Quartz Weekend Brief—Bonus Edition—Obama in Asia, K-Pop, James Bond, Mr. Donkey

November 16, 2012
November 16, 2012

Greetings, Quartz readers!

We’re sending out this bonus edition of the daily newsletter for the weekend. Let us know what you think by replying to this email.

What to watch for next week

Obama in Myanmar. Fresh off his electoral victory, Obama will be the first US president to visit the country, also known as Burma, which has been shunned for decades and taken important strides toward democratization late. Obama will also attend the East Asian summit in Cambodia.

Euro zone finance ministers to meet. Greece will of course be on the agenda when the heads of finance ministries meet in Brussels. IMF Chief Christine Lagarde says the meeting will be key to getting Greece “back on its feet.”

A slow week in the United States. With the president abroad and the Thanksgiving holiday taking up Thursday and Friday, don’t expect too much activity on either the political or business fronts. Data on existing home sales and new housing starts will provide more fodder for pundits picking over signs of economic recovery, but as the Wall Street Journal sums up next week: “Housing reports, then turkey.”

What’s been brewing today

European investors eased up on their buying of US financial assets in September, as they felt better about Europe’s ongoing debt crisis.

Violence in the Middle East ratcheted still higher. Palestinians fighters in Gaza fired rockets targeting Jerusalem for the first time in the history of the conflict. Israel appeared to move closer to a ground incursion into the territory. As of this writing around 30 Gazans are dead, including 11 civilians, according to Palestinian medical sources. Three Israelis were killed when a rocket hit an apartment building in southern Israel.

JP Morgan and Credit Suisse agreed to pay more than $400 million to settle SEC charges that they sold risky mortgage bonds to investors without sufficient warning. The banks did not deny or admit wrongdoing.

Republicans said they offered higher tax revenue as part of a potential deal on the fiscal cliffUS stocks bounced on constructive comments from John Boehner, a leading member of the Republican opposition in Congress.

Quartz obsession interlude

As the juggernaut known as Gangnam Style continues to dominate global pop culture as we know it, Euny Hong explains why Korean pop is so darn marketable. A big reason? It’s squeaky clean—especially when compared to pop products from Japan. “Despite what you see in Korean movies, sexual repression in everyday South Korea is enforced to an annoying degree. A female Korean-American friend of mind recalls not being allowed to attend slumber parties as a child, because, ‘You don’t sleep at another person’s house until you are married.’ When I’m with my parents, who live in Seoul, I am still expected to walk out of the room if we’re watching a movie with a sex scene, even though I’ve been an adult for quite a long time.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Junk bond investors may look stupid, but they’re acting rationally. Even so, they still might lose a lot of money.

Think complicated passwords will protect you? This journalist reckons he can take over your entire online life in 20 minutes.

Israel is the best place to lose your job.

A recession caused by the fiscal cliff would be worth it if it fixes the US budget, says Alan Greenspan.

Like your cousin Carl, the US economy is not living up to its potential.

Technology might be able to make US colleges and universities cheaper.

After Obama’s win, Republicans are rethinking the “compassionate conservatism” of George W. Bush.

Surprising discoveries

James Bond hardly ever goes to dangerous countries.

A donkey named “Mr. Donkey” will not be allowed to run for a seat in Ecuador’s National Assembly.

An up-and-coming Scrabble player was booted from the 2012 National Tournament for cheating.

A fisherman snagged a bottle out of the sea off the coast of the Shetland Islands. The bottle contained a message showing that it had been adrift for 98 years.

People are competing for the title of world’s biggest liar in the UK. Here’s a great read about last year’s contest.

MIT nerds disrupted the 1982 Harvard-Yale football game with an exploding balloon.

Many Beatles fans end up visiting the wrong Abbey Road.

Best wishes from Quartz for a productive weekend. Please send any news, queries, password guesses, and messages in a bottle to hi@qz.com or hit “Reply” to this email.

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