Quartz Daily Brief—Boxing Day, Egypt’s constitution, China’s IPO backlog, burkas

December 25, 2012
December 25, 2012

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Biggest shopping day of the year in English-speaking countries outside the US. It’s Boxing Day, the day after Christmas, when retailers in Canada, the UK, and elsewhere traditionally rack up the biggest retail sales of the year. Sixty-two percent of Canadians plan to go shopping, spending an average of C$1,610 (US$1,623) apiece. Meanwhile, in the US, Dec. 26 marks what is possibly the biggest customer service day of the year, as stores hire more personnel to handle the crush of people returning unwanted presents.

Markets closed in Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, UK, and Canada. There’s something about being former subjects of the British Empire and celebrating Boxing Day, but maybe it’s a coincidence.

London’s mass transit paralyzed. It looks as though the union of London’s Tube drivers will go ahead with a promised strike. London’s mayor has previously said such strikes (this is the third in three years) strengthen the case for driverless trains.

Peak online dating season commences. The period between Christmas and New Year’s has traditionally seen traffic to online dating sites surge 15%-20%. No-one is really sure why: it could be lonely hearts looking for that perfect New Year’s date, or getting harassed by their mothers at Christmas for being single.

While you were sleeping:

The US Securities and Exchange Commission joins day-traders. The SEC will start taking a stream of real-time stock data, in order to remedy the “wide gulf in technical prowess between the regulators and the regulated” on America’s electronic exchanges.

Egypt’s new constitution is the best or worst thing to happen since the revolution. Final results confirmed that a referendum on Egypt’s new constitution passed with 63.8% of the vote. The document is controversial, with many observers arguing that it’s essentially the product of Islamism and lacks sufficient protections of various human rights. On fears of general instability, Standard & Poor’s cut Egypt’s debt to the same junk level as Greece.

Maker of the iPhone branches out. Foxconn, famous as the maker of the iPhone and other consumer electronics, is diversifying its investments, and may become a consumer-electronics brand unto itself, as Samsung, Acer and other firms have before it.

Russia trades with and arms India. During a visit to India, President Vladimir Putin signed an agreement to sell India 71 helicopters and 42 Sukhoi jet fighters, at a total cost of $2.9 billion. The two countries are also embarking on a nuclear power roadmap that could ultimately be worth $45 billion, and Putin indicated that he wanted to increase trade between the two countries to $20 billion by 2015.

Quartz obsession interlude

Lily Kuo on the more than 800 companies that are ready to explode onto China’s stock market: “Chinese investors are calling it a “dammed lake” (yanse hu 堰塞湖), the 800-plus Chinese businesses awaiting approval to list on mainland exchanges. The glut owes more to a recent moratorium on IPOs than it does to an out-of-the-blue need for capital among Chinese businesses. But the rising tide of fund-hungry companies encapsulates some of the biggest problems facing the Chinese market at present—among them, the chronic anemia of Chinese stock market performance, as well as volatile share prices.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

What does it feel like to wear a burka? Artist Marie Rim has been criss-crossing the US offering “Burka Fittings Across America,” inviting participants to experience the all-over face-covering worn in some Muslim countries.

Have India’s police become totalitarian? Massive public protests in India, even peaceful ones, have been met with police brutality.

Countries the world over are beset by toxic nationalism. In India, Egypt, Russia and throughout Asia, a revival of good old-fashioned power grabs is flying under the radar of cosmopolitan elites.

Surprising discoveries

Sixty thousand Americans want CNN’s Piers Morgan deported. Morgan, a British presenter on the cable channel known for his outspoken views on gun control, is now the target of a petition on the website of the White House demanding his deportation for “attacking the 2nd amendment.”

The last Soviet collective farm. Ivanovka, Azerbaijan, is home to the Molokans, a group of dissident Christians originally forced out of Russia by Catherine the Great.

How to negotiate for anything. This is how a former hostage negotiator for the FBI gets a good price on a car.

First African-designed smartphone and tablet. VMK is based in the Republic of Congo, and like nearly all tech companies, it outsources manufacturing to China.

It is very cold in Siberia right now. And this is what happens when you throw a bucket of boiling water into air at -41°C (-42°F).

Charles Durning, American character actor, dies at 89. In his youth, Durning was an infantryman who was among the first to arrive at Omaha Beach when the US initiated its first offensive against Germany in WWII. Here is a video of his harrowing account of that day.

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

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