Quartz Weekend Brief—Global rebalancing, women on Wall Street, shadow banking, strange headlines

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Good morning, Quartz readers!

You could count on the emerging markets: A solid decade of export-driven growth (rising commodity prices and booming populations didn’t hurt) stood in fine contrast to the housing bubble and sovereign debt troubles plaguing wealthy countries with aging workforces and rising inequality. Now the great rebalancing might be upon us—and at the worst possible time.

This week, forecasts of global growth confirmed that wealthy nations are getting healthier, while emerging markets are catching cold. The United States saw a raft of good data, including expansions in services and manufacturing; Europe clawed its way out of recession on the back of manufacturing growth, mainly in Germany; the UK’s economy is soaring. Japan’s massive stimulus efforts have it looking at growth and perhaps the end of deflation.

All this raises expectations that the advanced economies, especially the US, will begin tightening monetary policy. That has foreign capital flooding out of the emerging markets where investors sought precious yield. The BRICS are passing the hat in an attempt to ward off currency devaluation, but commodity prices are falling—and don’t they now wish they’d done those long-postponed structural reforms?

But don’t rely on the advanced economies to pick up the global slack. Friday’s superficially impressive US jobs report showed too many people leaving the labor force and not enough new jobs created. Germany’s famed competitiveness has more to do with low wages than investments in workers or capital, and the rest of the European recovery is better described as stumbling than striding. Meanwhile, emerging markets spent most of the recent G20 summit (when they weren’t lambasting the US over NSA surveillance or rejecting strikes on Syria) asking the rich world to take it easy on the tightening. It might be better off for all involved if they listened.—Tim Fernholz

Five things on Quartz we especially liked

Why are women leaving Wall Street? Having clawed their way almost to the top, many senior women are departing, disillusioned. Margo Epprecht, a former stock analyst, says that a male-dominated culture of finance never accepted them despite their success.

How to understand Microsoft’s purchase of Nokia. We analyzed who wins and who loses, who’s actually buying whom, why keeping the Nokia brand on low-end phones is a brilliant move by Microsoft, Nokia boss Stephen Elop’s chances of being the next Microsoft CEO, and Nokia’s business, in three charts.

What you need to know about Samsung’s new smart watch. Two things, says Christopher Mims: The $300 Galaxy Gear has an impressive array of features, but it’s still not clear anyone needs them. And the much less ambitious HOT watch, forthcoming from a company in Dallas, is what Samsung should have built.

Why Europe is moving to destroy €430 billion of money market funds. Jason Karaian explains how proposed stricter controls on the funds, a small corner of the $67 trillion shadow-banking industry, would effectively kill them off—but thereby reduce the risk that small movements in markets could cause widespread financial wreckage.

Bloomberg’s very strange headlines are at risk of making sense. Zachary M. Seward bemoans signs that the news service, beloved for such gems as “Shark Oil for HIV Shot Takes Cue From Hemingway’s Old Man” and “Forex During Birth Shows Asian Women Top Men Private Bankers,” may be ditching whimsy for comprehensibility.

Five things elsewhere that made us smarter

Is the art of handwriting dying? So it would seem, says Paul Sawers. And yet, various bits of technology, from pens that digitize everything you write to apps that store and translate handwritten text, are helping keep it alive—and just as well, since there’s evidence that learning to write helps us learn to read.

Who will prosper in the new world. Economist and polymath Tyler Cowen gives a rundown of the skills and personality types that will do best and worst in the future as computers take over more and more of the tasks we once thought forever beyond the reach of machines.

Is technology scrambling your baby’s brain? New father Ben Popper recounts his newborn son’s first interactions with smartphones and iPads, and his quest to determine whether he was making a terrible mistake in letting him play with them.

Lab-grown meat will force us to come up with a whole new ethics of food. Julian Baggini in Aeon on the quandaries that burgers grown in vitro pose for vegetarians, and how they underline that the ethics of food have to do with far more than our relationship to animals.

Nine questions about Syria you were too embarrassed to ask. And we mean really embarrassed, like “1. What is Syria?” But by the end Max Fisher has written a superbly clear outline of Syria’s conflict and why it’s hopeless. And then you should read the parody, “Nine questions about Britain you were too embarrassed to ask.”

Our best wishes for a restful but thought-filled weekend. Please send any news, comments, handwriting samples, and questions about Syria to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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