Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Antipodean data, basta Berlusconi, happy Brazil, monster rats

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What to watch for today

Central bank action. The Bank of Korea is expected to cut rates as its export sector tries to fight off the impact of Abenomics in Japan. The Bank of England is expected to keep them steady.

Come on, England. The UK’s manufacturing sector will report production numbers for March. February wasn’t as bad as expected, raising hopes that Blighty is shaking off some of its recent sluggishness.

Reading Europe’s tea leaves. The European Central Bank’s monthly bulletin is due. The last report from the bank suggested it was bracing itself for downside risks to the economy, setting the stage for its rate cut on May 2.

Antipodean data. Unemployment reports are due from both Australia and New Zealand. Both central banks have been active lately, suggesting they don’t like the direction things are headed. The Australian central bank surprised markets by chopping rates. And New Zealand admitted that it’s been active in the currency markets to tamp down on its appreciating dollar.

Nokia shows off something new in India. Probably an update to its successful Asha line of low-end smartphones.

Earnings reports are due from Sony, and NVIDIA, among others.

While you were sleeping 

The boss bowed out. Legendary Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson announced his retirement, sending the publicly traded shares to drop in one of the world’s most valuable sports franchises.

Ferrari to hire more to produce and sell fewer cars. The über-luxury car maker plans to boost hiring, while simultaneously cutting production and sales. “We want to be a company that can demonstrate that producing and selling less can increase profits,” said the company’s chairman.

Basta, Berlusconi. An Italian appeals court upheld the former Italian prime minister’s conviction on tax fraud charges, including the sentence of one year in prison and a five-year ban on holding public office. He can still appeal, however.

Farewell, grey cardinal. Russian deputy prime minister Vladislav Surkov tendered his resignation in what’s seen as a high-profile blow by president Vladimir Putin against his reform-minded prime minister, Dmitri Medvedev. Surkov was once one of Putin’s closest allies, who engineered his form of political control.

Calorie count. Coca-Cola will slap calorie labels on its packaging in every country where it operates, and also reiterated its promise to stop marketing to kids under the age of 12, in an attempt to head off critics who say its products contribute to rising obesity.

Microsoft’s first female CFO. It also put women in charge of Windows for the first time.

We love a good heist story. Police arrested 31 people in a three-nation sweep related to a $50 million diamond theft in Brussels on Feb. 18.

Quartz obsession interlude

Simone Foxman on why Slovenia is not the next Cyprus. ”On the surface, it’s easy to compare Slovenia to Cyprus; both are small countries with problematic banking systems, and worrying about tiny economies bringing down the euro zone at the very least seems ridiculous. But their problems are quite distinct; Cyprus’s bloated financial system was closely tied to Greece, Greek sovereign debt, and investment in the Greek economy, and was crushed when the country defaulted. Slovenia’s problems look far more like the children of an asset bubble, particularly in construction.” Read more here

Matters of debate

Go to your happy place. Brazilians are happy despite the macro-level struggles of their economy. Why? Because the middle class is growing.

America runs on debt. So, in the short term it’s a good thing to see borrowing picking up (paywall).

The market doesn’t know everything. “All economists tend to imbue a set of values that tends to glorify the market and demonize public action.”

Ignore forecasts. They are nothing but professional-sounding predictions and guesses.

*Shrugs* The Dow is above 15,000 and it still doesn’t matter.

We should just call them bonds. US junk bonds—known euphemistically as “high-yield”—are now returning a ridiculously low sub-5% yield.

Surprising discoveries

The underside of the tracks. In India, some kids go to school under a railway bridge each day.

Merçi maman, good on ye. Europe is the best place for moms, along with Australia.

Attack of the monster rodents. Giant swamp rats are devouring Louisiana.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, mustache models, and signature suggestions to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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