Quartz Daily Brief—Goldman and Intel earnings, EU and US inflation, China’s migration, babies are liars

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What to watch for today

The specter of deflation. Europe and the United States will report pricing data a day after IMF chief Christine Lagarde warned that falling prices 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.

Puerto Rican default looms. Creditors and lawyers for the US territory meet in New York to discuss a debt restructuring as a moratorium looks increasingly likely (paywall).

China’s great migration begins. The 40-day period of travel around the Chinese New Year will send hundreds of millions of people home for the holidays, straining rail networks and roads and prompting some creative solutions to the chaos.

Intel goes mobile. The chipmaker’s fourth-quarter earnings will provide an update on its shift toward smartphones and tablets.

While you were sleeping

Amazon workers reject union. Technicians at an Amazon fulfillment center in Delaware rejected an initiative to join the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, after a fierce lobbying campaign by the online retailer.

Egypt’s one-sided ballot. A referendum on a revised constitution that validates a military takeover was approved with an astounding 98% of the vote. Opposition to the measure—such as hanging a sign encouraging a “no” vote—was essentially illegal.

Thai protests waned. The number of anti-government protesters trying to shut down Bangkok declined, but the country’s political stalemate showed no sign of a resolution ahead of a scheduled Feb. 2 election that prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra is expected to win handily.

Beijing’s worst air in a year. Burning coal and stagnant weather contributed to levels of pollution that went well beyond what authorities consider “hazardous.”

Microsoft’s new name in the game. Hans Vestberg, the CEO of Ericsson AB, is being considered as a successor to Steve Ballmer, Bloomberg reported.

Rio Tinto dug deeper. The mining giant set new records for iron ore and coal production and cut costs as it benefitted from increased demand from China.

Charter and Comcast discuss a tag team. The two cable operators are reconsidering a joint bid for Time Warner Cable, which rejected Charter’s $37.3 billion bid earlier this week, according to Reuters.

A private equity pizza party. Apollo Global Management agreed to buy Chuck E. Cheese (paywall) in a deal that values the children’s pizza party chain at about $1 billion, according to the Financial Times.

Quartz obsession interlude

Jason Karaian on “fantasy M&A.” “Analysts who crank out stock reports and ratings for investment banks thrive on action. If the research they publish every day convinces a reader to buy or sell stocks, bonds or other instruments, chances are it will generate commissions for the bank’s trading desk, and what’s good for the bank is good for the analysts. … Particularly persuasive ideas can take on a life of their own—moving markets, presenting awkward questions to the management of companies concerned, and maybe even drawing real dealmakers out of the woodwork.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Don’t fear the taper. Despite the Federal Reserve’s plans to cut back on stimulus, the World Bank thinks it’s all going to be OK.

Verizon shouldn’t count its chickens just yet. 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. It may seem like a good thing, but interest rates are actually too low.

Surprising discoveries

The New York Times had a front-page typo for 102 years in a row. A typesetter miscounted the paper’s edition number in 1898, and nobody noticed for a very long time.

Babies are liars. Scientists find evidence of “fake crying” to seek attention, which is immediately followed by smiling and laughing.

Consciousness is a state of matter. The physical universe may include “computronium” and “perceptronium.”

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.

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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