Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Germans strike, Murdoch meditates, pot profit margins

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What to watch for today

Venezuela tries to make it, post-Chavez. Last week’s election and the violence that followed made for a poor start to Nicolas Maduro’s presidency. On Sunday Maduro installed the pragmatic central bank boss Nelson Merentes as finance minister, replacing  Jorge “The Monk” Giordani, architect of Venezuela’s controversial price and currency controls.

A Lufthansa strike. Some 1,700 flights have been cancelled as 33,000 workers at the German airline demand higher wages and job security.

Pakistan struggles with pre-election violence. The Pakistani Taliban is intent on disrupting the secular Awami National Party’s success ahead of voting on May 11.

Auto Shanghai 2013. The word at China’s week-long car expo (paywall) is that drivers are looking for bigger cars, but not hybrids, electric carsMercedes, or Japanese brands.

A legal battle begins in Boston. Bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev remains in the hospital, unable to speak after a possibly self-inflicted gunshot wound to the neck. Questions are brewing over his trial and civil liberties.

Economic indicators this week: US growth may have improved thanks to higher consumer spending in the first quarter. Earnings season continues with question marks about Apple, which reports on Tuesday. Halliburton, US Airways, and industrial bellwether Caterpillar are among those reporting earnings today.

Over the weekend

The US is preparing a cyber-counterattack. The Obama administration’s response to Chinese hacking could include trade sanctions, diplomatic pressure and indictments of Chinese nationals in US courts, the Wall Street Journal reports (paywall).

Wipro followed Infosys with grim forecasts. Shares fell 11% for the last of India’s big four IT firm to report earnings, after it said growth would be sluggish in the next quarter.

Scotland may have to give up sterling. The UK said the price of Scottish independence could include having to rein in spending and finding a new currency.

Italy opted for the status quo. Lawmakers voted president Giorgio Napolitano, who had been set to retire, back for a second term. Protesters were furious.

Japan joined trade-bloc talks. Japan became the 12th nation—others include the US, Canada, Singapore, and Mexico—in discussions over the nascent Trans-Pacific Partnership (paywall). The negotiating countries account for more than 40% of global economic output, making the TPP a potentially dominant trade bloc.

Disaster in Sichuan. An earthquake struck China’s southwest province on Saturday, killing 184 people and injuring as many as 1,000—the worst Chinese quake in three years. It should cause only small ripples in China’s economy, but the human toll is expected to climb.

Paraguay voted—and a newbie won. Horacio Cartes, a millionaire from the center-right party, triumphed over veteran politician Efrain Alegre. In a nation plagued by poverty and political instability, the election results will impact the nation’s trade agenda and domestic agrarian reform.

Quartz obsession interlude

Tim Fernholz on why passing immigration reform could reduce US debt. “With the debt now not due to start growing again for the next five years—and with so much uncertainty about how big deficits will be—the US Congress is more focused on other debates. Gun safety and, more feasibly, immigration reform seem more immediate and worthwhile than bridging a perhaps insurmountable gap between Democrats and Republicans on budget issues. That doesn’t mean, however, that working on border reform is putting off fiscal adjustment…More immigrants means a growing workforce that pays more taxes and creates more jobs, relieving some of the financing burdens that come with America’s aging population.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The contagious debt fallacy. The Reinhart/Rogoff assertion that high debt kills growth has seeped into more corners of economic policy than we knew.

How to save print media: Get an ideological financial backer (or two) on your side.

Religion makes human trafficking worse. Leave the saving to the secularists.

How Big Data can make you a parent before you’ve even conceived.

Surprising discoveries

Rupert Murdoch digs transcendental meditation. The tranquility-seeking mogul is in prestigious company.

China is so over Hollywood. Ticket sales for American-made movies have plunged by a third.

The maki/marriage correlation. People who won’t try sushi and people who don’t approve of gay marriage match up almost perfectly.

It’s not easy growing green. The pot industry is not as profitable as you might think.

Failed Olympic cities: What happens to metropoles that don’t win the bid.

The US economy is about to become 3% bigger because of a change in the way statistics are calculated, “essentially rewriting economic history.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, mantras for Rupert Murdoch and ganja-growing business plans to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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