Quartz Daily Brief—Europe Edition—Selling Dell, glum Yum!, poor S&P, robots

February 5, 2013
February 5, 2013

What to watch for today

The most important projections of US growth and spending for 2013. The US Congressional Budget Office will release its annual Budget and Economic Outlook to a chorus of cheers and jeers from pretty much everyone. Tune in from 2pm to 3pm EST (7-8pm GMT) for all the gritty details.

Dell gets bought, maybe. Negotiators for a leveraged buyout of the world’s third largest PC maker have apparently narrowed to a price target of between $13.50 and $13.75 a share. The stock went down on that news—meaning founder Michael Dell and the other buyers may have to sweeten the deal for other shareholders.

Brussels hosts a meeting on Mali. Officials from 45 countries, including EU members, representatives of the Economic Community of West African States and the African Union, as well as international organisations such as the World Bank, will meet this afternoon to discuss efforts to help Mali regain stability.

House of Lords to review defamation bill. Britain’s upper house of Parliament will hear the defamation bill as recommended in the report into media misbehaviour by Lord Justice Leveson. A cross-party group of peers is expected to propose an amendment to include low-cost arbitration for defamation disputes.

Safer Internet Day comes just in time to help you avoid Chinese hackersToday is the tenth annual Safer Internet Day, which is usually marked by teeth-gnashing about how Facebook is stealing our privacy. This year, however, with hacking alarms sounding, you might want to check out Google’s “Good to Know” site to learn how to protect yourself online.

While you were sleeping

Asia slid after Europe. Following abrupt drops yesterday on European stock markets and sharp climbs in Spanish and Italian bond yields—signals of a host of renewed worries about the euro zone’s prospects—Asian shares declined too, despite some fairly promising data from China’s services industry.

The Feds go after ratings agencies that spawned the financial crisis. The US Department of Justice is suing Standard & Poors, the ratings agency that helped spawn the global financial crisis by giving rotten mortgage debt its highest “AAA” rating.

Yum! looked glum. The parent brand of fast-food giants such as KFC and Pizza Hut revised earnings downwards as business failed to pick up after a food safety scare in China late last year. Yum! is widely seen as a model for how to work complex emerging markets.

Iran’s president battled his biggest internal foe; lost an ally. Saeed Mortazavi, a close ally of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s, was arrested on Monday following a public spat between the president and Ali Larijani, speaker of the parliament and man widely tipped to be the next president. Ahmadinejad has been at loggerheads with the Larijani brothers, favourites of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, for almost the entire second term of his presidency.

Quartz obsession interlude

China stakes a strategic claim in the far north. Gwynn Guilford highlights a $2.35 billion deal Greenland’s government did with Chinese steelmakers to give them access to iron ore and, perhaps more importantly, rare earths: “China controls around 97% of the world’s supply of these strategically key metals, which are used in the batteries for cell phones and hybrid cars, as well as in weapons, medical devices and many other things. After China began limiting its rare earth exports in 2011, prices for the elements have spiked. Greenland is thought to have some of the largest deposits of rare earth elements—one southern Greenland deposit may yield more than one-tenth of the world’s current deposit volume.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Women are holding themselves back from career success. So says Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg. Nah, why would this be controversial?

Greece could save itself by selling a few islands. Not the inhabited ones—just the ones it isn’t really using anyway.

The new big threat to the US economy: Robots. Great for manufacturing innovation, but not so great for maintaining a workforce that spends money.

Trying to find the inventor of the term “big data.” Ever heard of John Mashey?

Surprising discoveries

Predicting the future using Wikipedia and the New York Times. By searching for patterns in news, researchers think they can predict outbreaks of disease and other disasters.

Is the US lying about whom it targets with drone strikes? It appears the “no women and children rule” has exceptions.

European soccer is about as real as American pro wrestling. Three hundred and eighty European soccer matches are suspected of having been thrown to satisfy the whims of international crime syndicates, and another 300 matches outside Europe are also questionable.

Recreational investing is dead. Americans used to belong to investing clubs, but losing money to the pros isn’t as much fun as it used to be.

As long as they don’t call it Osamaland. A $30 million amusement park is planned for the outskirts of Abbottabad, the Pakistani town where Osama bin Laden spent his last years in hiding.

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