🌍 One baby step for Xi and Biden

Plus: A plethora of memoirs.
US President Joe Biden (R) and China's President Xi Jinping (L) shake hands as they meet on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Nusa Dua on the Indonesian resort island of Bali on November 14, 2022.
US President Joe Biden (R) and China's President Xi Jinping (L) shake hands as they meet on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Nusa Dua on the Indonesian resort island of Bali on November 14, 2022.
Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP (Getty Images)

Good morning, Quartz readers!


Here’s what you need to know

Xi Jinping and Joe Biden held talks. It was the Chinese and American presidents’ first in-person meeting since Biden took office in a “baby step” towards stabilizing relations. Commitments were made on climate cooperation and diplomatic follow-up.

Paris overtook London as the biggest European stock market. The UK financial center has fallen from its top spot for the first time since records began in 2003 amid high inflation and a looming recession.

King Charles asked that his siblings be made Counselors of State. Should UK Parliament permit, Princess Anne and Prince Edward will be able to carry out the official duties of the monarch on his behalf.

Binance will launch a recovery fund for the crypto industry. It will aim to help other projects weather the impact of last week’s FTX crash, which has shaken the industry.

Amazon plans to cut about 10,000 jobs... The e-commerce giant’s largest-ever round of layoffs will begin as early as this week for corporate and technology roles. The news comes days after Twitter fired an estimated 4,400 contractors without warning.

…And Jeff Bezos plans to donate most of his fortune to charity. The Amazon founder and billionaire says he’ll contribute the majority of his $124 billion to help combat climate change and promote world unity.

BMW is expanding EV battery production in China. The German carmaker will invest $1.4 billion as it seeks to compete with Tesla and other brands in the world’s largest EV market.


What to watch for

In a publishing coincidence made in political wonks’ heaven, former US first lady Michelle Obama’s new book is hitting the shelves at the same time as Mike Pence’s memoir about his time as vice president.

Obama’s The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times, released today (Nov. 15), is her second book since leaving the White House, and merges the memoir and self-help genres to offer reflections and advice to deal with life’s challenges. Pence’s So Help Me God covers his time as Donald Trump’s second-in-command, including the immediate aftermath of the Jan. 6 Capitol riots.

Book sales were down 6.6% in the first six months of 2022 compared to the year prior, with non-fiction particularly feeling the crunch. But as fame remains a key driver of sales, the two books will no doubt end up on the New York Times’ Best Seller list, presently packed with celebrity memoirs from the likes of Matthew Perry, Bono, and Bob Dylan.


Russian oil greases India’s wheels

Image for article titled 🌍 One baby step for Xi and Biden
Graphic: Mimansa Verma

India is now among the biggest buyers of Russian oil, and US Treasury secretary Janet Yellen says that’s no issue, so long as Delhi doesn’t violate the bounds of the G7’s price cap, set to be finalized Dec. 5.

Last May, the US proposed a price cap on Russian crude oil that would waive sanctions if countries buy the stuff below a set price. The proposal would also deny the use of Western insurance, finance, and maritime services for tanker cargoes priced above a set limit.

Till now, Russia has not signaled any intent to sell its crude oil under the impending price cap, and it doesn’t have enough ships to transport its own oil. The big problem it faces: about 95% of the global tanker fleet is estimated to be covered by insurers in the G7.

Post-cap, Moscow may well turn to non-western shipping companies in the Arabian Gulf, China, and India to create alternative supply chains, giving its major oil buyers solid leverage to bargain.


Stay, gold!

As a commodity, gold’s been on a real rollercoaster, soaring to an all-time high during covid’s first summer when it breached $2,000 per ounce. Since then, it has slumped sharply, though prices recently spiked again above $1,700 amid turmoil in the crypto world and a slide in the dollar.

The precious metal has traditionally been seen as a haven in times of volatility, uncertainty, and distress (see: the last couple of years). But as the US Federal Reserve battles inflation, its aggressive rate hikes have fueled a relentless rise in the dollar and taken some wind out of gold’s sails. Quartz’s Mary Hui goes panning for more info in the latest Weekly Obsession.

✦ Our next Obsession—OK, sometimes it’s more than weekly—hits on Wednesday. Sign up for free, and never miss an issue. And while you’re at it, grab a Quartz membership for 50% off our usual price.

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Surprising discoveries

The mascot for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games is… a hat. The Phrygian cap is a symbol of the French Revolution, and weirdly huggable in mascot form.

Chile’s first lady would like to not be. Irina Karamanos points out that the role casts her—possibly permanently—as an accessory, and is pushing for its elimination.

Your cat’s paying attention to you… even when it seems like it couldn’t give a single litter box visit about the things you say.

Dung beetles are burrowing farther to avoid a changed climate. To be fair, though, the 1998 movie Deep Impact did it first.

What happens when you give dairy cows weed? Presumably for legitimate scientific purposes, researchers found that cows yawn, drool, get red eyes, and aren’t their normal graceful selves.


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