Good morning, Quartz readers!
What to watch for today
A US-Chinese blockbuster arrives in theaters. The $150 million film Great Wall is a big test (paywall) of whether Hollywood can conquer the Chinese market. Matt Damon stars as a European mercenary who fights alongside Chinese soldiers against an army of monsters.
Tsipras meets Merkel in Berlin. The Greek prime minster may get a rebuke from the German chancellor after Athens went against EU creditors’ wishes and awarded pensioners a Christmas bonus. Lenders reacted by suspending short-term debt relief for the country.
How healthy is the US housing market? Analysts expect the construction of new homes in November to hit 1.23 million units, a 7% drop from October.
Britain’s chancellor takes his Brexit roadshow to South Korea. After tense meetings in South Africa and Japan, Philip Hammond arrives in Seoul with hopes of maintaining the UK’s privileged access to Korean markets.
While you were sleeping
Obama vowed to “take action” in response to Russia’s DNC hack. In an interview with NPR, due to air Friday morning, the president said some measures would be “explicit and publicized,” though he did not elaborate. Russian hackers reportedly targeted the RNC too (paywall), but much less aggressively.
Trump named his ambassador to Israel. David Friedman, an attorney and campaign advisor, has expressed support for moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and opposed a ban on building settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Super Mario failed to enthrall investors. Super Mario Run for iPhone powered to the top of the charts on its release yesterday, but Nintendo’s share price fell by 5% in Tokyo today, erasing $2 billion in market value. The $10 charge to play the full game is a concern for some analysts.
Monte dei Paschi said a last Hail Mary. The battered Italian bank (founded in 1472) will be allowed to offer a last-ditch debt-for-equity swap to retail investors in the run-up to Christmas. It has until the end of the year to raise $5 billion (paywall) or face a state bailout.
Nissan’s boss isn’t worried about Trump’s trade plans. Carlos Ghosn, the CEO of Nissan and Renault, said 2017 will be the auto giant’s best year ever, and dismissed Donald Trump’s threats of slapping tariffs on Mexican imports (which include Nissan cars). “American interest includes strong trade relations with Mexico,” Ghosn said.
Quartz obsession interlude
Nikhil Sonnad on how different parts of the United States use the English language. ”A geographic analysis of 100,000 commonly used words, culled from billions of tweets, shows huge regional variations in cuisine, slang, and even profanity. An interactive tool allows users to query any word they like.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
The UN must act now to ban killer robots. Lethal autonomous weapons, the subject of a meeting in Geneva this week, could lead to a dystopian future.
If ignorance is bliss, India is paradise. Indians are the most uninformed people on the planet, according to a far-reaching survey of public perceptions.
Hoarding is a sign of a healthy economy. The boom in self-storage units suggests Americans are buying more than ever.
Cuba wants to pay its debts with rum. It floated the idea of paying a $276 million debt to the Czech Republic with bottles of its finest spirits.
Trump’s cabinet picks have more money than a third of all Americans combined. The most affluent cabinet ever boasts $9.5 billion in total wealth.
There’s a medieval city beneath the suburbs of St. Louis. A settlement larger than Paris was constructed and abandoned in the Mississippi River floodplain.
Some viruses are kinder to women. This helps them spread more quickly via breastfeeding and childbirth.
Beer is saving lives in Russia. The switch from vodka is boosting male life spans.
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