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US economic recovery accelerates

New unemployment claims fell to a 52-year low, and consumer spending outpaced inflation in October.

United Airlines passenger jets taxi with New York City as a backdrop, at Newark Liberty International Airport
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Here’s what you need to know

The US economic recovery showed signs of acceleration. New unemployment claims fell to a 52-year low, and consumer spending outpaced inflation in October. If prices soar higher, Fed officials could raise interest rates.

Jamie Dimon regrets a joke about China. The JPMorgan CEO said the bank would last longer than the Communist Party.

A jury in Georgia convicted three men for the murder of Ahmaud Arbery. Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael, and William Bryan, who are all white, killed Arbery, an unarmed Black man, in early 2020.

Twenty-seven migrants drowned in the English channel. Children and pregnant women were among the victims, officials say. Five suspected people smugglers have been arrested.

The US is clamping down on bad behavior on planes. Complaints about unruly passengers have been rising, and attorney general Merrick Garland ordered prosecutors to go after offenders.

What to watch for

While consumers were told to start their holiday shopping early this year—and many stores are staying closed today for Thanksgiving—US retailers are expecting big sales on Black Friday and throughout the weekend.

Shoppers may be disappointed to find their gifts cost more than they did last year. Retailers are blaming it on the rising cost of shipping, but freight costs can only explain a fraction of the holiday price hikes. Instead, much of the blame can be pinned on shortages: Retailers’ inventories are running low, and shoppers are spending more on all sorts of goods. When more buyers are chasing scarce goods, sellers have more power to raise prices.

A bar chart showing the total price increase vs. freight cost increase from 2019-2021 for cast irons, air fryers, weighted blankets, and 49-inch LED flat-screen TVs. For all four items, the freight cost increase could only explain a small portion of the total price increase. For example, the price of a cast iron went up $41 in that time period but associated freight costs only increased $4.18.

Spreading the word (of the year)

NFT: a unique digital certificate, registered in a blockchain, that is used to record ownership of an asset such as an artwork or a collectible

The abbreviation for non-fungible token is Collins Dictionary’s word of the year. The use of the term increased 11,000% in 2021.

The buzz around NFTs, which remain difficult to really define, has been unrelenting over the last 12 months. In March, surrealist digital artist Beeple made history by selling an NFT at Christie’s for a cool $69 million. Everyone from filmmaker Quentin Tarantino to Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan, and film studio Warner Bros to the Oscars, has embraced the fad.

NFT is one of three tech-based words to make Collins’s longer list of 10 words of the year. The others are metaverse—the concept Facebook steadfastly committed to, and even changed its name for—and crypto, the slang for cryptocurrency.

The complete guide to NFTs

Quartz has been covering the explosion of NFTs for a while now. We created a guide collecting all our coverage as well as the best outside resources to help you understand what’s real and what’s hype.

Here are a few of the questions we tried to answer:

  • Why do people buy NFTs?
  • Where are NFTs sold?
  • How do you make an NFT?
  • What’s the carbon footprint of an NFT?

Our ABCs of NFTs is part of the field guide to how crypto went mainstream. ✦ You’ll need a Quartz membership to access these guides—try it free for a week.

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iPhone screens get their signature polish from rare earth elements. It’s one of the many slick tricks of rare earths, discussed on the latest episode of the Quartz Obsession podcast.

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Our best wishes for a productive day. Send any news, comments, moving ink, and mysterious holiday decor to hi@qz.com. Get the most out of Quartz by downloading our iOS app and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Hasit Shah, Johhn Detrixhe, Nicolás Rivero, Ananya Bhattacharya, Liz Webber, and Morgan Haefner.

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