Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Yingluck’s charges, Uber’s prices, orange juice’s decline, spy phones

February 26, 2014
February 26, 2014

What to watch for today

Yingluck Shinawatra hears her charges. Thailand’s National Anti-Corruption Commission has summoned the prime minister for her involvement in the controversial rice-subsidy program that has been criticized for corruption and financial loss. If found guilty, Yingluck could be forced to leave office.

Brazil raises its interest rates. After a two-day monetary policy meeting, central bank president Alexandre Tombini is expected to increase Brazil’s key rate by a quarter-point to 10.75%, marking its eighth consecutive lift. Tombini has kept the markets alert by raising or lowering rates in 22 of the 25 meetings he’s chaired. Brazil also reports fourth-quarter GDP today.

Egypt leaves its rate unchanged. Egyptian policymakers are torn between tackling high inflation and sparking economic growth, but they’re expected to leave interest rates unchanged at their monetary policy meeting today. The rate was untouched at the last meeting too, as high rates are more likely to attract foreign investors.

India’s growth fails to impress. India likely failed to break through the 5% growth barrier for the fifth straight quarter and is expected to post economic growth of 4.9% for the last quarter of 2013—a far cry from the 9% rate it had been used to. India has been weighed by high inflation, rate increases, and a weak rupee. 

While you were sleeping

The toll of Target’s data breach became clearer. The US’s third-largest retailer posted earnings that weren’t as bad as Wall Street feared, but profits fell 46% from a year earlier. It said transactions dropped 5.5% during its last fiscal quarter, with shoppers staying away after hackers stole data from 40 million credit and debit cards used at Target.

Investors clamored for a UK retailer’s stock. Shares in AO World, the online appliances seller, surged as much as 45% after its IPO, valuing the company at around $2.83 billion. AO operates solely in the UK, but has a 24% share of the internet appliance market there and plans to expand.

The former pope piped up. Ex-pope Benedict XVI—now the pope emeritus—insisted that he wasn’t forced to quit his papal post, in one of the only times he has spoken out since stepping down last February. He claimed that his resignation would not have been valid if he had been coerced, citing church law.

Uber drove into a pricing mess. Uber, the taxi app that uses a supply-and-demand algorithm to determine prices, was accused of rigging these rates by intentionally keeping new drivers off the road during busy Uber periods (such as Valentine’s Day). The lower supply and higher demand led to a boost in prices, though Uber said the allegations were a misunderstanding.

Ukraine’s currency dropped to fresh lows. Ukraine’s currency, the hryvnia, fell to a record low amid ongoing violence, economic uncertainty, and political upheaval. Its decline could exacerbate the country’s financial problems and underlines its need for international monetary assistance.

Quartz obsession interlude

Roberto A. Ferdman on how America fell out of love with orange juice. “Orange juice’s precipitous decline is a big deal. For nearly five decades, the sweet beverage made its way onto more and more American breakfast tables nearly every year. At its height, almost three-quarters of American households bought and kept orange juice in their refrigerator, according to Alissa Hamilton 2009′s book Squeezed: What You Don’t Know About Orange Juice. But shifting American eating habits—which stigmatize sugar and leave little time for breakfast—and surging juice prices have done significant damage to American demand.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Facebook will need to radically change itself to justify its purchase of WhatsApp. That includes jumpstarting efforts to become a platform for services such as money transfers and taxi bookings.

Venezuela’s biggest conductor needs to weigh in politically. Gustavo Dudamel should condemn the government’s violent crackdown on demonstrators.

Britain can’t take all the credit for its economic recovery. External factors, including oligarchs buying penthouses (paywall), play a big part.

A billionaire president would solve America’s problems. A truly independent decision maker is what’s needed to fix the US political mess.

Harvard and Yale are overrated. Employers don’t really care what school you went to.

Surprising discoveries

Looking down at your smartphone is giving you neck wrinkles. It’s called “techneck” and some medical professionals say they can make it go away.

A UK startup wants to replace GPS coordinates with three-word combos. Under its system, the Statue of Liberty in New York is at “payer.open.leads,” which sounds a lot less clunky than 40.689292, -74.044507.

Boeing is developing a spy phone. It you try to uncover its secrets, the phone self-destructs.

Eataly is building a food-based theme park. The Italian food chain’s $55 billion project in Bologna, Italy has been dubbed “the Disneyland of food.”

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, techneck remedies, and three-word location coordinates to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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