Quartz Daily Brief – Americas Edition – Obama’s to-do list, FT “not for sale”, US states legalize pot

November 7, 2012
November 7, 2012

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Wall Street titans try to pretend they supported Obama all along. The bank and hedge fund lobbies have a job on their hands to rebuild ties with Obama, having mostly thrown their weight behind the Republicans. The President has openly shown his distaste for the people he has called “fat cats” who “don’t get it”. But the financial industry is desperate to scale back some of the Dodd Frank reforms, which Romney probably would have killed, and needs friends in the Obama administration.

A look ahead in Europe. The European Commission will release its latest projections for economic growth in EU member states. The Commission releases these projections every six months. While the region’s economic outlook didn’t look too pretty in the spring, downward revisions to growth forecasts could foretell even steeper challenges ahead.

More gloom predicted for Germany. The nation’s economic growth will fail to pick up next year, advisers to the government have said. That is because the euro region’s debt crisis is weakening demand for German exports.

People in Washington and Colorado can get legally stoned. “I think I’ll stay home tonight and, like, watch Simpsons re-runs and eat Oreos,” is something one may soon be hearing a lot of in the two states that just legalized pot for recreational use. The development is bad news for Mexican drug cartels.

While you were sleeping

Citigroup gets yanked into the LIBOR drama. Citigroup revealed that the Monetary Authority of Singapore, among other global financial authorities, has requested documents from the bank (and others in Singapore) while probing its role in what seems like widespread manipulation of the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR)—one of the most important financial benchmarks in the world. Citigroup has also turned over documents to various state attorney generals in the US.

No FT, no comment? Bloomberg reported that according to unnamed sources, Pearson, owner of the Financial Times, wants to divest itself of the famous salmon-pink newspaper (but not the FT group, which also owns 50% of The Economist) to focus on its growing education business. Pearson strongly denied this. There has been speculation about a sale since the news that Marjorie Scardino, the Pearson CEO, would step down at the end of this year. Bloomberg would probably be among the interested buyers, along with, it is rumored, oligarchs from a variety of emerging-market nations.

Japan’s opposition said no to a no-strings bailout for Sharp. The policy chief of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) said the ailing electronics company needs to come up with a viable turnaround before asking for state rescue funds. The LDP’s view is important because Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s Democratic Party of Japan will probably lose next year’s election.

Indonesia wants to re-impose price controls on food. The Indonesian government wants to pass a proposal that would keep food prices low for consumers and set minimum prices for producers. Experts say these efforts have been accelerated by a drought in the US that dramatically reduced the availability of crops like soybeans.

Quartz obsession interlude

Obama has a chance to join Roosevelt and Reagan as an economic icon. President Barack Obama has ensured that he’ll be around to receive the credit—or blame—as the policies he put in place in the aftermath of  the Great Recession take root. If he presides over an economic resurgence, it will add a new chapter to the debate about the interaction of government and economic growth that has long gripped America and, more recently, Europe, and the big emerging markets too, writes Matt Phillips.

But the President has much to do to cement his economic legacy. He must simultaneously maintain investments in public goods like infrastructure, education, and research; protect social insurance institutions; and still reduce public debt without killing growth, Tim Fernholz writes.

Matters of debate

Are Europeans losing faith in their parliament? Ineffectiveness and scandal threaten an institution meant to unify Europe.

The real losers in sanctions against Iran. Ordinary Iranians are being hurt by sanctions that were claimed to be “smart” and “targeted”.

Surprising discoveries

Ant colonies are democracies. The tiny insects use crowdsourcing to make otherwise impossible decisions.

Cockatoos can make tools. A captive cockatoo in Austria has learned to turn splinters of wood into tools that it uses to grab hard-to-reach nuts.

Dead men really can vote. An elderly man living near Detroit, Michigan, collapsed at a polling station. A nurse who happened to be voting found his pulse and breathing had stopped, and brought him back to life. Among his first words upon regaining consciousness: “Did I vote?”

Best wishes from Quartz for a productive day. Please send any news, queries, suggestions, rogue trades, and ant polls to hi@qz.com.

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