Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Snowden’s new NSA leak, US jobs report, Assad’s Instagram offensive

September 6, 2013
September 6, 2013

What to watch for today

The all-important US jobs report. It could be the watershed event of 2013 for global markets. A strong reading would probably prompt the Federal Reserve to start scaling back its easy-money policies, unleashing a wave of economic ripple effects. Economists expect non-farm payrolls to rise by 180,000—possibly strong enough.

Consensus at the G20? World leaders in St Petersburg have been locked in a divisive debate over whether to bomb Syria’s military for its presumed use of chemical weapons against civilians. On a more harmonious note, the summit may issue a manifesto on how to stop corporate tax avoidance.

Spotlight on Smithfield Foods. The world’s largest pork producer should report improved earnings, but more importantly for investors the US Justice department could okay Smithfield’s acquisition (paywall) by China’s Shuanghui International. Meanwhile activist hedge fund Starboard Value is trying to cobble together a rival bid.

Last day for Olympic lobbying. Diplomacy will reach a fever pitch as the 100 delegates of the International Olympic Committee prepare to choose the host city for the 2020 Olympics. Madrid is seen as the frontrunner; Tokyo’s chances have been marred by fears over radiation from the Fukushima nuclear plant, while Istanbul’s hopes have been hit by currency woes and political unrest (paywall).

While you were sleeping

More Snowden surveillance leaks. US and British intelligence agencies can circumvent many of the safeguards on communications and personal data by allying with tech companies to insert secret vulnerabilities in encryption software, according to the NSA whistleblower. Here’s how to stay safe.

Melting ice may be a bigger problem than previously thought. Leaked UN documents indicate that liquifying ice in Antarctica and Greenland added six times more to sea levels in the ten years to 2011 than the decade before.

Singapore became Asia’s foreign exchange king. Its central bank said the city state overtook Japan as FX trading volume soared around 44% in the last three years. In April, daily trading volume reached $383 billion, while average daily interest-rate derivatives trading reached $37 billion.

Apple may soon sew up the Japanese market. The US tech giant is in the final stages of agreeing a deal with Japan’s largest mobile carrier, NTT DoCoMo, to offer iPhones on its network. Apple already supplies other Japanese carriers, but sees plenty of room for growth in the Japanese market, which has only 40% smartphone penetration.

JPMorgan will wind up its student loan business. The biggest US bank will stop making new loans in October. It’s become uncompetitive since the federal government started bypassing banks and lending directly to students.

South Korea is banning Japanese fishing products. Taking no chances with the stubborn radiation leaks from the Fukushima power plant, South Korea has stopped all imports from eight Japanese prefectures, which last year accounted for 5,000 tonnes (5,511 tons) of produce.

Quartz obsession interlude

Simone Foxman on a potentially catastrophic insurance bubble. “The worry is that new investors won’t understand the risks that accompany investing in insurance, and that they’ll invest far more money into it than they should. Individuals and companies—particularly those affected by disasters—do occasionally file claims en masse. Investors who become convinced that these investments aren’t that risky could be in for big losses.” Read more here. 

Matters of debate

The one thing that hasn’t leaked about the new iPhone is the only thing that matters. The phone’s price will be instrumental to its success in developing markets.

Interning is the new retirement. The era of long vacation-style retirements is over, to be replaced by programs that connect private sector retirees with non-profits needing help and expertise.

Why senior women are leaving Wall Street. The industry doesn’t value their attributes and gives preference to men.

You can train humans to be good people. A new education curriculum is trying to help high school kids recognize situations that can lead to unethical behavior, and rise above them.

Let watches stay dumb. The wrist is a terrible place for a computer and the concept of an interactive watch is fundamentally unappealing.

Surprising discoveries

Bashar al-Assad has an Instagram account. Its propaganda-heavy tone gives insight into the lives of Syria’s first family.

One of the solar system’s largest volcanoes is deep beneath the Pacific. Tamu Massif is 400 miles wide and covers an area the size of Britain and Ireland combined.

Your gut is making you fat. Stomach bacteria can result in obesity or slimness, which may also be useful in a future treatment.

China’s language barrier. Nearly one-third of the country’s 1.3 billion citizens can’t speak Mandarin.

Broadband for the moon. NASA’s lunar orbiter will use laser pulses instead of radio waves to send high-bandwidth signals back to Earth.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, unorthodox retirement plans and photos of gigantic hidden geological marvels to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

Correction to yesterday’s brief, September 5. Thursday’s version of this briefing incorrectly referred to Chelsea Manning as Bradley, as she was previously known. We apologize for the error.

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