Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—BlackBerry earnings, London theater collapse, Overstock’s bitcoin bid, pirated diapers

December 20, 2013
December 20, 2013

What to watch for today

BlackBerry’s earnings. Investors and remaining customers of Canada’s one-time smartphone colossus will be looking for some semblance of progress, though consensus expectations are for a loss of 43 cents per share on revenue of $1.7 billion.

The acid test for the US economy. The third and final estimate of third-quarter growth in the US might make the Fed’s decision earlier this week to dial down its bond-buying program look very smart, or very silly. According to the second revision, the word’s largest economy expanded by a feisty 3.6% in Q3.

Renewed protests in Thailand. Antigovernment demonstrators, whose numbers had dwindled in recent weeks, are back in the streets as they try to oust Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who has called for elections in February.

While you were sleeping

The BOJ held steady. As expected, the Bank of Japan won’t change its monetary policy, citing an improving economy thanks to ongoing stimulus measures.

Telstra is selling its Hong Kong unit. Australia’s biggest phone company is selling its Hong Kong mobile phone business for A$2 billion ($1.8 billion) to an arm of PCCW, a media conglomerate run by billionaire Richard Li.

Overstock likes bitcoins. The e-commerce site plans to start taking the digital currency next year, which would make it the first big US retailer to do so.

An ex-Microsoft manager was accused of insider trading. The US Securities and Exchange Commission charged a former corporate finance employee and his friend with illegally making $393,000 by trading on insider information like Microsoft’s investment in Barnes & Noble.

Nike earnings beat expectations, with second quarter net income rising 40% thanks to higher prices and increased world-wide revenues, including in China, where growth had been slowing.

London’s Apollo Theater collapsed. A section of the balcony in the 112-year-old West End theater fell on to a packed audience, injuring some 76 people, seven seriously.

Quartz obsession interlude

Steve LeVine on the mysterious story of Envia, the battery startup that allegedly failed GM. “It was… a deal rare to an industry newcomer—a contract worth tens and possibly hundreds of millions of dollars to provide the electric central nervous system for two showcase GM models including the next-generation Chevy Volt. Untested small suppliers almost never get in the door of the world’s major automakers, which regard them as too risky to rely on. But GM was won over by what seemed to be the world’s best lithium-ion battery—a cell that, if all went well, would catapult the company to a commanding position in the industry with a middle-class electric car that traveled 200 miles on a single charge.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Foreign businesses can help Ukrainian democracy. Banks, art galleries and consultancies should refuse to deal with the country’s pro-Moscow oligarchs.

America needs better comedians. The current crop just aren’t up to the task of effectively satirizing today’s politicians.

The Anarchists’ Cookbook should be taken out of print. Its author says he wrote the classic handbook of violent protest out of naivete, and that it’s done more harm than good.

Surprising discoveries

Drones are for farmers, too. Despite legal uncertainties, farmers in the US are already using the devices to keep tabs on their crops and livestock.

Styrofoam containers aren’t Styrofoam. The holders commonly used for food products are actually polystyrene. Real Styrofoam is used in building insulation and docks.

Drinking alcohol can prevent you from getting sick. When done moderately, that is.

Diapers can be pirated. Chinese companies are counterfeiting more expensive Japanese brands.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, non-Styrofoam food containers and pirated diapers to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day. 

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