Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Samsung’s smart watch, China’s deliberate slowdown, Bank of America’s China exit, McCain’s Syria poker

September 4, 2013
September 4, 2013

What to watch for today

Discussions on Syria. French lawmakers will debate but won’t vote on military action against the Bashar al-Assad regime; president François Hollande has said France will wait for the outcome the US Congress vote next week. That’s looking more promising for president Barack Obama, after he won the support of key Republican leaders.

US economic data. The trade deficit for July is expected to have widened to $38.8 billion, and sales of new cars and light trucks are estimated to have jumped 17% year-on-year. The Federal Reserve’s “Beige Book” regional economic report will also be released.

Europe’s baby steps. Revised euro-zone GDP is expected to confirm that the region is out of recession. Data on imports, exports and retail sales will give further clues about the extent of the recovery.

Samsung’s chunky smart watch. The South Korean electronics giant will beat Apple to market with the launch of its Galaxy Gear. Leaked photos of the wearable device seem to confirm our reservations about smart watches.

Rosh Hashanah begins. Sunset today marks the start of the Jewish new year.

While you were sleeping

China said its economic slowdown was deliberate. President Xi Jinping said in a written interview transcript published by state media that China would “rather bring down the growth rate to a certain extent in order to solve the fundamental problems” that have held the country back in the long term. He was likely referring to issues like corruption, local government debt and environmental damage.

Bank of America joined the hoard of foreign banks abandoning China. It sold its remaining shares in China Construction Bank (paywall) for $1.47 billion, throwing in the towel on a 10% stake it took eight years ago. At least six big foreign banks that bought stakes in Chinese banks have since sold them after failing to gain access to the local market.

LinkedIn to list another $1 billion in stock. The social media company said it would sell additional shares (paywall) to raise money for expansion, flexibility and possible future acquisitions, capitalizing on the popularity of its stock, which has doubled in value so far in 2013.

Australia beat the bulls. Its economy expanded 0.6% last quarter, or 2.6% from a year earlier. The pace is slow, but offers momentum for the winner of this week’s election.

Radiation around Fukushima hit another high. Readings around the damaged Japanese nuclear reactor jumped more than 20% near a set of tanks on Wednesday. The country’s regulator said the hotspots would be easily contained, but extremely toxic to humans.

Standard & Poor’s hit back. The ratings agency claimed that the US justice department’s fraud lawsuit against it is a retaliation for its decision to downgrade the US in August 2011, and violates its freedom of speech.

The bodies in Iraq keep piling up. Car bombs across Baghdad killed nearly 60 people on Tuesday, mostly in Shi’ite neighborhoods. In August over 800 were killed by the ongoing violence, 18 months after US troops withdrew from the country.

Quartz obsession interlude

Jason Karaian on how European soccer clubs are the fiscal opposites of European governments. “If you take each country’s top league as a whole, net spending flips the common economic narrative on its head. Northern Europe shows a taste for aggressive deficit spending—led by England, with France and Germany doing their part—while the prudent periphery—Spain, Italy and Portugal—collects more than it pays out. Despite Madrid’s spending spree, on balance La Liga in Spain brought in the equivalent of $140 million more in fees than it spent on players.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The US is probably already attacking Syria. Obama has launched a lobbying blitz to persuade lawmakers to authorize missiles, but he needs no such permission for a cyber attack.

The rise of the stay-at-home dad is over-hyped. Yes, there are almost 190,000 of them in the US—but that’s still in only 0.8% of married couples with kids under 15.

Germany is being crushed by its export obsession. Its success has been built on cutting wages, creating a low-value added production trap that will ultimately hurt the economy.(paywall).

The world economy is in the hands of the US Congress—again. The vote on Syria, the debt ceiling debate, and the confirmation hearings for the next Fed chief could all destabilize global growth.

Surprising discoveries

McCain’s high stakes at the Syria hearings. The senator from Arizona was caught by a keen-eyed photographer playing poker on his phone.

The man who fathered the search engine is barely noted by his creation. Jonathan Fletcher invented world’s first web-crawling search engine, but didn’t get much of the credit.

Want your parcels delivered by drone? Move to China. It could be a leader in legalizing commercial drone use.

Smile for the satellite. An international “open skies” policy means companies can control a satellite over any spot with relatively little regulation.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, novel ideas for commercial drone use and your best satellite snaps to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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