Quartz Daily Brief—Europe Edition—Egypt unrest, climate-change talks, Chinese jets, Putin’s error

November 26, 2012
November 26, 2012

Good morning Quartz readers!

What to watch for today:

Egypt’s Mohammed Morsi tries to mollify his critics. The president has granted himself new powers which include exempting presidential decisions from judicial review. His supporters in the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood say his moves are necessary to prevent the judiciary from disbanding the assembly writing a new constitution for Egypt; today he will meet senior judges, who have hinted at a possible compromise. Critics accuse Morsi of making himself a “new pharaoh.” Demonstrations by both sides risk igniting outbursts of violence, though there were signs Sunday of possible compromise. Egypt’s stock market fell nearly 10% Sunday amid the political uncertainty.

Climate-change talks start in one of the world’s most hostile climates. The irony is surely not lost on delegates to the 18th UN Climate Change Conference, which begins today, that their host country, Qatar, produces the highest level of carbon emissions per person in the world and that flights and accommodation for the 10,000-person, two-week confab will produce more carbon than the island state of Niue uses in a year, according to the Daily Telegraph. Still, as Quartz’s Stephanie Gruner writes, Qatar also faces some of the most severe effects of global warming. And if nothing else, the heat will focus everybody’s minds on the matter at hand.

While you were sleeping:

Catalans vote for separatism, but it’s complicated. In elections that Catalan president Artur Mas had called in order to get a mandate for a referendum on secession from Spain, voters gave two-thirds of the seats in parliament to pro-secession parties, but punished Mas’s own Convergence and Union coalition for poor economic performance by reducing its share of the vote. The autonomy movement has gained popularity as the broader national Spanish economy has weakened—but in order to get a referendum, Mas will now have to reach a deal with another separatist party.

Documents linked a Bangladesh garment factory where a fire killed over 120 people this weekend to Wal-Mart and other multinational retailersWal-Mart appears to have warned the factory last year about “violations and/or conditions which were deemed to be high risk,” though it’s unclear whether Wal-Mart continued to work with it since then. Bangladesh is the second-biggest exporter of clothing in the world after China, but has a reputation for poor working conditions and disregard for factory safety standards. All three staircases in the factory that burned exited to the ground floor where the fire started.

US retail sales over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend increased 12.8% from last year. The National Retail Federation trade group’s estimate is in line with its prediction of a 12% increase in purchases through the end of the holiday season. Online spending growth on Black Friday slowed in the US despite the iPad’s emergence as a major shopping tool, according to separate IBM data, but online purchases nonetheless topped $1 billion for the first time. Mobile sales represented 16% of the total, up from 9.8% last year. US consumer confidence has strengthened of late, though economic uncertainty and possible tax increases could weigh on holiday spending.

A Chinese fighter jet made its first landing at sea. In a sign of China’s growing military capability, a Chinese-built J-15 fighter landed on China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, which went into service in September. Coincidentally, Luo Yang, the head of Shenyang Aircraft Corp., the company that builds the J-15, died of a heart attack while supervising the landing tests.

Other news this weekend:

Police and protestors clashed in Thailand but there was no coup this time. At least 10,000 protestors demonstrated in Bangkok against the government of Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Some had feared it could involve an attempted overthrow of the government.

Bharti Infratel, the mobile-tower unit of India’s Bharti Airtel, plans to raise about $800 million in a December IPOaccording to The Wall Street Journal. India’s largest mobile phone operator is banking on improving foreign investor sentiment toward the country.

Nintendo needs a blowout success from the new Wii U console. It has met with strong early demand from videogame buyers.

Relatives of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao profited greatly from a 2002 deal to buy discounted shares in Ping An Insurance from state-owned entitiesThe New York Times reports in a new installment of its investigation of Wen’s family’s riches.

Quartz obsession interlude:

Steve LeVine on extreme weather and the geopolitical impact of Energy Shocks: “Climate change seems to be a different animal from other energy events, and by extension so is extreme weather….Extreme weather itself could potentially wipe existing nations off the map; invigorate others; create unsurvivable swaths of the Earth, and new, thriving lands from currently inhospitable ones. It could utterly undermine widely embraced GDP forecasts for China, the US and Europe.” Read more here.

Matters of debate:

Russian President Vladimir Putin just made the greatest mistakes of his political career, and is turning Russia into a giant Enron.

Is Egypt President Mohammed Morsi Abe Lincoln in disguise or another Mubarak?

Faster wireless data connections make economies grow faster.

How about a minimum tax on the wealthy? Warren Buffett makes the case for ensuring people like him have to pay at least 35%.

Surprising discoveries:

People make more rational decisions about money when given choices in a foreign language. Common biases disappeared when options were presented in a language other than their mother tongues.

Dubai isn’t content to be home to the world’s largest shopping mall. It’s building an even bigger one.

Best wishes from Quartz for a productive day. Please send any news, queries, feedback, and techniques for eliminating decision-making biases to hi@qz.com  or hit “Reply” to this email.

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