Quartz daily brief—Europe Edition—China’s downgrade, Bernanke’s brain, Asia’s female bankers

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What to watch for today

What will North Korea do? The hermit kingdom has made daily moves to show the world who is boss. Now it is reported to have shut its border to Chinese tourists. South Korea is increasing surveillance after the regime moved long-range missiles in readiness for a possible launch.

Yuan-Aussie dollar direct trading starts. The move cuts transaction costs and brings the trading partners closer.

What the Fed is thinking. The Federal Open Market Committee releases its minutes, which will show how the US central bank sees the economy and risks to its long-term goals.

French economy by the numbers. Industrial and manufacturing production numbers are out today. The weak economy (paywall) has been a headache for François Hollande.

State of the Family Dollar. The discount store reports earnings, a guide to how well the economic recovery is going for America’s less well-off. Also reporting: spirits maker Constellation Brands and home-furnishings store Bed Bath & Beyond.

While you were sleeping

China posted a surprise trade deficit… A huge surge of imports produced an $880 million trade deficit for March, from a surplus of $15.2 billion in February.  (A caveat: Chinese trade data is arguably meaningless.)

…and got a Fitch downgrade. The ratings agency cut its rating on some of China’s debt, citing a lack of transparency in local government borrowing.

Funeral set for the Iron Lady. British officials said Margaret Thatcher will be laid to rest on April 17. Queen Elizabeth and other dignitaries are expected to attend.

Sir James Crosby no longer wants to be a knight. The former HBOS banking chief also decided to forego a third of his pension after a harsh parliamentary report.

Some embarrassing news for KPMG. The accounting firm resigned as the auditor for Herbalife and Skechers after firing one of its senior partners over insider trading allegations. Federal authorities are investigating.

Kenya’s new leader was sworn in. Uhuru Kenyatta officially took up his duties. The biggest challenge for Western countries is how to deal with a leader indicted for crimes against humanity.

Quartz obsession interlude

Naomi Rovnick on a mainland China fraud that is hurting Wall Street: ”Fu Yanbin, a Chinese real estate tycoon, is being taken to court in Hong Kong by lenders including Goldman Sachs for allegedly transferring assets out of their reach after his company, Rightway Group, earlier failed to repay them a $557 million loan. The lenders, however, have no idea if Fu will appear for the next hearing in the civil case on July 10 as they are unable to locate him, two sources with direct knowledge of the situation said.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Switzerland is an island of calm. And that offers lessons for Europe.

The US economy rules. It could even beat China.

If you waited to graduate before looking for work, you waited too long.

Slow Food, coupled with a slow life, is a better way to live.

US infrastructure is not really crumbling. “Deficient” doesn’t mean “unsafe”.

Surprising discoveries

Women dominate private banking in Asia. Female wealth managers outnumber men by a 3-to-2 margin.

Baboon sounds are linked to the origins of human speech. Gurgling and lip smacking are key.

Bitcoin millionaires are probably tax felons. Capital gains are forever.

The dirtiest kind of match-fixing. A man has pleaded not guilty to bribing soccer officials with prostitutes. The officials are charged with “corruptly receiving gratification.”

Homeless lottery winner decides to remain homeless. He will buy a new tent.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, baboon noises and Slow Food recipes to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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