Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Kim Jong-un is back, Europe’s deflation flirtation, Ireland closes loophole, Crumbs rises again

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What to watch for today

A confab to revive Europe. The euro zone’s finance ministers convene in Luxembourg to propose short- and medium-term projects to grow the continent’s economy. The region’s latest industrial production numbers were much weaker than expected and, more worryingly, a key indicator of economic sentiment in Germany dropped near a two-year low.

Results day for banks and a chipmaker. Citigroup and Wells Fargo announce third-quarter earnings (paywall) along with Intel, which may provide more evidence that sales of PC have bottomed out and may even rebound.

The West regroups against ISIL. US envoy Martin Dempsey is holding a meeting in Washington with the defense ministers of more than 20 countries to discuss how to defeat the Islamic State. Despite constant airstrikes, the extremist group is still gaining ground near Baghdad.

Ireland closes a massive tax loophole. The country’s finance minister is expected to announce a revamp to the country’s much-criticized tax laws, which have allowed companies like Apple and Google to save billions of dollars in payments.

The return of corporate cupcakes. Crumbs Bake Shop rode the rise and fall of the cupcake craze before closing shop in July. Now the baking chain is prepared to rise again after emerging from bankruptcy, at least in one Manhattan location.

While you were sleeping

Kim Jong-un is back. The North Korean leader made an appearance on state-owned media after a six-week absence, touring a new residential housing complex with a cane and a fuller-than-ever head of hair. Kim’s low profile prompted rumors of a possible coup or serious health issue.

Europe slipped further towards deflation. The UK consumer price index rose just 1.2% in September from a year earlier due to lower food and energy prices. France’s CPI increased by only 0.4%, and in Italy and Spain prices fell by 0.2%.

JPMorgan jumped the gun. The US bank published the data from its third-quarter results (pdf) a few hours earlier than scheduled, showing a slightly lower-than-expected net profit of $5.6 billion. Investors are still waiting for more context and explanation, but the earnings-release snafu—coming on the heels of a massive data breach—does not inspire confidence in the JPMorgan’s systems.

Gloomy projections for the luxury sector. Burberry, the British maker of $1,600 trench coats, and Mulberry, the maker of similarly-priced handbags, both warned of difficult times ahead as slower growth is expected in China and Russia and travel retail is hit by geopolitical factors. Burberry’s first-half sales rose 14% to £1.1 billion ($1.8 billion), and Mulberry’s fell 17% (paywall) to £64.7 million.

Indian wholesale inflation reached a five-year low. The producer price index rose just 2.4% (paywall) in September compared to the year earlier. One cause for the low inflation rate has been prime minister Narendra Modi’s attempts to restrict onion exports, which was introduced to increase domestic supply and lower prices.

Hong Kong police cleared protest barricades, again. Hundreds of officers removed barriers and tents from a major road in the city’s central business district. On Monday, the removal of barricades presaged violent attacks on the demonstrators by masked men.

More than 50 civil-rights protestors were arrested in Missouri. The St. Louis city hall was also occupied, a Walmart was shut down, and a political fundraiser was disrupted by protestors demanding justice for an unarmed black teenager shot by a white police officer.

Quartz obsession interlude

Kabir Chibber on Finland’s public enemy #1. “Finland lost its AAA credit rating from Standard & Poor’s last week, thanks to the “loss of global market share in the key information technology sector [and] structural retrenchment of the important forestry sector,” according to S&P. Today, Finnish prime minister Alexander Stubb laid the blame for the decline of its tech and paper industries at the feet of one company: Apple.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Saving the planet could also save your marriage. Ending the relentless search for economic growth will also make us happier.

France is giving Germany the finger over austerity. It’s not even pretending to cut its budget deficit any more.

Nerds are ruining Silicon Valley. They use their victim mentality to justify a bullying culture.

Computers ruined both dating and finance. No one plays the long game anymore.

Ukraine was just the beginning. Putin is slowly re-taking Eastern Europe.

Surprising discoveries

A comedy club in Barcelona is charging per laugh. The fee is capped at €24 ($30) for the easily amused.

There is an app for contacting just one person. His name is Ethan.

Italy is enlisting its army to grow marijuana. It’s legal for medicinal use, and the government hopes the military can bring costs down.

What would you swallow for good health? Pills made from frozen fecal matter are shown to restore healthy gut bacteria.

A new species of snail is named in honor of marriage equality. Aegista diversifamilia has both male and female reproductive organs.

When lying on Facebook is unavoidable. A 113-year-old woman couldn’t join the social network because it wouldn’t accept her birth year of 1900.

Correction: In yesterday’s brief we said the marathon world record hadn’t changed since 1988. In fact it was unbroken only from 1988 to 1998.

Click here for more surprising discoveries on Quartz.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, new snail species, and Italian army weed to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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