🌎 Monster mortgage rates

Plus: It’s high tide for oil and gas companies
🌎 Monster mortgage rates

Good morning, Quartz readers!

Here’s what you need to know

US mortgage rates reached a 20-year high. The rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage has topped 7.08% this week.

Amazon shares tumbled after reporting sluggish earnings and holiday sales outlook. Slower growth in parts of the tech giant’s business like Amazon Web Services, however, presents a silver lining.

Twitter’s top executives were reportedly fired. No official statement was made about the deal’s completion or a new leadership structure, other than a tweet from Musk reading: “the bird has been freed” (more below).

The US economy expanded in the third quarter. But the factors underlying the 2.6% GDP growth aren’t robust enough to dispel recession concerns.

US business groups called for government intervention to avoid a rail strike. More than 300 trade associations wrote to president Joe Biden after a second rail union rejected a deal brokered last month.

Same-sex marriage is now legal across Mexico. A state-based legalization wave that started in 2009 in Mexico City is now complete.

Global tuberculosis cases increased in 2021. The WHO said it’s the first time drug-resistant TB infections have seen a rise in almost two decades, climbing 3% year on year. 

What to watch for

It’s high tide for oil and gas company profits. Yesterday, Shell reported third-quarter earnings of $9.45 billion while French major TotalEnergies posted $9.9 billion, both bringing in over twice as much as the same period last year. Exxon and Chevron are expected to report record profits today.

But these halcyon days may soon pass. For the first time, the International Energy Agency said fossil fuel demand should peak within the next decade or so. It’s a remarkably negative outlook for natural gas, the long-lived cash cow of energy firms, which is feeling the effects of Russia’s war in Ukraine and pro-renewable policies like the US’s Inflation Reduction Act.

The IEA’s findings will no doubt come up at the UN climate summit in Egypt next month. Get updates from the event sent directly to your inbox with our Need to Know: COP27 pop up newsletter. Sign up today.

No “free-for-all hellscape” for you

Elon Musk has a disdain for content moderation and advertising, but on the cusp of becoming the owner of Twitter, he’s starting to realize he’ll actually need both.

Musk has promised to restore “free speech” to Twitter, paring down its current approach to content moderation. But while the specifics of his policies haven’t been hammered out, he’s promising it won’t be a “free-for-all hellscape.”

It’s the closest approximation to a real content moderation stance Musk has taken since first flirting with the idea of buying Twitter. But more so, it’s a realization that he needs some degree of supervision on the platform to keep advertisers happy. No one wants their ads next to unsavory content, and he needs advertisers to make money. And even if he didn’t buy Twitter to “make money,” there’s a limit to how much even Musk can lose.

What would you do with a four day work week?

If Musk had an extra day off of work each week, would he find another social media company to make his pet project, or fill it with pottery classes he’s been meaning to take? It’s anyone’s guess.

But for those who aren’t billionaire CEOs of several companies, the idea of a four day work week could mean running those errands a day early so you can make dinner plans with your friends, or just simply relaxing and recharging. Supporters of cutting back on traditional working hours know the upsides of this setup, but what are the downsides?

🎧 Find out in this week’s episode of Work Reconsidered: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google | Stitcher

✦ And while you’re at it, sign up for a Quartz membership (it’s 60% off!), which helps support our projects like The Memo, our weekly newsletter on the future of work.

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Surprising discoveries

Bees count from left to right. It’s a trait they share with many humans, and possibly all other animals.

The world’s best nose-picker is a lemur. The long-fingered aye-aye, a native of Madagascar, also eats its boogers (a big no-no).

There’s a certain number of burgers you can eat without harming the planet. The World Resource Institute recommends a weekly two-patty limit, but only if you eat no other meat.

Some reptiles form lifelong monogamous bonds. One lizard couple has even hit 27 years and counting.

NASA officially convened a UFO panel. They’ll spend nine months discussing how to analyze recorded instances of “what the heck is that?”

Our best wishes for a productive day. Send any news, comments, lizard love, and UFO sightings to hi@qz.com. Reader support makes Quartz available to all—become a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Tim McDonnell, Scott Nover, Sofia Lotto Persio, Julia Malleck, and Morgan Haefner.