Quartz Daily Brief—Asia Edition—Japanese elections, Chinese auditors, Nuclear ice breakers

December 3, 2012
December 3, 2012

Good morning, Quartz readers! 

What to watch for today:

Campaigning begins in Japan’s snap elections. Will Liberal Democratic Party leader Shinzo Abe, the nationalist former prime minister, fulfill expectations and get back into office, ousting the current government on Dec. 16?

Australia’s central bank (probably) cuts rates. With economic indicators turning upside down and other developed economies easing policy, the Reserve Bank of Australia is expected to follow suit by lowering interest rates.

Canada’s central bank (probably) does nothing. The bank, headed by soon-to-be governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney, is expected to keep interest rates low in the wake of GDP data showing the economy at its lowest level all year. Here are five things to watch for in the decision; monetary policy watchers will want to keep an eye on Eurostat’s producer inflation index, also released today.

While you were sleeping:

Chinese audit firms were charged with crimes by US securities regulators. The auditors refused to share papers related to accounting-fraud investigations of nine unnamed Chinese firms listed in US markets, a new escalation in mounting conflicts over multinational business practices. Luckily, an accord between Chinese and US authorities may resolve the impasse.

US manufacturers reported shrinking business. Surveys show that factories report fewer purchases for the second month in a row; analysts wondered if the fiscal cliff was chilling industrial activity.

Speaking of the fiscal cliff: You can check out our new interactive whiteboard to track the whole ruckus at hastheusgoneoffthefiscalcliff.com.

Republicans make a counter-offer in cliff debate: House Speaker John Boehner suggests raising $800 billion in tax revenue by closing tax-deduction loopholes and cutting $1.2 trillion in spending, much of it in Medicare, the US public health insurance program for seniors. The offer is less generous than what he put on the table in 2011, but it means the two parties’ negotiators have some framework for discussions.

Greece explained its €10 billion bond-buyback program. Basically, governments are strong-arming banks into taking on the costs of debt relief.

Talks of Airbus shake-up continued. EADS, the parent of Airbus, has confirmed reports that it is considering balancing the French and German governments’ stakes in the group to solve a decade-old conflict over government control that contributed to the failure of a planned merger between EADS and Britain’s BAE Systems in October.

The UN tries to gain control of the internet, or so some say. A UN agency meets in Dubai to discuss proposals for regulating the internet. Some American commentators say this sort of talk is terrible, as it may lead to repressive regimes being able to suppress comment about them made in freer societies. The European Parliament and the US government do not want the UN to be in charge of the web. Google has also claimed that some proposals being debated in Dubai have the potential to limit free speech. On the other hand, the New York Times’s Eric Pfanner argues that the panic is overblown. Talks continue today.

The Daily is closing, but its software survives. News Corp. will shutter the iPad-only newspaper that it launched a few months after the first tablet computer came out. But the company that built The Daily’s publishing system is doing nicely selling it to brands that want to reach audiences directly instead of going through newspapers.

Quartz obsession interlude: 

Steve Levine looks at the economics of renting nuclear-powered icebreakers to help ship liquefied natural gas. “The icebreakers have dangers transcending the ice—a fire broke out aboard the Vaygach last December, and killed two sailors. The Ob River itself had to be reinforced for the trip. So why take the risk? It is to tap growing Asian markets as Europe’s appetite for gas has fallen, and the US import market has vanished. When they ship east, producers going from Rotterdam to Yokohama (a roughly similar distance to Melkoya-Tobata) traverse just 8,500 kilometers, compared with 20,600 km if they go the long way through the Suez Canal. Shanghai, too, is shorter—14,875 km compared with 19,300 km the long way.” Read more here

Matters of debate:

Once, China’s guarded leadership allowed its people some curiosity about the outside world. Now the People’s Republic is an open system but with closed minds.

Will a rushed constitutional reform end the dream of Egyptian democracy? Don’t expect much popular legitimacy from a “shotgun constitution.

Legalizing marijuana in the US won’t stop the drug war in South America. Cartels have diversified into new businesses, so crimped drug revenue won’t bring them down.

Is it time to dump bonds and buy stocks? Just do what Baron Rothschild would do: “Buy when there is blood in the streets.

Surprising discoveries:

One BRIC hits the wall. Brazil’s growth is out of step with its colleagues. It may be time to start talking about the RICs instead. Or the RICIs.

Annuntio vobius gaudium magnum—habemus tweetam! The Pope is on twitter. And his tweets are Church doctrine.

Yes, the Duchess of Cambridge is pregnant. The UK rejoices at the news of a royal heir to its increasingly anachronistic throne, but we’re in it for the name jokes.

Meanwhile, the US birthrate falls to a record low. The biggest reduction was in births to foreign-born women, especially those from Mexico.

Best wishes from Quartz for a productive day. Please send any news, queries, feedback, suggestions and papal-tweet-inspired baby names to hi@qz.com, or hit “Reply” to this email.

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