Quartz Daily Brief—Asia Edition—Merkel’s third term, Mexico’s energy reform, Moncler’s great day, materialism

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What to watch for today

Angela Merkel’s third term begins. Three months of haggling have yielded a German coalition government that will prioritize strengthening the EU and bringing energy prices under control. Merkel’s new cabinet, which meets for the first time this evening, includes Germany’s first female defense minister.

Muted inflation in the Britain and US. Consumer prices are expected to have risen about 2.2% in the UK and to have barely increased in the US. The latter will influence discussion on how soon to “taper” quantitative easing at the US Federal Reserve’s two-day policy meeting, which starts today.

The UK opens up more to shale gas. The government will publish a list of areas across the country that companies could explore for shale gas drilling, as well as new regulations and an assessment of the likely impact on water supplies. Ministers fear EU regulations might stymie the UK’s shale gas boom.

A close call for the US budget deal. The Senate takes a procedural vote on the deal that would put an end, for a while anyway, to the brinkmanship that has paralyzed the US government this year. Some Democrat senators object to the fact that the deal doesn’t extend benefits for the long-term unemployed.

Zimbabwean diamonds, going once, twice… The first auction following the lifting of EU sanctions on Zimbabwe’s Marange diamond fields closes in Antwerp. There has reportedly been “much interest” in the diamonds from Marange, where government troops are accused of having killed over 200 workers in 2009.

The Viktor-Vladimir show. Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, having spurned the EU, meets Russia’s Vladimir Putin in Moscow to ask for a $15 billion bailout loan, as protestors continue to crowd the streets in Kiev.

While you were sleeping

Mexico’s energy reform passed the last hurdle. Foreign companies will be able to invest in oil and gas projects, ending the 75-year monopoly by state-owned Pemex, after a majority of Mexican state assemblies voted to approve a constitutional change.

A blow against US surveillance. A federal judge ruled, in rather searing language, that the National Security Agency’s collection of data on every phone call made in, to or from the US—which Edward Snowden revealed this year—is unconstitutional.  The case is almost certain to go to the Supreme Court.

Moncler had a great first day. The luxury skiwear company’s shares were up 47% on the day trading opened after the company’s IPO, the biggest in Milan in three years, which was oversubscribed 27 times. It was one of several bits of surprisingly good news for the euro zone—including even for Greece.

The US is on track to beat oil production records. Oil output from the country will reach its highest level in 46 years by 2016, said a government energy forecast.

The EU offered Israelis and Palestinians a push. Foreign ministers said they will give the two sides “unprecedented” economic and political support if they reach a final deal in peace talks, but said nothing about what that support would consist of.

Quartz obsession interlude

Christopher Mims on how far the “internet of things” will go. “The next layer of the internet of things will require combining disparate streams of data ‘mined’ from reality—everything from your location to the members of your social network. This is called sensor fusion, a task that is basic to all big data projects. Knowing where you are throughout the day won’t mean much, but add in data about who else is present and a computer algorithm can tell you how likely you are to get the flu.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

A 7.5% GDP growth target is bad for China. It will only make it harder for the country to reform.

Germany should expect a downgrade. The fact that the Netherlands lost its AAA rating is a warning that the German position isn’t so secure.

It’s time to ease up on the college essay. Requiring students to write long papers is a waste of everyone’s time.

Farms could be the next terrorist target. The US food supply is ripe for the ruining.

Surprising discoveries

The best-selling book on Amazon this year. It’s based on a questionnaire developed by Gallup.

There’s a strange new way to get a US visa. Be really good at a video game.

Ben and Jerry have only ever really argued about one thing. How big the chocolate chunks should be in their ice cream.

China is the world’s most materialistic country. And the US is one of the least materialistic.

Bad news for Kim-watchers. North Korea has deleted almost all its online news archives.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, questionnaires, and North Korea stories you’ve saved to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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