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Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Korean automaker sales, reusable rockets, maple syrup reserves

By Quartz

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Projections for Korea’s big automakers. Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors are expected to reveal their sales targets for 2015. In 2014, demand in Brazil, China, and India helped the companies sell an estimated 8 million vehicles, a record total for the two carmakers.

The aftermath of the stampede in Shanghai. Ahead of China’s Lunar New Year, president Xi Jinping has ordered an investigation into the crush of people that left 36 people dead and nearly 50 injured when crowds flooded into Shanghai’s Chenyi Square for a New Year’s Eve light show.

Evidence of stabilization in Spain. The country will give an update on the number of unemployed in December. The ranks of the jobless shrank relatively sharply in November, amid signs the euro zone’s fourth-largest economy may finally be pulling out of its slump.

The US economy’s year-end picture comes into clearer focus… The Institute for Supply Management’s gauge of manufacturing activity will give a reading on the state of the US industrial economy for December.

… As the expectations for 2015 begin to build. Analysts will parse November data on US construction spending for indications that an uptick in homebuilding and government construction on things like schools may continue into 2015.

While you were sleeping

Thomas Piketty said “non” to the Legion of Honor. The French economist, and author of a best-selling book about wealth and income inequality, doesn’t want to be considered for his country’s highest award. “I do not think it is the role of government to decide who is honorable,” he told AFP.

Another big US pay-TV service agreed to carry “The Interview.” The Seth Rogen comedy, which improbably became the trigger for an international incident, will be available now on the Dish Network, which will rent it to viewers for $5.99. According to Bloomberg, the number of US households with access to the movie stands now at about 80 million.

Dilma Rousseff took a weight off her countrymen. The Brazilian president, who has presided over a sharp economic slowdown, promised to jumpstart growth and limit the public’s sacrifices. “We will prove that economic adjustments are possible without revoking acquired rights or betraying our social obligations,” she said at the swearing-in for her second term.

New York soccer fans mourned what might have been. Chelsea legend Frank Lampard won’t be in America in time for the start of New York City FC’s debut season. He’s staying in England for now to play for Manchester City, and his American fans aren’t happy.

Quartz obsession interlude

Tim Fernholz on how Elon Musk’s space company is about to change space-flight as we know it. Typically, the first stage of a rocket that carries a payload into space is abandoned, falling into the sea. But SpaceX has been developing the technology to land and reuse those stages—a challenge considering the SpaceX Falcon 9’s stage 1 rocket is 14 stories tall and re-enters the atmosphere traveling 1,300 m per second. Read more here.

Matters of debate

Prepare for a Grexit. Greece will leave the euro zone—if not this year, then soon after.

This is how you make a ”flat white.” No, this is.

Stefan Simchowitz is the Michael Milken of the art world. Or is he its Mark Zuckerberg?

That gym membership you’re considering sounds good now… but it’s probably not worth it.

Surprising discoveries

The Swiss have only recently disarmed their border-traversing bridges. The explosives were part of a Cold War defense system.

Canada’s Global Strategic Maple Syrup Reserve isn’t a government undertaking. It’s run by a cartel that includes all of the large-scale syrup producers in Quebec.

The Palm brand is set for a revival. A website redirect hints at the plans for one of the original smartphone makers.

Even monks get enraged by airline customer service. “I will pray for you. But you have not been helpful.”

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, flat whites, syrup stockpiles, and gym memberships to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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