Quartz Daily Brief—Asia Edition—Greece’s bailout, Portugal’s government, Slim and Shazam, mustachioed toads

What to watch for today

Pessimism in Japan? The Economy Watchers Survey for June, a key indicator of short-term economic sentiment in Japan, will be published. The survey showed a drop in confidence in the last two months.

Greece’s last-ditch bailout deal. Euro-zone finance ministers decide whether to release the next installment of rescue funds worth €6.3 billion ($8.1 billion). Greece’s finance minister said he was “optimistic” about reaching a deal with the troika of European lenders; EU commissioner Olli Rehn gave it a slightly more lukewarm “reasonable chance”.

US earnings season kicks off. Alcoa’s second-quarter revenues are expected to decline to $5.92 billion, but earnings per share are forecast to improve slightly. Though it’s no longer considered a bellwether, details of Alcoa’s sales in the many industries that use aluminium could prove interesting.

US Congress returns from recess. The immigration reform passed last month by the Senate is unlikely to get through the House of Representatives in its current form. Other contentious issues include student loan interest rates and the farm bill, most of which is an $800 billion food aid program for poor Americans.

Talking trade and surveillance. US-EU talks on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership begin, though divisions remain on issues like regulation of financial services firms (paywall). European officials will also want to bring up recent revelations that the US has been spying on them.

Over the weekend

And Egypt’s new prime minister is… Not liberal leader Mohamed ElBaradei, says the president’s office, backtracking on an earlier statement. Reports of the Nobel laureate’s appointment as interim PM had upset Islamists.

Portugal patched up its political crisis. Paulo Portas, the leader of the junior party in the governing coalition, was bumped up to deputy prime minister and given the job of coordinating economic policies and the relationship with the troika. Portas’ resignation as foreign minister last week had spooked European markets.

Two Chinese teens killed in San Francisco plane crash. A South Korean jetliner burst into flames upon landing on Saturday, killing two and injuring 180. Investigators are still on the case, but public flight data shows that the Boeing 777 was flying lower than normal before touchdown.

Five killed in a train explosion in Canada. A driverless freight train carrying crude oil derailed and exploded on Saturday, in a small town 155 miles east of Montreal. Authorities fear the death toll could rise further as 40 people are still missing.

Music to Carlos Slim’s ears. The Mexican telecoms tycoon invested $40 million in music-recognition app Shazam, which has 70 million monthly users. The deal reportedly values (paywall) the UK-based company at $400 million. Slim’s América Móvil will pre-install the app in the smartphones it sell in Latin America.

North and South Korea made headway. They reached a tentative agreement to reopen the Kaesong Industrial Park about 10 kilometers (6 miles) north of the border. Work at the factory, which is a major source of income for the North, was halted in April amid high tensions.

Quartz obsession interlude

Christopher Mims on why every major consumer-electronics firm is working on a smart watch. “Analysts are declaring 2013 the year of the smart watch, and seem sure that an entirely new product category is about to be born. Watches are already a $60-billion-a-year business worldwide, so perhaps the Rolexes and Seikos of the world could see new competition from a motley crew of manufacturers usually associated with PCs, smartphones and televisions.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Immigration may weaken Americans’ sense of shared identity. The solution will be to create a new ethnicity: American.

Repercussions of Mohamed Morsi’s ouster in Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood’s failure threatens the democratic hopes of the Arab world in general.

Asia doesn’t need more internet infrastructure or devices. It needs governments and businesses to recognize the global opportunity of the net.

Fascism is on the rise in Greece. But Athens is a long way yet from 1930s Berlin.

Free-trade charade. The two regional trade agreements that US is working on will only serve the special interests in the West.

Surprising discoveries

The “buzz” that makes things go viral. Scientists discover the regions of the brain that help ideas spread.

All those cheap tables add up. IKEA uses a staggering 1% of the world’s wood every year.

The aliens will hear the Queen’s English. Eleven UK institutions are banding together to search for extraterrestrial intelligence.

The new face of America’s classrooms. Only 29% of undergraduates are traditional students.

Mustaches as a mating tool. These toads have spiny mustaches and are not afraid to use them.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, IKEA trivia, and proof of extraterrestrial life to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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