The new James Bond


  • U.S. markets: The markets were closed for a National Day of Mourning honoring former President George H.W. Bush. His life was celebrated at the National Cathedral yesterday.
  • Economy: The Fed published its Beige Book economic report...which was actually more exciting than it sounds. That's because most of the 12 regional economies surveyed reported solid growth.

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The Brew's Visitor Guide to Vienna

Looking to put that holiday bonus to use? We hear Vienna's lovely this time of year. And by lovely we mean barely above freezing.

Still, more than 200 oil industry insiders are braving the Austrian cold for today's meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (you know it as OPEC) and a few other major oil producers, including Russia.

  • Stat break: OPEC's 15 members produce about 40% of the world's oil. Because of that outsized role in production, it's used supply adjustments to guide the market.
  • "At the end of the day, they are the closest thing to a regulator or central bank of the oil markets," RBC told the NYT.

So what's on the schedule?

OPEC's had a tough year navigating super-volatile oil prices--which climbed to a 2014 high in October before plunging 35% last week. That's stirred talks of a production cap to boost prices.

How about the tourists? OPEC's Vienna extravaganza has been clouded by the influence of President Trump, who's come out against production cuts.

  • Trump's reasoning: Higher prices are good for energy firms...but bad for consumers who've gotten used to low gas prices.
  • Last week, there were at least 24 U.S. states with gas going for under $2/gallon, the cheapest in nearly nine months.

But...that production cut looks pretty likely, if OPEC insiders have any say. They're considering slashing 1 million barrels per day, which is about 1% of the global supply.

Let's talk Vienna's it-crowd

Saudi Arabia and Russia, that is. They've been filling a power vacuum left by smaller, more politically fragile oil producers by flexing some major muscle: Saudi Arabia is the world's largest exporter, and Russia produces about 12% of the world's output.

And after the high-five seen 'round the world? Expect more of the same at this OPEC get-together.


Huawei Is Ready for Friday

Chinese tech firm Huawei's CFO, Meng Wanzhou, was arrested in Canada this week, where she's facing extradition to the U.S. The charge against her? Violating U.S. sanctions against Iran.

You know Huawei--it's only the world's largest telecom equipment manufacturer. But it's also had a target on its back from U.S. authorities for allegedly sending products made in the U.S. to Iran and other countries, which goes against U.S. export and sanction laws.

As for Wanzhou? She's the daughter of Huawei's founder and sits as one of the vice chairs on the company's board. For its part, Huawei says it doesn't know of any wrongdoing.

Zoom out: This is Washington's latest crackdown on Huawei, which it has come to view as a national security threat. U.S. authorities have moved to restrict Huawei's business on American soil, and they recently asked allies to do the same on their own turf.


The Most Interesting PDF You'll Read All Day

Some members of the UK parliament took a quick timeout from arguing about Brexit to release a (digital) pile of internal Facebook documents from about 2012-2015.

The story of how Zuck's inbox ended up in the hands of British lawmakers is a newsletter in and of itself, but here are the SparkNotes: Parliament sent a sergeant-at-arms to order the founder of a U.S software company (which is suing Facebook) to hand over the docs while he was in London.

What's inside: Emails showing Facebook gave some companies (including Netflix, Lyft, and Airbnb) special access to personal user data...while using limits on access to the same user data to squash potential competitors.

One six-second example:

  • In 2013, a FB employee asked permission to block some data access for Vine, the short form video service Twitter had just launched.
  • Zuck's response? "Yup, go for it."

Facebook said the documents "are only part of the story and are presented in a way that is very misleading without additional context." Still, the longer the company's user data issues remain on the front page, the longer it'll take to win back the public's trust.


Best Places to Work, 2019

Did your company's CEO call in "sick" yesterday? Or did she blast Queen, run around giving high-fives, and buy 30 pizzas for everyone?

Your answer probably depends on where your company ended up on Glassdoor's best places to work list for 2019.

Bain & Co. topped the list. It's the fourth time the management consulting firm has secured the No. 1 spot in 11 years, making it the UConn women's basketball team of Glassdoor rankings.

Big tech moved in both directions: Facebook dropped from No. 1 to No. 7, but LinkedIn (#21 - #6) and Apple (#84 - #71) both shot up. Google came in the eighth spot, with Salesforce at No. 11.

A note on the rankings: They're calculated for companies with over 1,000 employees and at least 75 approved reviews left on Glassdoor.

Zoom out, courtesy of the WaPo: "At a time when a tight labor market and a cultural appetite for transparency and accountability has grown, Glassdoor's rankings can be seen as a way of reinforcing why that 'employer brand' matters."


A James Bond Reboot Fit for 2018: Palladiumfinger

Yeah...we'll explain.

Palladium vaulted past gold in price yesterday, making the slivery-white material the most valuable precious metal in the world. Remember (well, realistically, you probably won't remember), palladium hasn't traded at a sustained premium over gold in 16 years.

It's a supply/demand thing, of course. Buyers have been scrambling for palladium to use in vehicle smog-control devices, especially as consumers increasingly favor gasoline-powered cars over diesel-powered ones.

But ratcheting up supply to meet growing demand may not be an option. Palladium is primarily produced in just two countries, with more than 80% coming as a byproduct of nickel mining in Russia (aka the lion's share of the world's palladium relies on investment in other minerals).

Bottom line: Palladium prices have climbed about 25% since the start of August and are up roughly 10% for the year. Who needs Apple stock when palladium is one of the best-performing assets of 2018?


Nom nom nom

The Brew is partnering with the infographic wizards at Statista to visualize the most interesting stories happening in business and the economy.

Today, the nominations for the 76th Annual Palladiu--we mean--Golden Globe Awards will be announced, officially kicking off Hollywood's awards season.

Wondering what to expect? Well, the Golden Globes are known to prefer star power more than the Oscars (and they definitely like their champagne). But more than anything, be on the lookout for another banner showing from streaming services.

Remember, Netflix evened the score with longtime king HBO at the Emmys this year, and Amazon and Hulu are trying to catch up with breakout hits of their own.


  • Global carbon emissions will hit an all-time high in 2018, per a new report from the Global Carbon Project.
  • New Yorkers approve of Amazon building one of two "HQ2"s in Long Island City by a wide margin, a new poll found.
  • Apple will reportedly sell its HomePod speaker in China next year, beating Amazon and Google to the punch, per Bloomberg.
  • Google's contracted workers (or "shadow workforce") wrote to CEO Sundar Pichai demanding higher pay and equal benefits.
  • Mike Bloomberg said that he would likely attempt to sell his Bloomberg LP if he were to become president in 2020.


From the Crew
The Glassdoor rankings sparked fierce debate in the office yesterday. Topics of conversation: 1) We're one cold brew kegerator (and 990 employees) away from making the list and 2) many of our friends seem to be switching jobs as quickly as they receive an offer letter.

After much speculation, we decided to let data win arguments. So...we made a quick poll to ask readers how long they've stayed (and plan to stay) at their current jobs. We'll publish the responses tomorrow. Take 30 seconds to answer.

Math Puzzle
It's easy to express 2004 as the sum of distinct positive numbers comprising the same digits:

2004=725 + 752 + 527 or

2004=617 + 671 + 716 or

2004=509 + 590 + 905.

It's harder to write 2003 as the sum of distinct positive numbers with the same digits. What are they? (Hint: You will need five numbers of three digits each.)

(Answer located at bottom of newsletter)

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Breakroom Answers

Math Puzzle
127 + 172 + 271 + 712 + 721 = 2003

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Dec 6, 2018