Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Royal labor, Cameron’s push on porn, quakes in China and New Zealand, police geese

July 22, 2013
July 22, 2013

What to watch for today

Kate Middleton is in labor. The Duchess of Cambridge was taken to the hospital early on Monday morning. Her son or daughter with Prince William will be third in line to the throne and give the UK economy a $400 million baby bump.

The Pope flies to Brazil. Two million people are expected to welcome him at Rio de Janeiro’s Roman Catholic World Youth Day amid high security and a ban on masks. Government officials fear the gatherings could spark a resurgence of last month’s nationwide protests.

Cameron talks about porn. The UK prime minister is expected to announce plans to make possession of rape pornography a criminal offense. Other measures may include an opt-in scheme for porn when people sign up with new internet service providers.

US and India bolster business ties. US vice president Joe Biden arrives in New Delhi on a four-day visit, also aimed at tackling climate change and defense cooperation issues.

Earnings to watch: Netflix is expected to post robust results, driven by strong subscriber additions and measures to control costs. Fast food chain McDonald’s could struggle to meet investors’ expectations as global economic weakness continues to crimp demand (paywall).

A wave of US IPOs. Eleven companies are on tap to price stock market offerings this week, including energy firms Phillips 66 Partners, which is looking to raise as much as $315 million, and Jones Energy, which is looking at a $252 million issue. The spike in IPO activity is primarily due to the spillover from the July 4th holiday, when companies generally don’t do roadshows or price issues.

Over the weekend

GlaxoSmithKline went into damage control mode, admitting that some of its executives in China appear to have broken the law in a bribery scandal that funneled illicit cash to hospitals, doctors and government officials. Police also visited AstraZeneca on Friday in Shanghai and took a staff member away for questioning.

Earthquakes hit China and New Zealand. At least 54 people were killed  and hundreds injured in China’s western Gansu province. Separately, people in New Zealand’s capital Wellington ran screaming from buildings but none were killed as tremors triggered memories of Christchurch’s devastating earthquake two years ago.

Japan’s ruling party won a sweeping victory. Prime minister Shinzo Abe’s coalition won at least 76 of the 121 seats up for grabs in the upper house of parliament, giving Abe a strong mandate to continue with his plan for economic growth.

UBS reported strong second quarter profit. The Swiss bank said net profit was about 690 million francs ($734 million), up from 524 million francs on last year, and announced that it agreed to  pay a $920 million fine to US regulators over mortgage-backed securities.

Deutsche Bank is shrinking. Germany’s largest lender by assets is reportedly looking to trim its balance sheet by up to 20% (paywall) to about €1 trillion ($1.3 trillion) in the next two and a half years to meet European leverage caps.

A bomb went off at Beijing’s airport. Nobody was hurt except the bomber, a former motorcycle driver who has been in a wheelchair since state security officers beat him in 2005. He set off the homemade device to draw attention to his plight; after the bombing, he was praised on social media and his case was re-opened.

Quartz obsession interlude

Gina Chon on why Microsoft and Steve Ballmer have a major problem: “Activist investor ValueAct has been in talks for a few months about getting a seat on the technology company’s board, according to sources. Microsoft had been resisting, but its recent performance—it lost $33.7 billion in market value on Friday—puts more pressure on Microsoft and its CEO Steve Ballmer to answer to investors.” Read more here 

Matters of debate

300 years of US economic prosperity may have been just a blip. It was a freak coincidence to benefit from two industrial revolutions, but now they’re over.

The Arab Spring is just getting started. There’s a lot of stopping and starting, but still much more turmoil to come.

3D printing will explode in 2014. That’s when several important patents expire, opening the way for competition and innovation.

China’s interest rate reforms actually shield state-owned firms. It’s less about liberalizing credit than keeping old loans from going into default.

Surprising discoveries

The beginning of the end for Lonely Planet. The iconic travel guide is shedding a third of its editorial staff and many travelers are distraught.

Spaceman DIY. Build Apollo I’s guidance computer in your basement following these instructions. It should only take four years.

Police geese. Some rural police departments in China are using geese on patrols. The birds have excellent hearing and are “better than dogs” at tackling crime.

Dubai is giving out gold for weight loss. Residents will get a gram of gold, worth about $45, for each kilogram (2.2 pounds) lost as part of a month-long campaign to fight obesity.

What Bill Gates reads on his summer vacation. There isn’t a single book about computing or technology in the Microsoft co-founder’s reading list, but there is a spy thriller.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, royal baby names and police geese to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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