Good morning, Quartz readers!
What does business want from government? It’s a relevant question as the US enters the fifth day of an embarrassing government shutdown.
The shutdown has furloughed 800,000 government employees, stopped the delivery of Airbus planes to US buyers, denied loans to small businesses and homeowners, and forced president Barack Obama to cancel a trip to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. It will eat into America’s fourth-quarter economic growth; by Gallup’s measure, confidence in the US economy is plummeting.
And, more ominously, it has raised the specter of a US default: Treasury yields are rising fast as markets come to grips with a stubborn faction of the Republican party that will neither re-open government nor, they fear, lift the debt ceiling without hamstringing America’s new health care law. Neither the Democratic Senate nor the White House will likely set the precedent of rewriting laws while the economy is held hostage.
Fact: The government could re-open, and the debt ceiling could be raised, today, if Republican leaders allowed a clean vote in the US House of Representatives. And Republicans could claim a victory in spending levels far lower than what their rival Democrats propose.
An open government, a raised debt ceiling and low spending is the preferred outcome of America’s premiere business lobby, the US Chamber of Commerce, and 250 other trade groups, from the Financial Services Forum representing Wall Street’s largest banks to the Kansas Grain and Feed Association.
But, despite the $64 million the Chamber spent on behalf of Republican candidates in 2012—versus $650,00 for the Democrats— it cannot get a hearing. “Republicans are no longer the party of business,” is how Bloomberg Businessweek described the situation.
That is overstating the case: the Republican party’s focus on lowering taxes and reducing regulation will allow it to retain the loyalty of many businesses, executives and investors.
But even that logic looks somewhat threadbare when it doesn’t buy the influence to prevent the simplest of unforced errors—shutdown and default. —Tim Fernholz
Five things on Quartz we especially liked
Twitter left some of the most interesting stuff out of its IPO filing. The internet company didn’t disclose a key figure anticipated by investors—so Ritchie King and Zachary M. Seward calculated the average revenue per user, and it’s a fraction of what Facebook books. Also, the changes Twitter made in the first four drafts of its filing, submitted secretly to regulators and now public, expose concerns about Twitter’s revenue growth. (You can catch up on all of Quartz’s coverage of Twitter here.)
The environmental case against flying. Meteorologist Eric Holthaus cried when he read a new report on climate change by top scientists. Then he decided that he would never fly again. Holthaus explains on Quartz why he felt that was the way to personally make the “substantial and sustained reductions” in carbon footprint the scientists argue are required. (Oxford ethicist William MacAskill responded on Quartz that Holthaus should keep flying, and instead pay to offset the CO2.)
Formula 1 these days is as much about fast data as it is fast cars. How did team Jaguar Racing go from losing every single race for five years to the top of the Formula 1 standings? One underappreciated factor, writes Leo Mirani: The team, renamed Infiniti Red Bull Racing, put about 100 sensors on each car and has a room full of analysts monitoring the data in real-time.
When a CFO gets the CEO job, cuts can quickly follow. The share of former finance chiefs running large companies has risen recently, and Siemens shows how extensive layoffs can happen when a numbers man takes the helm, writes Jason Karaian.
The future of toothbrushes is 3D printing. Christopher Mims describes how strange bespoke toothbrushes require you to chomp on them for just six seconds to get your teeth fully clean.
Five things elsewhere that made us smarter
How to get rich on the internet. Twitter co-founder Evan Williams owns 12% of the company and is about to be a rich man indeed. But he’s not stingy with his methods: All you have to do is give people what they want, but faster and easier than they had it before, as Ryan Tate explains in Wired.
How to go broke on commodities. Brazillian tycoon Eike Batista predicted just a few years ago that he would soon be the world’s richest man. But pride goeth before a fall, and in this case, commodity price drops go before one of the most dramatic financial collapses in history. Bloomberg Businessweek goes in-depth on this tale of hubris, over-reach and the stumbles on the path to Brazil’s new economy.
How to run a global news organization. The Guardian has been behind some of the biggest scoops of recent years: Revealing war crimes with Wikileaks, extensive surveillance of American intelligence agencies with Edward Snowden, and the phone-hacking practices that shook Rupert Murdoch’s media empire. But, as Ken Auletta shows in The New Yorker, even its editor, Alan Rusbridger, struggles to bridge the gap between committing journalism and funding it.
The pot of gold at the end of Silk Road. US law enforcement busted illicit goods market Silk Road, briefly shaking confidence in the two components it relied on: The digital currency bitcoin and the internet anonymity tool Tor. Less criminal activity may be good for the legitimacy-seeking crypto-currency. But the ability of law enforcement to penetrate Tor—which is relied upon by whistleblowers and dissidents—has raised fears that not even the most powerful means of obscuring communications is safe from government eyes, as Hal Hodson writes in New Scientist. (It appears that bad tradecraft and not bad crypto gave away Silk Road’s founder.)
Why do all new movies seem the same? If it feels like the latest blockbusters are a bit formulaic, maybe it’s because there’s a formula—a three-act structure anchored by 15 story “beats,” all outlined in one screenplay guru’s book, as Peter Suderman writes on Slate. It’s a compelling argument, though we think Joseph Campbell beat him to the punch.
Our best wishes for a relaxing but thought-filled weekend. Please send any news, comments, uncrackable anonymity tools, and spec scripts to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.