Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Tablet wars, US jobs, Sriracha moguls, latte price discrimination

October 22, 2013
October 22, 2013

What to watch for today

The tablet market gets a little more crowded. Apple is set to announce upgraded versions of its iPad and iPad Mini devices, Microsoft will release a new edition of Surface, and Nokia is expected to introduce its own new tablet.

We finally get US jobs figures. September data, delayed by the government shutdown, are expected to show the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 7.3%, and economists expect that 180,000 jobs were added last month.

John Kerry is in Europe. The US secretary of state tries to kickstart talks on a transitional government for Syria; his arrival came amid French furor over the National Security Agency’s surveillance in the country. Meanwhile,  Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev is in Beijing to meet Chinese premier Li Keqiang.

News from the mining world. BHP Billiton is set to announce it shipped $500 million more of iron ore last quarter than analysts were expecting. Rio Tinto, which yesterday revealed an outsourcing deal with tech giant IBM thought to be worth up to $100 million, also releases its earnings today.

While you were sleeping

The EU voted to shield data. Lawmakers in Brussels put forth a measure that could force American companies such as Google and Yahoo to obtain European approval before complying with US data warrants.

Starbucks defends China latte pricing. Group president John Culver said the company’s operating margins in China were about the same as in the US, despite attacks by state media. In China, Tea Leaf Nation noted, “CCTV grossly underestimated Chinese people’s ability to distinguish real injustice from the manufactured variety.”

A Goldman vice chairman is retiring. J. Michael Evans, once thought to be a possible successor to CEO Lloyd Blankfein, is stepping down at the end of the year after more than two decades at the bank.

NASA said it’s not banning Chinese scientists. The space agency said a reported decision to exclude Chinese nationals from a conference in California was a “misinterpretation” of NASA policy.

Chinese new home prices surged in the country’s four major cities by as much as 20%, the most since January 2011. Prices are also booming in London and in Germany’s biggest cities but are declining in Hong Kong, which is also seeing lower rental rates as investment banks cut their budgets for expatriate workers.

Netflix has more subscribers than HBO. At the end of September, Netflix had 29.93 million paying members in the US, surpassing HBO’s 28.96 million for the first time. Netflix also beat analysts’ expectations with a $31.8 million profit. And it finally admitted that a lot of its customers “binge-watch” its shows, which has implications for its cost accounting.

Quartz obsession interlude

Roberto A. Ferdman on the unlikely business mogul behind Sriracha, the world’s coolest hot sauce. “Sriracha sales last year reached some 20 million bottles to the tune of $60 million dollars, percentage sales growth is in the double digits each year, and it does all this without spending a cent on advertising. Yet [chief executive David] Tran shuns publicity, professes not to care about profits, hardly knows where his sauces are sold, and probably leaves millions of dollars on the table every year.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Humans are too selfish and lazy to deal with climate change. The safety of our future environment hangs in the balance, and we must get better at planning ahead.

Watch out for the European Tea Party. The political consensus that underpins the euro could come unstuck

Left brain vs. right brain is outdated. The real breakdown in brain function is the top versus the bottom.

Chris Christie is the last moderate Republican standing. As governor of New Jersey, a largely Democratic state, Christie gets pulled to the middle on most social issues.

Economics is making us greedier. Professors of economics in the US give less money to charity than academics in other fields, and economics students in Germany are more likely to recommend an overpriced plumber.

Surprising discoveries

First-born children do better in school because their parents try harder. Moms and dads slack off in parenting subsequent kids.

Dick Cheney turned off his defibrillator’s wireless function. The former vice president was concerned about a potential terrorist attack, like in the TV show “Homeland.”

Turkey just legalized the letter “Q.” The overturned 1928 Alphabet Law “had little to do with aesthetic bias or onomastic whim.”

“Bishop of bling” chastised by pope. German bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst reportedly spent €31 million ($423 million) on a palatial new residence.

Laser pointer attacks are on the rise. Incidents of cheap lasers being aimed at airplane cockpits, which can temporarily blind the pilots, have jumped 1100% in the US since 2005.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, ghoul sightings and laser pointers to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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