Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—JPMorgan settlement, EasyJet soars, Beirut blasts, email apnea

November 19, 2013
November 19, 2013

What to watch for today

JPMorgan accepts its lashings. JPMorgan and the Justice Department are set to announce a $13 billion settlement over the bank’s sale of mortgage-backed securities during the 2008 financial crisis, in what would be the biggest-ever settlement between a company and the US government.

Nepal is voting. Citizens are going to the polls to elect a constituent assembly aimed at ending years of political instability. Three were hurt when a bomb exploded near a polling station in the capital, Katmandu.

Nokia and Microsoft at the crossroads. Shareholders are expected to approve the deal to sell the majority of Nokia’s mobile phone unit to Microsoft for $7.2 billion. Separately, Microsoft holds its annual shareholder meeting, where it could drop hints about its hunt for a new CEO.

A better Best Buy. Investors will be watching Best Buy’s same-store sales growth this quarter after it dropped 0.4% in the last quarter.

World Toilet Day. This year marks the United Nations’s first official day to draw attention to the global sanitation crisis. A third of the world’s population—2.5 billion people—still don’t have access to a toilet, and poor sanitation costs countries up to 7% of their GDP.

While you were sleeping

Blasts in Beirut. At least 23 people were killed in two explosions near the Iranian embassy, including the Iranian cultural attache. The attacks could be related to the civil war in Syria, where Iran and the Lebanese group Hezbollah have been close allies of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

EasyJet’s profit soared.  The European budget airline’s annual profit rose 51% to 478 million pounds ($770 million), though the carrier warned it will face stiffer competition this winter as rivals like Ryanair add capacity.

At least 16 were killed in Sardinia flooding. Torrential rains caused waters to rise as high as ten feet (3 meters), inundating cars and wrecking bridges on the Italian island.

Argentina’s president is back. Cristina Fernandez returned after five weeks of recuperation following brain surgery and named a new economy minister: Axel Kicillof, the man who led the country’s successful effort last year to expropriate the energy firm YPF.

Manhunt in Paris. Police are searching for a gunman who opened fire yesterday in the offices of the newspaper Liberation—seriously wounding a man—and outside the Societe Generale bank headquarters.

China is overhauling its accounting system. The country’s National Bureau of Statistics will bring its system for measuring China’s mistrusted economic data in line with international standards.

Indonesia/Australia relations have taken a hit. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said Canberra’s reported monitoring of his phone calls was a “hurtful action” that has strained ties between the countries.

Quartz obsession interlude

Adam Pasick on the love affair between China and bitcoin, who “are an ideal match for a host of reasons. In particular, bitcoin appeals to Chinese investors who cannot freely trade the renminbi because of government regulations, and the hype has been fanned by positive state-run media reports about the currency—even after the collapse of a trading platform called Global Bond Limited, which turned out to be a swindle, as the New York Times reported today. There also aren’t many places yet to spend bitcoins in China, although online search firm Baidu accepts them, along with a Shanghai real estate developer.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Obama is hurting trade talks. The president’s failure to consult lawmakers and his desire for secrecy are threatening Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.

GDP data don’t reflect the digital economy. The growing number of big companies providing free Web services means we get a distorted picture of what goods are worth.

People are courting natural disasters. As the global population continues to grow, more people are moving to cities along coastlines, putting themselves in harm’s way.

(Mostly) believe the Bitcoin hype. The digital currency’s has promise as a money transfer platform. Counterpoint: Bitcoin is disintegrating. We’re witnessing a short squeeze that is sending prices to astronomical levels.

Surprising discoveries

Yonic architecture. Phallic buildings are nothing new, but the design for Qatar’s new World Cup stadium is drawing a more feminine comparison.

Americans hate their jobs the most, according to a study of workers in the US, Canada, India, and Europe.

Email apnea. About 80% of people stop breathing while they type.

A food drive for Walmart employees, by Walmart employees. A store in Canton, Ohio is refocusing the spotlight on the  retailer’s sub-living wages.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, breathing techniques and extra bitcoins to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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