🌍 Russia-Ukraine peace talks in Turkey

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Image: Presidential Press Office/Handout via REUTERS

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Here’s what you need to know

Peace talks are taking place between Russia and Ukraine. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan is mediating in Ankara, with Turkey one of the few NATO countries not to have sanctioned Russia, but a breakthrough appears unlikely.

G7 countries won’t buy Russian natural gas in rubles. The bloc unanimously rejected the demand against “unfriendly countries,” and Russia could retaliate by turning off the taps.

Joe Biden’s $5.8 trillion budget included a “billionaire tax.” The US president, possibly trying to get senator Joe Manchin back onside, plans to cut the deficit and tax the rich.

Shanghai is offering $22 billion in tax breaks to companies hit by its lockdown. The commercial hub is under strict restrictions over a surge in covid cases, as China continues to pursue a covid-zero policy.

Tesla is planning a stock split. The company, following Amazon and Alphabet’s lead, will make the request to shareholders at their next meeting.

The DRC becomes the biggest country in East Africa’s trading bloc. It adds 90 million people and nearly $50 billion in GDP by joining the group today.

What to watch for

Athleisure icon Lululemon reports earnings today. In January, the brand admitted to investors that its full year earnings would be impacted by an omicron holiday season. That, plus the anticipation of rising denim sales—although not so much the skinny jean—as people get more social, has cut its stock price by 20% year to date.

Analysts are still expecting Lululemon to deliver lots of value, especially since it’s dipping its toes into a new product category. Last week, it debuted its first shoe line designed specifically for women (most sneakers are initially designed for men and merely downsized for women’s feet, despite their many differences).

A men’s shoe collection is due next year in an ambitious play that positions it head-to-head or, rather, head-to-toe with Nike and Adidas. At the same time, Adidas is encroaching on Lululemon’s traditional territory with the overhaul of its entire sports bra collection.

Singapore’s covid turning point

Hong Kong and Singapore started off with somewhat similar pandemic responses, including widespread masking, strict quarantine requirements for travelers, and aggressive contact tracing.

But Singapore this week is significantly easing coronavirus restrictions in a decisive shift towards “living with covid,” including allowing fully vaccinated travelers to enter the country without a quarantine starting April 1. By contrast, Hong Kong is still sticking with a “dynamic zero” covid strategy that seeks to quash case counts and seal borders, but has not prevented thousands of deaths this year.

Hong Kong’s lack of sovereignty means it must follow Beijing’s cues on covid strategy, and it also diverges with Singapore in vaccine uptake: More than 94% of people older than 80 are vaccinated in Singapore, compared with a little over 40% in Hong Kong.

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Join us Thursday, March 31 at 11am-12pm US eastern time and hear from our speakers: Chloe Barzey, senior managing director, global account leader, and Atlanta office managing director at Accenture; Sean Cain, director, career & performance, Disney General Entertainment Content; and Paulina Karpis, co-founder, brunchwork.

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Surprising discoveries

Male underwear is an economic indicator. Former Federal Reserve head Alan Greenspan looks at sales of boxers and briefs for clues of an upcoming recession.

An NFT of Nelson Mandela’s arrest warrant sold for $130,000. Proceeds will go towards Liliesleaf, a heritage site that was the base of operations for some 1960s anti-apartheid campaigners.

São Paulo, Brazil, sees a new church open every week. With the rise of evangelical congregations, it’s easy enough to anoint yourself pastor of 10 people in a garage.

Vampire bats didn’t choose to be this way. They evolved with genes that allowed them to live on a diet of iron and protein without much fat or carbs.

No sequels won Oscars on Sunday. But they do tend to take home plenty of box office gold. The latest episode of the Quartz Obsession podcast explores why sequels are a good idea even when they’re bad.

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