Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—US talks South China Sea, Pfizer and Allergan merger?, runaway blimps

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

What to watch for today 

The US and China hash it out over the South China Sea. A top US admiral and his Chinese counterpart will hold a video conference to talk about a recent boundary-testing visit by the US navy to near a Chinese man-made island.

China’s Communist Party concludes a major meeting. Delegates will agree on the 13th five-year plan of the People’s Republic, outlining the country’s economic and social development goals from 2016 to 2020. Details won’t emerge for weeks or months, but Beijing created a bonkers English-language video to tide us over.

US GDP growth is expected to slow. Analysts estimate that the economy grew by just 2% in the third quarter from a year earlier. That’s higher than some earlier projections, but significantly lower than second-quarter growth, which came in at 3.9%.

Oil, cable, and more earnings: Mastercard, Starbucks, ConocoPhillips, Time Warner Cable, LinkedIn, and others report quarterly results.

While you were sleeping

Pfizer and Allergan began merger talks. The two pharmaceutical giants are in the early stages of discussions, and no deal is guaranteed yet, according to the Wall Street Journal (paywall). Together, the companies have a combined market cap of $331 billion; a tie-up would be the industry’s largest, despite a rash of mega-mergers in the past year.

Nintendo gave a sneak peek of its first smartphone game. The maker of video game consoles and handheld devices said Miitomo will be free to play and contain in-app purchases. But the company’s share price, already suffering from low profits, dropped by as much as 7% after it revealed the game’s launch will be delayed from this year till next.

Deutsche Bank announced 15,000 job cuts. The German lender will also pull out from 10 countries and end 6,000 external contractor positions, after it posted a record €6-billion ($6.6-billion) third-quarter pre-tax loss. The loss was due to increased litigation and impairment charges; a 20% rise in bond trading revenue added a slight silver lining.

Samsung finally had some good news. The South Korean smartphone manufacturer reported a third-quarter operating profit of 7.4 trillion won ($6.5 billion), up 82% from a year earlier, but projected a decline in fourth-quarter earnings due to currency fluctuations. To soften the blow, it plans to spend 11.3 trillion won on a massive share buyback.

Air France-KLM’s profits rose as unions fumed. The Franco-Dutch airline reported a quarterly profit of €898 million ($981.2 million), four times higher than last year and well above expectations. That will likely create some awkwardness; the airline has been battling unions unhappy with pay cuts and layoffs.

Sony reported its fourth straight profit beat. The Japanese electronics manufacturer posted a third-quarter net income of 33.6 billion yen ($278 million), beating expectations after making a 136-billion-yen net loss a year earlier. The profit comes after Sony put more focus on image sensors and VR investments, and lessened its reliance on smartphone and TV sales.

Marco Rubio appeared to win the US Republican debate. The junior Florida senator fended off attacks on his Senate attendance record and personal finances, even managing to score points against his long-term ally Jeb Bush. Outspoken billionaire Donald Trump, who suspected the debate would be unfair, took a backseat.

Quartz obsession interlude

Sibusiso Tshabalala on “2G Tuesdays” at Facebook. “The company hopes its staff will better understand what it’s like to access the platform via a 2G connection, a reality for many of its users living in the developing world. In Africa, Facebook has over 120 million active users, 57% of which access the platform using a feature phone with a 2G connection.” Read more here.

Quartz events

Quartz’s The Next Billion is back in New York on Nov. 16, exploring the next wave of internet users in emerging markets and on mobile platforms. Speakers include Phil Libin of Evernote, Luis von Ahn of Duolingo, Catherine Hoke of Defy Ventures, and many more. We’re hosting a full day of live interviews, interactive demos, debates, and networking with local and international innovators and decision makers. Register today using the code QZBRIEF for 40% off a ticket.

Matters of debate

Apple should buy a university. A nonprofit “Apple U” would only use a fraction of its $205 billion cash holdings.

Dubai’s foreign policy is a disaster. It’s feckless to attempt neutrality when you’re incredibly vulnerable.

The TV trope of the “evil bisexual” needs to end. Characters are stereotyped as manipulative and morally lax.

Jeb Bush just killed his presidential campaign. A cheap shot at a former ally—which even then backfired— means he should go.

Go on, finish eating your bacon. Something is going to kill you; life is about what you do before that.

Surprising discoveries

Your salmon might not really be salmon. Especially in the winter, sellers are prone to mislabelling their fish.

It’s been 18,967 days since a US president died in office. That’s a new record.

Robert Mugabe won’t accept China’s Confucius peace prize. Because it isn’t affiliated with the Chinese government.

The US military lost control of a 240-foot (73-meter) blimp in Pennsylvania. The runaway ship knocked out power for thousands of people.

A recently deceased librarian had reviewed over 30,000 books on Amazon. She critiqued two to three books a day.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, rejected peace prizes, and blimp lassos to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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