Quartz Daily Brief—Americas Edition—Cyprus banks open, cybersecurity theater, black swan omens

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What to watch for today

Cypriot banks reopen. Everyone is wondering how bad the rush will be to get money out when banks open their doors at noon local time (6am ET). The supposedly temporary capital controls include a cap of €300 per day on withdrawals,  a €3,000 limit on taking money out of the country, and a ban on cashing checks. Nicosia is swarming with helicopters and armed police as container trucks of cash are ferried to banks.

BlackBerry reports earnings. There’s not a lot of optimism over the launch of the Z10.

Obama meets with African leaders at the White House, as the administration attempts to tacitly reward progress towards democratic reforms.

Brazil’s unemployment numbers. After scraping an all-time low of 4.6% in December, the Brazilian jobless rate drifted higher in January. Today will reveal February’s data. Also today: US jobless claims.

While you were sleeping

South Korea plans to stimulate its economy, somehow. After dismal Q4 GDP figures released Tuesday, the government today cut its growth forecast by 70 basis points to 2.3% and said it would stimulate the economy with a set of measures to be announced next month.

Nelson Mandela went back to the hospital. The 94-year-old former president of South Africa is suffering from a recurring lung infection.

German retail sales rose unexpectedly. Analysts forecast a contraction but Germans shopped enough in February to send sales up 0.4%, indicating strong economic sentiment in Europe’s biggest economy.

The US said it wants to check Sprint’s equipment. The government wants to approve (paywall) any technology the American carrier Sprint adds to its core network once it is taken over by Japan’s Softbank telecommunications because it fears equipment from China’s ZTE or Huawei may be used for espionage. But this attitude—and the legislation that goes with it—could also affect companies like Apple.

Asian markets got up on the wrong side of bed. Stocks fell in much of Asia on euro zone uncertainty and a move by China’s regulators to tighten rules on dodgy bank offerings.

Japan’s economy will recover by the middle of this year. At least that’s what BoJ chief Haruhiko Kuroda is promising. He also told lawmakers that Japan’s mountain of debt is unsustainable.

Quartz obsession interlude

Christopher Mims explains why the internet is making us poor. “Like farming and factory work before it, the labors of the mind are being colonized by devices and systems. In the early 1800′s, nine out of ten Americans worked in agriculture—now it’s around 2%. At its peak, about a third of the US population was employed in manufacturing—now it’s less than 10%. How many decades until the figures are similar for the information-processing tasks that typify rich countries’ post-industrial economies?” Read more here.

Matters of debate

How to take an entire country offline. A dinghy, scuba gear, and an axe are all you need.

Marissa Mayer was right. You should work at the office—but not because it improves productivity.

Winning fixes everythingIt worked for Tiger Woods; does it work for the US economy?

The end is nigh. Swapping cheap natural gas for petroleum and increasing fuel economy could spell the end of the oil era.

Vengeance is mine! There is no difference between vengeance and justice. 

Chinese reverse migration has begun. More and more people are leaving polluted cities for the countryside.

Surprising discoveries

High and low skills pay the bills. Job growth is expanding in extremely high- and low-skill areas in the US, and that’s a problem.

A new outbreak of floating dead animals in China. Don’t tell Nassim Taleb.

Assembly required. Foxconn is going to manufacture Google Glass in the US.

Railroads spike. American railroads are on a building boom, the likes of which hasn’t been seen since the Gilded Age (paywall).

What are China’s most hated companies? Hint: Apple isn’t one of them.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, and Cyprus bank heist screenplays to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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