Quartz Daily Brief—Asia Edition—France vs. industry, exhuming Arafat, SEC, BoE, and weird retail

November 26, 2012
November 26, 2012

Good morning Quartz readers!

What to watch for today:

Will they solve Greece at last? As of this writing, there was still no progress in the third round of talks in a matter of weeks between euro-zone finance ministers, the International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank officials to hash out their differences on Greece’s bailout program and unlock aid worth up to €44 billion. The talks are focused on the IMF’s attempts to hold European leaders to Greece’s debt reduction timeline, with the IMF calling for some of Greece’s debt burden to be pardoned or mitigated, which for EU governments (Germany’s especially) is, so far, out of the question.

Will China’s yuan keep rising? After it approached a 19-year high yesterday—a record it has already breached several times this year—global investors are watching China’s appreciating currency. The yuan has tested its state-imposed upper bound 18 times in the last 20 days.

Was the UK’s third-quarter growth boost a mirage? The UK is set to release revised GDP figures for the third quarter of 2012 today; while initial results suggested a pace-setting 1% increase in production, analysts expect the number to be revised down to account for weaker reports in construction and manufacturing.

Can the housing sector continue to be a bright spot in the US? We’ll find out when September’s Case/Schiller Housing Price indices are released this morning.

Was Yasser Arafat murdered? The remains of the iconic Palestinian leader, who died in 2004, are being exhumed today for testing in an attempt to put paid to rumors that he was poisoned with radioactive polonium.

While you were sleeping:

Canada’s top central banker to lead the Bank of England. Harvesting talent from its Commonwealth, the United Kingdom tapped Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of Canada, to bring his reformist impulses to Threadneedle Street in June 2013. Here’s a full profile of Carney, Euromoney’s Central Banker of the Year.

France vs. ArcelorMittal. When the steel giant announced plans to close down two plants in Florange, citing decreasing demand for its products in economically troubled Europe, France’s Minister of Industrial Renewal blasted the company as unpatriotic for failing to take France’s industrial renewal into account. That argument probably won’t bring back the plants, though, until France makes a patriotism tax deductible for businesses.

Egypt’s president is said to reach an accord with judges. After his sweeping assumption of executive power was rejected by Egypt’s judiciary and members of his own party, President Mohammed Morsi compromised with critics to allow judges to review his decisions while preserving a constitutional council working to design a permanent government for the country.

The top securities regulator in the US steps down. After nearly four years of service, Securities and Exchange Commission chair Mary Schapiro, who had told colleagues for a while that she was “exhausted,” announced her retirement; President Obama said he would move to replace her with SEC Commissioner Elisse Walters on an interim basis.

Climate-change talks started in one of the world’s most hostile climates. The two-week conference in already-hot Qatar is returning to old patterns of division between rich and poor countries seeking to blunt the impact of global warming, as the EU and the US resist emissions caps that don’t include emerging markets.

Quartz obsession interlude:

Christopher Mims on weird retail in our mobile future: “The sheer variety of opportunities for buying things means the future of retail will be a hybrid between showrooms, virtual stores and traditional stores tricked out with a variety of novel ways to pay. The question is, which retailers will do best in each of these modes, or some combination of them. It’s not hard to imagine that, having saturated the online market, some online retailers will eventually have to create physical showrooms of their own. Shrunken, more-specialized, more boutique-like successors to Best Buy, carrying mostly products not available from other retailers, could be juxtaposed in the world’s strip malls and urban shopping arcades with showrooms that carry no inventory beyond display models.” Read more here.

Matters of debate:

Five quick fixes to grow China’s economy. But only if they can overcome entrenched political interests.

Should a $2.3 billion UBS loss be blamed on outsourcing to India? After the Swiss bank outsourced compliance to an Indian company, regulators found that UBS missed early warnings that might have allowed it to catch a so-called “rogue trader.”

Are banks and states engaged in a dance to death? A symbiotic relationship that could end poorly for everyone.

The US doesn’t have fiscal problems. Just fiscal scolds.

The problem with outdated trade statistics. Think that iPhone was made in China? Think again.

Surprising discoveries:

How to undiscover an island. Scientists seek to rid the world’s maps of a non-existent Pacific landmass.

Finally, PSY’s “Gangnam Style” is the most watched video on YouTube. Justin Bieber who?

By 2018, the US will import more goods from Mexico than from China. It turns out that we haven’t entirely eliminated the distance problem in the supply-chain equation.

American holiday shoppers have nothing on China’s online buyers. While US retailers celebrated a $1 billion online take from holiday sales on Black Friday, China’s “Singles Day” earlier this month brought in $4.84 billion.

Best wishes from Quartz for a productive day. Please send any news, queries, feedback, and coordinates for undiscovered islands to hi@qz.com  or hit “Reply” to this email.

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