Rout reaction, Malaysian shakeup, rude motorists

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Stock markets open after a major rout. Last week US and global stocks suffered drops not seen since 2008 as Covid-19 outbreaks expanded outside China. Yesterday WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged the markets to calm down. Will they listen?

The OECD weighs in on Covid-19’s impact. The organization will update its economic outlook for the first time since November, before the coronavirus emerged. Up for debate is whether the global outbreaks will tip some European countries into recession.

Pharmaceutical execs visit the White House. They’ll discuss the prospects of a Covid-19 vaccine with Donald Trump, who spoke over the weekend about one being “rapidly” developed. Experts have cautioned, however, that a final product is at least a year to 18 months away.

Over the weekend

China’s factory activity plunged to an all-time low. Last month the official manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) slipped to 35.7—much worse than analysts’ already-low expectations. On the plus side pollution levels are down.

Malaysia got a new prime minister. The ascendancy of Muhyiddin Yassin likely means policies favoring the Malay majority, following a more inclusive, multiracial government taking power in 2018. Expect a more religiously conservative administration in the largely Muslim nation.

The first Covid-19 death in the US was recorded. A man in his 50s with underlying health conditions died of the disease near Seattle. Local officials warned they expect many more infections in the area.

Joe Biden made a comeback. With strong backing from African-American voters, the US presidential candidate easily won the South Carolina primary. It was a much-needed victory for the former vice president after ceding front-runner status to Bernie Sanders.

Pressure grew on a South Korean religious cult. Officials filed a legal complaint against leaders of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, a major source of Covid-19 infections. Church leaders allegedly hid the names of some members as authorities tried to track patients before the virus spread.

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“TikTok has taken India by storm,” writes Niharika Sharma. The Chinese video streaming app is a global sensation, and India has quickly become one of its largest markets. Quartz has the story on how TikTok made its way into Indian pop culture—and parliament.

Quartz daily obsession

Did you make the most of your Leap Year Day? Feb. 29 comes around once every four years—most of the time—and it helps the world stay in order. Without it, the calendar would fall out of sync with Earth’s rotation around the sun, and seasons would creep towards months they’d have no business being in. Plus, we’d be robbed of some pretty weird traditions. Banish the chaos with the Quartz Daily Obsession.

Matters of debate

China deserves credit for its handling of the coronavirus. The World Health Organization’s fact-finding team has been singing the praises of China’s public health response.

Only the privileged can afford to be writers. It’s not just a question of economic security, but of having the blind confidence to enter such a risky profession in the first place.

“Late capitalism” is a dead scene. The ubiquitous term is just marketing for acquiescing to the adoption of a conformist lifestyle.

Surprising discoveries

Apple sent care packages to staff in China. Employees stranded in coronavirus-hit regions received cookies, hand sanitizer, and even iPads.

Wealthy motorists really are ruder. Drivers of more expensive cars are less likely to yield to pedestrians, but being white or female increases your odds of survival.

South Koreans use apps to avoid coronavirus. One app alerts a user if they come within 100 m (328 ft) of a location visited by someone who’s had Covid-19.

A dog’s nose can smell heat. Canines join just a handful of animals able to sense the weak thermal radiation of mammalian prey.

Leap Day helps couples stay forever young. Feb. 29 fell on a Saturday this year, and engaged couples took advantage by getting married in droves.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, care packages, and coronavirus apps to Get the most out of Quartz by downloading our app on iOS or Android and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Steve Mollman and Max Lockie.