Quartz Daily Brief — Europe Edition — Mining merger, maturing populations, and diaper supplies

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A massive mining deal gets closer to the finish line. The board of Australia’s Xstrata today is expected to recommend its takeover by Glencore International, in a sweetened offer. Once combined, the two firms would be the world’s fourth-largest mining company. But given the headwinds facing the mining sector–including a dropoff in Chinese demand for raw materials–the two companies’ marriage could come at a challenging time.

Manufacturing data provide an update on the health of the global economy. The US and Germany are among the countries with economic numbers due out. Tepid demand for exports means the US data are not expected to be especially rosy.

It’s National Day in China, as the country celebrates its Golden Week holiday. This is traditionally a time of record-breaking traffic jams, as migrant workers travel home for their annual break. An estimated 740 million people will hit the roads this week. The good times often begin in the traffic queue. Gridlocked travelers have been playing games and walking their dogs. It remains to be seen whether retail sales (paid) during what’s traditionally a boom week for shopping will be impacted by the broader political and economic uncertainty.

Georgia holds parliamentary elections. President Mikhail Saakashvili’s United National Movement faces a tough challenge in the Georgian Dream coalition led by Bidzina Ivanishvili, Georgia’s wealthiest man. Energy transport through the country and the possibility of contested elections add geopolitical significance to the outcome.

Biffa may fall into the hands of its bankers. The iconic UK rubbish (this means trash) collector, whose wheelie bins have served as playthings for drunken British students for years, may confirm reports it is about to be taken over by creditors. It seems the English phrase ‘where there’s muck there’s brass’ does not always hold true.


There will be one billion people over 60 years old in the world within 10 years. That’s according to this UN report released today, and would represent an increase of almost 200 million from the current number. Around the world, two people turn 60 every second. While you were sleeping, assuming you got the recommended eight hours, 57,600 people turned 60. By 2050, the world will have more people over 60 than under 15. Who is going to support the increased number of retirees? The UN does not seem to know, but recommends governments “recognize the inevitability of population aging and the need to adequately prepare all stakeholders.”

Chinese factories had another bad month. Manufacturing activity declined for the second month in a row in September, according to a Chinese government survey released today. A separate survey by HSBC said September was the 11th month of declines. Right now, bad news about the China slowdown is getting traders excited. They are speculating the Beijing government will unveil additional plans to jumpstart economic growth through the country’s leadership transition later this year. The Chinese currency, the yuan, climbed to a 19-year high last week.

Japan kept on tankan. That is, the so-called tankan quarterly survey of manufacturers’ confidence by the Bank of Japan showed that the mood darkened for the fourth time in a row. Economists blame slowing external and domestic demand.

Defense giants asked governments to let them to get on with their merger. “Leave us alone” was the subtext of a joint announcement by EADS and BAE Systems, whose union has been delayed by political wrangling. France and Germany want a blocking stake in the new business to safeguard jobs and military secrets. The two defense companies want all shareholders in the combined firm to be equal.


Ron Brownstein on the demographic time-bomb facing the US Republican Party: “In today’s media-saturated world it’s not clear that either party can establish the sort of lasting hold on voters triggered by earlier realigning presidential elections, like Abraham Lincoln’s victory in 1860 or Franklin Roosevelt’s in 1932. But an Obama victory that largely reassembles the coalition that elected him in 2008, despite the greatest economic upheaval since the Depression, would send Republicans a stark warning.” Read more here.


The Church should pay more taxes. How the question is playing out in Spain.

President Obama should have taken the lessons of history more seriously. A reassessment of the White House’s efforts to stimulate the economy.

Angel investors shouldn’t expect to make any money. Data suggest profits are elusive for all but the very connected or very lucky.

Bike helmets shouldn’t be a requirement. How the health benefits of letting people ride helmet-free could outweigh the risks.


US police are tracking license plates and creating massive databases of cars’ movements. In parallel, private companies are doing so also.

The global diaper production chain goes through a chemical plant in Himeji, Japan. Global diaper manufacturing could be affected following a fire that shut down the factory, which makes 20% of the world’s supply of a key resin used in diaper production.

Pre-historic man went to the dentist. Remains of a man living 6,500 years ago appear to show a beeswax tooth filling.

In urban Taiwan, indoor shrimp fishing is now a popular activity for hanging out with friends and for dates.


US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke speaks at the Economic Club of Indiana.

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