Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—NYSE, UPS’s busiest day, Swiss bankers and rock stars

December 20, 2012
December 20, 2012

What to watch for today

Big Board a target again. A deal could be announced as soon as today (paywall) for a merger between NYSE Euronext and Intercontinental Exchange, a much younger US exchanges group. ICE last year joined with Nasdaq OMX on a bid for the NYSE, which had agreed to a deal with Deutsche Börse. Neither came to pass.

December 20 will be UPS’s busiest day of the year. The shipping giant expects to handle 28 million packages on its busiest day, or 324 packages per second. That dwarfs the more than 220 packages per second FedEx projected it would handle on its busiest day ever, December 10, 2012. Preliminary data suggest that FedEx actually handled more packages than that on its busiest day.

Unusual tectonic activity. If the Mayans were right—and the Earth will be covered in lava on December 21, 2012—then you might want to keep an eye on this monitor of seismic activity from the US Geological Service. It stands to reason that we’d be seeing earthquakes 24 hours in advance.

While you were sleeping

Samsung knocked out key Apple patent. The US Patent and Trademark Office issued a preliminary ruling invalidating an Apple patent on the “pinch to zoom” gesture used on the iPhone and iPad. Apple wielded the patent in winning a $1.1 billion infringement verdict against Samsung.

US charged more Swiss bankers. Three former advisers to an unnamed Swiss bank without a US presence were charged with conspiring to help at least 180 Americans hide more than $420 million from the Internal Revenue Service. The three bankers are at large in Switzerland and one is American. Separately, the US filed conspiracy charges against two former UBS traders in relation to Libor manipulation.

Google exited from cable boxes. The search company agreed to sell its Motorola Home business to Arris, a cable equipment maker, for $2.4 billion. Google will end up with a stake of almost 16% in Arris through the cash and stock deal while keeping Motorola’s phone business and related patents.

Conservative Park Geun-hye won an election to become South Korea’s first female president. Park, the daughter of Cold War-era dictator Park Chung-hee, narrowly defeated former human rights lawyer Moon Jae-in. She also became northeast Asia’s first female head of state. In her acceptance speech, Park promised to “start an era of happiness” in Asia’s fourth-largest economic powerhouse. South Korea has been plagued by income inequality, more costly exports, and ongoing tensions with North Korea.

US auto manufacturer General Motors announced it would repurchase 200 million shares of its stock from the Treasury. The US government bailed out GM in 2009 after it filed for bankruptcy. However, taxpayers stand to lose about $10 billion if the government continues to sell off its shares at a loss.

Quartz obsession interlude

Tim Fernholz explains why we chose the American corporation as our “person” of the year: “As global economies struggle for growth, the only institutions showing much adaptability to the world-spanning economy are multinational companies that operate in many jurisdictions, seizing opportunities and extracting value at will. People are limited by their physicality, their mortality and, in some cases, an unwillingness to make quarterly earnings their guiding principle. The corporate person as a globe-spanning abstraction, potentially immortal and amorally efficient, is by far the better symbol of our times.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The end of the line for Germany? The economic superpower long relied on emerging market growth to fuel domestic growth, but the euro zone crisis could reverse that tide.

Why there are more and more professors of entrepreneurship but fewer startups. The ties between “animal spirits” and startups.

Surprising discoveries

Bank of Japan a hot stock. The Japanese central bank may be under the gun from the newly elected government of Shinzo Abe, but its own listed shares are soaring, up almost 16% on Wednesday and rising another 11% Thursday morning for no clear reason.

Chinese innovators are increasingly hanging out in “hackerspaces.” Even the Chinese government is getting behind these DIY playgrounds.

Bright bulb at Panasonic. After research following last year’s devastating earthquake, the Japanese electronics company has unveiled an emergency flashlight that can run on any one ordinary cylindrical battery, regardless of size, from AAA to D

The first recorded sounds of holiday cheer. Curators at the National Museum of London believe they’ve found 110 year-old recordings of a family Christmas celebration.

Reason to avoid a break up. A study of Western rock and pop stars concluded that solo artists are twice as likely to die early as those in a band, with American solo performers particularly prone to die young.

Scientists have discovered a new primate species in Borneo. Click for cute pictures of the nocturnal creature.

Best wishes from Quartz for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, feedback, or offers to join a band to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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