Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Biden in China, Euribor fines, US jobs, zombie infections

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What to watch for today

Big banks face EU fines. EU authorities may fine six large banks billions of euros for allegedly colluding to rig Euribor, an interbank lending rate that, like its better-known (and equally scandal-ridden) cousin Libor, is a benchmark for massive amounts of securities.

More jobs in the US. A private-sector payroll survey will likely suggest 165,000 new jobs were created in November, from a particularly weak 130,000 in the previous month. While the official payroll figure on Friday is more important, today’s number will hint at whether employment is getting back on track.

FIFA executives talk tactics. Top dogs at world soccer’s governing body gather in Brazil ahead of Friday’s World Cup draw to discuss the human-rights situation in Qatar, the host of the 2022 tournament, as well as a series of challenges in Brazil, from construction accidents to street protests.

OPEC meets in Austria. The cartel of countries that produce 40% of the world’s oil holds its last meeting of the year in Vienna to discuss how to keep oil prices stable and rising, whether to change its production target of 30 million barrels a day, and how to cope with supply issues in the Middle East.

While you were sleeping

Joe Biden arrived in China. As his tour through Asia continues, the US vice president touched down in Beijing and is set to discuss economic matters with China’s leaders. But territorial issues may be more pressing given Beijing’s recently established air defense zone over disputed islands.

A senior Hezbollah commander was killed. The Lebanese militant group says Hassan Lakkis, who was said to be close to Hezbollah’s top leader, was “assassinated” by gunmen near his home outside Beirut. The group blamed Israel, which in turn denied any involvement.

Tesco’s sales fell. The UK’s largest grocery chain said sales at stores open for at least a year declined 1.5% in the third quarter, in line with forecasts, with the company blaming a softer market at home. Sales were also down abroad.

Thai protesters rallied briefly. Anti-government demonstrators forced their way into the national police headquarters, but then vacated the premises. Security forces and protesters are expected to suspend clashes tomorrow, a national holiday to mark the Thai king’s 86th birthday. 

China’s services industry held steady. A private survey showed November’s PMI was 52.5, little changed from 52.6 in October, with numbers above 50 indicating expansion.

Australian growth disappointed. Gross domestic product expansion missed expectations, increasing a seasonally adjusted 0.6% in the three months to September compared to a revised 0.7% the previous quarter. The annual growth rate is now at 2.3%.

Quartz obsession interlude

Gwynn Guilford on how more trade is now settled in yuan than in euros, but that doesn’t change much. “There’s a big difference between settling trade in yuan and using it for investment or as a reserve currency. The government has done little to open China’s capital account (more here). Small wonder. Doing so would risk a deluge of illicit outflows, driving up interest rates and probably crashing China’s already demand-sapped stock market. Letting the market set interest rates would likely bankrupt hundreds of state-owned companies. And to guarantee sufficient yuan liquidity, China would probably need to run a trade deficit, stunting growth.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Regulation doesn’t kill jobs. In fact, regulating industries actually stimulates growth and benefits job seekers.

An official-secrets bill in Japan threatens journalists. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pushing a vaguely worded bill that could affect reporters and whistle-blowers.

Graduating into a recession isn’t that bad. Because people have lower expectations of getting work, their long-term career satisfaction is higher.

China is cheating on educational rankings. China’s high marks in a recent international student assessment shouldn’t count because Chinese cities are being compared to entire countries.

Surprising discoveries

A man lived for three days in a sunken boat. A Nigerian cook found an air pocket in his capsized tugboat, surviving 100 feet underneath the Atlantic Ocean. There’s even a video of his rescue.

Children may benefit from their mothers’ gastric bypasses. Kids born to women who’ve had the surgery may deal with sugars and fats in different ways thanks to epigenetic inheritance.

Why we love lists. These reasons aren’t written in list form, though.

How zombie infections spread. Data from horror movies show becoming a zombie is pretty much like getting the flu.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, zombie epidemiology and lists of lists to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.


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