Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Pfizer’s tax try, US probes Pimco, RBS floats Citizens, London supermarket mushrooms

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

What to watch for today

Obama addresses the UN. The US president’s speech will discuss the Islamic State again, but the real question is whether David Cameron will announce more British military support. The prime minister may recall parliament to vote on airstrikes as early as Thursday.

BlackBerry’s future is square. The troubled Canadian smartphone maker is holding three events around the world to show off the Passport, a handset with a 4.5- by 4.5-inch display, which it hopes will do better than last year’s disastrous BlackBerry 10.

Will the ruble bounce back? Moscow is set to auction 10 billion rubles ($259 million) worth of bonds in the country’s first debt sale in 10 weeks. Russia’s currency has depreciated 15% against the dollar this year.

Gloom in Germany. The Ifo Institute business climate index is expected to show that corporate confidence levels have hit a 16-month low. Trouble with Russia and a slow recovery are to blame.

A look at US house sales. The Mortgage Bankers’ Association releases its mortgage purchase application index, and the Census Bureau releases new-home sales data.

While you were sleeping

Pfizer tried again for a tax inversion. The US drug company has expressed interest in acquiring Actavis, a smaller rival with a market value of $63.6 billion that recently moved its headquarters to Ireland for tax purposes, according to Bloomberg. The Obama administration is trying to restrict tax inversion deals, but is not blocking them completely.

Starbucks placed a bet on green tea frappuccinos. The coffee chain will spend $913.5 million buying the 61% of its Japanese business it doesn’t already own from public shareholders and Sazaby League, which formed a joint venture with Starbucks in 1996. Starbucks thinks it can sell more ready-made beverages in Japan, where they are popular.

The biggest US port was out of commission. The Port of Los Angeles, a gateway between the US west coast and the Pacific rim, was shut down due to a stubborn fire. Seven of the eight port terminals were re-opened as of 6pm local time on Tuesday.

US regulators investigated Pimco. The Securities and Exchange Commission is looking into whether the bond giant inflated the rate of returns for a fund aimed at small investors, according to the Wall Street Journal (paywall).

A Scotland spin-off that worked, sort of. The Royal Bank of Scotland, which is 80%-owned by the British government, floated 25% of its stake in Citizens Financial for $3 billion. But the partial IPO of the US retail and commercial bank didn’t go perfectly: shares sold for $21.50 per share, below the anticipated $23-$25 range.

Japan’s factory activity stabilized. The Markit/JMMA flash manufacturing purchasing managers’ index fell to 51.7 in September, from 52.4 in August, but factory output rose to its highest level in six months, suggesting possible confidence in the domestic economy hit by a sales tax rise earlier this year. Japan will analyze June-September data when deciding whether or not to raise the sales tax again, from 8% to 10%.

Samsung pulled back in Europe. The Korean tech giant will reportedly stop selling laptops and Chromebooks in the region, despite reports that the PC market is bouncing back. Separately, a Samsung executive promised that the company’s mobile business would rebound ”due to its strong fundamentals and technological prowess.”

Quartz obsession interlude

Max Nisen on how wildly high CEO pay has become. “In the US, the average CEO makes an estimated 354 times as much an average unskilled worker ($12,259,894 vs. $34,645). People all around the world are broadly unaware of how wide the pay gap is, and they are almost universally of the opinion that CEOs should be paid much, much less… According to the survey data, people in the US think that the ideal pay gap between an unskilled worker and a CEO is 6.9—or 50 times less than the real gap.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The US should bomb the Islamic State’s oil installations. It would hit the extremist group where it hurts the most.

Threats against Emma Watson are an affront to all women. The actress is under attack for her gender equality campaign.

Sweden is no longer a role model. Economic inequality is growing, the left is losing popularity, and benefits are being cut.

Climate change refugees should be given asylum. Countries that that buy and sell fossil fuels owe new homes to people driven from theirs.

The German economic powerhouse is a myth. The country isn’t driving growth in the euro zone, and is spreading economic instability.

Surprising discoveries

“Mohammed” is the most popular baby name in Israel. The government was forced to backtrack after initially releasing a list with only Hebrew names.

London is the world’s most expensive city, displacing Hong Kong as the costliest place to both live and work in due to rising rents and the strong pound.

San Francisco redefines business casual. Say hello to the “Suitsy“, a one-piece garment that tries hard to look like a typical suit.

A restauranteur in China put opium in his noodles. He was caught when police drug-tested one of his patrons.

A new species of mushroom has been discovered. Not in an untouched jungle or on on an unexplored mountain, but in a London supermarket.

Click here for more surprising discoveries on Quartz.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, black tie jumpsuits, and new mushroom species to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

Sign up for the Quartz Daily Brief here, tailored for morning delivery in Asia, Europe & Africa, and the Americas.