Quartz Daily Brief—Asia Edition—Shirakawa’s last stand, Papal poll, Mexican telecoms, Italy’s clowns

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What to watch for today

The last gasps of BoJ conservatism. The Bank of Japan releases the minutes of its February meeting, the last under outgoing governor Masaaki Shirakawa. His nominated predecessor, Haruhiko Kuroda, will probably open the floodgates of monetary easing.

Start looking for white smoke. Catholic cardinals begin the secret process of electing a new pope at the Vatican. They’ll cast one vote today, and as many as four each subsequent day until a pope is elected.

The state of manufacturing—on both sides of the Atlantic. Both the UK and Mexico will release data on industrial production.

Budget battles in Washington, DC. Representative Paul Ryan will announce the Republicans’ plan for the 2013 budget. The probable outcome? Gridlock between liberals and conservatives. Yawn.

While you were sleeping

Suntech squeaks by. Chinese solar company Suntech struck a deal with bondholders to defer debt payments until May in order to avoid bankruptcy.

Intrade in limbo. The online prediction market has shuttered operations after allegations of “financial irregularities.” Need your online event-betting fix? We suggest alternatives.

Mexican telecoms could face a break-up. Legislators will weigh a new law that would espouse more stringent regulation and competition in the phone and broadcasting industries, where Carlos Slim, the world’s richest man, and his América Móvil have long held dominance.

Judge rules Americans can be obese if they want to. An attempt to ban the sale of sugary beverages in sizes bigger than 16 oz at movie theaters and restaurants in New York City was halted by a judge. The law was aimed at curbing obesity and set to go into effect March 12.

It’s not just banks that can be accused of securities fraud. The state of Illinois settled a claim by the US Securities and Exchange Commission that it has been misleading investors about the state of its underfunded pension system. (But some take it as proof the SEC is spineless.)

Quartz obsession interlude

Naomi Rovnick on why Chinese stocks are cheaper in Shanghai than in Hong Kong: “In theory, Shanghai and Hong Kong bourses should move more or less in sync. Hong Kong’s stock market is dominated by mainland Chinese companies, so events like rises and falls in China’s GDP ought to have similar effects on both bourses. But they have entirely separate groups of investors. Mainland Chinese funds and individuals are restricted to buying stocks at home, using the tightly controlled renminbi. Hong Kong’s market is for the territory’s locals and international money managers.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Is Britain “a nation in decay”? The UK growth problem, explained.

Electric cars’ dirty secret. Can anyone say “carbon-dioxide emissions“? (paywall)

Italians didn’t just vote for two clowns. They sent a message of disillusionment with parties that should worry politicians everywhere.

Surprising discoveries

Your family history of heart disease is longer than you think. Mummies got atherosclerosis, too.

China’s gripping new public-service campaign implores youth to care for their parents. Sob-worthy commercials aim to fix a social welfare system that is falling apart.

The next Jewish diaspora. Fleeing France.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, mummy-related illnesses, and regulatory gripes to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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