Quartz Daily Brief—Asia Edition—Egypt violence, ad mega-merger, Chinese debt, cheap surgery

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What to watch for today

Tensions in Egypt. After over 70 people were gunned down by security forces over the weekend, interim president Adly Mansour has authorized the prime minister to grant the army powers to arrest civilians, a move seen as a prelude to a crackdown on the supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi.

A crisis meeting in India. Prime minister Manmohan Singh will discuss the falling rupee, rising current-account deficit, and slowing growth with industry leaders. India’s central bank has been forced to take a slew of measures to arrest the fall of the currency, which in turn could further choke growth.

A healthy dose of earnings. Danone announces earnings, and attention will be on its China operations, where it was forced to cut prices of infant-formula by as much as 20% after a price-fixing probe by Chinese authorities. And US-based nutritional supplements seller Herbalife is expected to post robust earnings despite hedge fund manager Bill Ackman’s continued claims that the company is a Ponzi scheme and should be investigated. Herbalife stock has rallied over 75% this year regardless of Ackman’s $1 billion bet that the shares would fall.

Over the weekend

Michael Dell dug in. The Dell founder said he would stay on at the PC maker even if his buyout offer fails, but added that he won’t sell assets (paywall) or borrow money to give shareholders a payout.  Last week Dell had offered to raise his buyout bid but only if the board changed voting rules to make it easier for his offer to pass.

A Mad Men merger. New York-based Omnicom and Paris-based Publicis, the second- and third-biggest ad firms respectively by revenue, will merge to create the world’s largest advertising holding company with a market value of $35.1 billion. The deal is being pegged as a “merger of equals” to appease antitrust regulators.

China commissioned an urgent debt audit. The national audit office has been asked to tally how much money is owed by all levels of government from villages up to central authorities. It’s a sign of concern that rising debt, especially among local governments, could pose a systemic risk.

The EU and China made peace over solar panels. Both sides agreed to set a minimum price for imports of panels from China, and exempt Chinese manufacturers from punitive tariffs meant to counter below-cost sales. Brussels had imposed an emergency anti-dumping tariff of 11.8% on Chinese solar panels in June, its largest ever such action.

Israel cleared the decks for peace talks. The cabinet approved the release of 104 Palestinian prisoners, most of whom have served at least 20 years for deadly attacks on Israelis. It was the last remaining condition for restarting US-brokered peace talks after nearly three years of diplomatic stagnation.

Cambodia’s ruling party clung to power. Authoritarian prime minister Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party won 68 seats in parliament to the opposition’s 55. It’s quite a setback for Sen, as his party had 90 seats in the outgoing parliament.

Quartz obsession interlude

Matt Phillips on why US banks may get bigger if Larry Summers is chosen as the US Federal Reserve chairman. “He points out that some of the highest-profile financial failures of the crisis—Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers—were individual Wall Street investment banks. In other words, they would have been allowed to exist even before Gramm-Leach-Bliley was enacted. ”If you look at the big failures, Lehman and Bear Stearns were both standalone investment banks,” he told a British interviewer back in early 2012. ”Perhaps if they had been combined with banks they would have been in a more healthy situation.”  Read more here.

Matters of debate

Chinese workers helped create the great recession. How new wealth in the developing world fueled the bubble in the West.

Indian poverty at a record low? Not really. The methodology for measuring poverty is flawed.

The Arab Spring is being stifled at gunpoint. Countries that welcomed the fall of dictators should now condemn the brute military force in Egypt.

Mario Draghi shouldn’t believe his own hype. The euro crisis isn’t over and the European Central Bank still has a lot to do to kick-start Europe’s economy.

Don’t be too pleased if your colleagues call you “smart.” In business, people value relevant experience more than intelligence.

Surprising discoveries

Lightning-fast computing. New materials to replace silicon could lead to computers thousands of times faster.

A spinach gene could protect orange trees from an incurable disease. But convincing consumers may be hard work.

Taller women are at higher risk of cancer. But exactly why isn’t clearly understood.

Weather has cost the world $85 billion in damages so far this year. And only a quarter of that was insured.

A heart bypass for less than $1,000. An Indian surgeon reckons he can reach that goal within a decade. In the US it can cost over $100,000.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, silicon substitutes and weather insurance claims to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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