Quartz Daily Brief—Asia Edition—Indian inflation, marijuana stocks, Iran sanctions, penis pumps

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What to watch for today

Germany goes from a walk to a trot. Preliminary estimates are that GDP data will show the German economy grew just 0.5% in 2013. Germany’s Bundesbank is projecting much better growth for 2014, however: 1.7%.

India’s “stubbornly high” inflation eases. In November India saw an 11.24% inflation rate, the highest on record. In December vegetable prices leveled off, so the figure could out today could be as “low” as 9.92%. National elections are coming in May, and the ruling Congress party is keen to see inflation drop.

Good news from Bank of America. US banks—like Chase and Wells Fargo—are doing great, so analysts expect Bank of America, too, will beat estimates. BofA stock is already up 45% in the past year, its earnings juiced almost entirely by cost-cutting, since investment banking and home loans are still in the doldrums.

While you were sleeping

More battery woes for Boeing? Japan Airlines said it had grounded a 787 Dreamliner after an apparently smoking, leaking battery was spotted. Last year, problems with the most flammable battery on the market grounded the world’s entire Dreamliner fleet for a while.

Norway’s government started a sell-off. The state began a process to privatize real-estate firm Entra (paywall). At 25 billion krone ($4.1 billion) it would be the biggest public listing since 2010, and the first in a series of divestments by the government, which owns a third of the shares on the Oslo stock exchange.

Horse-trading on Iran sanctions. As US president Barack Obama fought his own party in order to stop harsh new sanctions on Iran, it appears Russia could be undermining whatever leverage current sanctions have, by trading goods for oil equal to 50% of Iran’s current output.

A dagger in the internet’s heart. A US appeals court struck down one a central tenet of how the internet has run so far: that all data should travel at equal speeds. Verizon, which won the case against regulators, claimed that this will make service better. Most pundits believe it will just enable Verizon to make more money while reducing consumer choice.

Cars are too expensive, says Ford. Americans have been plunking down for big, pricey vehicles, and that’s a problem, said the CEO of Ford. The company will sell Americans more smaller, cheaper vehicles of the kind that do well outside the US, partly in a bid to reverse the trend of younger people driving less than ever.

Square is doing something funny with its valuation. The payments startup has reportedly taken another round of investment, boosting its valuation to $5 billion. Everyone was expecting the company to go public this year, so there’s plenty of speculation about why insiders might be selling their stock.

Quartz obsession interlude

John McDuling on the hazards of getting high on marijuana stocks. “The sudden explosion of interest in weed stocks even prompted FINRA, Wall Street’s self-regulatory organization, to last week warn investors about the potential for scams and frauds. It noted that some marijuana companies—though it didn’t name them—had been employing well-known tricks used in stock scams, like frequently changing their names and business focus.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

West Virginia’s poison water is America’s problem too. Weak chemical regulations mean that the whole country’s water supply is threatened.

Black and Decker’s new logo is a master class in compromise. What do you find when you pick apart a brand new logo? A lot of surprising design tradeoffs.

The French care more about sex scandals than they let on. French media reaction to president François Hollande’s reported affair with an actress belies a survey showing that 77% of voters think it should stay private.  

Stop pretending your email address is private information. Google+ now makes it easier for strangers to email you, but email stopped being “personal” a long time ago.

Surprising discoveries

Bananas are actually horrible for monkeys. scottish zoo announces that it won’t allow primates to gorge themselves on these unhealthy treats any longer.

Medicare spent $172 million on penis pumps in five years. The US government pays double for each device.

Rap lyrics used as evidence in court. prosecutor in New Jersey is using rap lyrics the defendant wrote as evidence that he’s a thug.

Would you let the internet name your daughter? These parents are. The current leading name is Cthulhu All-Spark McLaughlin.

Best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, penis-pump deals and better names than Cthulhu to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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