Quartz Daily Brief—Asia Edition—European central banks, Samsung vs. Apple, apes with mid-life crises

December 5, 2012
December 5, 2012

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today:

Are European central bankers doing enough to fight a recession? Eurostat is expected to issue a downward revision for its already-negative estimate of the continent’s growth in the third quarter, confirming stiff economic headwinds as two of Europe’s most important central banks hold their regular meetings. At the ECB’s monthly meeting, Draghi will do little. But expect him to leave the door open for action soon if conditions continue to regress. The Bank of England isn’t expected to announce changes at its monthly meeting, either, but after disappointing economic news from the UK government, maybe it should.

Samsung and Apple head back to court. The fun never ends in the Patent Wars, as the two tech giants return to court in California to sort out the remaining questions from last summer’s landmark ruling: Should Samsung pay an additional $707 million in damages to Apple on top of the $1.05 billion it was already ordered to pay? Can Apple have Samsung protests banned from sale? And will the whole thing just be thrown out for a retrial?

In Egypt, critics and supporters of President Morsi clash. While attempts to find consensus behind the scenes continue, yesterday’s demonstrations left 33 Egyptians wounded. Demonstrators are seeking to halt a referendum on the country’s new constitution, which opposition leaders say gives too much power to Morsi and his party, the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood. World powers are nervous about another crisis in region already sporting a bloody civil war and a recent round of violence in Gaza, while investors wait for opportunities in what they expect will be a freer marketplace.

Will Golden Spike announce a privately funded manned mission to the moon? We hope so.The company, founded by a former NASA engineer, is making an announcement in Washington, DC, this afternoon.

Our continually-updating US fiscal cliff whiteboard: hastheusgoneoffthefiscalcliff.com. As it happens, the cliff comes along ten days after the end of the current (13th) baktun, a 394-year-long cycle in the Mayan calendar mistakenly identified with the advent of apocalypse. Just to be on the safe side, we’re now counting down to that too.

While you were sleeping:

Indian lawmakers voted to allow foreign retail chains into the country. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s plan to revive India’s slowing economy by letting foreign retailers such as Wal-mart open stores was passed by the country’s legislature, an important test of his government’s liberalization agenda. Now, though, global retailers thinking about opening new locations may be wondering if it’s even worth the trip.

Britain’s chancellor promised more austerity. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne’s “Autumn Statement” outlined plans to continue Prime Minister David Cameron’s controversial austerity policies by squeezing both tax relief for the rich and social services for the poor; only mid-to-high income earners will remain better off. Here are the key take-aways of the British government’s effort to combine fiscal consolidation and growth. The government won’t hit its target of reducing national debt by 2015-6, which has rating agencies warning of a potential downgrade. Plus, it might have occasioned the worst-ever use of Pinterest.

Mediators resolve port traffic jam after an eight-day strike. Workers at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach reached an agreement with their employers with the help federal of mediators, resolving a work stoppage at a port that handles 40% of America’s maritime traffic.

US services sector reports expansion. A survey of non-manufacturing businesses in the United States showed growing business despite expectations for a pull-back in the face of increasing attention on the US government’s struggle to avoid new austerity policies in January. And an early forecast of employment gains suggests that 118,000 more Americans were hired last month, a relatively small increase.

Red faces at Tesco over US climbdown. The British retailer said it will probably close or sell its North American business, Fresh & Easy, after setting it up to much fanfare in late 2007, when the US was on the cusp of the Great Recession. The UK company did away with checkout staff at Fresh & Easy, which confused older customers, and built small stores in a land of big-box retailers. The chain had aimed to sell mid-priced, healthy produce to price-conscious customers, fitting in between Wal-mart and upmarket chains such as Trader Joe’s, but the market gap was not as wide as Tesco thought. Tim Mason, the executive who spearheaded the US expansion, has quit.

Cairo crisis continued. There were violent clashes between police and protesters outside the presidential palace. Egyptians are angry about Islamist president Mohamed Morsi’s decision to hold a referendum on a new constitution that takes a controversial stance on women’s rights and suggests religious authorities may hold sway over democratically elected lawmakers.

Citigroup to cut 11,000 jobs. Classic new CEO move. And also, says Quartz’s Matt Phillips, a sign that “paying human beings to call clients on the phone in order to buy and sell stocks is a terrible business.”

Quartz obsession interlude:

Simone Foxman on the massive upheaval in global maritime trade: “The near-total closure of the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which ended today after a week-long strike, could have crippled the flow of goods into the US. But it could be the start of new battles ahead for major US ports.The rise of bigger and more massive ships, the expansion of the Panama canal to accommodate them, and increasing coordination between trucks and trains to make the journey over land cheaper could mean an upheaval in the ports’ dominance as early as 2015. This would completely alter the way goods enter the world’s largest consumer market.” Read more here.

Matters of debate:

Mexico’s new president learns PR from Brazil and Colombia. How to shift the conversation about your nation from cartels to construction.

Forget the BRICs. Invest in the TIPTPSNC. We’re still working on the acronym.

It’s not too late for a real stimulus in the US. How Congress could jolt growth and employment in America.

Why are banks making so much money? It’s their most profitable year since the financial crisis, and not even the Federal Reserve knows why.

Surprising discoveries:

Apes, like humans, suffer from mid-life crises. But they’re much more dignified. You never see an old ape cruising around in a sports car with his shirt open to his navel, do you?

Solar power investment makes more sense in Tanzania than Florida. Different grids make for different needs.

The history of AOL told through 14 years of New York Times crossword clues. Prodigy alternative, for short.

RIP David Brubeck. The jazz innovator passes away, but his music lives on.

Best wishes from Quartz for a productive day. Please send any news, queries, feedback and suggestions for our mid-life crises to hi@qz.com.

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