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Quartz Daily Brief—Europe Edition—Davos invitees, Bank of Japan, Dell LBO, “blessed” porridge

By Naomi Rovnick
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Japanese government and central bank join forces on “reflation.” A senior minister from new Japanese leader Shinzo Abe’s government will reportedly attend the Bank of Japan’s two day meeting, which started today, to work on a joint state and central bank effort to combat the country’s persistent deflation. Governments and central bankers usually work independently of each other. But it looks like Japan’s central bank is getting behind  so-called “Abenomics,” the new leader’s policy of aggressive money printing aimed at weakening the yen and sparking up the stock-market. If Japan’s central bank announces open-ended purchasing of government debt, that will be a major sign Abe’s administration has brought the banking bureaucrats on side.

Euro area finance ministers set to clash on banking rescue funds. The euro zone’s finance ministers are still bickering over how to spend the €500 billion “Euro Stability Mechanism,” which is a giant lifeboat-fund for troubled banks and struggling countries. Today’s discussion goes right to the heart of how much power Brussels should be allowed to take from individual nations, with ministers discussing whether the ESM’s administrators should give rescue money directly to banks, instead of routing the money through governments.

The US celebrates the inauguration of President Barack Obama to his second (and final) four-year term. Obama was actually sworn in again Sunday, but the public ceremony—which includes Obama’s inaugural address and a performance of the national anthem by mega-music-star Beyoncé—is today at 11:30 a.m. ET (live video to be streamed here.) There’s no shortage of recommendations for Obama’s address and recaps of second addresses in history (George Washington’s was just four sentences long; frequently, presidents have discussed taxes.) As we’ve said, Quartz expects Obama to aggressively pursue his political agenda during this second term, with immigration and gun control among the first political fights he’s picking.

Delhi gang-rape case starts. The fast-tracked trial of five men over the gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old female is due to start in Delhi. The case shocked India and captivated the world, inspiring widespread candlelight vigils and fiery tweets demanding justice. It also sparked a lengthy debate about the treatment of women in a country that has grown fast economically but where women’s rights arguably remain stuck in the past. In India, a women is raped every 20 minutes. If convicted, the men could face the death penalty.

While you were sleeping

Dell inched closer to LBO. The PC-maker’s private equity backer, Silver Lake Partners, is close to securing $15 billion of financing to take it private. Dell lost almost a third of its value last year as it struggled to keep up with Apple’s tablet success and the gaining popularity of “phablets.” If successful, the Dell deal would be the biggest leveraged buyout since the financial crisis.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party lost a key regional election. The Lower Saxony contest is viewed as a test of Merkel’s chances for winning a third term in office in September federal elections. In an extremely tight contest, the rival Social Democratic party and Green party allies secured a one-seat majority in the state parliament in Hanover over Merkel’s CDU and its allies.

The hostage death toll in the Algeria hostage crisis rose to 48. Algerian officials had earlier said that all 32 militant Islamist hostage takers were killed amid a bloody rescue mission. The government said it would boost security at energy installations such as the one where the hostage-taking occurred, as oil and gas industry executives globally are examining security risks.

US safety investigators continued scratching their heads over Dreamliner’s problems. After governments around the world grounded Boeing’s aircrafts  following a host of safety problems, US investigators have found that excessive electrical voltage was not the cause of a battery fire at one of the faulty aircraft operated by Japan Airlines. Investigators are having trouble pinpointing the exact problems with the aircraft’s battery, which was designed by manufacturers from many countries. Their difficulties underscore the problems with airline outsourcing.

Rahul Gandhi delivered his first speech as the vice president of India’s ruling Congress party, addressing the hot button issues of corruption and women’s rights. Critics have blasted Gandhi’s appointment as nepotism—the 42-year-old scion of the Nehru-Gandhi family is the son of Congress President Sonia Gandhi—and have said it remains unclear where he stands on critical policies.

Quartz interlude

Quartz analyzed the confidential list of CEOs, heads of state and big thinkers expected in Davos this week for the World Economic Forum. Of the 2,600+ names on the list, “680 participants have ‘chief executive’ in their titles. Diageo CEO Paul S. Walsh and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer can expect to run into NYSE Euronext CEO Duncan Niederauer, and Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat.” Read the full analysis, including rankings of global investment banks by attendees and the full searchable list, here.

Matters of debate

Mario Monti is the wrong leader for ItalyHe failed to stand up to Germany, and while he promised reform, all he did was raise taxes.

European VCs are just as successful as their US counterparts.

Internet “cloud” service providers can easily snoop on customers’ businesses.

The French are right to fight in Mali. But countering militancy will also require expansive diplomacy and patience.

Sitting around can be as lethal as smoking. Hence the fervor for standing desks, and walking meetings.

Surprising discoveries

A former Portuguese special forces operative is in Beijing training bodyguardsThey’ll be shipped off to protect Chinese interests in turbulent areas of the Middle East and Africa.

In China, “blessed porridge” causes social unrest. In Zhejiang province, near Shanghai, thousands of people have been fighting to get at bowls of rice porridge that is handed out at a temple during a Buddhist festival, and which festival goers believe has magical properties, according to a report in state-controlled newspaper the Global Times.

Eric Schmidt’s daughter Sophie found Doritos snack chips in a North Korean supermarket during their recent trip. This despite US sanctions. She also found freezing indoor temperatures, as all buildings they visited were unheated.

Dutch architects plan to build a house using a 3-D printer. The printer uses a sand-based mixture to create sections as big as six meters by nine meters.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, favorite four-sentences speeches, and weird North Korea finds to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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