Quartz Daily Brief—Europe Edition—Egypt backslides, trouble in Thailand, Facebook ads, Ninjas

November 23, 2012
November 23, 2012

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Black Friday madness for US retailers. More than 80 million Americans will go shopping on Friday, and YouTube will fill with videos of them rioting in order to get the best deals. Legend has it that strong sales on Black Friday predict shopping patterns for the entire North American holiday season, but that’s apparently not the case. Retail analysts are cautiously optimistic that this year’s holiday retail sales, which account for a fifth of annual sales in the US, will increase 3.5%, compared to a 20-year average of 3.8%. It appears the “arms race” over deals on Black Friday may even be suppressing sales later in the month.

US markets close early, putting liquidity pressure on trading. Markets in the US took Thursday off and have a truncated Friday, closing at 1pm, which means stocks that are going to move in response to news could move quickly during the hours that markets are open. Research suggests optimism around holidays means stocks trend upward the days immediately before and after Thanksgiving.

Mexico’s unemployment rate released. Last month, Mexico’s unemployment fell to a four year low of 4.7%, but early numbers for the country’s third quarter GDP weren’t promising, as the country’s economy slows due to weak demand for manufacturing of goods destined for the US.

Heads of Europe’s finance industry to discuss the future of pretty much everything. On the agenda for Frankfurt’s European Banking Conference, which will include everyone from Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank, to CNN financial talking head Todd Benjamin, is a “rethinking” of banking, investment, money and economic/social policy.

Egyptians wonder if it’s time for another revolution… Opposition groups are calling for Egyptians to take to the streets today after President Mohammed Morsi assumed sweeping new powers. These cement his control over the country, which the military leadership allied with the deposed Hosni Mubarak had tried to limit after he won election in June. Opposition leader Mohammed El Baradei called Morsi “Egypt’s new pharaoh.” He was getting much better press just a few days ago, when he helped broker the Gaza ceasefire.

…while Thailand’s prime minister tries to prevent one. Yingluck Shinawatra’s cabinet has approved an internal security law in an attempt to contain a big anti-government rally planned for today which might turn into an attempted coup. The law gives the government greater powers to arrest protesters, block routes, impose curfews, ban public gatherings and carry out searches of buildings. Separately, Thai police have warned that Yingluck is at risk of being kidnapped.  Here is an explainer on why Thailand has been heading for another of its regular coups for a while.

While you were sleeping

Indian billionaires threaten to quit the country’s mining sector. Gulf Oil, an oil producer and miner controlled by the billionaire Hinduja brothers, threatened to quit mining because of Indian bureaucracy.  Gulf may be sabre-rattling to draw attention to an issue that has been making Indian miners unhappy for some time. In recent months, the government has delayed mining approvals citing environmental concerns.

China’s real economy on the march. At least one economist says the data confirms his judgement that growth in China will expand from 7.4% in the third quarter to 8.4% in the fourth.

At EU budget talks, “A big fuss over nothing.” That’s how some have described yesterday’s fight between the UK and the rest of Europe over pay and perks for Eurocrats. The next couple of days of negotiations could be “hard fought and particularly acrimonious.” Here is a guide to where the EU’s cash comes from and where it goes.

Judge orders Apple to pull back the curtain for Samsung. Details of Apple’s ten-year licensing deal with HTC, the Taiwanese manufacturer of smartphones and tablets, must be disclosed to Samsung, says a judge. The disclosure happens in the midst of a patent dispute in which Apple is requesting that eight Samsung smarphone models and one tablet be banned from the US.

Has Facebook finally figured out mobile? Maybe you noticed that email from Facebook, about changes to its terms of service. (One wonders: Do all 1 billion users receive the same note?) Reading between the lines, it seems that Facebook may be leveraging its $715 million acquisition of Instagram to finally do something interesting with mobile advertising.

Quartz obsession interlude

If you think a dishwasher is a mark of the good life, think again: All over the world, members of the rising middle class are doing without the contraptions, reports Quartz’s Lily Kuo. “In India, less than 1% of households own dishwashers mostly because families wealthy enough to afford the appliance just pay maids to do the dishes by hand. […] In 2010, Brazil, Russia, India and China together accounted for 42% of sales of laundry appliances but only 2% of unit sales of dishwashers.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Why can’t India feed its people? In the world’s largest democracy, malnutrition persists. First-class reporting on this troubling issue.

China’s no-win economic future. Senior economic advisor to UBS, George Magnus, argues that China can’t help but fly off an investment cliff.

Europe’s dark finish to 2012. Europe will contract in the fourth quarter faster than at any point since 2009, says a survey of euro-zone manufacturing.

All week long, we were paying attention to the wrong war. The Gaza-Israel flare-up is unlikely to change anything, but the bloody conflict in the Congo could “redraw the map of Africa.”

Surprising discoveries

Japan is running out of Ninjas. The espionage experts and silent assassins are getting old, and this generation say they may be the last.

A South Pacific island shown on maps “does not exist”. Australian explorers went to “Sandy Island”, shown on world maps and Google Earth, and said it was not there.

Dairy products cost more in Greece than anywhere else in the EU. Over 30% more than the EU average, in fact. The government denies this is because of price-fixing. With milk at an average €1.50 a liter ($2 a quart), Greeks who are losing their jobs or fear doing so cannot afford it.

Mexico’s drug war never looked so good. This is the best-designed cartographic exploration of Mexico’s cartels and the drugs they ship you’re likely to ever to see.

Mobile brings the web into stores. 72% of consumers aged 20-40 in US and UK will use mobile devices to compare prices before they even leave the store, and 24 other things you didn’t know about the mobile takeover of retail.

Everything you need to know about China’s new “first lady.” The wife of China’s new Paramount Leader is a glamorous pop singer who is set to break the mold for the usually invisible wives of the country’s leaders.

Bizarre buildings. China’s increasingly ostentatious architecture is by turns wonderful and tacky.

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

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