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Quartz Daily Brief—Europe Edition—British GDP, East Asian free trade, Apple v. Samsung, fun with Excel

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

What to watch for today

UK GDP. The final reading on fourth-quarter GDP growth in Britain is expected to reiterate that the UK economy is flirting with a triple-dip recession, albeit a shallow one. (If GDP falls this quarter too, a recession will be official.) The Brits shouldn’t feel bad: France is in the same boat.

Bank of England tries to make banking more stable. The central bank’s Financial Policy Committee will raise capital requirements on the country’s banks when an inquiry into their financial state is released today. Small, new banks however will have light capital requirements for the first three to five years.

Same-sex SCOTUS, round two. The Supreme Court of the US hears the second of two days of argument over same-sex marriage. Yesterday, protestors protested outside, sometimes with funny signs. Rulings aren’t expected before late June.

Chinese financial sector earnings continue. Earnings updates are due from CITIC Securities and Industrial & Commercial Bank of China, among others.

Extreme exertion in Cyprus. The head of the Central Bank says a “superhuman effort“ is being made to ensure Cypriot banks will open on Thursday.

While you were sleeping

Qantas-Emirates tie-up was approved. Australia’s competition commission gave the go-ahead to its ailing flag carrier to coordinate with Dubai’s national airline for passenger and cargo services. The deal stops short of full cooperation in some ground functions and airline routes due to competition concerns.

China’s airlines hit some turbulence. Profits were down in China’s three biggest carriers—Air China, China Eastern and China Southern—thanks to higher fuel costs and an unhelpful global economy.

Still more free-trade talks for Japan. A day after prime minister Shinzo Abe initiated free-trade talks with the EU, he launched the first round of talks for a tripartite agreement with China and South Korea. Apart from the obvious economic benefits, a free trade agreement may also make the three nations less aggressive towards each other.

Warren Buffett went long Goldman. The Wall Street bank reached a deal with the Oracle of Omaha, converting his gain on in-the-money warrants into actual shares of the bank, making Buffett’s Berkshire a large shareholder in the firm. With paper gains on the warrants, Buffett is up a cool $3.1 billion, or 62%, on his $5 billion crisis-era bet on Goldman.

Dissenting with Dijsselbloem. European politicians took pains to explain that the deal to keep Cypriot banks from collapsing wasn’t a “template” for anything, no matter what the Dutch finance minister says in a moment of careless honesty. Oh, and it’s “DAI-sell-bloom.”

US housing kept on trucking. S&P/Case-Shiller’s 20-city index was up 8.1% in January versus the prior year.

Quartz obsession interlude

Christopher Mims explains why Apple is breaking up its supply-chain marriage with Samsung. “Ever since the launch of Samsung’s line of Android smartphones, Apple’s executives must have known that this nasty split was coming. But setting up supply chains of the scale required to satisfy Apple’s global market—not to mention finding suppliers with enough capacity—is hard enough that it’s taken this long to make the shift complete.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Countries aren’t companies. So stop talking about them being “insolvent.”

Yahoo shouldn’t have bought Summly. Paying $30 million for the app was done dumbly.

China’s trade with Africa isn’t neocolonialism. It’s just business.

There may be a real estate bubble in Switzerland.

Hugh Hefner has a perfect life. A portrait of the silk-pajama’ed Playboy.

Talk about wasted youth. Millennials are risk averse when it comes to sex, drugs and alcohol.

Surprising discoveries

You can turn Microsoft Excel into a role-playing game.

How to spend $587,412.97 on Gucci. The author of Friday Night Lights, a best-selling tale of Texas high school football, reveals his shopaholic cravings.

North Korea’s spokesman to the West is a Spaniard. He used to work as an IT consultant in Pamplona.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Hugh Hefner stories and Gucci receipts to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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