Skip to navigationSkip to content

Quartz Daily Brief—Americas Edition—Russia arms Syria, Turkey makes the grade, McDonald’s un-supersizes

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

What to watch for today

Tension in Syria. Russia just sent a bunch of anti-ship cruise missiles to Bashar al-Assad. That’s going to make a US-led intervention, should it ever come, a lot tougher. Meanwhile Qatar, has given Syrian rebels a total of $3 billion, making it the insurgents’ biggest supporter (paywall).

Has America’s confidence hit bottom? 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), but the dip will be brief—just like the US manufacturing slump that’s causing  the downturn.

Canada’s inflation is MIA. Data for April are expected to show no change in the consumer price index, well below the Bank of Canada’s 2% annual target.

While you were sleeping

The world’s largest shipping line is doing okay. Profits at A.P. Moller-Maersk fell 30% to $790 million, but the results comfortably beat expectations due to higher freight rates. Prepare yourself for the largest ships the world has ever seen.

The McSkillet Burrito’s days are numbered. McDonald’s is un-supersizing its menu. Apparently 145 options is too many.

Sina’s losses improved. First quarter losses narrowed to $13.2 million from $13.7 million last year. More importantly, Sina and its ally Alibaba have a cunning plan, and it involves maps.

Moody’s raised Turkey’s credit rating. It is now an investment grade economy for the first time in 20 years.

Iranian women can’t run for president. They can, however, still be parliamentarians.

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. celebration of the new normal.

Bringing pseudoscience to a disaster area near you. What we can learn from Homeopaths Without Borders.

Google’s maps are nosy but honest. The benefits of a map made from your private data.

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

Surprising discoveries

Keep working. Retirement may not be good for your health.

Scientists are cloning 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 some extras under the stall.

Bill Gates can’t give it away fast enough. The Microsoft founder once again found himself the richest man in the world, displacing Mexico’s Carlos Slim.

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.

Sign up for the Quartz Daily Brief 


, tailored for morning delivery in Asia, Europe, and the Americas.

📬 Kick off each morning with coffee and the Daily Brief (BYO coffee).

By providing your email, you agree to the Quartz Privacy Policy.