Quartz Daily Brief—Americas Edition—Japan kicks off central bank day, a Facebook phone, China gets better at bird flu

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What to watch for today

It’s central bank day, as the world’s setters of monetary policy struggle to keep ahead of a soft global economy:

–  The Abenomics train charged out of the station. Bank of Japan governor Haruhiko Kuroda announced an aggressive monetary easing program, doubling the current rate of government bond purchases. Japanese stocks rose almost 1% and the yen fell on the news, which will boost profits for the country’s exporters.

– Next to London, where observers expect a newly-empowered Bank of England to make no big moves before new governor Mark Carney takes over in July.

– Then comes Frankfurt, where European Central Bank president Mario Draghi is expected not to cut rates despite the mess in Cyprus, since they can’t go much lower than their current 0.75%.

– Finally, US Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke speaks at an investors conference. Perhaps more importantly, so will his potential successor Janet Yellen. Investors will be watching for clues on how long the Fed will keep up quantitative easing.

– Relevant digression: Read an excerpt from Neil Irwin’s new book on how central bankers saved the world during the financial crisis.

North Korea tiptoes toward doomsday. North Korea is moving a mid-range missile to its east coast, as the US deploys an anti-missile battery in Guam. The US military wants to dial back its shows of force.

Facebook unveils something, probably a phone. If you don’t understand why anyone would buy a Facebook phone, you probably don’t live in India.

China is getting better at bird flu. But it has a long way to go as H7N9 cases mount.

While you were sleeping

The UK dodged a recession. The services PMI climbed to 52.4 in March from 51.8 in February, giving the government a sigh of relief amid fears of a triple dip.

China’s exports surged. Unfortunately, the data are probably fraudulent.

Egypt and the IMF want to make a deal. The Egyptian government says a $4.8 billion loan should be secured within two weeks.

Quartz obsession interlude

Lily Kuo on Chinese firms doing well on bird flu fears: ”Even though there is no vaccine for the virus (part of the reason authorities are so worried) investors appear to be anticipating a run on medicines and rice wine, which is believed to prevent or even cure bird flu.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Bitcoin isn’t the future. But just because the trendy digital cash won’t work for long doesn’t mean we can’t learn from it.  

Business books are useless. Why would you want to emulate Circuit City, Fannie Mae and Atari?

Born at the right time. PIMCO’s Bill Gross admits that he and fellow investing legends like Buffett and Soros might just be lucky.

Surprising discoveries

Are you old enough to read the news? If you’re 12 or under, you’re probably breaking the law.

Studying abroad. Chinese students make up a quarter of the population at some US boarding schools—but there are pitfalls.

Yelp! reviews for prisons. Two stars for the ambience, minus one star for the inflexible check-out policy.

Fat is a life-saver. At least if you get hit by a car.

A lucrative show about nothing. Seinfeld has generated $3.1 billion in re-run fees (paywall)—not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, non-useless business books and favorite Seinfeld quotes to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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