Quartz daily brief—Americas Edition—Thatcher debate, diplomats on tour, Jamaica’s bailout, cheap dates

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What to watch for today

North Korea’s next move. Will Kim Jong-un take another step toward the brink after shutting down the bellwether Kaesong industrial complex? This morning, North Korea suggested foreigners leave South Korea. Japan sensibly put up missile shields over Tokyo.

Jack Lew’s European tour… The US Treasury Secretary meets with his counterparts in Germany and France. His friendly advice yesterday: Europe should back off on austerity. Who’d have thought that an American politician would be the one telling Europe to spend more?

…and John Kerry’s Middle Eastern one. The US Secretary of State continues his trip in Israel to encourage Israelis and Palestinians to restart talks. He will later head to China, South Korea and Japan, where North Korea has everyone jumpy.

JC Penney weighs its post-Ron Johnson options. The ailing US retailer dismissed its CEO and brought back former boss Myron Ullman. What’s left to try? Perhaps selling the company.

While you were sleeping

The UK economy found some daylight. Manufacturing went up 0.8%, double the forecast, and overall industrial productions rose slightly more than expected, allaying fears of a triple-dip recession. Meanwhile, France barely dodged its own recession.

Chinese inflation dropped sharply. Lower food prices pushed monthly consumer price increases down to 2.1% from 3.2%. Markets reacted favourably.

EADS ownership shuffle. Lagardere sold its $3 billion stake in the Airbus parent. EADS in turn bought back some of its shares, though fewer than analysts expected.

Iran started mining uranium. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad thumbed his nose at the world as Iran restarted yellowcake production to celebrate its National Nuclear Technology day. US senators are preparing harsher sanctions.

Jamaica got a $2 billion bailout. The IMF will chip in an extra $200 million. (paywall).

Quartz obsession interlude

Leo Mirani says forget Bitcoin—mavros are where it’s at: ”To produce bitcoins, processors must hum away solving mathematical problems. But mavros, another virtual currency, are simpler. They exist because Sergey Mavrodi, their creator, says they do. And while the recent spike in bitcoin value is the result of speculation on the open market, the rate for mavros is “established personally by Mr. Sergey Mavrodi…. twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays.” Their value doubles every month, in fact.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The Iron Lady left a divided Britain. Margaret Thatcher’s legacy on economics, foreign policy and Europe was debated around the world. Quartz writers pointed out that her years in power were hardly an economic miracle; then again, she laid the foundations for a big rise in real income.

Where the environmental movement went astray. It lost the knack of rallying popular pressure.

Sino-Vatican relations. It’s time for Beijing to normalize ties with the Holy See. 

Don’t try to rescue fragile banks. Outsource the banking instead.

Green parachutes in Washington. Where former regulators and congressional staffers cash in.

Surprising discoveries

Costly cheap date cities. Deutsche Bank indexes romance for cheapskates.

Visualising Hong Kong’s housing. It’s even denser than you thought possible. 

Paul Volcker is too old for bitcoin. “What’s that?“ he asks.

This is the future of warfare. Using lasers to shoot down drones.

The most important source of renewable energy in Europe? Not solar power. It’s wood.

Shanghai hotpot. Pigs, ducks, geese, and now fish found dead in the river.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, cheap-date destinations and favorite parachute colors to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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