Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—French emergency powers, Square’s IPO debuts, Big Mac sushi

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

What to watch for today

France will vote on extending its state of emergency… The lower house of parliament will likely back a proposed three-month extension to emergency powers following the Paris attacks; an upper house vote tomorrow is expected to follow suit. Prime minister Manuel Valls urged an extension, warning that France could face chemical attacks.

…while the investigation into the Paris killers continues. French police are still determining whether Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the suspected ringleader, was killed in a raid in northern Paris yesterday. Meanwhile, six raids were conducted across Brussels this morning, focussing on two of the terrorists involved in Friday’s attacks.

Square provides a litmus test for tech IPOs. The mobile payments company begins trading on the New York Stock Exchange, with shares priced at an underwhelming $9 each. Square’s performance will be used to gauge the IPO value of other “unicorn” tech startups.

South Africa’s interest rate decision could go either way. Policymakers are uneasy about increasing the base rate from 6% in the face of a weak economy, but are also worried about the potential for inflation if left unchanged.

Earnings: Best Buy, Gap, the JM Smucker Company, and Williams-Sonoma are among those scheduled to report quarterly results.

While you were sleeping

China confirmed that ISIL executed one of its citizens. The foreign ministry condemned what is believed to be the terror group’s first killing of a Chinese national, and said the government would “hold the perpetrators accountable.” ISIL also claimed it executed a Norwegian hostage; the Norwegian government has not confirmed this.

Pfizer offered $150 billion for Allergan. The US pharmaceutical company bid up to $380 per share for its Irish peer, well above yesterday’s $310.8 closing price. The deal could be complicated by proposed US Treasury rules (paywall) to deter businesses from moving their headquarters to legally escape US taxes.

UK retail sales took a surprise dive. Shoppers spent 0.6% less in October than they did in September (paywall) from the same period last year, deeper than an expected 0.5% drop. That sent the pound down from recent highs against the euro.

Barack Obama and Justin Trudeau discussed the environment. The US president and Canadian prime minister avoided points of tension between the two counties and focussed on a mutual interest in clean energy—but Trudeau reiterated that he would pull Canadian planes out of anti-ISIL bombing sorties in Syria.

Japan decided against ramping up its stimulus. The central bank kept the rate of its bond-buying program steady, despite the economy officially entering a recession. Separately, imports plummeted beyond expectations in October; exports dipped in line with estimates (paywall).

Quartz obsession interlude

Ian Kar on a VC investment in a bitcoin startup. “Moving money across borders is expensive, time consuming, and subject to regulatory costs. By incorporating blockchain and bitcoin, new entrants are betting they can make the process cheaper and faster, opening up a profitable niche of their own.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Actually, Uber is a “disruptive innovator.” The man who coined the term may not think so, but it’s not like he owns the definition.

It will only take another 118 years to close the gender pay gap. That is what the World Economic Forum believes.

ISIL is more European than Europe. It has created an international network of operators, while the EU can’t even unify its police forces.

Don’t leave any money to your kids, give it to charity. It’ll ensure a legacy and make you happier in life.

We can’t comprehend the extent to which we’re being watched. Because of public-private partnerships, pushing back is almost impossible, too.

Surprising discoveries

The biggest diamond in more than 100 years was discovered in Botswana. It’s second in size only to one in the British Crown jewels.

The Statue of Liberty was initially Muslim. Frederic Auguste Bartholdi first planned to make his statue a peasant woman guarding the Suez Canal.

Standing desks at work make you lazier at home. It is very difficult to change our sedentary lifestyle.

A master sushi chef turned a Big Mac into a roll. The burger makes a fetching veggie-and-beef combo.

A new robot will do the unpleasant task of weeding for you. It could eliminate the need for herbicides.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, robot weeders, and Big Mac sushi 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.