Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Fed taper rationale, Facebook’s India acquisition, euro zone data, self-drifting cars

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What to watch for today

The thinking behind the taper. The US Federal Reserve releases the minutes of its December meeting, in which it surprised the markets by announcing that it will start to unwind its massive bond-buying program, offering clues to how the “taper” could play out in the future.

An early read on US jobs. Analysts expect the private-sector payroll survey from recruitment firm ADP to show that the US added 200,000 new jobs in December, down from 215,000 in November. Although the official jobs data on Friday is more important, ADP’s survey was pretty close last month.

Event: Talking tech in 2014. Quartz technology editor Christopher Mims, Re/code co-executive editor Kara Swisher, and Wall Street Journal columnist Farhad Manjoo hold a live video discussion on the outlook for technology in 2014 at 1pm ET.

While you were sleeping

Euro zone data dump. Unemployment held steady at 12.1% in November for the eighth straight month. Retail sales rose 1.4% after a 0.4% decline in October. Meanwhile, Germany’s trade surplus widened in November due to a drop in imports and a rise in exports.

India squeezed US diplomats. In the latest diplomatic twist, India said American government employees must limit their activities at a popular embassy club in New Delhi.

L’Oreal slimmed down in China. A week after Revlon exited the country, the French cosmetics giant stopped sales of its Garnier products to concentrate on better-performing brands.

Facebook is buying an Indian startup. Bangalore-based Little Eye Labs, Facebook’s first acquisition in the country, builds tools for monitoring mobile Android apps.

The Guardian was blocked in China. The British newspaper said its site hasn’t been accessible in China since Jan. 7 for reasons unknown. Bloomberg and the New York Times, which ran stories about the wealth of top Chinese officials, have been blocked since 2012.    

A US Air Force helicopter crashed in the UK. Four crew members are believed to have perished when their HH-60G Pave Hawk went down during a training operation in rural eastern England, about 130 miles from London.

China will open some telecoms services. Beijing will permit foreign investment in telecoms services like app stores, call centers, and home Internet access in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone.

Tiger Airways is selling its Philippines business. The Singapore-based airline is offloading its 40% stake in its Philippine arm to Cebu Air, the country’s biggest budget carrier, for $6 million.

Quartz obsession interlude

Leo Mirani on how an aging bureaucrat in a small town in Ireland found himself safeguarding a billion people’s privacy. “Every morning, the man in charge of overseeing how [technology] companies use our data cycles to Heuston station, takes a 50-minute train ride out of Dublin, and walks the last five minutes to his office next to a convenience store in Portarlington, a town of some 7,500 people in the Irish midlands. It is an unlikely place for what has grown to become one of the most important offices in global privacy. But little about this story is likely.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Lagos is a model city. Nigeria is poorly run, but its biggest city is benefiting from better public transportation, cleaner streets, and a more positive business environment.

Satansim is a religion, too. Wherever Christians have a Ten Commandments monument, a Satan sculpture should be allowed..

The NSA nearly killed the Internet. Edward Snowden’s revelations about US surveillance sent Facebook, Google, and Microsoft into a panic as they tried to salvage users’ trust.

Company wellness programs might be a waste of money. But that doesn’t necessarily mean companies shouldn’t have them.

Surprising discoveries

Not your father’s self-driving car. BWM has created a demonstration sedan that can self-drift, making Google’s self-driving Prius look positively tame.

What will Earth be like in a quadrillion years? Consult this timeline of the far future.

How “Ask Me Anything” came to be. Reddit has successfully combined taboo topics, crowdsourced questions, and the allure of celebrity.

Childhood amnesia is real. Young children can recall events from their early years, but their memories begin to fade around the age of seven.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, far future predictions, and AMA requests to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.


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