Quartz Daily Brief – Americas Edition – Sandy jobs damage, Japan quake, Netflix, AIG, banana slicer

December 7, 2012
December 7, 2012

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today:

US reveals how superstorm Sandy impacted hiring. The employment report out today is expected to show that the effects of the hurricane slashed net job growth in November by more than half compared to the prior month.

More details on the Japan earthquake and tsunami. A strong quake centered off the coast of northeastern Japan shook buildings as far away as Tokyo on Friday. The quake led to a tsunami warning for coastal areas, which has now been lifted. No widespread tsunami threat is reported for the Pacific Region. Check for updates here

Netflix faces SEC claim. The internet company has disclosed it may face an SEC civil claim after its CEO made comments on Facebook that could have been price sensitive. Netflix chief Reed Hastings has more than 200,000 Facebook followers.

AIG may have found a buyer for its aircraft leasing unit. A Chinese consortium comprising bank ICBC will pay the bailed out American insurer about $5.5 billion for the unit, Bloomberg said, citing unnamed sources. AIG has been trying to offload the division for a while and initially attempted an IPO of the business.

Ghana votes. President John Dramani Mahama faces off against seven rivals to preside over the country recently dubbed “a model of democracy for Africa.” Ghana’s economy is expected to grow 8% next year, the result of a boom in oil revenues.

Peru and Chile fight at The Hague about fishing. Chile defends its control of about 26,000 square miles (66,690 square kilometers) of fish-rich Pacific Ocean at the International Court of Justice. Peru, the world’s largest fishmeal producer, has argued that the two countries never established a maritime boundary that would give Chile claim to those seas.

Our continually updating US fiscal cliff whiteboard: hastheusgoneoffthefiscalcliff.com. Our “cliff of the day” is Cliff Lee, a baseball player.

While you were sleeping:

One Chinese company found favor with stock market investors. Peoples’ Insurance Company (Group) of China (PICC) surged in its Hong Kong stock-market debut, which raised around $3 billion. Chinese companies have been bad investments of late, due to the nation’s economic slowdown and a controversy raging in the US over accounting practices.

The US warned on Syria. “Worrying intelligence” has surfaced that Damascus is considering the use of chemical weapons, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said. Here, the New York Times tracks how the US warnings on Syria’s weapons arsenal have shifted subtly over the past few months, as Obama deals with conflicting imperatives to exit the Middle East, while clamping down on weapons of mass destruction.

Banks turned sour on Turkish currency. HSBC advised selling the Turkish Lira while Goldman Sachs also forecast the currency would fall. They are betting on the Turkish central bank lowering interest rates to stimulate a sharply slowing economy.

European hedge funds shuttered. Some financial masters of the universe are losing their superpowers and liquidating their funds, with some blaming “uncertain markets”. Funny, as hedge funds are meant to do well in all market conditions, which is why they charge high fees.

Quartz obsession interlude:

Tim Fernholz on “Scroogled,” Microsoft’s holiday-themed negative ad campaign against Google: “There’s an old saw about the difference between elections and sales: Businessmen have it easier than politicians, since 49% of the market makes a firm well-off but a politician facing the same result is a failure. The relative ruthlessness of each sector, it goes, is reflected in politics’ all-or-nothing mudslinging versus the more genteel world of corporate marketing. The tech industry might be shaking up this conventional wisdom thanks to its firms’ all-or-nothing strategies; in this new world, 15% of the market isn’t enough for some players anymore.” Read more here

Matters of debate:

The fiscal cliff is the new Y2K. And as with the Millennium Bug, disaster can be averted if companies prepare and investors reorganize their stock portfolios with a view to the future, past next month. 

Financial services companies are moving away from HP and Research in Motion. But at least Indonesians still adore the BlackBerry.

Maybe the scandal over methods Deutsche Bank used to account for derivatives in 2009 is not really a scandalThen again, this opinion comes from The Wall Street Journal, in response to a scoop by its archrival (paywall), the Financial Times.  

The world needs the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Supporters of a trade agreement between 11 countries, including the US and various Asian and Latin American countries (but excluding China) is the “21st Century Agreement.” If successfully negotiated in 2013, the free trade area would encompass at least $21 trillion in combined GDP.

Southeast Asia ain’t no boomtown. Western bankers and consultants are promoting Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam as hot investments, but it’s uncertain how long these countries can or should stay in vogue.

Surprising discoveries:

Companies have invented “egg pillows” and “banana slicers”, which are among a large number of gadgets we do not need. (And by the way, the banana slicer sells on Amazon.)

Google in Greek is googlizoThe verb google—as in “to google” something— translates into dozens of languages.

The last man to walk on the moon 40 years ago left his camera behind He hoped other astronauts would go back and learn things about solar radiation from the abandoned camera. But no one ever did.

In hard economic times, Spaniards need more beer. Beer remains expensive in Spain compared to the US and Germany, but even the most cash-strapped consumers are keeping the bottle close by drinking ale at home.

Brazil gang members put in long work hours too. Members of Brazil’s First Capital Command gang held a 10-hour conference call from prison in São Paulo with members outside the prison. The agenda? Trafficking drugs to Paraguay and Bolivia, and distributing marijuana and cocaine in Brazil.

Best wishes from Quartz for a productive day. Please send any news, queries, pipeline plans or your theories about what happened to the camera left on the moon to hi@qz.com or hit “Reply” to this email. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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