Quartz Daily Brief—Asia Edition—Egypt unrest, Internet censorship, Wall Street’s worst trades of 2012

December 9, 2012
December 9, 2012

Good morning Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Continued clashes and protests in Egypt. Opposition leaders rejected President Mohammed Morsi’s move to end a standoff by annulling a decree that granted him sweeping powers but calling for a referendum on a draft constitution to move forward. The mood is tense in Cairo as both sides plan demonstrations, and the country’s military is on alert.

Broader pushes for special taxes on multinationals. Starbucks, Amazon, Google and others have come under fire in the UK for successfully minimizing the amount of corporate taxes they pay there. Now a government advisory group in Australia is looking into ways to collect more tax from such companies.

Tense talks around national regulation of the Internet. The US and its allies are arguing against a proposal backed by Arab states, Russia, and China to require governments globally to regulate Internet companies. Enshrining the proposal in an international treaty could add legitimacy to online restrictions and censorship by repressive regimes. The discussions in Dubai are supposed to lead to a final treaty by Friday.

While you were sleeping

Prime Minister Victor Ponta’s center-left coalition was projected to win Romania’s general election. The results mean a continuation of the power struggle with President Traian Basescu, and potential uncertainty as the European Union’s second-poorest member tries to negotiate a new International Monetary Fund loan.

A Republican senator signaled the party could accede to President Barack Obama’s push to raise taxes on the rich. Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee said such a concession could pave the way for a focus on cuts the Republicans desire to government programs, amid negotiations around the fiscal cliff.

Also in the news this weekend

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said he would step down once parliament passes the 2013 budget law. His planned resignation could lead to general elections in February, with billionaire former prime minister and convicted fraudster Silvio Berlusconi declaring his intent to run for prime minister again. Berlusconi’s running could in fact generate the chaotic political conditions that could land Monti back in the prime minister’s office.

China factory output and retails sales rose. The National Bureau of Statistics said output from Chinese factories beat forecasts to climb 10.1% in November from a year ago, its best performance since March. Retail sales rose 14.9% in November. Government spending on infrastructure and looser monetary policy has helped boost China’s economy.

Quartz obsession interlude

Matt Phillips on Wall Street’s five worst trades of 2012. The infamous “London Whale” takes the top spot: “Beyond the billions in financial losses tied to the trade, the loss of credibility for J.P. Morgan chief Dimon—who had become one of the most vocal critics of government efforts to impose new regulations on Wall Street in the wake of the financial crisis—may have the farthest-reaching implications for the financial world.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

3-D printing is more than a fad. And that should give toy makers chills.

China’s opaque and disjointed foreign policy process is causing confusion and escalating tensions.

One must now add the UK to the list of candidates for Sick Man of Europe. Its economy is expected to shrink 0.1% this year, and it risks being doomed to years of sub-par growth.

Surprising discoveries

Japan’s three big consumer electronics makers are having a giant “garage sale” of $3 billion in assets. The “Chippendale” building in New York City is among the possible disposals.

The world’s deadliest road is in Bangladesh. The World-Bank-funded Dhaka-Sylhet highway has no crash barriers, no pedestrian footpaths, no footbridges, no traffic lights or speed controls.

Best wishes from Quartz for a productive day. Please send any news, queries, suggestions, or nominees for worst trades or Sick Man of Europe to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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