China-Russia lovefest, tanks for Taiwan, transparent teeth

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Ford delivers another blow to the UK’s car industry. The automaker is expected to announce the closure of its long-running engine plant in Bridgend, Wales. Amid Brexit uncertainty, other carmakers have said they’ll close plants or scale back plans in the UK, among them Nissan and Honda.

Russia hosts its answer to Davos. Expect president Vladi­mir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to praise the growing trade between their nations and ink new deals at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. Putin said Wednesday that Sino-Russian relations were at “an unprecedented level.”

Beyond Meat releases its first post-IPO earnings. Investor interest intensified this week following a Wall Street Journal article (paywall) about the company and rival Impossible Foods struggling to meet demand for their meat alternatives. The company’s stock is up nearly 300% since it went public last month.

While you were sleeping

The US is preparing a large sale of weapons to Taiwan. According to Reuters, the deal involves over a hundred General Dynamics M1A2 Abrams tanks and is valued at over $2 billion. Such a transaction would anger China, which considers Taiwan a renegade province.

The IMF warned against trade wars. Managing director Christine Lagarde said global economic output could fall by 0.5% next year due to current and threatened US-China tariffs, which she described as “self-inflicted wounds.” G20 finance leaders will gather in Japan this weekend.

Cruise operators nixed stops in Cuba. Carnival and Norwegian both confirmed they have ceased all calls to the island nation, after the US State Department abruptly restricted visits. The new rule aims to pressure Cuba to reform and stop backing Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro.

The SEC adopted new rules for stockbrokers. Among other new directives, brokers must now tell clients receiving investment advice of potential conflicts of interest. Critics contend the US securities regulator didn’t go far enough in protecting investors from abuse.

Peloton filed for an IPO. The exercise-equipment maker, known for a stationary cycle that lets users stream spinning classes via subscriptions, was most recently valued at $4 billion. Filing confidentially with regulators, it said it hasn’t decided how many shares it’ll sell.


Where your sneakers are made says a lot about the world. Continuing our week-long look at how sneakers took over fashion, reporter Marc Bain examines how the source of sports footwear has changed in recent years. While China still makes far more of the total footwear imported into the US than any other country, companies are increasingly experimenting with “nearshoring,” where brands make their products near their biggest markets.

Quartz Obsession

The most popular climbing season to date on Mount Everest was also a very deadly one. A viral photo showing the human traffic jam at the summit raised questions about whether the Everest industry has become too big to be safe or sustainable. How it got this way is a story of geopolitics, economic modernization, and something akin to the Streisand effect. Scale the issue in the Quartz Obsession.

Matters of debate

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AirPods can double as shields. The controversial tech helps users ignore—or legitimately pretend to ignore—street harassment.

The war on drugs will center on psychedelics next. Capitalists who want to get in on the microdosing craze will clash with the compassionate culture around psilocybin.

Burnout should not be classified as a disease. A phenomenon so widespread may cause people to begin disregarding it, which hurts acute sufferers.

Surprising discoveries

India has an entire book village. Bhilar strawberry farmers have transformed portions of their homes into public libraries.

Facebook entertained plans to build a 1,400-ft skyscraper in Manhattan. The 2.8 million square-foot “Penn15” could still one day thrust itself above the New York skyline.

That’s one cool disk. The relatively low-temperature gas ring surrounding the Milky Way’s black hole is helping scientists discover more about the phenomenon.

The deadly teeth of the dragonfish are a mystery no more. The mineral makeup of the protruding chompers keep them virtually invisible to prey—and the tiny dragonfish at the top of its deep-sea food chain.

Chernobyl is becoming a tourist attraction. HBO’s titular series has caused a 40% upswing in tour bookings.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Chernobyl tickets, and book villages to Join the next chapter of Quartz by downloading our app and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was written and edited by Steve Mollman and Susan Howson.