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Joe Biden and Xi Jinping will meet today.

Joe Biden and Xi Jinping will talk about Russian aggression today.

Joe Biden and Xi Jinping are painted on Russian figurines.
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  • Morgan Haefner
By Morgan Haefner

Deputy email editor

Published

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Here’s what you need to know

Joe Biden and Xi Jinping will talk today. US secretary of defense Antony Blinken said the US president will tell his counterpart that China bears the responsibility for any actions it takes to support Russian aggression. Blinken also warned that Russia may be planning to attack Ukraine with chemical weapons.

Russia paid off some debt, in dollars. The country had owed $117 million in interest payments, but possibly avoided its first default on foreign debt since 1918.

Covid is surging in parts of Europe and Asia. Germany saw its highest infection rate since the start of the pandemic, while South Korea recorded its deadliest day. Meanwhile, Hong Kong is considering rolling back some covid restrictions.

1.3 million Ukrainians lost power. Russia continues to destroy the country’s infrastructure and attack densely populated areas. Separately, pro-Ukrainian hacktivists are attacking Russian websites.

The Bank of England raised interest rates for the third time. Central banks around the world are now more focused on fighting inflation versus aiding the global economic recovery.

Amazon closed its acquisition of MGM. The $6.5 billion deal went through without comment from the US Federal Trade Commission. The agency can later challenge the deal if it wants to.

New jobless claims in the US fell to a 52-year low. The country’s labor market remains strong despite elevated prices and uncertainties surrounding the war in Ukraine.

What to watch for

Image copyright: Reuters/K. K. Arora
Covid can’t stop us.

The Hindu festival of Holi has had a rough two years. In March 2020, it was among the first events restricted because of the pandemic, and in 2021, it was publicly banned just before India’s covid-19 infection rates turned catastrophic.

The festival embodies the spirit of the carnivalesque. People let loose, splash each other with colors, drink a beverage made with a legalized form of cannabis, and binge on gujiya, a sweet and deep-fried Indian dumpling. One factory in the small town of Hathras makes nearly 2,000 metric tons (2,204 tons) of gulaal, the pink powder used during Holi, annually.

This year, Holi coincides with low infection and high vaccination rates in the country. Millions are expected to celebrate, but some state leaders are still asking people to avoid large crowds to stop covid from spreading.

A petroyuan world

Saudi Arabia is considering selling its oil in yuan. It’s a change the country has negotiated, to varying degrees of intensity, over the past decade. Even if the change catches hold this time, it won’t come to fruition soon. Saudi Arabia pegs its riyal to the dollar, so any damage inadvertently dealt to the dollar will hurt its own currency.

Still, the US’s geopolitical hegemony is based significantly on the petrodollar. What exactly would a world look like if it favored the petroyuan?

If the yuan displaces the dollar to a sufficient degree in the annual $14 trillion global oil trade, countries will have to maintain yuan reserves instead. That’d be a huge change: At the moment, 2.48% of the world’s reserves are held in yuan, compared to 55% for the dollar.

A bar chart showing the currency composition of official foreign exchange reserves. The US dollar has the most at $7.1 trillion, while the yuan, for example, only has $0.3 trillion.

The B Corp moment

How are companies adjusting to serve all stakeholders? Quartz CEO Zach Seward and Jorge Fontanez, CEO of B Lab for the US and Canada, will explore this question with B Corp CEOs. Learn how the values ascribed to shareholder primacy continue to evolve in the face of policy, environmental and social movements, and what we can do about it.

Register today to join the hour-long event on March 23, at 1pm US eastern time.

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Surprising discoveries

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Prosthetics could create super soldiers in the future. The addition would be an exoskeleton controlled by the brain to give soldiers superhuman strength. Listen to the latest episode of the Quartz Obsession podcast to learn about how prosthetics went from repairing the body to enhancing it.

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