Quartz Daily Brief—Davos invitees, Bank of Japan, Dell deal, “blessed” porridge

January 21, 2013
January 21, 2013

What to watch for today

Dell prepares for takeover bidding war. The embattled PC-maker, which is said to have received an offer from buyout house Silverlake Partners, is soliciting higher bids, according to Bloomberg. Dell has lost out to Apple’s success with iPads and the rise of tablet-phone hybrids known as “phablets”.

Japanese government and central bank join forces on “reflation.” The Bank of Japan’s two-day meeting, which started today, may lead to a joint state and central bank effort to combat the country’s persistent deflation. Governments and central banks usually work independently of each other. But it looks like Japan’s central bank is getting behind  so-called “Abenomics,” the new leader’s policy of aggressive money printing aimed at weakening the yen and sparking up the stock-market. There may not be any news of the results of the meeting until tomorrow.

More clarity on Europe’s banking rescue fund. The euro zone’s finance ministers are also meeting today. They are likely to be squabbling over how to spend the €500 billion “Euro Stability Mechanism,” which is a giant lifeboat-fund for troubled banks and struggling countries. Today’s discussion goes to the heart of how much power Brussels should be allowed to have, with ministers discussing whether the ESM’s administrators should give rescue money directly to banks, instead of routing the money through governments.

The US celebrates the inauguration of President Barack Obama to his second (and final) four-year term. Obama was actually sworn in again Sunday, but the public ceremony—which includes Obama’s inaugural address and a performance of the national anthem by mega-music-star Beyoncé—is today at 11:30am ET (live video to be streamed here.) There’s no shortage of recommendations for Obama’s address and recaps of second addresses in history (George Washington’s was just four sentences long; frequently, presidents have discussed taxes.) As we’ve said, Quartz expects Obama to aggressively pursue his political agenda during this second term, with immigration and gun control among the first political fights he’s picking.

While you were sleeping

The death toll in the Algeria hostage crisis rose to at least 80. Algerian officials also said earlier that all 32 militant Islamist hostage takers were killed amid a bloody rescue mission. It has now emerged that two of the Islamic militants killed were Canadians. The Algerian government is set to release more details of the siege later today. It has already said it would boost security at energy installations such as the one where the hostage-taking occurred. Oil and gas industry executives globally are examining security risks.

US and Japanese safety investigators probed the Dreamliner’s battery maker. After a series of safety failures led governments worldwide to ground the Boeing-made aircraft, the US and Japan are investigating GS Yuasa, the Japanese company that made the Dreamliner’s batteries. The Japanese firm’s shares have fallen around 10% since an electrical fire broke out on a Japan Airlines-owned Dreamliner at Logan International airpot in Boston on Jan. 7.

Rahul Gandhi delivered his first speech as the vice president of India’s ruling Congress party, addressing the hot button issues of corruption and women’s rights. Critics have blasted Gandhi’s appointment as nepotism—the 42-year-old scion of the Nehru-Gandhi family is the son of Congress President Sonia Gandhi—and have said it remains unclear where he stands on critical policies.

Delhi gang-rape case started, then got delayed. The fast-tracked trial of five men over the gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old female was due to open today in Delhi, though the start of proceedings was delayed by discussions over whether to move the trial out of the city. The case shocked India and captivated the world, inspiring widespread candlelight vigils and fiery tweets demanding justice. It also sparked a lengthy debate about the treatment of women in a country that has grown fast economically but where women’s rights arguably remain stuck in the past. In India, a women is raped every 20 minutes. If convicted, the men could face the death penalty.

Quartz interlude

Quartz analyzed the confidential list of CEOs, heads of state, and big thinkers expected in Davos this week for the World Economic Forum. Of the 2,600+ names on the list, “680 participants have ‘chief executive’ in their titles. Diageo CEO Paul S. Walsh and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer can expect to run into NYSE Euronext CEO Duncan Niederauer, and Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat.” Read the full analysis, including rankings of global investment banks by attendees and the full searchable list, here.

Matters of debate

China is reaching the limits of its investment-driven growth model. 

Mario Monti is the wrong leader for ItalyHe failed to stand up to Germany, and while he promised reform, all he did was raise taxes.

European VCs are just as successful as their US counterparts.

Internet “cloud” service providers can easily snoop on customers’ businesses.

The French are right to fight in Mali. But countering militancy will also require expansive diplomacy and patience.

Sitting around can be as lethal as smoking. Hence the fervor for standing desks, and walking meetings.

Surprising discoveries

New Zealand, which has 0.5 people per square kilometer, also has a housing crisis

A former Portuguese special forces operative is in Beijing training bodyguardsThey’ll be shipped off to protect Chinese interests in turbulent areas of the Middle East and Africa.

In China, “blessed porridge” causes social unrest. In Zhejiang province, near Shanghai, thousands of people have been fighting to get at bowls of rice porridge that is handed out at a temple during a Buddhist festival, and which festival goers believe has magical properties, according to a report in state-controlled newspaper, the Global Times.

Eric Schmidt’s daughter, Sophie, found Doritos snack chips in a North Korean supermarket during their recent trip. This despite US sanctions. She also found freezing indoor temperatures, as all buildings they visited were unheated.

Cash-strapped newspapers are leasing out reporters’ desks

Dutch architects plan to build a house using a 3-D printer. The printer uses a sand-based mixture to create sections as big as six meters by nine meters.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, favorite four-sentence speeches, and weird North Korea finds to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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