Quartz Daily Brief – Europe Edition – AOL, Wall Street pay, muppets

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Good morning Quartz readers!

What to watch for today:

China money supply. Fresh data on Chinese lending and the size of the money supply may offer clues as to how the government is looking to boost the country’s slowing growth.

AOL earnings. The US internet company’s shares have nearly tripled since last year, outperforming Apple, Google and Microsoft—thanks in part to a plan to sell patents and plow the proceeds into buybacks and new dividends. But will CEO Tim Armstrong’s turnaround include a more sustainable increase in ad sales at the portal, too?

US vice-presidential debate. VP Joe Biden and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan go at it in what is expected to be a fiery follow-on to last week’s game-changing Obama-Romney matchup. Some fresh polls show Romney ahead for the first time this year.

Coca-Cola looks to buy into digital music industry. The drinks company is in talks to purchase a small stake in Spotify, the privately held Swedish and American music streaming service. Coke has already started integrating Spotify music into its Facebook timeline.  This is more imaginative than asking net users to “like” a product on Facebook, which often does not drive sales.

Unrest in Indonesia. October 12 marks the tenth anniversary of the Bali bombing. Indonesian authorities are preparing for potential terrorist attacks on dignitaries and officials who attend commemorative events.

While you were sleeping:

Japan sends China a friend request. Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has called for talks to contain economic damage from its dispute with China over some uninhabited islands in the East China Sea. Noda was speaking on the fringes of the IMF and World Bank meeting in Tokyo, to which China symbolically did not send its most senior finance officials.

The Central Bank of Brazil cut the benchmark interest rate (the Selic rate) to 7.25% from the current level of 7.5%. The bank’s board was split 5-3 on the decision, and its policy statement signaled that it was worried about exacerbating inflation, which has inched up despite the dramatic plunge in economic growth (from 7.5% in 2010 to 0.49% in the second quarter of this year). Critics say the rate cut is a misguided attempt to correct the sharp slowdown.

US housing market fuels talk of recovery. The Fed’s Beige Book report showed a modest economic recovery continuing, with a nationwide uptick in existing home sales in particular offering signs of hope. The Fed saw “widespread improvement” in residential real estate, while noting mixed but on the whole slightly better performances for consumer spending and manufacturing. Also showing up in the Fed report: iPhone 5 sales boosted air cargo companies’ revenue.

Standard & Poor’s cut Spain’s rating, yet again. The rating agency cited “significant risks to Spain’s economic growth and budgetary performance, and the lack of a clear direction in eurozone policy.”

Wall Street has cut 1,200 jobs  so far in 2012… leaving survivors a bigger piece of the pie? Cuts to jobs and bonuses are expected to continue throughout the year, the New York State Comptroller says. The state’s securities industry has seen a net loss of 20,200 jobs since the financial crisis began in late 2007. But profits are up and remaining employees haven’t been doing so bad: cash bonuses in the industry fell 14% in New York City last year, but the average yearly pay, including those bonuses, was still $362,950.

A new forecast predicted that the worldwide PC market was set to shrink in 2012. That would be the first time in 11 years.

Quartz obsession interlude:

Tim Fernholz on an experimental approach to the modern state: “What if a corrupt or ineffective government could simply be disconnected from the country and replaced with a better version, like loading a new operating system into an old computer? Octavio Rubén Sánchez Barrientos, an adviser to Honduran president Porfirio Lobo Sosa, had been mulling over variations on that idea since 2004.” Read more here.

Matters of debate:

The Obama administration has failed to engage with Africa. Todd Moss of the Center for Global Development argues the case.

Chewing tobacco is a food. India’s food safety board has decided it is.

Surprising discoveries:

A Goldman Sachs internal investigation found 4,000 staff emails mentioning “muppets.” Almost all of them were references to last year’s movie.

Why fingernails scraping on a blackboard bothers people so much. Scientists find that our brains actually amplify unpleasant sounds.

A human calculator. A 22-year-old Japanese abacus instructor, Naofumi Ogasawara, took just three minutes and 11 seconds to add 10 10-digit numbers together 10 different times—a new world record for addition.

Best wishes from Quartz for a productive day. Please send any news, queries, and the number of occurrences of the word “muppet” in your inbox to

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