Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Merkel meets the Greens, Obama meets Republicans, Fox shareholders revolt, genetic back pain

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What to watch for today

Merkel’s coalition talks. The German chancellor’s Conservatives are holding talks with the Greens to form a coalition government—despite the party’s criticism yesterday of Merkel’s refugee policy.

Shutdown Day 10: talks continue as debt ceiling looms. President Obama will have a no doubt tense meet-up with Republican legislators after he promised to enter serious budget negotiations as soon as they re-open government and lift the debt ceiling. In the meantime, there’s a random guy mowing the lawn at the Lincoln Memorial.

The Bank of England’s interest rate decision is expected to result in continued low rates. A surge in optimism had some worried that new Governor Mark Carney would be forced to lift rates ahead of schedule, but patchy manufacturing and trade data suggest he’s right to be cautious.

Greek unemployment should improve. Last month’s data showed the first drop in unemployment since the crisis there began, and analysts hope for more of the same today, just as formerly confidential IMF documents have re-ignited debate over how the country’s debt should be reduced.

While you were sleeping

Australia’s unemployment declined. The September jobless rate unexpectedly dropped from 5.8% to 5.6%, showing the economy could be strengthening thanks to interest rate cuts.

Dreamliner toilet trouble. A Japan Airlines Boeing 787 flight from Moscow to Tokyo was forced to turn around after an unspecified lavatory malfunction. Separately, a Norwegian budget carrier is taking its second Boeing Dreamliner out of operation after repeated hydraulic and electrical faults grounded its first one.

Brazil raised interest rates. Acting to stem high inflation, the central bank hiked its benchmark lending rate by half a point to 9.5%—its fifth consecutive increase as it inches toward double digits. South Korea held steady, as expected, keeping the base interest rate unchanged at 2.5%.

Janet Yellen was officially nominated to lead the US Federal Reserve. The current vice-chair is expected to focus on employment while navigating the withdrawal of monetary stimulus that made her colleagues so nervous last month.

Banks ditched US debt. Wall Street banks and mutual funds are selling Treasurys that mature around the time the US is expected to hit the debt ceiling, which could either be a nice investment opportunity or a sign of imminent disaster.

Fox shareholders urged to ditch Murdoch. The watchdogs at Institutional Shareholder Services urged investors to vote chairman Rupert Murdoch and his sons off the board of 21st Century Fox, citing a problematic “poison pill” in the new company’s governance structure.

HP reassures investors. The troubled PC company’s stock price increased nearly 10% after CEO Meg Whitman predicted earnings would stabilize in 2014 and expand in 2015, as she turns HP away from consumers and toward corporate clients.

Microsoft’s board wants a new CEO this year. Steve Ballmer said in August he would leave within twelve months, but directors are reportedly feeling a bit more urgency.

Quartz obsession interlude

Matt Phillips on why Janet Yellen will be the most powerful woman in US history. ”A misplaced word from a Fed chairman could have huge ramifications for the economy as a whole and the 300 million Americans within it. Similar slips coming from the speaker of the house, secretary of state or a supreme court justice barely register outside the beltway.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Cutting US aid to Egypt is a mistake, emboldening extremists just when they’re on the defensive.

The danger of a US-China flare-up is higher than ever. The worrying imbalance of power could make conflict more likely.

Europe turns its back on refugees, like the 350 asylum-seekers who died when their vessel sank off the Italian coast last week.

Banksy’s latest work is terrible. The populist street artist is spoofing Syrian rebels’ propaganda videos, but a Lebanese satirist says the message is shallow.

A US default would be really ugly. A scary scenario from economist Tyler Cowen.

Surprising discoveries

Back pain is genetic. A mutated gene is linked to lumbar disc degeneration.

An Oregon brewery is selling a $2,000 bottle of beer. The barleywine from Portland’s Hair of the Dog brewery is aged for 19 years.

Explaining the “healthy obese.” About a third of obese adults have normal cholesterol, healthy blood pressure, and no apparent signs of impending diabetes.

Movie studios are brainwashing five-year olds. It’s all about reading, writing and responsible content acquisition instead of internet privacy.

Chinese land prices are so high, even cemeteries are going public. Introducing the RIP IPO.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, graveyard prospecti, and expensive bottles of old barleywine to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.


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