Quartz Daily Brief—Europe and Africa edition—Bitcoin rally, hedge fund reckoning, high-end Chinese wine

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What to watch for today

A continuation of bitcoin’s rally. There’s little consensus as to why it’s surging, but the cryptocurrency hit its highest price since August 2014 over the weekend.

French economic data. France will release GDP data for the first quarter, as the country’s unemployment rate remains around 10%, and strikes and clashes over reforms to its labor laws seem likely to persist.

Germany reports on inflation. Europe’s economic powerhouse will reveal regional inflation numbers first, followed by the national tally around midday. A month-on-month rise of 0.3% is expected, which would pull the year-on-year reading back into positive territory.

Markets are closed in the US and UK. The US is enjoying its Memorial Day holiday. The UK markets are shuttered for the spring bank holiday.

Over the weekend

France won’t cut a deal with Google. The country’s finance minister said France intends to collect taxes it believes Google evaded, which Reuters reports could amount to €1.6 billion ($1.8 billion), and could bring cases against other multinationals.

The deadly toll of the migrant crisis mounted. Up to 700 migrants were feared dead this weekend after a series of shipwrecks in the Mediterranean in recent days. Following the EU-Turkey deal that stipulated all “irregular” arrivals from Turkey be turned back or deported, migrants are now resorting to more perilous routes to reach Europe.

Iran said it’s boycotting the annual hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. That’s due to Iran’s ongoing feud with Saudi Arabia, with which it’s increasingly at odds, especially after hundreds of Iranians died last year in a stampede near Mecca.

The CEO of Noble Group resigned unexpectedly. Former Goldman Sachs banker Yusuf Alireza is stepping down, the embattled commodity trading giant said, because “the time was right for him to move on.” Noble’s stock has fallen 76% since he was appointed in 2013. The company also put its North American business on the block.

France and Germany marked the centenary of the battle of Verdun with a call for unity. Francois Hollande and Angela Merkel commemorated the longest battle of World War I by calling for more European reconciliation and integration.

Mexican soccer star Alan Pulido was kidnapped. Pulido, a forward for Olympiacos of Greece who was part of Mexico’s 2014 World Cup team, was taken by armed kidnappers. Mexico suffers from an estimated 100,000 kidnappings a year.

The Venice Architecture Biennale opened. The 15th edition of the world’s biggest architecture exhibition is curated by Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena and aims to explore architecture’s relationship with social, economic, and environmental issues.

Quartz obsession interlude

Steve LeVine on Volkswagen and the advanced-battery arms race. “Judging just by the expense involved—more than twice Tesla’s spending—the VW battery plans are typically of global ambitions… It will be a big gamble, pitting it against incumbents that have worked out the bugs of immensely complex battery manufacturing through years of trial and error. Similarly, it is unlikely to find any commercial-scale lithium-ion chemistry that isn’t produced by one of the Asian giants it wants to avoid.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

A female James Bond is exactly what the franchise needs. Jane Bond is an opportunity to create a better empowerment fantasy—for people of every gender.

Car horns should be phased out. They’re nothing more than a pin cushion for angry drivers.

It’s over for hedge funds. Competitors, analysts, and even managers can’t deny the industry’s performance is abysmal and it’s due for a reckoning.

America is losing its mojo. The decline of US dynamism is linked to the high cost of housing in the country’s most productive cities.

Surprising discoveries

An Italian judge backed a man’s right to pay alimony to his ex-wife in pizza. The man, who owned a pizza restaurant, owed €300 (about $335) a month.

Australia’s fastest-growing food company sells nothing in Australia. It grows and sells all its fruit in southeastern China. Incorporating down under lets it add the Australia seal to its business.

Moët Hennessy’s latest super-premium wine is made on the edge of Tibet. The red-blend Ao Yun (paywall), produced and bottled in China’s Yunnan province, costs €300 ($335) a bottle.

Iran has a growing number of highly educated, well-off female drug addicts. By and large, their families keep their addiction concealed.

An upcoming marketing stunt will involve a giant baby stroller. The pram is big enough for a 400-pound baby and can be spotted in Chicago starting next month.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, premium wine, and giant prams to You can download our iPhone app or follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.qz_email_list_425047646_post_message