🌍 Laying off and laying back on

Plus: Get us off this highway to climate hell, please.
This video grab taken from a video posted on the Twitter account of billionaire Tesla chief Elon Musk on October 26, 2022 shows himself carrying a sink as he enters the Twitter headquarters in San Francisco.
This video grab taken from a video posted on the Twitter account of billionaire Tesla chief Elon Musk on October 26, 2022 shows himself carrying a sink as he enters the Twitter headquarters in San Francisco.
Photo: Photo by various sources/AFP - Twitter account of Elon Musk (Getty Images)

Good morning, Quartz readers!

Here’s what you need to know

Meta is expected to fire thousands of staff this week. Facebook’s parent company will become the latest in a string of tech giants to slash jobs following weak earnings.

But Twitter is asking fired workers to come back. Dozens of people are being offered their jobs again, according to Bloomberg, just days after Elon Musk laid off over 3,000 employees.  

UK packaging workers announced a strike. Nearly 1,000 DS Smith union members are planning a walkout in November that could trigger an Amazon packaging shortage. In other packaging news, Sony is shifting from plastic to paper and bamboo.

China’s exports shrank for the first time in two years. Exports fell by 0.3% in October year on year, compared to 5.7% growth in September, amid zero-covid curbs and waning demand from abroad.

A Russian oligarch admitted to interfering in US elections. Yevgeny Prigozhin, an ally of president Vladimir Putin and founder of the Wagner Group paramilitary firm, made the statement on Russian social media site VKontakte.

Apple warned iPhone 14 deliveries will be delayed. China’s covid curbs have affected production at Foxconn, Apple’s supplier in Zhengzhou.

The UN chief delivered a grave warning to leaders at COP27. Secretary-general António Guterres stated: “We are on a highway to climate hell,” and that “Humanity has a choice: cooperate or perish.” Meanwhile, the UK announced it’s commiting £100 million ($115 million) to help poor countries combat the impacts of climate change.

Keep up with the latest news about humanity’s future by signing up for our limited email series, Need to Know: COP27.

What to watch for

The US midterm elections held today (Nov. 8) will decide which party controls Congress, impacting president Joe Biden’s legislative course of action for his next two years in office. Thirty-six states and three territories will also vote on a governor, and various state ballots will feature referendums on issues ranging from rent control to forced labor.

With so much at stake, the midterms attract vast amounts of money. US billionaires, who saw their wealth balloon during the pandemic, have set a new record of $881 million in political donations. A majority of that sum went to support Republicans.

Republican candidates may also benefit from high inflation figures and weakened purchasing power, which have increased Americans’ economic pessimism. Though Republicans have not produced detailed plans to tackle economic problems, as disgruntled voters seek to hold someone accountable, the Democratic party has become an obvious scapegoat.

China’s multi-billion-dollar market rally is based on a…screenshot

What’s moving Chinese markets these days—to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars—isn’t stellar GDP figures (when they aren’t delayed) or central bank interest rate moves, but something decidedly more nebulous: rumors and intrigue.

Last week, a mysterious four-paragraph screenshot of unknown origin and uncertain authenticity sparked a massive rally of some $450 billion in Chinese equities. The unverified post claimed that senior government officials held a meeting to “speed up a conditional opening plan” from the current zero-covid policy. Beijing denied the rumors, but the Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Hang Seng indices kept on keeping on.

Image for article titled 🌍 Laying off and laying back on
Graphic: Mary Hui

The massive about-face comes less than two weeks after a steep sell-off following the Chinese Communist Party’s quinquennial congress, in which president Xi Jinping secured a third term as party chief, and stacked the elite 24-member Politburo with loyalists.

And much of modern capitalism is based on a misunderstood phrase

Pop quiz: How many times did Adam Smith, often dubbed the father of modern economics, use the phrase “invisible hand” in published works?

A. Three times

B. 10 times

C. 68 times

D. He never used it, but he did use the phrase “invisible foot”

The answer’s largely irrelevant. The 18th century philosopher and author of The Wealth of Nations may not actually have been using “invisible hand” the way we’ve interpreted it—as an implied trust in the benevolent guiding force of a free market. And many scholars say Smith would absolutely never encourage that kind of thinking, anyway.

✦ OK fine, we’ll tell you the answer and a whole lot more in our next Weekly Obsession. If you feel like being an invisible hand that helps us keep emails like the Obsession—and this one, too!—free for all, grab a Quartz membership for 50% off.

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Surprising discoveries

In more “highway to climate hell” news… Pumpkins dumped in landfills become big greenhouse gas polluters.

…And the ocean has a whale of a micro problem. Blue whales could be swallowing as much as 10 million bits of microplastic daily.

SpaceX’s Hyperloop got the “Big Yellow Taxi” treatment. The mile-long test tunnel in California got scrapped to build a parking lot.

Kissing that toad really could show you Prince Charming. That is, if it happens to secrete hallucinogens—the US National Park Service has said “please refrain from licking,” just to be safe.

Art in the office is more important than you think. A study shows a Caravaggio in the kitchen or a Whistler by the water cooler could boost employee well-being.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Send any news, comments, office art conversation starters, and pumpkin recycling projects to hi@qz.com. Reader support makes Quartz available to all—become a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Mary Hui, Sofia Lotto Persio, Julia Malleck, and Susan Howson.