Quartz Daily Brief—Asia Edition—Big shippers, Glencore drama, gold bubble, death-positivity

What to watch for today

The state of the world’s largest shipping line. A.P. Moller-Maersk reports earnings as it gears up to launch the largest ships the world has ever seen. The company has been hit by sour shipping markets since the start of the financial crisis, but has been buying ships and retooling its strategy for what it hopes is a rebound in the next few years.

Signs of spending in America. The University of Michigan survey of consumer sentiment is expected to rise again after hitting a three-month low in April. Companies reliant on consumer spending from fast-food to retail have complained about tough sales.

A pause in Mexico’s growth spurt. Forecasters expect a resurgent Mexican economy to report the worst quarterly growth since 2009 (paywall), perhaps even a reduction, but like the US manufacturing slump they blame it on, they hope it will be brief.

While you were sleeping

Drama at the mining giant. Glencore Xstrata’s chairman, Jon Bond, was voted out at the firm’s annual meeting, the first since the two companies merged just weeks ago. Bond handed over the reins, at least temporarily, to former BP CEO Tony Hayward, who might just have his life as a high-flying oil exec back.

The vampire squid likes all kinds of green. Goldman Sachs is financing 110 megawatts of rooftop solar panels installed by Elon Musk’s SolarCity, to the tune of $500 million, and under-writing a new $830 million stock and notes offering from Tesla, Musk’s electric car company.

Bill Gates is the world’s worst philanthropist. Gates, who has vowed to give all his money away, apparently can’t do it fast enough. He once again found himself the richest man in the world as Microsoft stock hit a five-year high, displacing Mexico’s Carlos Slim, who isn’t giving away anything.

Central banks missed inflation targets. The European Central Bank and the US Federal Reserve want prices to go up by a reasonable 2% a year. April’s data revealed that European consumer prices increased by 1.2%, the slowest since 2010. In the US, the cost of living fell for the first time in successive months since 2008.

Wal-Mart’s customers cut back. The company’s first-quarter revenues missed expectations, increasing just 1%, suggesting that consumer spending in the US isn’t so hot after payroll taxes were raised in January.

Obama picks a tax man to clean house. Budget official Daniel Werfel has been put in charge of the Internal Revenue Service after it was attacked for mismanagement and targeting conservative political groups.

Qatar has given Syrian rebels $3 billion. The tiny state is the insurgents’ biggest supporter (paywall)—for now.

Quartz obsession interlude

Matt Phillips argues that the US payroll tax increase hasn’t been that bad for consumers.Lackluster sales at Wal-Mart look to some like evidence that the US’s payroll tax increase at the start of this year is, as predicted, pinching less-affluent Americans. And all else equal, raising taxes in a weak economy is probably not the best move. But we don’t think American consumption is going to collapse…The cash Uncle Sam is taking out of the wallets of consumers could be offset by other developments elsewhere in the economy, which isn’t as weak as it once was.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

President François Hollande’s wasted year in France. He doesn’t understand the republic he’s expected to run.

All the black swans are dead. A celebration of the new normal.

Bringing psuedoscience and non-cures to a disaster area near you. What we can learn from Homeopaths Without Borders.

Google’s new maps are the most honest form of map-making. The benefits of a map made from your private data.

It’s time to face death. The death-positive movement is a real thing.

Gold is a bubble. And it’s bursting.

Surprising discoveries

Scientists can clone human embryos. It’s the same technique used to produce Dolly the sheep, but don’t worry, they’re just using them to harvest stem cells.

Venezuela is 40 million rolls short of toilet paper. Maybe Brazil can roll a some extras under the stall.

James is on Facebook, but he has no idea what Facebook is. Because James is a dog.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, private maps and spare toilet paper to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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