Good morning, Quartz readers!
What to watch for today
Ash Carter tries to reassure Asia. The outgoing US defense secretary will speak with Asian allies, who are nervous about a Donald Trump presidency after his unexpected phone calls last week, on a trip spanning Japan, India, and Bahrain. Carter’s power to soothe will be limited however, since the president-elect hasn’t outlined any clear policies towards the region.
NATO foreign ministers meet in Brussels. European defense is high on the agenda at what will be the last meeting under the Obama administration. But of course, Trump “will be on everyone’s minds,” as ministers try to figure out how the president-elect intends to shape the NATO alliance in the years to come.
The US reports October economic data. Analysts expect (pdf) that new orders for US factory goods rose 2.6% from the previous month, compared to September’s 0.3% increase over August, and that the trade deficit rose to $41.8 billion, compared to $36.4 billion the month before.
While you were sleeping
South Korea’s president agreed to go. Park Geun-hye has faced weeks of protests demanding her resignation over the influence-peddling scandal. The corruption probe has widened to include South Korea’s nine big family-owned conglomerates, whose heads were summoned to a parliamentary inquiry today. According to local media, Park has agreed to resign in April or accept the outcome of an impeachment vote this Friday.
France got a new prime minister. Interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve has been tasked with forming a new government after Manuel Valls resigned to run for president. Cazeneuve oversaw the government’s response to the terrorist attacks in France and has been vocal about the UK’s responsibility towards migrants.
ABN Amro offloaded some private banking operations. The Dutch bank is selling its private wealth businesses in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Dubai (paywall) to Liechtenstein-based wealth manager LGT as part of a cost-cutting program. ABN manages around $20 billion in assets across the three hubs. It will now focus on private banking in Europe.
German factory activity surged. Industrial orders rose by almost 5% in October from the month before—the biggest monthly bump they’ve seen since mid-2014. Domestic demand shot up by 6.3%, while foreign orders increased nearly 4%. The industrial sector’s healthy growth is expected to continue through the end of the year.
Thousands of Indians mourned Jayaram Jayalalithaa. A week of mourning was declared in Tamil Nadu after the 68-year-old actress-turned-politician died Monday. Prime minister Narendra Modi will attend her funeral on Tuesday. One of India’s most powerful—and controversial—politicians, Jayalalithaa was serving her sixth term as the chief minister of Tamil Nadu.
Quartz obsession interlude
Isabella Steger on the unbearable sadness of being Taiwan, a liberal island other democracies refuse to talk to. ”The simple fact that it took a phone call between US president-elect Donald Trump and Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen to draw attention to one of Asia’s most vibrant democracies highlights the humiliating plight of Taiwan in the international arena.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Airbnb is no longer the nice guy of the sharing economy. The once idealistic startup has become yet another corporate giant.
Italy rejected its prime minister, not the European Union. Matteo Renzi’s referendum wasn’t a vote on Italy’s place in Europe (paywall), but on Renzi’s place in Italian politics.
The US should collaborate with Russia in Syria. Assad will win the war, and the US will benefit (paywall) from a total defeat of ISIL, and a result that lets Syrian refugees go home.
An increase in Caesarean births is affecting human evolution. Newborns are getting larger, but women’s pelvises are not becoming wider.
Cannabis coffee pods are coming to California. They work in Keurig machines for those who want to wake, bake, and caffeinate.
Chimps recognize each other by their backsides. They have specific neural areas devoted to butt recognition.
The best bed in the world costs $150,000. The Hästens Vividus is made of rare Swedish pine and hand-braided horsehair.
A Chinese nursing home is paying people to visit their relatives. Visits have soared since the home started offering a $29 cash bonus.
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