#Spain’s deadline, #Austria’s right turn, #Amazon-proof retailers

Good morning, Quartz readers!

WHAT TO WATCH FOR TODAY

Catalonia’s independence deadline is here. Catalan president Carles Puigdemont has until the end of the day to confirm independence, then three days to rectify that decision. Spain hasthreatened to invoke an article of the constitution preventing secession and could do so if Puigdemont moves forward with independence.

The Pope speaks for the hungry. In honor of World Food Day 2017, Pope Francis will join world leaders to call on the international community to invest in food security and rural development in order to change the future of migration. It will be the first time the head of the Catholic Church attends the UN event in person.

Netflix reports third-quarter earnings. Analysts are looking for signs that the streaming-video company’s investment in original content is paying off. Netflix bumped up prices on two of its subscriptions earlier this month, citing a need to invest in more movies and exclusive TV shows.

OVER THE WEEKEND

Iraq’s army clashed with Kurdish forces. The military reportedlyadvanced on Kirkuk’s oil fields and air base, weeks after the oil-rich Kurdistan region voted for independence from Iraq. State TV reported vast areas had been seized, though Kurds disputed those claims. News of the confrontations sparked a jump in world oil prices.

Truck bombings in Mogadishu killed over 270 people. No group has yet claimed responsibility for what is believed to be the single deadliest attack in Somalia, though officials blamed the al-Qaida-linked extremist group al-Shabab. Occurring on Saturday night in a busy area near key ministries, the blasts also injured hundreds.

Austria’s government took a right turn. The right-leaning People’s Party notched a strong win, with its 31-year-old leader, Sebastian Kurz, set to become chancellor and the world’s youngest leader. Kurz took a hard line on immigration while serving as foreign minister. Austria has spent over a decade operating under a centrist coalition government.

The Motion Picture Academy gave Harvey Weinstein the boot.Its board voted on Saturday to remove Weinstein, effective immediately. The expulsion sends “a message that the era of willful ignorance and shameful complicity in sexually predatory behavior and workplace harassment in our industry is over,” the Academy said in a statement.

Wildfires continued to rage in California. Firefighters made progress but the infernos in Northern California are still far from under control (paywall). The death count reached 40 and is expected to rise, and at least 5,700 homes and businesses have been destroyed. Winds from the southwest should help put an end to the disaster this week.

QUARTZ OBSESSION INTERLUDE

Youyou Zhou analyzed 141 hours of cable news to figure out how mass killers are really portrayed. “Are there ingrained racial biases that surface when TV news outlets report these tragedies? Is this double standard persistent, or merely anecdotal? Quartz reviewed the language used to describe the killers of 27 mass shootings in the US, beginning with the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in 2012.” Read more here.

MATTERS OF DEBATE

Humans are so immersed in immorality that they can be entirely unaware of it. A philosopher’s moral crisis over eating meatoffers a master class on how to question your instincts.

We shouldn’t necessarily try to save moribund languages. In many cases, sentimental value isn’t enough to justify the social costs.

Dollar diplomacy is dead. The geopolitical alliances that have propped up the US dollar’s fading global dominance are fraying badly.

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SURPRISING DISCOVERIES

Amazon can’t beat dollar stores. Investors think there are only a handful of businesses safe from the e-commerce giant.

A woman got a VW for a packet of McDonald’s sauce. The car was exchanged for a single serving of Szechuan sauce, a rare McD’s offering turned into a cult obsession by the TV show Rick and Morty.

Most countries are named for one of four things. Turns outwe’re really uncreative when it comes to what we call home.

You can thank a murderer for the Oxford English Dictionary.From his insane asylum cell, William C. Minor did much of the research key to putting the dictionary together.

Tropical forests are now bad for climate change. In 2016, they caused the largest atmospheric CO2 increase in 2,000 years.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, lost languages, and overhyped sauces to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day or download our apps for iPhone and Android.

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CWS Market Review – October 13, 2017

CWS Market Review

October 13, 2017

“In business, competition is never as healthy as total domination.” – Peter Lynch

This Thursday will mark the 30th anniversary of the 1987 market crash, or “Meltdown Monday” as it’s come to be known. On October 19, 1987, the Dow plunged 508 points. In percentage terms, this was a loss of 22.61%. In today’s terms, that would be like a loss of more than 5,000 points!

Three decades later, the 1987 crash sill ranks as the biggest one-day percentage loss in history. It’s nearly double the second-biggest loss, which came in October 1929. With the modern “circuit breakers,” this record may never be broken. If the S&P 500 falls by 20% nowadays, the exchanges shut down for the day.

I often hear stock market “experts” predicting that another 1987 is about to come our way. I always think to myself, “oh, so you’re predicting another 1,000% return over the next 30 years.” Yes, that’s what the Wilshire 5000 did measuring from the market close on the day of the crash. And if we include dividends, then the index is up more than 2,000%. The fact is that the 1987 panic was a great time to buy.

That’s an interesting lesson to ponder as we start the third-quarter earnings season. Over the next few weeks, a large majority of our Buy List stocks will tell us how business was during the summer. I’m expecting good results for our stocks. In this week’s CWS Market Review, I’ll highlight our first earnings reports coming next week. I’ll also bring you up to speed on the latest news on our Buy List stocks. Later on, I’ll share with you some names I’m considering for next year’s Buy List.

Three Buy List Earnings Reports Next Week

There’s an interesting twist to this earnings season. Companies that generate most of their revenue from outside the U.S. are expected to see earnings growth of 7.9%. Yet firms that get most of their revenue inside the U.S. are expected to see earnings fall by 0.1%.

The big winner of this earnings season is expected to be the energy sector, but that’s really because the comparisons with a year ago were so poor. The market is quietly changing before our eyes. For example, intra-market correlations are the lowest they’ve been since the financial crisis. In simpler terms, the different market sectors have lately been doing their own thing. Normally, they tend to move together. This probably means that investors are willing to shoulder more risk.

Another example of this can be seen in the junk bond market. It’s amazing how much things have changed since the financial crisis. Earlier this week, junk bond yields in Europe dropped to 2.29%. That’s an all-time low. Eight years ago, junk bonds in Europe were yielding close to 26%.

Here in America, a Federal Reserve interest rate hike in December now seems like a certainty. The release this week of the minutes from the Fed’s last meeting showed that the central bank is dedicated to raising rates. Still, the Fed members seem puzzled why inflation is still so low.

Now let’s take a look at an earnings calendar for the third quarter. Let me caution that I haven’t heard back from all the companies about when they’ll report. (Some companies are better at this than others.) I’ve also listed Wall Street’s consensus for each stock. Bear in mind, these can change.

Company Ticker Date Estimate
Alliance Data Systems ADS 19-Oct $5.02
Danaher DHR 19-Oct $0.95
Snap-On SNA 19-Oct $2.43
Sherwin-Williams SHW 24-Oct $4.70
Wabtec WAB 24-Oct $0.84
Aflac AFL 25-Oct $1.63
Express Scripts ESRX 25-Oct $1.90
Axalta Coating Systems AXTA 26-Oct $0.32
Cerner CERN 26-Oct $0.62
Microsoft MSFT 26-Oct $0.72
Stryker SYK 26-Oct $1.50
Fiserv FISV 31-Oct $1.30
Cognizant Technology Sol CTSH 1-Nov $0.95
Ingredion INGR 1-Nov $2.02
Becton, Dickinson BDX 2-Nov $2.37
Intercontinental Exchange ICE 2-Nov $0.70
Moody’s MCO 3-Nov $1.37
CR Bard BCR NA $2.94
Cinemark CNK TBA $0.35
Continental Building Products CBPX TBA $0.30
Signature Bank SBNY TBA $2.20

I’ve included Becton, Dickinson on the earnings calendar since the CR Bard acquisition will be completed this quarter.

We have three earnings reports next Thursday. Leading off will be Danaher (DHR), the diversified manufacturer. DHR’s last report was just fine in my eyes, but the shares took a dive. A few days later, DHR made a U-turn and rallied to a new high. Once again, there’s a lesson in a little patience.

Danaher told us to expect Q3 earnings to range between 92 and 96 cents per share. That was a tad light, but nothing to be concerned about. In July, the company raised its full-year guidance range to $3.85 to $3.95 per share. There’s a decent chance they’ll revise that higher next week. Danaher is an 11.8% winner YTD for us.

Alliance Data Systems (ADS) has not been the easiest stock to own. Shares of the loyalty-rewards stock were crushed in 2016, and started to recover. That is, until this past summer. In July, ADS reported better-than-expected Q2 earnings, but the company lowered its full-year guidance by 40 cents to $18.10 per share. The company said their brand-loyalty business “produced soft results.” At the same time, ADS increased its revenue guidance from $7.7 billion to $7.8 billion.

ADS also said it’s “comfortable” in giving initial 2018 guidance of $21.50 per share in core earnings. The consensus on Wall Street was for earnings of $21.42 per share. Still, that wasn’t enough to appease the market gods. ADS dropped nearly 10% after the Q2 report. For Q3, Wall Street expects earnings of $5.02 per share. I think we’ll see that ADS is back on track.

Snap-on (SNA) was another one of our stocks that got dinged after reporting better-than-expected results. The CEO mentioned “headwinds” in their tool group. The good news is that the shares seem to have found a base two months ago, and the stock has been creeping higher lately. I’m looking for more good results. The consensus on Wall Street is for Q3 earnings of $2.43 per share.

Let me also add a quick word on Signature Bank (SBNY). The bank hasn’t said yet when they’ll report Q3 earnings. However, going by previous quarters, I assume it will be close to the 19th, so I’ll include it here. I also want to highlight SBNY because the stock is a very good bargain at the moment.

In July, SBNY met Wall Street’s earnings expectations of $2.21 per share. However, that excluded the bank’s write-down for the bath they took on their medallion loans. Frankly, they got creamed in that business. Outside that, Signature’s business is moving along. For Q2, their net interest margin was 3.11%. That’s pretty good.

The shares have drifted from $150 in June, to below $125 recently. It’s very reasonable for Signature to earn $10 per share this year. I’m sticking with SBNY.

Some Candidates for Next Year’s Buy List

The rules of the Buy List stipulate that all 25 stocks are held for the entire calendar year. I can’t make any changes until the end of the year. However, I’ve been looking at some candidates for possible inclusion on the 2018 Buy List. I wanted to share some of these names with you.

Let me make it clear that this is by means a guarantee that a stock listed here will be on next year’s Buy List. I still have two months to finalize my decisions, but I wanted you to know what I’m looking at.

Church & Dwight (CHD)
Check Point Software (CHKP)
Colgate-Palmolive (CL)
Torchmark (TMK)
FactSet Research (FDS)
Kellogg (K)
Atrion (ATRI)
ADP (ADP)
Clorox (CLX)
Broadridge Financial Solutions (BR)
Mesa Labs (MLAB)

If you’ve been with us for a long time, these stocks ought to resemble the kinds of stocks we normally favor (strong businesses, solid financials). My plan was to give you seven names, and I just listed 11. That tells you how difficult it is for me to narrow down my selections.

Making changes once a year is tough, but it’s probably for the best.

Buy List Updates

Here are some brief updates on some of our Buy List stocks.

Express Scripts (ESRX) said they’re buying EviCore Healthcare for $3.6 billion. ESRX reports again on October 25.

Cinemark (CNK) dropped this week after reports that the new Blade Runner isn’t such a hit at the box office. The selling hit all the movie chains.

On Monday, Axalta Coating Systems (AXTA) updated its Q3 guidance in light of the hurricanes. The company now sees Q3 and full-year EBITDA in the range of $205-$215 million and $870-$900 million, respectively. Sales for Q3 should be between $1.08-$1.10 billion while full-year sales are to expected to grow between 6% and 7%. The stock dropped 3.8% on Monday. Earnings are due out on October 26.

Barron’s ran a nice feature on Cognizant Technology Solutions (CTSH). They noted that the firm is making inroads in digital consulting.

That’s all for now. Next week will be dominated by earnings reports, but there will be some key economic reports as well. On Tuesday, the industrial production report comes out. Then on Wednesday, the housing starts report comes out as well as the Beige Book. Then on Friday, Janet Yellen will be speaking, plus the existing homes report comes out. Be sure to keep checking the blog for daily updates. I’ll have more market analysis for you in the next issue of CWS Market Review!

– Eddy

Image
Named by CNN/Money as the best buy-and-hold blogger, Eddy Elfenbein is the editor of Crossing Wall Street. His free Buy List has beaten the S&P 500 eight times in the last ten years. This email was sent by Eddy Elfenbein through Crossing Wall Street.

#China’s surging imports, Hurricane #Ophelia, “death cleaning”

Good morning, Quartz readers!

WHAT TO WATCH FOR TODAY AND OVER THE WEEKEND

Hurricane Ophelia heads for Europe. It formed in an unusual place, is headed in an unusual direction, and has unusual strength for an Atlantic hurricane so far east this late in the year. The ocean’s 10th consecutive named storm to reach hurricane intensity is projected to skim past the Azores, Portugal, and Spain before hitting Ireland and the UK early next week.

Hollywood holds emergency talks on Harvey Weinstein.Following numerous allegations of the film mogul’s sexual misconduct, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will meet Saturday to discuss the allegations. The British Academy of Film and Television Arts has already suspended Weinstein’s membership.

Donald Trump announces his decision on the Iran deal. The US president, a longtime critic of the Obama administration’s accord with Iran, will deliver a speech today ahead of the Oct. 15 recertification deadline. Should he decertify Iran’s compliance, Congress would decide whether to enact new sanctions.

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WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING

Trump moved to undermine Obamacare. The White Houseconfirmed late Thursday that the US president plans to cut off subsidy payments to insurers selling Obamacare coverage. That followed Trump signing an executive order yesterday calling for new regulations to encourage cheap, loosely regulated health plans. Some insurers are likely to sue to the administration.

China reported strong trade figures for September. Imports were up 18.7% from a year ago in dollar terms, while exports increased 8.1%. The imports were a surprise, with analysts expecting a jump of only 13.5%. Meanwhile imports from North Korea fell 37.9% from a year ago, and exports to the troublesome neighbor fell by 6.7%.

South Korea and China signed a $56 billion currency-swap deal. The arrangement between the nations’ central banks suggests diplomatic tensions over security issues—especially US anti-missile systems deployed in South Korea—are receding. Had it not been extended, the deal would have expired early next week.

The CEO of Samsung Electronics abruptly resigned. Kwon Oh-hyun, one of three co-chief executives, cited an “unprecedented crisis” for his decision, on the same day the firm forecast record quarterly profits. Kwon said the company’s current strong growth is the result of past decisions, whereas future trends look troubling for the company.

QUARTZ OBSESSION INTERLUDE

Akshat Rathi on the world’s first “negative emissions” plant, which turns carbon dioxide into stone. “Although it’s still at pilot scale—capturing only 50 metric tons CO2 from the air each year, about the same emitted by a single US household—it’s the first system to take CO2 in the air and convert the emissions into stone, thus ensuring they don’t escape back into the atmosphere for the next millions of years.” Read more here.

MARKETS HAIKU

Thank the central bank / for stocks reaching all-time highs / Who will run it next?

MATTERS OF DEBATE

Suburban offices are hip again. As millennials move out of city centers, companies are following the talent.

Xi Jinping has more clout than Donald Trump. China’s charismatic leader is steadily consolidating his power as the US loses its grip.

Kids need to be taught better social skills. New research suggests such skills are more important than good test scores.

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SURPRISING DISCOVERIES

Some Vikings had the word “Allah” stitched into their clothes.The unexpected link is giving archaeologists a new perspective on the global reach of Islam.

Dating apps are reshaping society. Researchers see a big uptickin interracial and same-sex partners who find each other online.

Swedish “death cleaning” is the latest lifestyle trend.Dostadning helps you ditch the junk that will one day be a burden to your heirs.

Something punched a hole through a South Pole ice sheet.Scientists can’t figure out why a chasm the size of Maine suddenly reopened after closing itself up 40 years ago.

Borrowers in China will be publicly shamed for missing payments. “The person you are calling has been put on a blacklistby the courts for failing to repay their debts. Please urge this person to honor their legal obligations.”

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Viking garments, and suburban office brochures tohi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day or download our apps for iPhone and Android.

#Facebook faces lawmakers, big bank earnings, sewage gold

Good morning, Quartz readers!

WHAT TO WATCH FOR TODAY

Spain celebrates National Day. Amid confusion over the autonomous Catalonia region possibly declaring independence, military marches in Madrid will be larger than usual, and units from the national police are expected to participate in them for the first time in over 30 years. Spain has threatened to suspend Catalonia’s autonomy.

Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg does damage control in DC. The chief operating officer will meet lawmakers investigating Russia’s Facebook ads and will give the company’s first public interview from a senior executive involved in the probe. Sandberg will also discuss racially inflammatory ads with members of the congressional black caucus.

Wall Street reports earnings. JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup kick off third-quarter earnings season (paywall), with Bank of America and Wells Fargo following suit on Friday. Big banks have signaled trading revenues will be down by 15% to 20% since this time last year.

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING

Donald Trump threatened to challenge NBC’s broadcast license. The US president was angry over an NBC News reportabout a meeting at the Pentagon over the summer. According to the report Trump said he wanted to see nearly a tenfold increase in the country’s nuclear arsenal, surprising security leaders and prompting secretary of state Rex Tillerson to refer to Trump as a “moron” after the meeting.

Colombia’s peace deal with the FARC rebel group got some legal protection. A constitutional court in Bogota ruled that the 2016 accord cannot be modified for 12 years, meaning the next three governments must comply with it. That protects the deal from potential changes should right-wing opponents of president Juan Manuel Santos take power after next year’s elections.

Hamas reached a political reconciliation deal with its Palestinian rival Fatah. Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh shared the news in a statement today without providing further details. In 2007 the Western-backed Fatah party lost control of Gaza to Hamas, considered a terrorist group by the West and Israel. More details could be released today in Cairo.

Facebook released an affordable VR headset. The Oculus Go, which works without a phone or PC, will be available in early 2018 for $199. CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the entry-level price is an effort toget a billion people in virtual reality.

California will allow driverless cars without a human at the wheel. The proposed rule changes could take effect as early as June 2018 (paywall), and are designed to make the state competitive with Arizona and Florida, which have looser regulations. There are currently 285 driverless vehicles and 996 “backup” drivers on California roads.

QUARTZ OBSESSION INTERLUDE

Zheping Huang on how news from China depends on anonymous local journalists. “Most foreign news organizations in mainland China rely heavily on Chinese nationals to navigate the country’s complex bureaucracy, flag important developments, and find people willing to be quoted in a foreign paper. But China bans its citizens from working as full-fledged journalists for these publications. Instead, they are only allowed to offer ‘assistance,’ after they sign employment contracts with agencies affiliated with the Chinese foreign ministry.” Read more here.

MARKETS HAIKU

Trump market context: / “Unprecedented” rally / minus six others

MATTERS OF DEBATE

“Intelligent” means different things in different cultures. IQ tests created in predominately white, Western societies can make global comparisons problematic.

SoftBank’s master plan is aimed at a robotic future. The seemingly random investments by Masayoshi Son’s $100 billion Vision Fund (paywall) all have a common thread.

Apple’s diversity chief isn’t focused on race. “[T]here can be 12 white, blue-eyed, blond men in a room and they’re going to be diverse too,” says Denise Young Smith.

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SURPRISING DISCOVERIES

A fake story about Google buying Apple briefly roiled the stock market. The Dow Jones article was meant to be used internally as part of a technology test (paywall).

The Swiss sewage system is clogged with gold. Researchers estimate flecks of gold that together are worth $2 million are discarded by refineries and Swiss watch firms.

Leonardo da Vinci’s last painting once sold for $60. Salvator Mundi will be offered for an estimated $100 million at an auction next month.

A court in Australia recognized an unsent text message as a valid will. Instructions included “put my ashes in the back garden,” along with a smiley face.

New Zealand police apologized for posting a meme about traffic deaths. “When you have to tell someone their family has died” was accompanied by a GIF from The Office.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, priceless paintings, and text-message wills tohi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day or download our apps for iPhone and Android.

#Catalonia pauses secession, #US sends bombers over #Korea, rogue Indian #McDonald’s

Good morning, Quartz readers!

WHAT TO WATCH FOR TODAY

Spain holds an emergency cabinet meeting over Catalonia.News of the meeting was shared by nation’s deputy prime minister,according to the Associated Press. Last night Catalonia president Carles Puigdemont put the region’s independence declaration on hold in an effort to “de-escalate the situation” while he seeks talks with the Spanish government.

China reshuffles its central committee. The ruling Communist Party is expected to expel from the roughly 200-member committee at least eight full members who’ve run afoul of president Xi Jinping’s corruption crackdown. The meeting comes ahead of the party’s twice-a-decade national congress, which starts next week.

SpaceX’s second launch of the week. A Falcon 9 rocket carrying a Luxembourg communications satellite into orbit will lift off from Florida at 6:53pm local time (11:53pm in London). The company’s 15th launch of 2017, it comes less than three days after a separate launch from the US west coast.

India’s largest reinsurer goes public. General Insurance Corp.will kick off India’s third-biggest IPO ever and is expected to raise about $1.7 billion.

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WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING

The US sent bombers over the Korean Peninsula at night. In a show of force to North Korea it sent two B-1B bombers, which were accompanied by fighter jets from Japan and South Korea. The planes conducted air-to-ground missile drills over waters on each side of the peninsula. It was the first time the three nations conducted such drills at night together.

The US Navy fired top officers for a ship collision near Singapore in August. An investigation is still ongoing, but the navy said it’s already clear that the crash involving the USS McCain was preventable, adding that the commanding officers exercised poor judgement and leadership. The warship struck a large tanker, resulting in the deaths of 10 sailors.

Harvey Weinstein’s wife said she’s leaving him. Fashion designer Georgina Chapman announced her decision amid an increasing number of accusations by women saying they’d beenharassed or in some cases raped by the movie mogul. Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie said they, too, had experienced hisunwanted sexual advances (paywall), and Hillary Clinton publicly condemned Weinstein, a longtime donor.

The US failed to make the World Cup. An embarrassing loss to low-ranked Trinidad and Tobago ensured the American team will miss the competition for the first time since 1986. To qualify it needed at least a tie.

QUARTZ OBSESSION INTERLUDE

Jayashri Kulkarni on the shortcomings of borderline personality disorder. “As a diagnostic term, borderline personality disorder not only fails to capture any of the underlying issues and mechanisms involved in producing its symptoms, it also denigrates them. In contrast, major depressive disorder describes a serious condition with the key feature of depressed mood explicit in the diagnostic term.” Read more here.

MARKETS HAIKU

Just chugging along / Stocks hit another record / 401k whee!

MATTERS OF DEBATE

It’s time to assume that all of our data will be stolen. A determined hacker can almost always succeed, so the tech industry needs to focus on limiting the damage.

Nobel Prize winner Richard Thaler’s “nudge” theory is great for conservatives. “Choice architecture” is a powerful force in the regulation of marriage, immigration, and abortion.

The next financial crisis is probably around the corner.Whether it’s budget deficits, higher debts, unstable markets, or loosened bank regulations, it’s just a matter of time.

SURPRISING DISCOVERIES

Eminem rapped about everything he hates about Donald Trump. In a video for BET’s Hip Hop Awards, he launched an expletive-laden tirade against the US president.

A defiant McDonald’s franchisee in India has gone rogue. The fast-food giant says its partner is in breach of contract (paywall), but Connaught Plaza Restaurants has vowed to keep selling burgers and fries under the golden arches.

Swedish boars are radioactive from eating Chernobyl mushrooms. Fallout from the 1986 nuclear disaster was carried 1,000 miles (1,609 km) west and began moving up the food chain.

A man in a shark costume was fined for violating Austria’s burqa ban. The law may also ensnare people in other costumes or motorcycle gear.

Scientists found half of the universe’s missing matter. It was hiding in particles called baryons that connect galaxies via “filaments of hot, diffuse gas.”

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, missing matter, and legally compliant shark outfits tohi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day or download our apps for iPhone and Android.

#Catalonia’s independence, #California wildfires, Martian lake

Good morning, Quartz readers!

WHAT TO WATCH FOR TODAY

France’s unions prepare for a labor strike. As many as 5.4 million civil servants could walk off the job today, with 130 protests planned across the country. The strike was called to protest stricter sick day rules and pay freezes proposed by president Emmanuel Macron as part of larger labor law reforms (paywall) that specifically target unions.

Catalan president Carles Puigdemont makes an independence announcement. Tensions are high as Puigdemont prepares to either declare independence or work with Spain to keep Catalonia part of the country. On Monday, France said it wouldn’t recognize Catalonia if Puigdemont presses ahead with secession.

The IMF releases its updated World Economic Outlook. The International Monetary Fund is expected to raise its global growth forecast following its annual meeting with the World Bank on Tuesday. German officials are hopeful the IMF will continue to back its G20 initiatives, including the Compact with Africa, which bolsters private and infrastructure investments in African countries.

The US Environmental Protection Agency moves against Obama-era emissions rules. Its head, Scott Pruitt, will formally sign a proposal to withdraw the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, which would have pushed states away from coal and toward sources of electricity that produce fewer carbon emissions. “The war on coal is over,” Pruitt said yesterday.

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WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING

Wildfires swept through California’s wine country. A state of emergency was issued in Napa and Sonoma counties, as well as other nearby regions, where a series of fast-moving wildfires has threatened vineyards, marijuana crops, homes, and infrastructure. Fueled by the “Diablo winds” phenomenon, the devastation comes mere weeks before the late October grape harvest.

Russia’s foreign minister slammed the US for escalating tensions with North Korea. Sergei Lavrov called Donald Trump’s rhetoric unacceptable during a Monday phone call with his American counterpart, Rex Tillerson. Trump hinted over the weekend that “only one thing would work,” indicating an interest in military involvement in the Hermit Kingdom.

Theresa May assured business chiefs about the Brexit plan.The UK prime minister met with Vodafone, HSBC, and other major companies, many of which are worried a deal with the EU won’t happen as expected. She reportedly told execs that a two-year Brexit plan was “non-negotiable” and would happen.

Iceland became the smallest nation to ever qualify for the World Cup. Its team beat Kosovo Monday night and won its qualifying group. Previously, no country with a population of less than 1 million had made it into the competition. Iceland has a population of about 335,000.

QUARTZ OBSESSION INTERLUDE

Eshe Nelson on the flaws a Nobel Prize-winning economist wants you to know about yourself. “Most people are likely to stick with the status quo even if there are big gains to be made from a change that involves just a small cost. In particular, this is one of the implications of loss aversion. That’s why a nudge, such as changing the default option on a contract, can be so effective. Thaler’s research on pension programs shows that while employees can choose to opt-out of a plan, the status quo bias means once they are in it, they are actually more likely to stay put.” Read more here.

MARKETS HAIKU

Turkey markets slump / On visa wars with US / Dow notices not

MATTERS OF DEBATE

Cameroon’s Anglophone crisis has nothing to do with language. The French-English divide cuts through ethnic groups, reflecting rampant socio-economic disparities.

Confidentiality agreements can protect harassers. If Harvey Weinstein hadn’t been able to use nondisclosure agreements and confidential settlements, future sexual harassment victims may have been spared.

It’s democratic-socialist countries vs. authoritarian state-capitalists. Communism may have been a failed experiment, but there are still ways to combine an authoritarian government with a market economy or pair democracies with safety nets for poorer citizens.

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SURPRISING DISCOVERIES

A newly discovered Martian lake could help us understand life on our own planet. Though it dried up long ago, it once held 10 times as much water as all of the Great Lakes combined and might have hosted life.

US high school students are missing out on billions in financial aid. The class of 2017 collectively left $2.3 billion in free federal grant money for college on the table.

Richard Thaler cameoed in an Oscar-winning film. Before winning the Nobel prize, the economist made an appearance in The Big Short along with pop star Selena Gomez.

The “nocebo” is the placebo’s counterpart. Patients can suffer negative side effects from sugar pills—particularly if the medication cost them a lot of money.

Ikea’s new line treats pets to Scandinavian style. The Lurvig collection (that’s Swedish for “hairy”) caters to cats and dogs with minimalist beds, carriers, toys, and even a tiny, pet-sized couch.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, pet couches, and sugar pills to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day or download our apps for iPhone and Android.

#Nobel for #economics, #Catalonia independence, sauce rebellion

Good morning, Quartz readers!

WHAT TO WATCH FOR TODAY

Catalonia declares independence from Spain. Following the region’s banned referendum, Catalan president Carles Puigdemont said he prefers mediation out of the current crisis, but Spain’s central government has rejected this avenue and is demanding a “return to the path of law” before any talks. The likely outcome is that Cataloniawill declare independence after a parliamentary session today.

HSBC confirms a new chief executive. The London-based bank is expected to name John Flint, currently head of retail banking and wealth management, as its new chief executive. HSBC has asked the Bank of England for permission to make the appointment, according to a Sunday Times report (paywall).

Foreign ministers of the “Bucharest Nine” meet in Warsaw.Ministers from nine central and eastern European countries will meet in the Polish capital to discuss “current security challenges and expectations for next year’s NATO summit.”

The Nobel Prize for Economics is announced. The winner will be revealed at 11:45am CEST (5:45am EDT). You can watch the announcement live.

The US marks Columbus Day. Stock markets will be open, but bond markets will be closed. Trade is expected to be slow as most federal institutions will be shut.

OVER THE WEEKEND

Kim Jong-un promoted his younger sister. The North Korean leader made sibling Kim Yo-jong an alternate member of the politburo, the nation’s top decision-making body. Recently she also took charge of developing the cult of personality surrounding her brother.

OPEC said it may take “extraordinary measures” to rebalance the oil market. Secretary-general Mohammad Barkindo didn’t specify what those steps might be, but said on Sunday they may need to be taken next year in order to restore stability “on a sustainable basis going forward.” The current pact to cut oil output expires in March 2018.

A weakened Hurricane Nate hit the US states of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. Though not as destructive as feared, itcaused widespread flooding, left more than 100,000 customers without electricity, and is expected to cause up to $4 billion in economic damage.

Harvey Weinstein was fired by the Weinstein Company. The move follows a New York Times expose (paywall) revealing the powerful film producer has faced many accusations of sexual harassment spanning decades. Days earlier Weinstein said he would take a leave of absence and seek therapy.

Donald Trump traded Twitter insults with a major Republican critic. The US president attacked Tennessee senator Bob Corker on Twitter on Sunday, claiming the lawmaker was retiring becauseTrump had refused to endorse him. Corker, who is chair of the foreign relations committee, retorted that the White House had become an “adult day care center.”

QUARTZ OBSESSION INTERLUDE

Thu-Huong Ha on the linguistic legacy of Christopher Columbus. “About 54 million people run into a reminder of his legacy every day: the very name of their countries. In spite of the local names of the places where Columbus landed—and even though he thought he had gotten to the Indies—he coined new names. Today there are eight independent states whose names came from Columbus.” Read more here.

MATTERS OF DEBATE

College football is why American universities dominate the globe. It promotes loyalty that lasts a lifetime, which translates into asteady flow of private donations and a broad political base for gaining state funding.

Blade Runner 2049 is the rare sequel that justifies its right to exist. Like the original, it’s an ambitious but vulnerable and introspective film—and the least cynical major Hollywood sequel in a long time.

Humans had to evolve to acknowledge octopus consciousness. The strangeness that once repulsed us is now a source of fascination, seen as a sign that the cephalopods have much to reveal.

MESSAGE FROM OUR PARTNER

For its 47th year, the IFRA World Publishing and Digital Content Expo will return to Berlin from Oct. 10-12. Hear from leading industry voices and discuss content, distribution, and trends with the global publishing community. Find out more.

SURPRISING DISCOVERIES

Uber secretly lobbied for women to drive in Saudi Arabia. It’splanning a specialized training center for Saudi women who want to drive on its ride-hailing platform.

Mondays really are the worst, says data. Analysis of millions of Twitter messages for the happiness sentiment shows it’s the worst day of the week for millions.

A 60-year-old satellite is still orbiting Earth. Launched by the US in response to the Sputnik, the Vanguard 1 could remain in orbit for 1,000 years.

Police had to restore order at some McDonald’s branches over a sauce fiasco. Customers were outraged that they couldn’t get the limited-edition Szechuan sauce featured on the cartoon showRick and Morty.

An obscure Dr. Seuss book offers a playful rebuke to gender stereotypes. Its illustrations are a joyful portrait of body positivity.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, forgotten Dr. Seuss books, and more proof that Mondays suck to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day or download our apps for iPhone and Android.