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Quartz Daily Brief—Asia Edition—Earnings season, Mali fighting, Dreamliner, Bro-zilians

By Gideon Lichfield
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

US earnings season gets underway in earnest. Big banks like Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, and tech firms such as Intel, Samsung and GE are among those reporting fourth-quarter results this week. JP Morgan, which reports on Wednesday, Jan. 16, might release more information about its “London Whale” trading loss.

Smartphones for Myanmar. Six models from Taiwanese smartphone-maker HTC, specially modified for the Burmese alphabet, go on sale today, in a country where only 5% of people use a mobile phone of any kind.

High noon in Mali. French troops are intensifying their attack on Islamist rebels, who took control of a large swathe of the north of the country earlier last year. Other countries, including Britain and the US, have now joined with logistical support.

Peace talks over Colombia. Colombian government officials and FARC rebels will meet in Cuba for a second round of peace talks, as the end of a ceasefire looms.

Over the weekend

Hosni Mubarak not guilty, but may be guiltier. An Egyptian court overturned the conviction of Egypt’s former president in the killings of hundreds of protesters during the 2011 revolution. The ruling wasn’t unexpected for procedural reasons, and Mubarak could face a raft of new charges.

A young internet pioneer dies. Aaron Swartz, a 26-year-old prodigy who was one of the founders of online community Reddit and a folk hero to internet freedom advocates, reportedly hanged himself. He had long suffered from depression, and was facing trial for downloading millions of academic papers without paying.

Shinzo Abe wants a “bold” central banker. Which is to say, one that will do what the Japanese prime minister tells him to, and aggressively fight deflation, when the current Bank of Japan governor retires in April.

Another Dreamliner glitch. A Japan Airlines Boeing 787 sprung a fuel leak during servicing. The new aircraft is under intense scrutiny after a series of mishaps.

No, there will be no magic supercoins. The US Treasury said it will not mint a trillion-dollar coin, an originally facetious proposal for delaying the onset of the US debt ceiling that has recently gained some unexpected, er, currency.

Quartz obsession interlude

Tim Fernholz on a new way to divide the world. “It used to be the Soviet Bloc versus the West. More recently, we’ve talked about emerging economies and advanced economies—BRICS versus the G7, if you will. But a new paper suggests another way of splitting the global community: Countries that manipulate their currency for an advantage in international markets, versus those that don’t.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The world needs 600 million new jobs by 2020. And the private sector, which provides 90% of the jobs in the developing world, will be the one to supply them, says a new report out today from the International Finance Corporation.

Is the WTO giving up on free trade? The World Trade Organization needs an ambitious new leader who can overcome an impasse over tariffs, but the chances of getting one look slim.

Watch this US earnings season closely. Companies’ revenues will give a good indicator of how well the economy is recovering.

CES is starting to mean “Chinese Electronics Show”. The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, which just ended,  is an increasingly irrelevant place for American firms, but it’s turning into a showcase for the Chinese behemoths you’ve never heard of.

CEOs should take the 10-year-old test. As in a 10-year-old child. If they can’t explain their jobs (or their salaries) to one, something’s wrong.

Surprising discoveries

China is about to out-green Germany. It will become the world’s biggest market for solar power this year—thanks partly to German help.

Waxing wipes out crabs. The fad for the “Brazilian” bikini wax among women (and increasingly its male counterpart, the “Bro-zilian”) is driving pubic lice towards extinction.

Starbucks faces Vietnamese coffee snobs. The coffee-house chain is about to open branches in Vietnam, but the locals think its coffee is too weak.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, coin designs and awkward questions your child asks about your job to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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