Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Obama skips Bali, auto sales surge, Samsung’s record profits, robots kill jellyfish

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What to watch for

World leaders gather in Bali, without Obama. Due to the ongoing shutdown, the president is skipping the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting on the Indonesian resort island, where Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin, and other heads of state will convene. Secretary of State John Kerry will take Obama’s place, but America’s “Asian Pivot” may never be the same.

Will Republicans waver? Rep. Paul Ryan is reportedly working with moderate GOP colleagues on a package of spending cuts that could lead to a deal with Democrats to end the shutdown and avoid a debt ceiling showdown. In the meantime, major storms are forming, and US meteorologists are stuck at home.

Angela Merkel starts her “grand coalition” talks. The German chancellor begins closely watched discussions with the Social Democrats; hiccups could delay new EU-wide financial measures.

Berlusconi faces expulsion. A committee is expected to begin proceedings to kick the former prime minister out of the Italian Senate after his tax fraud conviction.

While you were sleeping

Mercedes had its biggest month ever. The luxury carmaker sold 142,994 cars in September; volume surged 15.9% on strong sales in China. Separately, UK dealerships sold the most new cars in five and a half years (paywall), a 12.1% year-on-year increase.

China and Malaysia cozied up. The two nations announced they’re upgrading their bilateral ties to triple trade to $160 billion by 2017 during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit—and ahead of the Obama-less APEC meeting.

The World Bank slashed Indonesia’s growth forecast. The development lender cut its 2013 growth projection to 5.6% from 5.9%, and lowered its 2014 forecast to 5.3% from 6.2%, citing the need for economic reforms.

The Bank of Japan held steady. The BOJ said it won’t add to its monetary stimulus following an uptick in business confidence, continuing with its policy of doubling the monetary base within two years.

Gates and Ballmer will stand for re-election. Despite some Microsoft investors’ attempts to sideline the pair, the chairman and retiring CEO will both try to stay on the company’s board.

Samsung’s feast, HTC’s famine. The world’s largest smartphone maker posted record profits due to demand for its low-cost Galaxy devices in emerging markets like China and India. Its struggling Taiwanese rival posted its first-ever quarterly loss amid deepening worries about its future.

Adobe was hacked. The maker of Photoshop and other software was hit with a cyberattack, exposing proprietary source code and 2.9 million credit cards.

Barclays’ $9 billion share sale. The bank sold 3.05 billion shares at 185 pence ($3) each to raise capital to meet new UK leverage ratios.

Quartz obsession interlude

Tim Fernholz on how Europe’s financial crisis is slowing Detroit’s bankruptcy. Detroit’s bankruptcy comes after years of shrinking population and unsustainable borrowing, but the straw that broke the camel’s back was a deal made by Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick in 2005 to borrow money to fund the city’s pensions, while at the same time entering into an interest rate swap with UBS and Bank of America. Detroit wound up on the wrong end of the swap, owing $770 million after interest rates plunged. Read more here.

Matters of debate

Piracy isn’t killing the entertainment industry. File-sharing is helping, not hurting, because the “sharing of culture” has positive promotional effects.

Lego will struggle to build its business in China. The more popular Legos become, the more knockoffs will follow.

There are four possible outcomes for Earth. One scenario involves a triumph of human ingenuity; another entails a dangerously crowded and carbon-addicted planet.

Don’t let robots manage your money. The average fund using automated trading is down 3.5% this year.

The US shutdown is bad for science. It’s stalling long-term biomedical research projects and setting back crucial experiments.

Surprising discoveries

Vinyl isn’t really coming back. Sure, LP sales are up 338% since 2006. But the 2.9 million sold this year in the US equals the number sold by just one band—Asia—in 1982.

Meet the robots that hunt jellyfish. The contraptions use rotating blades to hunt and kill the creatures, which have become a massive problem for people and industries alike.

Reading fiction makes you a better person. A new study found that people who read fiction are better-equipped to handle complex social relationships.

Koalas can’t handle your carbon emissions. Hotter temperatures are eliminating their food and shelter. 

Charting the rise and fall of hip-hop vocabulary. “Twerk” waxes, “crunk” wanes.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, queries, fiction recommendations, and robot vs. jellyfish screenplays to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.


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