Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Bo Xilai charged, UK growth report, Spanish train derailment, methane time bomb

July 25, 2013
July 25, 2013

What to watch for today

The UK’s economy is picking up but still weak. Economists expect second quarter GDP growth to come in at 0.6%, double the 0.3% growth in the first quarter. Strong retail sales and export figures have raised hopes that Britain is on a path of sustained growth.

Human rights hang over US-Vietnam talks. The nations’ leaders will discuss closer economic and military ties amid questions about Vietnamese human rights abuses. President Truong Tan Sang has dismissed US concerns.

Earnings: Hits and misses. Amazon is expected to post robust sales growth, but its ability to generate steady profit margins will be under scrutiny.  General Motors’ earnings are expected to be weak as the car marker was in the midst of overhauling its product line in the second quarter. United Continental Holdings is likely to report muted earnings, as it struggles to put the challenges of the 2010 merger between United Airlines and Continental Airlines behind it. Banking major Credit Suisse and consumer goods giant Unilever are among the other companies scheduled to report their earnings.

While you were sleeping

China indicted Bo Xilai. The disgraced former Chongqing party chief has been officially charged by Chinese authorities for bribery, corruption and abuse of power, and is expected to face trial in August. His wife was convicted last year for the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood.

A train derailed in Spain. At least 56 people were killed and over a hundred injured in a rail accident just outside the Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela. Authorities do not believe at this stage that foul play was involved.

An attempt to curb the NSA failed. The US House of Representatives narrowly defeated a proposal to limit the power of the National Security Agency to collect electronic information, in the first test of lawmakers since whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed the full extent of surveillance programs.

The US Department of Justice began a metals probe. Officials are reacting to complaints that Wall Street companies like Goldman Sachs have been inflating aluminum prices by storing large quantities in warehouses.

South Korea’s economy grew. GDP rose 1.1% in the second quarter compared to the first, or 2.3% from a year earlier—the fastest pace in in more than two years.

Google upped the ante. The tech giant unveiled the new Nexus 7 tablet, powered by the new Android 4.3 operating system and loaded with a host of other features that could make the iPad Mini look pedestrian. Google also announced the $35 ChromeCast, a tiny computer that will let users stream videos and music on their TVs.

Michael Dell offered to raise his bid, with a caveat.  The sweetened offer—a bump of $150 million—is contingent on the PC maker’s board changing voting rules. The shareholder vote will now be held on August 2. That’s the plan, at least.

Quartz obsession interlude

Leo Mirani on why even as Apple’s Indian dream remains a fantasy. “In the second half of last year, Apple signed deals with new distribution partners in India, released the iPhone 5, and launched an aggressive campaign featuring zero-interest financing. As a a result, sales jumped from about 4% of the smartphone market in the third quarter of 2012 to nearly 16% in the fourth quarter. Yet that cloaks what is actually a lukewarm performance in—it bears repeating—the world’s third-largest smartphone market.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Banks are like children. China’s central bank used to spoil them rotten, doling out money to overextended lenders, but the party’s over.

Old fashioned regulators miss what’s new in finance. Much less has been done since 2008 to protect against another crisis than you might think.

We live in a lucky-take-all society. Happenstance is a major determining factor in almost everything we do.

Detroit’s bankruptcy should serve as a warning. Pension accounting is currently based on fiction, as it doesn’t account for risk.

A tsunami of anti-American rhetoric is swamping Egypt. Nothing the US does now will lead to any immediate difference in Egypt’s highly polarized public sphere.

Surprising discoveries

An arctic methane time bomb. It could cost the world $60 trillion—roughly the size of the current global economy.

Cat lovers rejoice. New research has identified how cat allergies are triggered in the body, paving the way for suppression treatments.

23 and 69 are the happiest ages. Life’s a roller-coaster.

Slang is not as new as you think it is. “Unfriend” dates back to 1659, “hang out” to the 1840s, and “outasight” to the early 1890s.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, favorite UN day designations and your happiest age to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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