Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Greece goes begging, FedEx goes shopping, Swiss Army smartwatch, spicy drones

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What to watch for today

Greece goes begging. Greece’s prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, meets Vladimir Putin in Moscow and there’s speculation that he’ll ask for aid. Greece has promised to make a €450 million ($490 million) IMF loan repayment on Thursday, but on Tuesday it suddenly asked Germany for €279 billion in World War II reparations, and there’s talk of “Grexit” in the air again.

Starbucks splits its stock. The 2-for-1 special announced in mid-March takes effect today. It’s the coffee maker’s sixth split since going public in 1992; the last one was in 2005. Earlier this week, Starbucks expanded its free university tuition program for its American employees from two years to four years.

Microsoft stops supporting Windows XP. The operating system, launched in 2001, still powers most of the automatic teller machines (ATMs) in the world, which has security researchers worried a massive cyber attack will take place (paywall). Upgrades could cost as much as $3,500 per ATM.

The Fed publishes its March meeting minutes. Everyone will go through them with a fine-toothed comb to gauge how long the US central bank will keep interest rates at record lows (paywall). Warren Buffett doesn’t want rates to rise, and nor does former US treasury secretary Larry Summers.

Bags change prices. French fashion brand Chanel is cutting prices in China (paywall) while raising them in Europe, to clamp down on gray-marketeers who were taking advantage of the weak euro. The swings could be as much as 21% for some products. Other luxury brands are expected to make similar moves.

While you were sleeping

Italy said its recession is over. After three years of struggle, the government now expects GDP to grow by 0.7% this year and 1.4% next year (paywall). Low energy prices, the weakening euro, and the European Central Bank’s recently launched quantitive easing program have all helped.

FedEx made a move on Europe. The US delivery service will pay €4.4 billion for Dutch logistics company TNT Express, giving FedEx greater reach in Europe and an edge over its American rival UPS, which tried to buy TNT in 2013. Antitrust regulators blocked that deal but are likelier to allow this one.

Rand Paul said he wants to be president. The senator from Kentucky is the second Republican to launch his campaign for the 2016 US election, the first being Ted Cruz. The current Republican favorite, though he hasn’t announced yet, is Florida’s ex-governor, Jeb Bush. Whoever is nominated will likely face the Democrats’ Hillary Clinton.

Get used to slow growth, said the IMF. Weighing in on a running debate about why the world economy has been slow to recover from the 2008 crisis, the IMF said a long period of “secular stagnation” is likely ahead of us (thus coming down on Larry Summers’ side over Ben Bernanke’s).

Boeing inched past Airbus. The US aircraft maker secured net new orders for 110 planes in the first quarter to its French rival’s 101. The companies have been running neck-and-neck; Airbus booked 1,456 orders last year, just two dozen more than Boeing. Technical problems have plagued Boeing’s flagship 787 (paywall), while Airbus is betting on its reliable A320.

The Swiss Army smartwatch is coming. Will it be stuffed with tools, half of which you don’t know how to use? Victorinox, best known for the Swiss Army knife, said it will unveil its interpretation of a smartwatch by the beginning of 2016. Pre-orders for the Apple Watch begin later this week. Watches running Google’s OS have been on the market for several months.

Quartz obsession interlude

Sonali Kohli grabs a crayon. “For all the adults who ask for a kids menu just so they can color, there’s good news: There are entire coloring books just for grown ups, and they’re gaining popularity, with two adult coloring books currently topping Amazon’s bestseller lists.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Blame free-trade agreements for the rise in obesity. Western companies looking to increase their bottom lines have flooded developing nations with sugar-water.

American climate-change deniers are in retreat. It’s finally starting to be embarrassing for them to claim that global warming isn’t happening.

Mass transit alone doesn’t cut carbon emissions. Cities may add buses and bike lanes, but as long as they keep adding sprawling suburbs too, people who live there will drive cars.

The Iran nuclear deal will make oil prices dive again. Once sanctions are lifted, Iran will be desperate to boost its oil output and oil majors will be scrambling for a piece of it.

The US needs to lift its oil export ban. It’s clear the situation in the Middle East is causing huge swings in prices, and the only way to quell those spikes is for the US to become a major energy player.

Surprising discoveries

Brain games can improve the vision of the elderly. Just five 90-minute sessions can improve their ability to detect contrast.

That’s one spicy drone. Police in India are putting pepper-spray dispensers on drones so they can disperse crowds.

BlackBerry helped tackle Brazilian corruption. Its chat logs provided evidence about over 100 people who used its chat service to collect kickbacks from the state oil firm, Petrobras.

You can make a truck twice as fuel-efficient. Using lightweight materials, a hybrid motor, and improved aerodynamics, Daimler created an 18-wheeler that gets more than 12 miles per gallon.

Your next phone may have an aluminum battery. Researchers have devised one that can be re-charged thousands of times and in just one minute.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, mild hot sauce, and brain games to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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