Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—The specter of deflation, labor battles, fantasy M&A

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What to watch for today

The specter of deflation. Europe and the United States will report price level data a day after IMF chief Christine Lagarde warned that the risk of deflation could “prove disastrous for the recovery.”

The not-so-vampirish squid. Goldman Sachs may have lost its mojo after recent troubles in its fixed-income business; analysts will look for answers in its fourth-quarter earnings report.

Puerto Rican default. Creditors and lawyers for the island territory meet in New York today to discuss restructuring as a moratorium on debt payments (paywall) becomes increasingly likely.

Cheap mining assets. Rio Tinto reports fourth quarter results as relatively new CEO Sam Walsh works to sell non-core assets. Analysts forecast high production despite the mining giant’s troubles with weakening commodity prices and impatient shareholders.

Intel inside…the cloud. Ahead of today’s fourth-quarter earnings report, the troubled chipmaker announced a new co-branding campaign with the cloud services making its server business obsolete.

While you were sleeping

The giants of Silicon Valley might have colluded to drive down salaries. A judge approved a mass lawsuit against Google, Apple, and other companies for allegedly agreeing not to recruit each other’s employees.

US labor regulators took aim at Wal-Mart. The National Labor Relations Board formally accused the retail giant of illegally punishing workers who considered taking part in walk-outs to protest low wages.

Switzerland got a financial regulator with a background in bid-rigging. Mark Branson, the new head of the country’s financial regulation agency, was a former UBS banker whose employees were involved in rigging benchmark rates.

Germany underperformed. The economy expanded just .4% in 2013, its weakest result since 2009, but better results—an expansion of more than 2%—are expected this year.

Quartz obsession interlude

Jason Karaian on “fantasy M&A.” “Bid rumors have long circled the London-based, emerging-markets-focused bank Standard Chartered. A recent management reshuffle saw Standard Chartered’s shares stumble further; they have lost a fifth of their value over the past year. Analysts at Citi published a report this week that leads with the management turnover by way of suggesting that Standard Chartered is now definitely in play.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The world shouldn’t fear the Federal Reserve’s taper. Despite rising rates, the World Bank thinks it’s all going to be OK.

It may be too soon for Verizon to celebrate. A US court ruling on net neutrality has left regulators plenty of room to enforce open access.

The world’s elites are failing us. Financial liberalization, global plutocrats, and the euro showcase the failures of the high and mighty.

Why it’s so hard to get a home loan in the US. One surprising reason: interest rates are too low.

Surprising discoveries

German beer is facing an existential crisis. Price-fixing threatens the country’s hoppy history.

77% of Davos attendees are going for the first time. Maybe the forum isn’t really worth a second visit.

Hannibal Lecter isn’t a psychopath. But you might be.

The Netherlands is the world coffee consumption capital. Scandinavia isn’t far behind when it comes to joy in java.

Best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, self-diagnoses of sociopathy, and your favorite Davos ski runs to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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