Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—US spying constraints, Europe storm aftermath, Japanese consumers, vineyard money laundering

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What to watch for today

A post-storm Europe gets back to normal. Four people died and 625,000 homes lost power yesterday after a massive storm hit southern Britain. Trains are expected to resume normal service in the country today. Elsewhere, the storm caused deaths in Germany, France, and the Netherlands.

Pfizer pips its rivals. The pharmaceutical company is expected to show modest gains in profits this quarter, despite a drop in sales, after rival Merck narrowed its full-year forecast yesterday. Pfizer has dozens of drugs in the final stages of testing, boding well for the future.

LinkedIn keeps growing. The professional networking site is expected to post a solid growth in profits this quarter, with revenue up more than 50% from last year. That’s thanks to a growing number of users who pay for its advanced features to look for jobs.

A pause in US retail sales. After a 0.2% rise in August, retail sales for September are expected to have been flat as Americans prepared for October’s government shutdown.

First day of the Fed meeting. The US central bank opens its two-day meeting, although it won’t put out a statement until Wednesday. After the Fed last month decided its economic stimulus tapering, investors will be looking out for hints about the new timeline.

While you were sleeping

The US said its spying needs “constraints.” Spain summoned the American ambassador yesterday to discuss reports the National Security Agency had collected data on 60 million telephone calls in the country. White House spokesman Jay Carney said, “We recognize there needs to be additional constraints on how we gather and use intelligence.”

Japan’s consumer spending rose. September data showed sales were up 3.1% from a year earlier, exceeding expectations as shoppers made purchases before a sales tax kicks in next year.

The IMF said Abenomics helped offset Asian outflows. An uptick in Japanese foreign direct investment and lending in the region proved beneficial following a selloff prompted by expectations of Fed tapering, according to the IMF’s top official in Asia.

Australia upheld a ban on Huawei. The country will not allow the Chinese technology firm to bid on contracts for Australia’s $38 billion National Broadband Network due to cyber-security concerns.

Gunmen stole $54 million in Libya. Two men robbed a van in the city of Sirte that was carrying foreign and local currency from the country’s central bank.

Apple’s record iPhones sales. The tech giant posted a $7.5 billion profit on revenues of $37.5 billion in the fourth quarter, surpassing analysts’ expectations. Apple sold 33.8 million iPhones—a record for the September quarter—although Mac sales declined to 4.6 million from 4.9 million.

Quartz obsession interlude

Gwynn Guilford on what an unpaid $115,000 tab for pig trotters tells us about Chinese local government debt: “The debts were incurred because the trotter restaurant was designated as a host for official ‘inspection tours,’ in which cadres fete higher-ups in town to check in on the town’s performance. A Party official’s career prospects depend largely on how he strengthens relations with more powerful officials. Showering them with gifts and stuffing them with local delicacies is routine… But as China’s economy has slowed, the wasteful spending that results from this system has plunged local governments deep into debt.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Twitter is a well-oiled argument machine. With its global reach, restrictions on text, and ease of instantaneous replies, it’s the perfect medium for people to be nasty to one another.

Apple’s recent earnings are only part of the story. The company has built new technologies into its devices that will bring it even more profits in years to come.

The sharing economy is making the conventional economy better. Ride- and apartment-sharing, crowdfunding and the like are a social and economic system that increases overall economic efficiency.

The freelancer economy is making young people into indentured servants. Piecemeal work through companies like Taskrabbit is no substitute for full-time jobs.

China is pivoting to Central Asia. China is growing an inadvertent empire in regions in which US presidents have never set foot.

Surprising discoveries

The other French laundry. Money launderers from Asia and Eastern Europe have been snapping up French vineyards to provide a legitimate home for dirty funds.

The UN will protect us from asteroids. The agency plans to set up an International Asteroid Warning Group to share information about hazardous space rocks.

Young people prefer Old Spice. InfoScout, an app that lets people scan and upload receipts anonymously, is finding out some surprising things about people’s buying habits.

STD-free? There’s an app for that. Hula allows the user to find and rate clinics that test for sexually-transmitted diseases, and its creator hopes to move into online dating services.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, favorite colognes and indentured servant applications to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.


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