Quartz Daily Brief – Europe edition – Black Friday, Gaza, US home sales, fish appreciation, Paris Hilton

November 21, 2012
November 21, 2012

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Data hint at how bad the Black Friday stampedes will be. As America begins winding down for Thanksgiving, initial jobless claims and the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index are released, both of which might give some hints about how much people will go shopping in the traditional post-Thanksgiving mad rush. Either way, new data suggest that most of them will be buying things for themselves, not gifts for other people.

A truce in Gaza? The city is still shaking from the effect of Israeli air strikes, and the death toll has reached five Israelis and over 130 Palestinians. A ceasefire has been discussed by Hamas, the Islamist movement controlling Gaza, and Egypt, which is trying to play peacemaker. Hilary Clinton has flown into Jerusalem for talks, but at the time of writing no deal had been reached. The building housing news agency AFP’s office in Gaza has been hit by Israeli strikes, though AFP said none of its staff were hurt.

Fish appreciation day is upon us. Celebrants of World Fisheries Day would like to remind you that more than a quarter of the protein consumed by humans worldwide is provided by fish captured by an industry that provides a livelihood for half a billion people. But two-thirds of the world’s fisheries have been overfished, and the long-term trend is a total collapse of world fishing stocks.

While you were sleeping

Greece’s debt problem is still unresolved—and looks even worse than before. In late-night talks in Brussels the euro-zone finance ministers, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund yet again failed to reach agreement on how to bring Greece’s debt-to-GDP ratio down on schedule. Current plans call for it to fall from 170% now to 120% by 2020; a document making the rounds says it will only get to 144% by then, Reuters reports. The basic disagreement is over whether to give Greece more time or forgive some of its debt. But the argument is as much about the IMF’s credibility, says Quartz’s Tim Fernholz.

Xstrata’s chairman bows out after shepherding its merger with Glencore. Two of the world’s largest mining and commodities concerns are now as one, with the potential to reshape the mining industry much as mega-mergers changed the oil industry a decade ago. However, investors rejected a £140 million ($200 million) bonus plan for Xstrata executives that was to be part of the deal, prompting Sir John Bond, the company’s chairman who proposed it, to resign.

Ben Bernanke remains glum despite strong US housing data. Though new housing starts rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 894,000 for October, their highest rate in four years, the chairman of the US Federal Reserve warned in a speech that  this housing recovery is “likely to remain moderate by historical standards.”

Jail time for rogue trader. The largest unauthorized trade in British history, $2.3 billion, netted former UBS trader Kweku Adoboli a seven-year sentence. The bank was not exactly blameless. It arguably failed to punish excessive risk taking.

Australia’s stock market gets a kill switch. Concerned about algorithmic trading, Australia’s federal government has approved a “kill switch” in order to avoid events like the 2010 flash crash of the US stock market.

San Franciscans told to get dressed.The city has ruled. No more naked. Nudists have to get dressed. At least, when they go out in public they do. In a 6-5 vote, the city’s Board of Supervisors approved a proposal that makes it illegal to be unclothed in public places. The “nudity situation” in the Castro, a hub for the city’s gay community where some like to go about their day unencumbered by clothing, had “become extreme”, said a city supervisor who proposed the anti-nudity vote, one Scott Wiener.

Quartz obsession interlude

The world is awash in new oil fields such as those in Iraqi Kurdistan, says Quartz’s Steve Levine, but getting the stuff to market is a major obstacle. “Agile companies such as Genel Energy, headed by BP’s former boss, Tony Hayward, are finding other ways out. Genel is using up to 500 trucks a day to ship 75,000 barrels a day of crude from its Taq Taq field north to Turkey, to be picked up by oil traders. Hayward is counting on cutting the costs and raising production by getting a 1-million-barrel-a-day independent pipeline through Turkey by 2014. But a pipeline is risky, since technically speaking Baghdad is in charge of the borders.”

Matters of debate

A funeral for Samsung. The story of Samsung’s victory in the mobile market is best told in charts. But they won’t tell the story of feud within the Lee family, which runs the Samsung empire. It’s gotten so bad, they can’t even be at the same funeral for their patriarchs, reports Quartz’s Euny Hong.

The deeper meaning of the Israel-Gaza conflict. How Hamas’ long-range rockets changed the Middle East. And why this might be the last war in Gaza.

Asia is America’s new best friendSorry, Europe, but America has a new best trading and strategic partner: The 50% of the world’s population that lives between the Indian subcontinent and the scattered islands of the Pacific.

Is Windows doomed? The scariest chart in this history of Microsoft’s market share has the Wall Street Journal pointing out that returns on a decade of investment in the company are virtually non-existent. The real culprit: Android.

Elon Musk says Apple will lose. Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX and Tesla, said that Apple is not going to beat Google in the battle for the world’s mobile soul.

The most popular publication in the UK is a supermarket circular? Tesco magazine (sample article: “A beginner’s guide to Twitter“) is now the most popular magazine in the UK, claims Tesco. Unsurprisingly, a not-amused mainstream media is tearing that claim apart.

American heiress Paris Hilton opens a boutique in Mecca. Paris Hilton, a socialite known for lacking both taste and appropriate clothing, has opened a boutique in Mecca that is, in the eyes of local commenters, an insult to Islam.

Surprising discoveries

Looks like all that industrialization was for nothing. Modern container ships now move slower than sailing ships of yore, in order to save fuel.

Pirates lead to worse weather forecasts. An Indian Ocean aswarm with pirates is an Indian Ocean in which scientists can’t gather data about air and water temperatures. As a result, meteorologists are failing to predict major, market-moving shifts in medium-term weather patterns.

Bosses who feel guilt are the best bosses. Great leaders feel a lot of guilt, a study says. It makes them want to get things done.

China’s Great Firewall is actually quite porous. Internet censorship is un-effective, as netizens mobilise technology and slang to jump over the wall.

Best wishes from Quartz for a productive day. Please send any news, queries, solutions for Gaza and pirate sightings to hi@qz.com or hit “Reply” to this email.

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