Quartz Daily Brief—Asia Edition—Bank earnings, debt-ceiling deals, Royal Mail sale, microscopic cages

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What to watch for today

Bank earnings season begins. JP Morgan and Wells Fargo, two of the largest US banks, kick off the third-quarter earnings season.  JP Morgan is still expected to turn a tidy profit (paywall), despite a barrage of legal costs. Wells Fargo has had a drop in refinancing volume, but analysts still predict earnings of $0.97 per share.

Croatia is making a list (and checking it twice). Officials may shortlist potential buyers of the government’s stake in a local insurer and a local bank. Croatia is under pressure from the EU, which it joined in July, to reduce public debt, and is in its fifth consecutive year of a recession.

Cyclone Phailin approaches India. The cyclone, half the size of the country, is expected to make landfall by Saturday morning. The last storm of this magnitude to hit India killed more than 10,000 people and caused $4.5 billion in damage.

Results and data. Infosys, India’s second-largest software company, is expected to report an 11% increase in earnings year-on-year. Turkey releases July unemployment data; Poland posts its August trade balance; and Mexico releases industrial production figures for August. Canada also reports unemployment data for last month.

While you were sleeping

Hope, despair and more hope on the debt ceiling. US and European markets soared on the short-lived news that the White House and Republican lawmakers were close to a deal to defer a debt default for a few weeks. But legislators in the senate said they were working on another proposal for compromise.

Britons flocked to buy the Royal Mail. The government set the price of its majority stake in the 500-year-old postal service at 330 pence per share, the top end of its range, after massive demand. The sale will raise £1.7 billion ($2.7 billion) and values the Royal Mail at £3.3 billion. It’s Europe’s largest IPO since 2011.

BlackBerry’s founders might buy the company. Mike Lazaridis and Douglas Fregin, who hold 8% of the beleaguered smartphone maker, expressed an interest in buying the rest in a regulatory filing. They join at least two other potential buyers, Canada’s Fairfax Investment Holdings and US private-equity shop Cerberus.

The New York Times launched a new site with Chinese censors in mind. It’s a Chinese-language version of the paper’s style magazine, T, that will avoid the kinds of topics (paywall) that got the Times’ news sites blocked in the country. (We think the censors might have done the Times a favor.)

Libya’s prime minister was released. Gunmen had spirited him away from a hotel room at 4am on Thursday and let him go six hours later; it’s still unclear on whose behalf they were acting.

The Nobel prize in literature went to a short-story writer. Canadian writer Alice Munro won the prize for her short fiction that explores, according to her, “the underbelly of relationships.” In a literary world that’s traditionally prized long over short literature, the win may be proof that the internet is changing how we read

Quartz obsession interlude

David Yanofsky on nine corporations that have more cash than the US government right now. ”Republicans offered a deal today to temporarily raise the debt limit, but the saga has left the Treasury with just $32 billion in its operating accounts, less than is held by nine Standard & Poor’s 500 companies in cash and short-term investments. General Electric has nearly three times as much readily accessible cash as the US government right now.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

There’s no such thing as being bad at math. What students really need is more math classes.

A culture of confrontation is key to Amazon’s success. Or at least that’s one view. An opposing view: the culture of stress is burning out Amazon employees.

The Raspberry Pi will save the British economy. The creator of the $35 mini-computer thinks Britain’s ability to code would decline within a decade without the Pi. (Well, he would.)

Germans love the European Union. Despite its problems, German trust in the euro has increased throughout the euro crisis, and confidence in EU institutions has recovered.

US corporations are losing their sway over politics. Business groups are frustrated that their campaign contributions are carrying little weight in Washington.

Surprising discoveries

The latest 3D-printed object: microscopic cages. Scientists made them to house bacteria for the study of how infections are spread.

In 30 years, the coldest years will be warmer than the hottest ones of the past. That’s if greenhouse gas emissions continue at their current pace. If we cut them back, it might take 50 years.

Matching outfits mean it’s true love. Coordinated clothing is becoming a central part of courtship (paywall) for Chinese couples.

The Israeli army didn’t send oil prices soaring. Panic buying by traders who misunderstood an army tweet commemorating the Yom Kippur War wasn’t the main cause of an oil price spike.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, microscopic cages and matching outfits to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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