Quartz Daily Brief—Americas Edition—Fed rumors, Obama meets Cameron, Pakistan’s new PM, saying “mama”

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What to watch for today

Greece and Cyprus get their due. Finance ministers from the euro zone meet in Brussels today to approve payments due to Greece and Cyprus. Some wonder whether Slovenia may soon need similar medicine.

Instability in Bulgaria. Exit polls indicate no clear majority in yesterday’s parliamentary elections, risking worsening conditions for the European Union’s poorest nation.

Lots of talk about that old “special relationship.” David Cameron is in Washington to see Barack Obama. Back home, his party wants to leave the EU.

How the markets reacts to Fed whispers. WSJ reporter Jon Hilsenrath, known as “the Fed whisperer” for his close access to US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, reported on Saturday that the Fed has a plan for unwinding (paywall) its $85-billion-a-month program of quantitative easing.

Americans still reluctant to open their wallets. US retail sales figures for April are released today, and are expected to have fallen for the second month in a row. But judging by another economic indicator, Disneyland attendance, Americans are feeling alright.

Over the weekend

Nawaz Sharif declared victory in Pakistan. Almost 14 years after being ousted in a coup, Sharif returns as prime minister in an election that marks the country’s first democratic handover of power. Former cricketer Imran Khan’s party lost the national polls but won the province of Khybher Pakhtunkhwa, which shares a porous border with Afghanistan.

China’s industrial output rose, but not enough for optimism. The market expected 9.5%, but China delivered 9.3%, putting the robustness of the recovery in question. Still, it’s better than the abysmal March figure of 8.9%, a seven-month low. Retail sales met expectations at 12.8%.

Big comings and goings were announced. Winfried Bischoff will step down as chairman of Lloyds Bank before next year’s annual meeting, Sharp will probably announce Kozo Takahashi as president at its own shareholder meeting in June, and Barbara Walters will retire from television journalism next summer.

A spanner in the works of Iran’s election. Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a popular and reformist former president, registered to run minutes before the deadline, posing a conundrum for more hardline clerics, who have the power to block him but may not want to risk popular anger.

The Group of Seven let the yen be. After meeting near London on Sunday, the G-7 finance chiefs said they would tolerate further devaluation of the yen in support of the country’s economic growth strategy. They also dropped hints of a move away from fiscal austerity policies.

Turkey accused Syria of car bombings. The blasts that killed 46 people in a Turkish border town were organized by fighters loyal to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, the Turkish government said.

A plan for getting rid of Libor. British regulators are proposing phasing out the discredited interest-rate benchmark (paywall) by running it in parallel for a while with a more independent measure of interbank lending rates.

Quartz obsession interlude

Zachary M. Seward on the culture of omniscience at Bloomberg, where journalists’ access to client information has caused a scandal. ”Within the company, stalking is simply part of the culture. Employees can look up—using the <FON> function on their terminals—the last time anyone scanned into or out of a Bloomberg office, which they use to keep legitimate tabs on coworkers and, more voyeuristically, to track their executives on business trips (“Winkler just badged out of Tokyo!”). Some staff make a habit of looking up the last time Michael Bloomberg—the company’s founder, longtime chief executive, and now mayor of New York—visited his family’s foundation, which uses the same security system.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Don’t count on the yen to fall further. Four reasons why it won’t go much beyond the magic three-digit mark.

Vietnam’s star is dimming. Like China, its post-socialist growth policy is running out of steam.

Why hedge funds hate Ben Bernanke. To them, the Fed chairman is a rogue trader like JP Morgan’s “London Whale”—only worse.

Economists shouldn’t take themselves too seriously. The lesson of the Reinhart-Rogoff debacle is that they should avoid pushing their work on policy-makers.

Advice for the class of 2013: Resist simplicity.

Surprising discoveries

How marijuana is taxed. In Colorado, at least, it’ll be somewhere between alcohol and tobacco.

The McDonald’s of the future. An avant-garde burger-joint-cum-gas-station, on the Black Sea coast of Georgia.

The earth and moon got their water from the same source. And based on what we know about how the moon was formed, that doesn’t quite make sense.

Why babies around the world say “mama.” Not because they love their mamas, but because it’s the sound of suckling.

Harvard dumped its Apple stock. The university’s endowment got rid of its $304,000 stake in the computer maker.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, design ideas for fast-food chains, and suggestions for Harvard’s fund managers to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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