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Quartz Daily Brief—Europe Edition—Apple’s beloved bonds, closing Gitmo, paydays for Sorrell and Mayer, happy May Day

By Leo Mirani
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

What to watch for today

Markets closed for May Day. It’s international worker’s day, or labor day, depending on the country you’re in, and that means stock exchanges from Frankfurt to Shanghai will be closed. There will also be potentially contentious rallies in Venezuela, and protests across the US.

The Fed’s likely non-event. The federal open market committee wraps up a two-day meeting and issues an interest rate decision. No change is likely, and there may not be much to say about it.

London High Court probes spy murder. The MI6 secret intelligence service reportedly paid ex-Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko $136,000 before his untimely death. Now maybe we’ll find out more about why.

India might finally get around to letting IKEA in. This saga has been dragging on even longer than it takes to assemble an Expedit shelving unit.

Earnings ahoy! Merck, CBS, Chesapeake Energy, Facebook, GlaxoSmithKline, Tesoro, MasterCard, Visa and Yelp all report.

While you were sleeping

Obama renewed his efforts to close Guantanamo Bay. The president’s promise of new discussions with Congress comes during a worsening hunger strike by Gitmo detainees.

Manufacturing slowed in China and Australia. A government index of Chinese purchasing managers fell more than analysts expected, from 50.9 to 50.6, with anything under 50 indicating contraction. Australia’s index hit its lowest since 2009.

Apple issued $17 billion in debt. And boy oh boy did the bond markets love it.

Cyprus’ bailout passed—barely. The island nation’s parliament approved a financial rescue package by just two votes.

Saudi Arabia declared it wasn’t scared of US energy production. “In the blink of an eye, the scarcity scare-mongers have been replaced by the apostles of plenty,” said petroleum and mineral resources minister Ali I. al-Naimi.

Yahoo doubled maternity leave for employees. If they can’t work from home, at least employees of the Internet company can spend the first four months there after their children are born.

CEOs were amply compensated. Speaking of Yahoo, CEO Marissa Mayer got paid $36 million, mostly in stock, for her first six months on the job. WPP CEO Martin Sorrell, whose pay package last year was opposed by 60% of shareholders, got a 50% raise to £17.6 million.

Quartz obsession interlude

Simone Foxman on how bitcoin could become an untraceable parallel financial system. “What’s often missed about alternative currencies like bitcoin is that they weren’t just made for buying and selling things. Nor are they simply tools for financial speculation. Bitcoin is also a payment system, allowing anyone to transfer money anonymously, immediately, irreversibly—and, if you like, illicitly.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Should migration be restricted on economic grounds? Most definitely not: It’s the most effective anti-poverty program there is.

Baidu, the Google of China, is flailing because it failed to embrace mobile. Live by the desktop, die with the desktop.

BlackBerry’s right: There’s no future in tablets. At least if you want to make money on them.

Be gracious to get ahead in business. The little things are actually the big things.

Surprising discoveries

Online streaming video is a French strategic asset. Why else would regulators scupper the sale of Dailymotion?

Meta-outsourcing is a thing. Outsourcing giant Infosys is outsourcing its own jobs.

A large-screen iPhone 6 is coming, says analyst. We said Apple should do it, but it stretches believability to imagine they might.

Germans are drinking less beer. Because they’re old.

French fast food sales eclipsed regular restaurants. Possibly the worst thing to happen to France since that Economist cover.

Watch Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo go supersonic. Here comes 16 seconds of pure awesome.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, and little acts of graciousness to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day. And you can join Quartz’s Google Hangout debating the merits of an MBA on May 1 at 2 p.m. EST. More details here.

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