted, the number of independent and contingent workers—contractors, temps, and the self-employed—stood at 42.6 million, or about 30% of the workforce… Following the recent economic downturn, the employment rate has recovered at a frustratingly slowly pace, except in one area: temporary, contingent, and independent workers. Between 2009 and 2012, according the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of temporary employees rose by 29%.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Global economies are entering the age of deflation. Disinflation (declining inflation) has prevailed so long, what’s to stop prices from actually dropping?

Obamacare is a bonanza for startups. But do they realize it?

The case for making marriage temporary. Unions of limited duration are surprisingly common throughout history.

Surprising discoveries

Trauma over sports losses cost the US stock market 41 basis points. They don’t call it March Madness for nothing.

What the heck is up with bitcoin? Up 57% this week alone. This is a bubble, right?

The malware used to cyber-attack South Korea was called Dark Seoul. Of course.

Apple banned yet another human rights-themed game. This one is called Sweatshop HD.

Fraud runs in the family? The brother of imprisoned hedge fund founder Raj Rajaratnam was indicted.

Captain Kirk’s birthday is today. Have you seen the preview for the new movie starring this beloved Star Trek character? Because it is off the chain.

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