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Quartz Daily Brief — Americas Edition — Spanish bailout talk, Chinese consumers, exploding washing machines

By Kevin J. Delaney

GOOD MORNING QUARTZ READERS IN THE AMERICAS!

WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR TODAY:

A new twist in the debate between Germany and Spain. After weeks of debate, Spain is ready to ask for a bailout from the European Central Bank, Reuters reported, but German officials caution patience: They hope that Spain’s new austerity program will allow it to avoid a formal rescue.

European bank review may recommend bankers’ bonuses should be paid in debt. An independent review of European banking reform is expected to unveil a novel safeguard against bankers taking excessive risk: pay all bonuses in debt.  It could mean fewer takeovers and capital raisings, both of which bondholders tend to dislike. (It may also mean banks offer debt investors more of the corporate hospitality generally reserved for big equity fund managers.) Called the Liikanen commission, it’s an independent review led by Finland Governor Erkki Liikanen.

Georgia election goes down to the wire.  According to early exit polls the coalition led by Bidzina Ivanishvili, a billionaire tycoon who lives in a glass house and keeps penguins, has the lead in the country’s parliamentary elections. But President Mikheil Saakashvili’s governing party has also claimed victory, and the official vote tally could still be some time away. Ivanishvili named his Georgian Dream coalition after this song (video, not easy listening) by his son, the rapper Bera.

Australian miner Arrium may warm to a AU$1 billion takeover offer by Korea’s Posco.  The bid of AU$0.75 per share was rejected. But Arrium shares, while up, have not exceeded the offer price. Falling Chinese demand has depressed metals prices. Analysts’ views on what Arrium is worth are mixed. Australian mutual funds, known as “super funds,” may be happy to sell.

“The biggest opportunity in the history of man.” 3,800% growth in Chinese consumer spending will create a $10 trillion market for scrambling multinationals. Despite the slowdown, those who can are still making showy purchases. During Golden Week, China’s national holiday, wealthy citizens have been gifting each other traditional mooncake snacks made of gold and silver.

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

Australia cut interest rates to a three-year low of 3.25%. The unexpected rate cut by the central bank was partly in response to slowing demand from China and for exports overall.

Australian courts said miners can disclose almost-there China deals. In a landmark ruling, Australia’s High Court said Andrew Forrest, the iron ore billionaire nicknamed Twiggy, did not mislead investors when he announced a deal with China that was not quite legally binding. China’s legal system and understanding of contracts is completely different to Australia’s, so Oz diggers have struggled with what to disclose and when.

Indian anti-corruption campaigner launches political party. Arvind Kejriwal wants people to be able to vote against commodities price rises and will not allow any of his party’s representatives who get elected to use “lal batti,” the red beacons that are placed along roads so MPs can cruise through traffic. Hopefully he will also tackle tax evasion, to which India may have lost $500 billion.

Japanese iPhone seller buys rival. Softbank (which is really a mobile phone company) will spend US$2.5 billion on smaller rival EAccess. It wants more bandwidth capacity to support iPhone 5 users. Goldman Sachs is EAccess’s biggest shareholder.

QUARTZ OBSESSION INTERLUDE:

Stephanie Gruner Buckley tracks the European financial crisis: “It’s been a tense few weeks in Greece. While politicians wrangled, police officers, military personnel, and judges walked off their jobs to protest the cuts. Protests turned violent amid general strikes that had shuttered businesses and public services. This week doctors, lawyers, and plumbers—self-employed workers targeted by new measures—are expected to join the fray. Without further aid, Greece risks defaulting on its debt, being expelled from the euro zone, and suffering swift economic collapse. This isn’t going to happen, suggested stories in the German press this past weekend. European leaders, concerned about a domino-effect that could result from such an exit, will overlook budget shortfalls and the slow pace of reforms, and get Greece its money.” Read more here.

MATTERS OF DEBATE:

Hey, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, it’s okay to go back to work right after having a baby. After all, I did.

Does Spain need that bailout? View from Brussels is that European governments cannot agree and Spain itself is unsure.

It’s time for India to start buying robots.  To compete with China, the country will need automated assembly lines, not cheaper labor.

Related: Kenneth Rogoff still believes that technology’s benefits are broadly shared.

Ride the iron road from Scotland to Singapore: Parag Khanna traces the railroads creating new economic links between Europe and his favorite semi-authoritarian state.

SURPRISING DISCOVERIES:

A genetically engineered cow that produces anti-allergy milk. Finally, some long-awaited innovation in the milk sector.

Why billionaires are so whiny

In Britain, people’s washing machines are exploding.

ALSO TODAY: British 10-year bonds and housing prices are released, and later in the day, US automobile sales. On this day in 1859, Gandhi was born.

Best wishes from Quartz for a productive day. Please send any news, queries, requests for new kinds of genetically engineered milk, and suggestions for what India’s new anti-corruption party should tackle first to hi@qz.com.

Readers can sign up for the Quartz Daily Brief here, tailored for morning delivery in Asia, Europe, and the Americas.