Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Taiwan’s typhoon, Snowden’s airport confab, US bank profits, digital diapers

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

What to watch for today

China and Taiwan are battening down the hatches. Typhoon Soulik is expected to hit Taiwan late on Friday and China by Saturday morning. Torrential rain and floods have already killed at least 36 in China, with another 166 missing.

Snowden’s human rights confab. The NSA leaker said in a letter posted to Facebook he had invited rights groups to Moscow airport to discuss on Friday the “next steps forward in my situation.” The US State Department and Vice President Biden are pressing Latin American countries not to take him.

Egyptians back on the streets? Supporters and opponents of ousted president Mohamed Morsi are planning dueling rallies for the first Friday of Ramadan. Clashes between the military and pro-Morsi protesters have killed around 90 people in the last week.

US banks report second-quarter profits. Healthy gains from trading and investment banking are anticipated. JP Morgan’s earnings are expected to rise to $1.42 per share on revenue of just under $25 billion, and Wells Fargo is expected to book a profit of 92 cents a share, but its revenue is expected to decline 6% year-on-year.

Mexico’s interest rate decision. Mexican central bankers are expected to leave their official interest rates unchanged at 4%. Inflation is dropping toward the central bank’s 4% target ceiling, and some analysts expect rate cuts later in the year aimed at boosting Mexico’s economy.

While you were sleeping

Infosys reported first quarter earnings. The Indian technology outsourcer barely beat market expectations, but its stock surged as much as 15% at one point on Friday trading, as the results rebuffed fears of weak demand from Europe and the US.

The Free Syrian Army declared war on al Qaeda. The anti-Assad armed opposition group opened a new front in the country’s fractious civil war after a senior FSA commander was assassinated.

Schneider Electric entered talks to buy Invensys. The French equipment maker is considering a $5.5 billion offer for the British industrial software and controls firm. Invensys shares rose as much as 17% on hopes of a possible counterbid.

Singapore is sizzling. Its economy expanded by an impressive annualized 15.2 percent in the three months through June compared with the previous quarter, beating all estimates for the fastest growth since 2011. Strong local demand compensated for the uneven global recovery.

Ireland’s fiscal health improved. Standard & Poor’s raised its outlook on Ireland’s sovereign debt from stable to positive on the hope that its government might exceed debt reduction targets, but kept the rating at BBB+.

Quartz obsession interlude

Gwynn Guilford on how China’s banks continued to lend despite the central bank’s directions: “The ‘Big Four’ state-owned banks—China Construction Bank, Industrial and Commerical Bank of China, Bank of China and Agricultural Bank of China—lent a combined $27.7 billion in the first week of July (link in Chinese), reported the Shanghai Seucrities News (SSN). That’s compared with $44 billion for all of June. Some $35.4 billion of that was lent out in the first ten days of June, before rates hit prohibitive heights.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Thailand should invest in people, not rice. Populism is a road to nowhere.

Britain’s banks bamboozled the government on financial reform. Safety or growth is a false choice.

China’s dangerous shadow banking can be a fabulous opportunity for those who bet against it.

The recession’s legacy will be empowered cities. And America is leading the charge.

The high-end art market is blatantly manipulated by galleries. That is bad news for art lovers and most artists.

Surprising discoveries

Digital diapers. A start-up’s nappies come with a smartphone app and sensors to detect urinary infections and other problems.

A 3D printer made of silkworms. An MIT team has built—or grown?—a silk-reinforced dome using 6,500 live worms.

China’s mall overdrive. There is more mall space under construction in one Chinese city than 86 major cities in Europe, combined.

Real-life Angry Birds in New Zealand. Authorities are warning of aggressive red-vented bulbuls. Green pigs should be on the lookout.

You no longer need water to irrigate a field. This chemically engineered powder will do just fine.

Human-powered helicopters are now reality. You just have to cycle really hard.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, silk building designs and Angry Bird sightings to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

Sign up for the Quartz Daily Brief here, tailored for morning delivery in Asia, Europe & Africa, and the Americas.