Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—US default averted, UK surveillance probe, Google’s ad addiction, China’s nouveau riche

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What to watch for today

Merkel continues her coalition partner search. The German chancellor’s party kicks off a new round of discussions with the Social Democrats after talks with the Greens failed.

Britain’s surveillance inquiry. Parliament’s intelligence oversight committee will begin an investigation into GCHQ, MI5 and MI6 in the wake of Edward Snowden’s revelations, including some public hearings. Separately, Snowden’s dad said “there’s more to be shared” after visiting his son in Russia.

Can Google shake its dependence on ads? Analysts expect a 14% bump in earnings and will pay attention to the search giant’s plan to unite mobile and desktop ad sales. But we’ll be watching to see whether the company’s app store, cloud computing services and Chromecast video-streaming device are making any money.

Verizon’s first post-buyout results. The telco spent $130 billion to buy out Vodafone’s share of Verizon Wireless, and its earnings announcement will give an inkling of how the move will benefit the company in the future.

Multinationals deal with emerging-market currencies. Swiss foodmaker Nestlé will post third-quarter sales today, two weeks after its competitor Unilever announced lower sales projections due to currency depreciation in developing economies.

While you were sleeping

The US debt showdown ended with a Republican whimper. GOP legislators conceded they couldn’t push their policy agenda by threatening a default on US debt, with both houses approving an 11th-hour Senate plan to extend the budget and debt ceiling. Even as government employees return to work on Friday, the shutdown may have cost the economy $24 billion—and there could be another face-off in early 2014.

Mark Cuban was cleared of insider trading by a Texas jury that sided with the billionaire Dallas Mavericks owner over the US Securities and Exchange Commission, which brought the civil lawsuit in 2008.

Japanese manufacturers in a good mood. A Reuters poll found that confidence remained steady as the effects of Abenomics boosted manufacturing, but the service sector’s mood declined for the second straight month, suggesting that private spending is losing momentum.

Ebay issued a gloomy holiday forecast… The firm said growth rates across the e-commerce industry have slowed due to waning consumer confidence, thanks in part to the US government shutdown.

…IBM’s third-quarter revenue disappointed… The computing service company’s net income was up, but revenue fell short of expectations due to slowing sales in China.

…And Apple cut orders for the iPhone 5c. The decision to make fewer of the company’s new low-end smartphones could indicate low consumer demand for the gadgets.

JP Morgan paid up, again. The bank agreed to pay a $100 million fine and acknowledged that its “London Whale” trading fiasco was “recklessly manipulative.”

Quartz obsession interlude

Roberto A. Ferdman on the dangerous state of the global food industry. ”Food consumption has exceeded food production for five of last ten years, and it appears to have caught up with us. World grain reserves haven’t been this low since 1974. Without a healthy level of reserves to fall back on, the world is woefully unprepared for any and all unexpected bouts of severe weather. Meager harvests by any of the world’s main exporters of grain, which includes corn, wheat and rice, could leave significant portions of the earth without enough food. Compounding the problem are spiking global food prices: Dangerously low reserves have pushed food prices up to near record levels.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The US credit rating should be downgraded. Even though default was averted, the world has lost its faith in the American political system. should have gone open-source. It’s crazy that public projects don’t rely on a public development process.

Transparency makes CEOs even more overpaid. The more companies disclose, the more executive pay goes up.

Nike is a tech company now. It’s building wrist computers, after all. Counterpoint: There is no such thing as a tech company.

Surprising discoveries

The Web killed softcore porn. Case in point: Cinemax After Dark is being discarded in favor of more respectable programming.

Should runners land on their heels or toes? Despite fierce arguments, there’s no single best way to run.

Indonesia has surpassed China as the top source of cyber attacks. It’s not necessarily Indonesians, but hackers taking advantage of the country’s insecure computer networks.

Russia pulled a half-ton meteorite out of a lake. Divers fished it from the bottom of Lake Chebarkul; no word if Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, a noted Scuba enthusiast, was among them.

Meet China’s trashy nouveau riche. The tuhao are crass, wealthy and inspiring both envy and anger in China.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, meteorite chunks and running tips to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.


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