Good morning, Quartz readers!
What to watch for today
China’s economy–up or down? Today HSBC will release its flash (i.e., estimated) Purchasing Manager’s Index for China, a sign of manufacturing strength and one of the most important bellwethers of the economy. HSBC’s PMI has been below 50, signaling a contraction in manufacturing, for the past 12 months, unlike the official Chinese PMI which is more optimistic. Look for the latest report here.
India’s plan to open up to foreign investment is in danger. Rivals of India’s ruling coalition will attempt a no-confidence vote and national protests in order to block the government’s plan, announced in September, to allow retail outlets to be majority-owned by foreign companies. A similar proposal that would allow furniture giant IKEA to enter the country is wending its way through the government.
US markets (and pretty much everything else) will be closed for Thanksgiving. If you want to understand this peculiarly North American ritual, you should start with the fact that President Barack Obama just pardoned a turkey for the crime of deliciousness. Even Americans are confused about the rules of this holiday.
While you were sleeping
US consumers not quite out of the fetal position. Analysts thought the US consumer sentiment index, currently at a five-year high, would rise further, but it did not. One culprit could be the impending fiscal cliff. Perhaps Americans have already realized that those who will be hit hardest by the fiscal cliff are the poorest. This could mean bad news for Black Friday, one of the biggest shopping days of the year in the US.
Greece solution kicked down the road again. We are getting tired of writing this headline.
Earth to warm as much as it did since the last Ice Age. The World Bank says we’re headed for 4 degrees of global warming by the end of the century (other estimates put it as high as 6 degrees), but what does that mean, anyway? Dead oceans, vast deserts, extreme weather, and many of the world’s most populous cities abandoned or radically reshaped.
Quartz obsession interlude
Companies in the developing world are borrowing money at amazingly low rates, reports Quartz’s Simone Foxman. “The Chinese government pays more to borrow than [Chinese search giant] Baidu does. Baidu is not alone in taking advantage of the changing global economy, where typical “safe assets” like US and German bonds yield next to nothing, and old stable bets like Italy and Spain have suddenly become risky. Investors looking for anything in between have been forced to turn to emerging markets, and to emerging-market giants like Baidu.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Gilded ages aren’t great for morale. Inequality drives unsustainable levels of consumer debt, and the results are killing capitalism, argues Robert Skidelsky. There is now less equality of opportunity in the US than in most other rich democracies. And as Jill Lepore reminds us, it was thanks to the last Gilded Age in America that “[i]n 1913, the income tax was introduced, not only to undergird the Treasury with a stable source of revenue, but also to answer populist rage at the growing divide between the rich and the poor.”
Islands in the South China sea are the next intractable military standoff. “We’d like to shake hands with China. But it’s difficult to shake hands when your foot is on my foot,” said Henry Bensurto Jr., secretary general of the Philippines’ maritime commission.
How nations attract the best and brightest. Countries all over the world are engaged in selective immigration—in which smart and capable applicants are allowed to immigrate—but not the US, at least not enough.
Austerity will be good for the USA. America should stop messing around and just go over the fiscal cliff already, argues a whole mess of pundits.
$100 bills are weirdly popular. 77% of US currency in circulation is a $100 bill–and not all of that is drug money.
So very high on snacks. The troubled history of caffeinated junk food.
America gets right with its creditors. The US budget deficit is shrinking faster than at any time since World War II.
Good governance can’t buy me happiness. Singapore has the most emotionally dead populace on earth.
It’s never too late to work for nothing. “Returnships” are internships for people in their 40s.
Getting push notifications in your dreams. 90% of people 18-29 take their smartphones to bed.
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