Quartz Daily Brief—Europe Edition—EU Summit Spat, Google mishap, GE Earnings

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Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

The EU summit enters its second day, with progress on steps toward a banking union. European leaders have agreed to have a new euro zone banking supervisor operational next year. That’s been seen as a prelude to the European bailout fund’s pumping money directly into troubled banks. Meanwhile, austerity protests continue in Greece, and markets have been jittery.

Economic indicators: houses and burgers. Two more clues will shed light on one big question: is the US economy really recovering? Data on existing home sales are expected to confirm or debunk the growing idea that US housing markets are rebounding; while McDonald’s third-quarter earnings may offer some color on consumer spending.

China ratchets up Japan tensions. The Beijing government is sending naval ships to the uninhabited islands in the East China Sea the two Asian superpowers are fighting over, according to Chinese state media. State news agency Xinhua, in words possibly designed to intensify paranoia within China that Japan is preparing to attack, said that navy and patrol ships were being sent to the islands to sharpen “their response to emergencies in missions to safeguard territorial sovereignty and maritime interests.” This is not the first time Beijing has sent ships to circle the islands. And feverish reporting of the conflict with Japan in state media was one thing that led to the wave of anti-Japan riots across China last month.

GE reports earnings, looks pleased with itself. The US-based conglomerate is expected to report continued double-digit gains in income, led by its energy, aviation and transportation businesses—although it expects to take a hit in Europe, still a key part of its operations.

While you were sleeping

Google’s “oops” moment. An error by financial publishers resulted in Google’s earnings being released several hours early, while the stock market was still open. Trading in Google had to be suspended as its shares dove more than 9% and pulled the NASDAQ down 1%. The reason: sales growth at Google had slowed to 17% year-on-year, falling below 20% for the first time since 2009 as internet advertising rates fall. The premature earnings report carried the immortal line: “Pending Larry quote.” When Larry (Page, the CEO) did find his voice, he said he was “really happy” with the results.

Microsoft’s “meh” moment. Microsoft reported slowing income growth, too, with tablets and other mobile devices hitting PC sales.

Who’s irresponsible now? Wall Street executives have turned the tables on Washington, sending a letter that asks the White House and US Congress to act more responsibly in steering the country clear of the looming fiscal cliff.

US regulators fined Chinese billionaire for insider trading. Zhang Zhirong, a shipping and property tycoon and China’s 48th richest man, according to Forbes, has agreed to pay $14 million to settle allegations by the SEC that he and other unidentified traders bought shares in Canada’s Nexen before it agreed to be acquired by Chinese oil trader CNOOC.

British MPs castigated financial regulator over disastrous RBS-ABN merger. Over in Britain, different sections of the establishment are still blaming each other for the 2008-9 banking crisis. A parliamentary report out today says Britain’s Financial Services Authority, which is about to be scrapped and replaced by two new watchdogs, should have prevented RBS from buying its Dutch rival back in 2007. RBS received a £45 billion taxpayer bailout the following year. Maybe politicians could also try to foresee financial disasters before they happen.

Syria’s spiral continues. The Syrian military escalated its crackdown on rebel fighters, with military planes flattening a mosque and apartment buildings and killing more than 40 people. A global human rights group meanwhile reported that more than 28,000 Syrians had been “forcibly disappeared” since the conflict began last year.

Quartz obsession interlude

EU leaders are debating in Brussels, but the next big crisis is likely to be in Spain. Our Euro Crunch obsession turns to Madrid, where ”bad bank loans, skyrocketing debt, and a deepening recession spell bailout. So what is Spain waiting for?” Quartz’s Stephanie Gruner Buckley asks. With the IMF forecasting the nation’s debt burden will reach 90% of GDP by year’s end—and markets expecting a request for EU aid any day—the game may be up. For those wondering if Spain’s troubles spell the beginning of the end, ask David Yanofsky’s and Gruner’s magic EU Eight Ball, which tells you why the euro zone will—or won’t—fall apart. (Hint: Try it on your phone.)

Matters of debate

The coming fiscal cliff—in Afghanistan. The future of Afghanistan depends less on a draw down of foreign troops than on the new economic order that will emerge once hundreds of billions in foreign aid money dries up, Matthieu Aikins writes. 

What’s the best way to measure Myanmar’s economy? Long walled off to the world, Myanmar is now undergoing an investment boom, with one small problem: nobody seems to know how big the economy is. Japanese researchers are suggesting that night-time satellite images of the country may offer a clue.

Surprising discoveries

Your neighbors can see what you name your wi-fi network. So why not send them a message? Real network names collected by the BBC include “stop slamming the door!!!” “shut the barking dog up no. 7″ and, more than once, ”icanhearyouhavingsex.”

Killing time while writing that dissertation? It’s not always easy for scientists to explain their PhD research in layman’s terms.  So Science magazine asks them to explain it in interpretive dance moves.

Skipping breakfast really does make you want donuts. Neuroscientists find that when you miss a meal, the brain primes you to seek higher-calorie food, so you don’t just want to eat more—you want to eat worse.

The moon was formed when a planet smashed into earth. This is in fact an old theory, which has gained fresh support from two new studies.

Best wishes from Quartz for a productive day. Please send any news, leaked earnings reports and suggestions for what to name our wifi network to

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