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🌍 Ruble at a 2-year high

The currency is propped up by capital controls.

A ruble note on top of a layer of 100-dollar bills.
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The Russian ruble jumped to over a two-year high versus the dollar and euro. The currency remains propped up by capital controls.

Hungary rejected the EU plan to ban Russian oil…. The European Commission had proposed to end Russian oil imports in six months. Meanwhile, the UK cut off service exports to Russia as the EU is poised to impose war crime sanctions.

… And European energy prices rose. Gas, electricity, and coal prices increased by more than 4% amid the EU’s announcement to phase out Russian oil.

Beijing tightened covid restrictions. China’s capital shut 60 subway stations as 51 new cases were confirmed.

US companies warned of supply chain problems from Shanghai’s lockdown. Companies including Apple and GE have anticipated sales hits and disrupted operations that could extend into the summer.

India raised interest rates… Its central bank announced the first rate hike in two years as it seeks to rein in soaring consumer prices, and it wasn’t alone (see below).

…And saw its biggest-ever IPO. Life Insurance Corp enjoyed a $2.7 billion debut.

What to watch for

On the heels of the US Federal Reserve upping its federal funds rate by half a percentage point—the highest such increase since 2000—the Bank of England is also set to raise interest rates to a 13-year high. Like the Fed, BoE officials are wary of slowing demand too much, and are aiming for what the US calls a “soft landing.”

Pop quiz: Which major central bank hasn’t raised rates yet?

  1. European Central Bank
  1. Swiss National Bank
  1. Bank of Canada
  1. Reserve Bank of Australia

The answer is both 1 and 2. Prices in Switzerland aren’t climbing as fast as they are in the EU and US, while the ECB is factoring in the Ukraine war’s impact on EU economic growth.

Why ban Russian oil?

The European Union will halt all imports of crude and refined oil from Russia by the end of 2022, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said yesterday. Here’s a look by the digits of the impact this could have:

25%: Share of Europe’s total oil that comes from Russia

12%: Share of Germany’s total oil that comes from Russia

96%: Share of Slovakia’s total oil that comes from Russia

$285 million: Daily amount of funding that Russia’s war in Ukraine gets from oil

In the short term, however, the European embargo will likely benefit Russia as an increase in prices could offset the decrease in the number of barrels sold.

The lasting power of practical design

Ray and Charles Eames at work
Image copyright: Eames Institute
More sweat than sprezzatura.

The Eames Institute of Infinite Curiosity launched last month. The educational nonprofit is a design lover’s paradise featuring a collection of thousands of prototypes and models left by the mid-century design power couple Ray and Charles Eames. It’s all accessible virtually for now, but plans on opening as a museum in the future. Quartz’s Anne Quito learned about familiar seats:

🪑  Tandem Sling seating: Airport maintenance staff gave the Eameses the crucial feedback for the ubiquitous, easy-to-repair black and silver chairs travelers at departure gates are used to collapsing in while waiting out a flight delay.

🪑  LCW molded plywood chair: Developing leg splints for the US military led the Eameses to pioneer a plywood bending technique used to mass produce the chair TIME magazine called the “best design of the 20th century”.

🪑  Eames lounge chair and ottoman: This status chair has an extra deep incline for the US market. Europeans, in comparison, prefer to relax in a more upright position.

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Surprising discoveries

Bolivian inmates can shorten their jail time by reading books. The program aims to spread literacy in resource-poor incarceration centers.

A Brazilian made the Guinness Book of Records for staying at one company for 84 years. Sales manager Walter Orthmann has been working at the textile manufacturer Renaux since he was 15.

Elon Musk is getting first dibs on a famous Sicilian landmark. The Turkish Steps’ part-owner thinks Musk should add an eroding limestone cliff to his list of things to buy.

Gourmands are obsessed with Cambodian peppercorns. Italian chefs attest that Kampot’s complex flavor profile improves dishes like cacio e pepe or rigatoni alla gricia, better than ho-hum black pepper.

Italian chefs will also have to accept that the future of pasta is chickpeas. With climate change making durum wheat less abundant, the versatile garbanzo bean may have to step in. Learn more about how pasta has warmed hearts and stomachs the world over in the latest episode of the Quartz Obsession podcast.

🍝 Listen on: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google | Stitcher

Our best wishes for a productive day. Send any news, comments, suggestions for Elon’s shopping cart, and favorite peppercorns to Get the most out of Quartz by downloading our iOS app and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Julia Malleck, Nate DiCamillo, Anne Quito, and Susan Howson.

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