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Quartz Daily Brief – Americas Edition – After the storm, Spain hits out at EU, Barclays’ woes, Vietnam’s Pussy Riot

By Naomi Rovnick

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

What will happen when markets reopen? If you missed the US financial markets, they’re back after Hurricane Sandy—the first weather-related two-day closure since 1888. The overall economic impact of Sandy is likely to be fairly limited, though total costs—public, private and opportunity costs—could reach $50 billion. But there are fears that the rush back into the markets will create volatile conditions in which high-speed trading algorithms could set off a “flash crash.”

Greece’s fate hangs in the balance, as usual. Yesterday Greece finally agreed on a rescue package with its “troika” of international lenders. Today the Greek parliament is considering the budget that this package entails, which includes €13.5 billion ($17.5 billion) in austerity measures; the government’s coalition allies are not happy. Also today, euro-zone finance ministers will discuss giving Greece more time to reduce its debt burden. Both the budget and the extension need to be approved by Nov. 12, if Greece is to get the next €31.5 billion installment of bailout money.

Barclays shareholders don their tin hats. The bank has given its investors a terrible Halloween fright. It revealed pre-tax losses of £47 million for the third quarter. And then it confessed it faces two new US regulatory probes. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is looking into past power trading activity between 2006 and 2008 in the western US. And the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission are examining whether relationships with third parties who help Barclays win and keep business breached corruption rules. This comes after the bank was fined $453 million to settle charges it attempted to rig the benchmark LIBOR lending rate.

President Barack Obama goes touring with an unexpected friend. The president will visit the disaster-stricken state of New Jersey with its Republican governor, Chris Christie, who has been praising the federal government’s disaster response. That’s making things uncomfortable 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.

While you were sleeping

The northeastern US started to pick up the pieces after Hurricane Sandy. New Yorkers will wake up to a changed city this morning. 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).

Spain’s Prime Minister criticized the EU for being “too slow.” Talk about biting the hand that will probably feed you. Speaking before parliament today in Madrid, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said the European Union was dealing with the eurozone crisis “at a pace that can seem desperately slow to some of us.” That is even though Rajoy has been vacillating for weeks over whether to seek an EU bailout.

Rupert Murdoch’s empire swelled larger. News Corp has won approval from shareholders of Australian pay TV company Consolidated Holdings to proceed with a $2 billion takeover. Consolidated’s majority owner is Aussie tycoon James Packer, son of the late industrial mogul Kerry Packer and a long-time Murdoch family friend. James fell out with Rupert’s son Lachlan last year, but the Consolidated deal makes it look like dynastic relations in Australia are back on track.

China is mulling 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.

Vietnam’s Pussy Riot? For the first time in recent memory, Vietnam has jailed two musicians for the political content of their music, namely songs attacking the regime in China.

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 will remain the top dog of global GDP until 2018.

Europe’s crisis may result in a break up - of SpainThe wealthy northern region of Catalonia, for example, wants to jump ship.

Asian cities are vulnerable to mega-storms, too. 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.

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.

Surprising discoveries

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.

Sandy has caused coffins to rise from the ground. In one of the eeriest effects of the damage, these coffins in a cemetery in Maryland were pulled out of the ground by Frankenstorm.

Best wishes from Quartz for a productive day. Please send any news, queries, rat sightings, and incredible logo designs to hi@qz.com.

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