🌏 We’re past peak shipping

Plus: Cooling economic data from China.
 The container ship "Torrente" unloads in Rotterdam's harbor, Netherlands, on November 3, 2022.
 The container ship "Torrente" unloads in Rotterdam's harbor, Netherlands, on November 3, 2022.
Photo: Simon Wohlfahrt/AFP (Getty Images)

Good morning, Quartz readers!

Here’s what you need to know

China’s factory activity fell to a seven-month low... The manufacturing, services, and construction sectors all contracted in November amid a covid outbreak and tightening restrictions. iPhone shipments from Foxconn’s Zhengzhou plant are expected to drop by 20%.

…but Guangzhou and Chongqing relaxed covid rules. The two major Chinese cities have lifted some curbs amid a breakout of nationwide anti-covid lockdown protests and clashes with police in Guangzhou.

India’s Gautam Adani is closing in on a takeover of NDTV. The billionaire and second richest person in the world is set to buy one of India’s top TV networks, sparking a board reshuffle and concerns over press freedom.

The EU announced new measures to cut down on plastic. The bloc aims to reduce packaging waste by 15% from 2018 levels by 2040, and has mandated that all packaging be recyclable by 2030.

Eurozone inflation cooled. The annual rate dropped from 10.6% in October to 10% in November, the first time it’s fallen since June 2021, with likely implications for the ECB’s Dec. 15 rate hike decision.

Indonesia put an archipelago up for auction. The parcel contains over 100 islands in a marine-protected zone and will be sold with development rights, which doesn’t sit well with conservationists.

Former Chinese president Jiang Zemin died at 96. The leader, a favorite among Chinese millennials, came to power after the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and oversaw a period of tremendous economic growth for the country.

What to watch for

Today (Dec. 1), the US Senate Agriculture Committee opens the first of several Congressional hearings on crypto—one of many public probes into what went wrong at FTX, the crypto exchange founded by Sam Bankman-Fried. Eventually, these hearings will help formulate more robust crypto regulation.

Two agencies, the Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodity Futures Trading Commission are jockeying for the right to regulate crypto. The CFTC, which oversees the physical commodities markets and has been going after digital assets since 2015, believes it should lead the charge. A bill introduced in August also aims to give jurisdiction to the agency.

Most crypto players, including Bankman-Fried, would pick the CFTC too, as it’s believed to be more lenient. But the agency that spoke of a “light-touch” approach back in 2016 has changed its tune—commissioner Rostin Behnam has promised to go easy on no one. ☠️

Container shipping crests a profit wave

“Mind-bending.” That’s one way to characterize the container shipping industry’s third-quarter earnings this year, which clocked in at $58.9 billion. Shipping industry veteran John McCown used the same description for this year’s $58.7 billion first-quarter profits.

Image for article titled 🌏 We’re past peak shipping
Graphic: Morgan Haefner

In between those two data points are the “mind-altering” results from this year’s second quarter—$63.7 billion—which officially marked the crest of the container shipping industry’s tsunami of windfall profits.

McCown says those second-quarter earnings indicate a peak, and analysts aren’t not worried about a possible deep dive, with profits expected to plunge as much as 70% for some carriers in the next quarter. Shipping giants like Maersk have been anticipating this decline from the pandemic’s shipping heyday, investing in end-to-end logistics to control more parts of the supply chain, like airline and trucking routes.

Can the US afford to keep itself warm?

US senators from some of the colder states in the northeast are getting nervous about energy disruptions this winter, and have called on president Joe Biden to do something about it.

The New England region relies heavily on natural gas, along with heating oil, to keep buildings warm. Senators from Connecticut, Vermont, and Maine have said their states are feeling the impacts of rising costs due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with residential energy prices in the region already 15.4% higher than the national average.

Clarisa Diaz gives us a picture of the dire situation through a series of charts.

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Surprising discoveries

A spacecraft got some self uh… steam. Japan’s water-powered “EQUULEUS” is headed into the void for some sleuthing.

Spotify listeners agree that Bad Bunny is pretty good. The reggaeton star has claimed the top artist spot for the third year in a row.

The lobster industry could use some more pigs. Sausages may be a viable bait alternative to the increasingly scarce mackerel and herring.

The color of your plate could impact how your food tastes. For picky eaters, red is a no-go.

Crypto bros are selling off their G-Wagons. The market may be a disaster on wheels but this Mercedes-Benz is still cruising.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Send any news, comments, lightly used and symbolically desperate luxury vehicles, and Bad Bunny recs to hi@qz.com. Reader support makes Quartz available to all—become a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Sofia Lotto Persio, Julia Malleck, Susan Howson, and Morgan Haefner.