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Quartz Daily Brief—Asia Edition—Yahoo’s results, Japan’s taxes, Marxism’s resurgence, Blankfein’s beard

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

What to watch for today

Is Yahoo turning the corner? The internet company reports its second set of quarterly earnings since Marissa Mayer became CEO, marking the beginning of the end of the former Google exec’s honeymoon period. Analysts will be looking for signs that Mayer is starting to drive revenue growth and answer the question “What is Yahoo actually for?

Russia puts a dead man on trial. In one of the most bizarre and sinister examples of modern Russian justice, Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer, will go on trial for a massive tax fraud—in absentia, since he died in jail after he started investigating the role of Russian officials in the very same fraud.

Caterpillar shrugs off the Siwei fiasco. The heavy-machinery maker’s earnings will take a knock from its discovery that managers at Siwei, a Chinese firm it bought last year, had cooked the books. But though it’s a cautionary tale for multinationals, Caterpillar’s damage should be limited to a $580 million charge this quarter.

Over the weekend

A nightclub fire killed at least 232 people in Brazil. A flare used during a band’s performance set the nightclub in Santa Maria ablaze, filling it with smoke as people stampeded for the exits; most died of smoke inhalation.

Malian and French forces closed in on rebels. The government and foreign troops closed in on Timbuktu and cemented gains made in Gao, two key cities in the north of the country, which Islamist militants took control of in a coup last year.

Chinese industry continues its rebound. Profits at Chinese industrial firms in December were up 17.3% year-on-year, according to government statistics, the third month of double-digit growth after a mostly lackluster 2012. Analysts expect the recovery to continue throughout the year.

Japan now prefers taxes to debt. The government’s draft budget for FY 2013 will for the first time in four years raise more from taxation than bond sales, in an apparent nod to worries that prime minister Shinzo Abe’s aggressive plans for monetary and fiscal stimulus would mean unsustainable borrowing.

China’s highest-ranking corruption case ever? According to reports, Li Jianguo, vice-chairman of China’s legislature and a member of the Politburo (the second-highest decision-making body) is under investigation for graft.

Death toll rises in Egypt protests. With 49 people dead in protests since Jan. 25, President Mohammed Mursi has declared a state of emergency in three Egyptian cities. The protests against Mursi’s rule marked the two-year anniversary of the start of the revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak.

Quartz obsession interlude

Gwynn Guilford on the UK’s paradoxical economy. “Which is more trustworthy: the UK’s GDP data … or its employment numbers? On the one hand we have GDP, which fell 0.3% in the fourth quarter of 2012, leading to fears of a triple-dip recession. But the UK also added an impressive 513,000 jobs in 2012, and unemployment has been falling steadily for over a year. So either the economy is atrophying and jobs growth is merely an outlier—or people are getting jobs, collecting wages and then doing something with their money that the macro data aren’t capturing.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Don’t assume Congress will do the right thing. The US budgetary “sequester” might actually happen.

What’s the point of India’s fast-track courts? They may expedite politically sensitive cases, such as the Delhi gang-rape trial, but they don’t fix the creaking justice system.

The Pentagon should pay less attention to Africa. America is letting its Africa policy be too driven by security instead of economic and other issues, and that’s a recipe for disaster.

Marxism is relevant again. A generation disillusioned with capitalism is increasingly turning to it for answers.

What climate change, epilepsy and financial crises have in common. There are some basic mathematical principles that can give early warning of drastic change. 

Surprising discoveries

Chinese graduates are getting increasingly picky. They don’t want factory jobs any more.

Russian doctors are becoming rich. Thousands of them have become millionaires—well, ruble millionaires, anyway—thanks to government grants enticing them to move to rural areas.

What it means that Lloyd Blankfein has grown a beard. And some other beards the Goldman Sachs chairman could consider growing.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, economic paradoxes, and beard ideas to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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