Quartz Daily Brief—Asia Edition—UK austerity, American port strikes, Greek misery, India’s new look

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Good morning, Quartz readers! 

What to watch for today:

Britain’s chancellor prepares to explain himself. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne will offer his “Autumn Message,” an assessment of the state of the economy, while articulating the policy agenda of Britain’s Conservative government; late yesterday, he leaked plans to raise taxes on corporations and the wealthy to blunt criticism of cuts to government welfare programs. Nearby, Ireland’s government will announce its sixth austerity budget in as many years.

Can mediators resolve America’s massive marine traffic jam? Employers and unions agreed to begin talks with federal mediators to end strikes that closed the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, an important Pacific gateway to the United States. After eight days of picket lines, global shippers are starting to take notice: some 40% of US-bound marine cargo goes through the twin ports..

Our continually-updating US fiscal cliff whiteboard:, and the latest report on the state of talks between President Obama and America’s conservative opposition.

While you were sleeping:

German finance minister puts the kibosh on EU bank union plan, for now. Just when a plan to put the euro zone’s banks under a single supervisor was gaining momentum, Wolfgang Schäuble warned negotiators that he would oppose giving the European Central Bank supervisory authority over the zone’s 6,000 banks. The 17 euro zone countries promised to adopt a new regulatory structure within the year to bolster their shaky financial sector, but Schäuble’s critique has raised fears of missed deadlines and market agita. Related: German Chancellor Angela Merkel won her party’s support for a third term , underlining her domestic credibility as a crisis manager.

Greek misery = happy hedge funds. It looks like hedge funds invested in Greek debt are set to make decent profits after European policy makers raised the price for how much the recession-stricken country would pay to repurchase its bonds. Some hedge funds have scooped up debt at 15% of its face value, while Greece and its European backers will pay up to 34% in an auction that will run until Dec. 7.

Protests fill Cairo’s Tahrir Square once again. Thousands of demonstrators expressed opposition to President Mohamed Morsi’s proposed constitution, which they say gives the executive and Morsi’s Islamist political party, the Muslim Brotherhood, too much power.

Disney signed an exclusive distribution deal with Netflix. The move gives the streaming entertainment pioneer access to a stable of lucrative films from Disney, Pixar and Marvel Studios.

South China Sea row ratchets up. Vietnam is standing up to China by setting up patrols to protect its fisheries in the South China Sea. This came after state oil and gas company Petrovietnam accused Chinese boats of sabotaging one of its exploration vessels. India has also said it is prepared to deploy naval vessels to protect its oil interests in the disputed waters—even though it doesn’t have any claims in the area. You can see a map of the various claims here.

Canada’s central bank left rates on hold. The bank, headed by soon-to-be governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney, said it was keeping an eye on talks to derail America’s Jan 1. austerity trigger.

Campaigning kicked off for Japan’s snap elections. Both Liberal Democratic Party leader Shinzo Abe and current prime minister Yoshihiko Noda launched their campaign for the Dec. 16 election in Fukushima prefecture, site of last year’s tsunami and nuclear disaster. Abe is focusing his efforts on reviving the country’s failing economy and weaning the country off nuclear power, but Noda has made similar pledges. They do have different views on the yen and on inflation. It’s likely that the election will result in yet another uncomfortable coalition that gets very little done, pundits say.

America’s right wing showed off its political hjiacking skills. The US Senate failed to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People after lobbying by hard-right members of the Republican party, even though the convention is based on the US’s own Americans With Disabilities Act.

Apple sold songs and movies in India for the first time. And unlike the iPhone itself, which costs more than it does in the West, they’re a lot cheaper.

Quartz obsession interlude: Naomi Rovnick on why China’s consumers are so bullish. “Overall consumer sentiment rose for the second month in a row and one element of it, the readiness to buy durable goods, was at its highest in a year and a half. But their confidence is nowhere near the dizzy highs it reached in 2009-2010, when the Beijing government’s banks were pumping record amounts of credit into the economy to insulate China from the global slowdown. And that should be a clue to what’s actually going on. Confidence is rising simply because the government has put its foot down hard on the stimulus pedal again.” Read more here

Matters of debate:

The perilous drift to intervention in Syria. Are Western powers inching toward involvement in the Middle East’s latest bloody civil war?

India’s new look on the UN Security Council. A new pragmatism marks the country’s 2011 return to the highest stage in international diplomacy.

Where is @XiJinping? China’s leaders are falling behind twitter “superstar” Barack Obama when it comes to social media.

China isn’t going to invade the United States. And other reasons Americans should stop spending so much money on defense.

Surprising discoveries:

What it’s like to watch a day of planes landing at international airport in just thirty seconds. Pretty cool, actually.

China is building replicas of “life-size” European villages. But not, the headline assures us, for the “reasons you think.” Is there an obvious reason for this kind of activity?

Americans are creative, Indians are effective. How people describe themselves on LinkedIn, the professional networking site.

The year in photos, 2012: The annual roll-out begins from one of the internet’s best photographic curators.

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