Quartz Daily Brief—Asia Edition—HP break-up, Dell buyout, Polish slowdown, tiny car

February 5, 2013
February 5, 2013

What to watch for today

WalMart de México reports earnings. Will they reflect the bribery scandal afflicting the company?

German factory orders coming. A bellwether for manufacturing across the continent.

Poland’s central bank probably cuts interest rates. Most analysts are expecting rates to drop from 4.0% to 3.75%, because household spending is slowing.

Canadians find out why everything is so expensive. Why are goods sold just miles south of Canadian border towns, in the US, as much as 18% cheaper? Canada’s senate will issue a new report that attempts to explain some fundamental economic principles.

While you were sleeping

Hewlett-Packard’s board is considering breaking up the company. You heard it here first, courtesy Quartz’s newest staff member, Gina Chon.

The largest leveraged buyout since the financial crisis. PC maker Dell went private for $24.4 billion, or about half of Apple’s fourth quarter revenue. Microsoft chipped in $2 billion. Now the buyers of the company must convince existing shareholders to sell, which could be tough, and some of them might sue. Here’s the intriguing backstory of how the deal came together.

US public debt will be 77% of GDP by 2023. The Congressional Budget office released its much-anticipated look at the future of the US economy. One takeaway: The population of the US is going to keep getting older, and it’s going to put a major strain on budgets.

Video game company Zynga blew away analysts’ estimates. Zynga, the maker of FarmVille and other social games, which boomed and then deflated, eked out a profit, after being expected to lose money.

Quartz obsession interlude

Naomi Rovnick on how Chinese exporters are getting crushed by banks unwilling to lend. “Back in 2009-2010, these lenders doled out a record 17.5 trillion yuan, under orders to keep the economy motoring despite the global crisis. Local governments began building huge and questionable projects, such as this planned replica of Manhattan, and racked up a lot of debt. The nation’s banking regulator has warned about a pile-up of bad loans so lenders are avoiding all but the largest, government-backed companies.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Companies shouldn’t cut office retreats. They’re essential for cultivating corporate culture.

Most of us are in thrall to a dangerous ideology known as “internet-centrism.” From business and government to the way we run our households and personal lives, many have become convinced that the success of the internet means we should mold all other systems in its image.

Should the US audit the Federal Reserve bank? Senator Rand Paul thinks so, and this time, he might actually get a bill passed that will make his dreams a reality.

East Asia in 2014 = Europe in 1914? China is like Germany under Otto von Bismarck, and its conflict with Japan is a dangerous tinderbox.

Surprising discoveries

Amazon.com becomes a currency manipulator. Amazon has pegged the exchange rate of its new virtual currency, “Amazon Coins”, to the US dollar. But it’s mostly just a way for the company to encourage developers to make more apps for its tablets.

The world’s (new) tiniest car. You may think you’ve seen the world’s tiniest car floating around the internet before, but this is a whole new level of ridiculous.

People are getting bored with Facebook. Americans as a whole are are taking breaks from it, and young people are spending less time on the site.

Best of Quartz

Read our most popular recent stories.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments or counter-intuitive takes on news of the day to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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