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Quartz Daily Brief – Americas Edition – Egypt backslides, EU budget, Wal-mart, Black Friday, Ninjas

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.

Egyptians wonder if it’s time for another revolution…Protestors are gathering in Cairo. They are taking to the streets 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 Morsi won the 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 worries about the next coup. Yingluck Shinawatra’s cabinet has invoked an internal security law in an attempt to contain a big anti-government rally planned for Saturday. The event might turn into an attempted coup, though analysts say this is unlikely. The law gives the government greater powers to block routes and seal buildings. Thai police have warned that Yingluck is at risk of being kidnapped. The rally’s organizers, new opposition party Pitak Siam, have promised it will be peaceful. Still, here is an explainer on why Thailand is probably heading for another of its regular coups in the medium term.

While you were sleeping

Walmart suspended several Indian employees. The actions were related to the US retailer’s ongoing internal investigation into allegations its staff had paid bribes in emerging markets. The controversy began with a New York Times report about Walmart’s business in Mexico (paywall). Walmart then began examining practices in India, China, and Brazil. There is nothing like a swift, wide, and very heavily publicized internal investigation to keep external investigators at bay.

EU budget wrangles continued…  British Prime Minister David Cameron is grumbling about a lack of progress in talks being held to decide the European Union’s  budget for the next few years. Some have described this spat between the UK and the rest of Europe over pay and perks for Eurocrats as a fuss over nothing. But Cameron is bound to gain political capital by railing against EU waste, which is a favorite gripe of the country’s right-wing media. Here is Quartz’s latest update on EU budget concessions so far.

…While creditors inched closer to a new debt deal for Greece, again. In the latest development in this never-ending story, Greece’s international creditors are apparently closer to agreeing on a modified debt-repayment plan for Greece than they were yesterday.

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 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.

Unborn babies yawn in the womb. Scientists already knew foetuses hiccuped and stretched, but yawning is a new discovery (video).

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 see.

Mobile brings the web into stores. 72% of consumers aged 20-40 in the 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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