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Quartz Daily Brief—Asia Edition—Merkel in Greece, Huawei, human free fall

By Tim Fernholz

GOOD MORNING QUARTZ READERS!

WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR TODAY:

Euro Face-Off: Merkel, beware Greeks bearing signs—or worse. The German Chancellor is in Athens Tuesday for a state visit expressing solidarity with economically suffering Greece, but citizens are expected to meet her with widespread protest. They hold Merkel responsible for austerity policies imposed by Germany and other European countries as part of the Greek financial rescue. We don’t expect major news, but you can expect the 7,000 police on the streets to keep busy.

Crisis watchers, take note: European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi delivers a speech in the afternoon.

The US quarterly earnings season kicks off, with analysts predicting a 2.6% drop in profits from a year earlier for S&P 500 companies. Big aluminum maker Alcoa unofficially opens the season shortly after 4 p.m. ET, but recent history suggests its results aren’t strongly predictive for the rest of the S&P 500 US equity index.

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

The IMF downgraded Australia’s prospects for growth. Lucky for Australia, it shouldn’t impact employment much.

The World Bank did the same for China. So, not a great day for Asian economies.

Chinese firm Huawei called US criticism “China-bashing.” After a US congressional investigation warned of national security threats from the Chinese telecom equipment giant, the firm unequivocally denied the charges. Irony alert: Huawei requested the investigation in the first place to assuage such concerns.

Iraq has been shipping oil to Syria. The discovery of oil trade between Iraq and the embattled Assad regime in Syria will raise uncomfortable questions about the legacy of the US invasion in 2003, but confirms the regime’s increasing hardship finding critical supplies while it fights a civil war.

€500 billion Eurozone bailout opens for business, but not yet in business. A meeting of European finance ministers ended with the formal unveiling of the European Stability Mechanism, a firewall against further financial contagion. The country most expect will need to draw on those funds, Spain, is going to be fine, EU officials said. Why do you look so nervous?

Betting big on private health care in Brazil. UnitedHealth Group will pay $4.9 billion for a 90% stake in Amil Participações SA, a Brazilian managed-care provider that owns 22 hospitals.

Romney talked foreign policy at a military college. The Republican presidential contender’s take on world affairs was panned by the experts. Here’s a closer look at how Romney is underplaying the Obama administration’s trade successes.

MATTERS OF DEBATE:

What does “middle class” mean, anyway? Chinese business mag Caixin takes on the evolving concept

Related: Are the Baby Boomer’s America’s worst generation? One man confronts his father to figure out the Boomers’ economic legacy.

Advice for Hong Kong chief executive Cy Leung: Stop catering to xenophobes. Rating Hong Kong’s new leader after his first 100 days.

SURPRISING DISCOVERIES:

An Austrian man will jump from a weather ballon 37 km in the air. If Felix Baumgartner’s attempt is successful, the attempt will set records for the highest and fastest free fall, and not boil his blood or explode his lungs.

Americans reproducing at record low rates. Cue sighs of relief from our global readers. 2011 saw the lowest US birthrates in history, with the recession getting the blame.

What a drought-stricken farm looks like. Not great.

Advancements in cloning and stem cell science win Nobel Prize. I’m still waiting on human-animal hybrids.

Also today: British industrial statistics and balance of trade. On this day in 2006, North Korea claimed to conduct its first successful underground nuclear test.

Best wishes from Quartz for a productive day. Please send any news, queries, plans to sky-dive from great heights, and Euro protest slogans to hi@qz.com or hit “Reply” to the email. We’ll be back in your inbox tomorrow morning.

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Tim Fernholz
Reporter
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