Good morning, Quartz readers!
What to watch for today
The markets re-open following Hurricane Sandy. Did you miss the US financial markets? They’re back. Thankfully, the overall economic impact of Sandy is likely to be fairly limited, though total costs—public, private and opportunity costs—could reach $50 billion.
Asian cities are vulnerable to mega-storms, too. A warning from civil engineering experts: Indian cities like Kolkata and Mumbai and Chinese metropoli like Shanghai and Guangzhou, among others, could suffer worse fates than New York if a big storm comes along.
President Barack Obama tours disaster-stricken New Jersey with Governor Chris Christie. The visit will underscores federal and state emergency management responses, but it doesn’t come at a great time for Republican Presidential contender Mitt Romney, who counts on Christie’s support. Here’s how the storm could affect the presidential election, just seven days away.
China mulls a jet engine push. Despite advances in technology and manufacturing, China still can’t build a reliable jet engine. The country is considering a ¥100 billion ($16 billion) plan to fix the problem.
While you were sleeping
The Northeastern US recovered from Hurricane Sandy. The death toll reached 30 and transportation infrastructure is paralyzed, but the storm is past. In New York, the subways will be out for four or five days, according to Mayor Michael Bloomberg. (A study last year, in the wake of Hurricane Irene, predicted that a storm like Sandy could take key transit infrastructure out of commission for weeks or months.
Japan’s central bank expanded its asset purchase program. The bid to boost inflation comes after heavy public pressure, but it disappointed markets, which had hoped for more aggressive measures; rather than weakening the yen, the news slightly strengthened it.
Greece reached a deal with the troika to stay in the euro. If the “improved” agreement between Greece and the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank passes the country’s parliament—no sure thing—Prime Minister Antonis Samaras will keep his country in the euro and gain access to a €35 billion bailout fund.
Meanwhile, in Germany, unemployment increased twice as fast as expected. Not a great sign for the economy everyone’s counting on to pull the euro zone out of its death spiral.
France sent Google a €1 billion tax bill. Bon appétit! The government hopes the tax threat will create a settlement between French media and the search giant over its excerpting of news reports.
BP beat expectations with $4.69 billion profit. While the figure was down from previous quarters due to one-time losses related to the still-costly 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the company’s fundamentals were strong, leading to an increased dividend and buoyant UK stock markets.
Iran retreated further from the global economy. The embattled Middle Eastern regime has banned exports of 50 basic goods, including wheat, sugar, and steel ingots, to preserve domestic supplies as US and European sanctions, brought on by its disputed nuclear program, bite.
Caribbean nations count the cost—in lives and food shortages—of the Frankenstorm. Haiti, still ravaged by the earthquake that struck nearly three years ago, and where Hurricane Sandy has already claimed 56 lives, is facing crop damage and food shortages. Sandy has also caused 11 deaths in Cuba and damaged 137,000 homes, while devastating the nation’s coffee crop. Meanwhile, banana plantations have been ruined in Jamaica.
Quartz obsession interlude
Naomi Rovnick on why Japanese automakers can’t blame their country’s diplomatic standoff with China for their weak sales there: “Honda has slashed its full year profit forecast by 20% because of bad September sales in China. No shock there. Honda and its rivals Toyota and Nissan have already disclosed the sales droop they all suffered last month because of an anti-Japan backlash in China, caused by the ongoing row between Beijing and Tokyo over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea. Yet the Japanese firms’ poor performance is due not just to politics, but to a longer-lasting series of strategy mis-steps.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
When will China overtake the US? At best, the US economy is only the top dog of global GDP until 2018.
What’s wrong with disaster price gouging? Slate, a news site so famous for its contrarian stances that it spawned the internet meme #slatepitches, argues for finding the social good when businesses hike prices on necessities in times of trouble.
An optimistic case for the euro. Someone had to make it, and that someone is Martin Feldstein, a Harvard economist and former Reagan adviser.
The US election doesn’t matter. The case that 2012 is the least consequential presidential election in years.
Here’s why FedEx’s famous logo works so well. Part of the answer is negative space.
If you host the Olympics, you get 30 years of debt. Hope the memories are worth it.
What happened to all the rats in New York when the sewers and subways flooded? You’ll never guess.
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