Quartz Daily Brief—Asia Edition—Whitman’s H-P triage, QE debates, Foxconn hiring, overdoses

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Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Has Meg Whitman stopped the bleeding? PC maker Hewlett-Packard reports first quarter earnings today, a chance to see whether Whitman has stabilized the company after mass firings and $17 billion in write-downs last year.

Consumers, LBOs, Hurricane Sandy. Wal-Mart’s fourth quarter earnings, expected to rise 9%, should shed some light on the state of retail around the world, while those of private equity firm Carlyle Group could do the same for the seeming boom in leveraged buyouts. Insurer AIG, bailed out by American taxpayers and now on a profitable rebound, will shed some light on the costs of Hurricane Sandy.

Rising US inflation? After yesterday saw modest gains in wholesale prices, watch to see if US consumer prices—which have held below even the Federal Reserve’s official targets—start to increase, a possible sign of growth.

The new Sony Playstation. By the time you read this Sony will probably have unveiled the successor to its 77-million selling PlayStation 3 video game console. Here are five things to watch for. And five more, and five more.

Also announced: December’s retail sales figures for Mexico; and manufacturing activity surveys in France, Germany, and the European Union at large, as well the United States, where initial unemployment claims and existing home sales data will also be disclosed.

While you were sleeping

Austerity takes its toll in Portugal. The country expects a 2% decline in national wealth this year thanks to worsening conditions in Europe, which won’t help it shed its debt or make its policy choices exemplary.

You can’t spell BRIC without B and R. Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev visited Brazil and met with President Dilma Rousseff to talk about arms and nuclear technology deals. Naturally, Medvedev is now off to Cuba.

Foxconn stopped hiring. The electronics manufacturing giant stopped recruiting new workers for its plants in China, driven by lower-than-expected demand for the iPhone 5 and iPad it builds for Apple.

America pushes back against global hackers. The US government will put spy agencies to work with private companies to improve cybersecurity and put pressure on countries that allegedly allow hackers to steal intellectual property. (Not that we have any specific countries in mind.)

The FCC makes wifi faster, better. America’s telecommunications regulator opened up more airwaves for devices like wireless modems, so you’ll get less interference from your neighbor upstairs.

The great QE debate. In the US, minutes from a January meeting of Federal Reserve policymakers showed divisions over how long to continue purchases by the central bank. Meanwhile, markets were surprised when minutes of the Bank of England’s last meeting revealed that Governor Mervyn King had supported more asset purchases, leading to a drop in interest rates and a depreciating pound sterling.

Thankfully, they have plenty of erasers and white-out fluid. Office Depot will acquire OfficeMax in a $1.2 billion all-stock deal that was accidentally announced before it was completed.

Quartz obsession interlude

Steve Levine on China’s smart bid for the US electric car industry. “Chinese firms are buying control of a string of struggling US electric-car and battery makers—tarnished trophies of America’s exuberant but so far disappointing foray into the industry. But while critics assert that the Chinese shopping spree reveals the failures of US energy policy, it actually says more about how some of the world’s biggest fortunes of the last three decades have been earned: namely, thanks to a sharp eye for an unrecognized bargain.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Is Google becoming a cop’s best friend? How the search engine solves crime.

What Sweden’s right wing has in common with America’s Tea Party. Xenophobia is the same in every language.

Why the biggest US banks are riskier than you think. You can’t trust their accounting if they keep so much risk off their balance sheets.

Your homepage doesn’t matter. Sorry, Yahoo.

Surprising discoveries

Most drug overdoses in the US are caused by legal drugs. What to do about addictive painkillers?

“Unlimited voice, texting and data for $20 a month.” So what’s the catch?

China planned to kill a Burmese drug lord with a drone. But it decided to capture him instead.

Economic forecasters always think growth is around the corner. And lately, they’re always wrong.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, electric cars and Panglossian forecasts to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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