🌏 China’s markets brace for covid

Plus: Morocco’s next match isn’t just about being the underdog.
People line up outside a fever clinic at a hospital in the morning on December 11, 2022 in Beijing, China.
People line up outside a fever clinic at a hospital in the morning on December 11, 2022 in Beijing, China.
Photo: Kevin Frayer (Getty Images)

Good morning, Quartz readers!

Here’s what you need to know

China delayed a key economic meeting. A surge in covid cases, which has already affected the country’s financial markets, is to blame. Meanwhile, Hong Kong dropped more virus restrictions.

Billionaire Mohed Altrad was found guilty of corruption. The “king of scaffolding” received an 18-month prison sentence for an act of bribery involving France’s rugby team.

China is planning a $143 billion chip package. The financial infusion is intended to help its semiconductor industry achieve self-sufficiency as the US steps up sanctions on Chinese tech, Reuters reports.

FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried was charged with criminal fraud. The US government brought a host of charges against the collapsed crypto exchange’s former CEO who could face decades in prison.

New Zealand banned future generations from buying tobacco. According to a new law, one of the strictest in the world, the substance can’t be sold to anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 2009.

The IMF agreed to a $3 billion bailout for Ghana. The West African nation is trying to solve its debt crisis and stabilize its economy.

What to watch for

After Morocco won its quarter-final match against Portugal at the first World Cup hosted by an Arab country, players and supporters could be seen waving a variety of flags: Morocco’s red banner studded with a green star, Qatar’s maroon and white Al Adaam, and Palestine’s triangle-adorned tricolor.

For a game entrenched in national identities, this striking scene showed how Morocco’s unlikely run as the first African nation to reach the World Cup semifinals has reverberated beyond the country’s borders, thanks to the international background of its players.

Today (Dec. 14), Morocco will face France, who occupied the North African country for almost five decades, and exerted influence for 50 years more. The match won’t just be closely watched in Morocco, but also in Europe, where people of Moroccan descent see an opportunity to proudly celebrate their roots. Meanwhile, fans around the world, especially those who love an underdog, will tune in to cheer on the Atlas Lions.

Is India’s Adani Group too big to fail?

The value of shares in the Indian companies belonging to Gautam Adani, one of the world’s richest men, has soared more than 1,000% in the past five years.

Image for article titled 🌏 China’s markets brace for covid
Graphic: Niharika Sharma

In a relatively short amount of time, Adani has embedded his energy firms deep within India’s infrastructure, partly due to a close relationship with prime minister Narendra Modi and coveted government contracts. Adani’s rise has also been fueled by vast volumes of taxpayer money, both as debt and investment—so much so that people are starting to question if Adani Group has become too big to fail.

A collapse of the conglomerate would send shock waves into the economy at large. Rating agencies and financial experts have already flagged risk factors including how the group could spiral into a debt trap. A massive default by one or several of Adani’s companies would rock not just the equities markets, but India’s economy overall.

The complicated roots of Poinsettia plants

Gif: Giphy

The Poinsettia, a native to Mexico and Guatemala, is a Christmas fixture that has become one of the world’s most widely grown plants.

But beyond the plant’s festive charm, the story behind the originally lanky, warm-weather-loving shrub is really one about global business and plant engineering. It’s also a tale about the human impulse, across centuries, to appropriate nature for both status and profit.

✦ We’ll be digging into the soil in our next Weekly Obsession on Poinsettias. Sign up for the email today, and while you’re at it, grab a Quartz membership. It’s 50% off!

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Surprising discoveries

The US has yet to make good on a 200-year-old promise. The Cherokee Nation still lacks a representative in Congress.

The kanji of the year is sen (戦). Japan summed up 2022 with a character meaning “war,” “battle,” or “fight.”

The McDonald’s Big Mac got a Russian rebranding. The “Big Hit” will be served at fast food chain “Tasty, And That’s It” beginning in 2023.

New York City’s digital tree map expanded its canopy. Over 150,000 park trees were added to the database.

There’s a new way to fortify foods with vitamin A. Microparticles could be used to combat deficiency in the essential nutrient.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Send any news, comments, Big Hits, and nutrients to hi@qz.com. Reader support makes Quartz available to all—become a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Ananya Bhattacharya, Ana Campoy, Mimansa Verma, Niharika Sharma, Sofia Lotto Persio, Julia Malleck, and Morgan Haefner.