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Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Japan expands stimulus, Russia-Ukraine gas deal, PlayStation boosts Sony, eagle ruins birdie

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

What to watch for today

Europe flirts with deflation. The European Central Bank releases fresh inflation data, which is expected to show that price increases are squarely in the “danger zone” of less than 1%.

Switzerland takes its Ebola shot. Volunteers in the city of Lausanne will get 800 Swiss francs ($845) to be injected with the leading experimental Ebola vaccine. GlaxoSmithKline is looking for 120 research subjects; 50 have signed up so far.

Russian ruble-rousing. The country’s central bank will likely hike interest rates to bolster its decimated currency. The ruble shot up 5% against the dollar on Thursday in anticipation of the move, but is still worth 20% less than at the start of the year.

Numbers, numbers, numbers. Canadian GDP is expected to be flat, and quarterly earnings keep pouring in. The biggest fish include Chevron, Exxon Mobil, and Hilton Hotels.

Boo! It’s Halloween. Get a secret Frappuccino from Starbucks and give yourself a scare with these deeply frightening economic charts.

While you were sleeping

The Bank of Japan tried to save Abenomics. The central bank will expand its bond-buying program to 80 trillion yen a year ($726 billion), from 60-70 trillion currently, in a surprise attempt to kickstart the sluggish economy. By a 5-4 split decision, the bank’s board of governors said the move was necessary to reverse “a deflationary mindset,” especially after a sales tax increase earlier this year.

Russia signed a gas deal with Ukraine. Russia will supply its adversary with 4 billion cubic meters of gas through March in exchange for $4.6 billion, some of which will cover previous gas deliveries. The EU, which co-signed the agreement, will provide “unprecedented levels” of aid to help cover the cost.

Hungary backed down on its internet tax. Prime minister Viktor Orban said mass protests and industry opposition convinced him to drop a proposal to levy a tax based on bandwidth consumption. “We aren’t governing against the people but for them,” he said.

Sony’s losses weren’t as bad as expected. The struggling Japanese technology company reported an operating loss of 85.6 billion yen ($780 million) in its fiscal second quarter, about half the expected loss. Sales of its PlayStation 4 helped—it sold 3.3 million consoles, outpacing Xbox sales.

German retail sales fell by the most in seven years. A 3.2% monthly decrease in September (paywall) increased the likelihood of a recession in the euro zone’s biggest economy; analysts had only expected a fall of 0.8%.

BNP Paribas and RBS both returned to profit. BNP posted a third-quarter profit of €1.5 billion ($1.9 billion), after a loss in the second quarter due to a US fine for violating sanctions. RBS swung to a third-quarter pre-tax profit of £1.27 billion ($2 billion), from a loss of £634 million (paywall) the same period last year.

North Korea quarantined all foreigners over Ebola fears. All non-North Koreans entering Pyongyang will be required to spend three weeks under observation. The country has had no reported cases of Ebola.

Quartz obsession interlude

Svati Narula on America’s complicated relationship with sugar. “The American sugar industry is highly protected, with strict quotas and tariffs on imports of the stuff—except for supplies from Mexico, for reasons we’ll get to shortly. The protections have kept domestic sugar prices higher than world prices. The whole affair has been a rare moment of discord in the US-Mexico sweetener trade under the North American Free Trade Agreement.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Hong Kong tycoons should back the Umbrella Movement. Protesters are “defending a way of life that made the tycoons fantastically wealthy.”

The Tea Party is over. Republicans are once again all about Wall Street.

Child labor shouldn’t be illegal. Bolivia lowered the working age to 10 (paywall) in order to provide more oversight and ensure safer conditions.

Whose side is Turkey on? It has made a series of miscalculations, including months spent supporting Syrian jihadist groups.

Economics advances one funeral at a time. The old guard that railed against quantitative easing will never admit they were wrong.

Surprising discoveries

Halloween costumes are banned on the Beijing subway. They could cause “panic” or “stampedes” (paywall).

When an eagle ruins your birdie. A larcenous bald eagle stole a golf ball right off  the green (video).

There’s a throat virus that makes you dumber. Chlorovirus ATCV-1 is found in 40% of Americans.

Beware fake priests in graveyards. Filipino police warn of fraudulent clerics seeking payment for prayers on All Saints’ Day.

The Sistine Chapel got a makeover. Michelangelo’s masterpiece now has 7,000 LED lights and a new ventilation system.

Minority Report: London. Police are using Accenture software to predict crime.

Reminder: Get a 50% discount on our Next Billion conference in New York on Nov. 5 using the code QZBRIEF.

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