Quartz Daily Brief—China goes bank shopping, NSA blames NATO, Starbucks and Facebook earnings, athlete tooth decay

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What to watch for today

China bank shopping spree. State-owned China Construction Bank is in talks to buy Brazil’s Banco Industrial & Comercial for upwards of $700 million to capitalize on growing Chinese commerce with Brazil and to gain a banking license there.

A big fine for Infosys. After an investigation lasting more than two years, the US government is expected to slap the India-based outsourcing company with a $34 million fine—the biggest ever of its kind—for improperly using business travel documents to keep foreign employees in the US.

Fed-speak snoozing. No one is holding their breath for a big announcement from the US’s Federal Open Market Committee. After it declined to start tapering its bond-buying program in September, the government shutdown and a spate of weaker economic data have quelled hopes that the US economy is on the mend.

Grande earnings from Starbucks. The coffee king, which opened its first tea bar last week, should post higher profits in its fourth quarter thanks to cheap coffee prices, expansion in Asia, and new baked goods.

All eyes on Facebook. The social networking giant’s revenues are expected to grow 51%. Investors will be eyeing the company’s mobile earnings and daily active user figures.

While you were sleeping

Baidu’s upside surprise. China’s biggest search engine firm reported a 1.3% increase in quarterly income to 3.05 billion yuan ($500 million), beating analyst estimates, on strong gains in mobile revenue.

Japan mulls a Tepco break-up… A government panel will suggest that the parts of Tokyo Electric Power Co responsible for shutting down the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant should be spun off following a series of dangerous missteps.

…And probes loans to gangsters. The country’s financial regulator will widen an investigation to see if Japan’s three biggest lenders are adhering to rules limiting transactions with criminal organizations.

The NSA blamed NATO. NSA director Keith Alexander said phone data from Europe was mostly gathered by NATO allies like Spain and France and then turned over to Washington.

Israel freed 26 Palestinian prisoners as part of a plan to resume peace talks. It was the second of four batches, with another group to be freed in two months.

Polio outbreak in Syria. The World Health Organization says polio has stricken ten children, the first outbreak there since 1999. Most of the victims were under two years old and did not have proper immunizations.

David Beckham wants to launch a new MLS team in Miami. The recently retired former England captain is set to pay $25 million to form a Major League Soccer team, and will seek several hundred million dollars of investment for players and a stadium.

Quartz obsession interlude

Todd Woody on the Pacific Rim’s new environmental superpower: “Success at creating common renewable energy and efficiency policies—for appliances, buildings, cars—across the [Western US] states and British Columbia will create a market far too big to ignore. And one that will likely create de facto national standards in the US, just as the long-standing alliance between California and northeastern states on automobile emissions led the federal government to impose similar national clean air standards. The pact may not be good news, however, for climate-denying states seeking business investment.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Political gridlock, China style. Vested interests in the Communist Party and state-run industries result in “muddle-through compromises,” just like in democracies.

It’s ok for young writers to work for free. Just as businesses go through an initial unprofitable period, journalists should think of their early, unpaid pieces as a beta trial.

Republicans should pay for the shutdown. The politicians who put ideology ahead of common sense and commerce should not be re-elected.

A digital currency would transform Africa. Coins are expensive to mint and easily lost, but virtual cash could change the continent’s economy.

Surprising discoveries

Good athletes have bad teeth. Tooth-rotting sports drinks may be to blame.

A kiss isn’t just a kiss. Aside from romance, smooches are used to assess potential new partners.

China loves Bitcoins. Chinese exchanges account for a significant proportion of global trading volume in the virtual currency.  

Workers comp doesn’t cover sex injuries. At least not in Australia, where a court overturned an award to a government employee who suffered an indelicate mishap.

A poison cloud of Sriracha? The famous hot sauce company recently opened a new factory near Los Angeles, and local residents are complaining that the odors are burning their eyes.

Pirates hate pop music. British naval officers blast Britney Spears songs to scare away Somali pirates.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, workers comp claims and hot sauce hazards to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.


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