Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Berlusconi’s comeuppance, the Fed’s messaging, Japan’s industry, McDonald’s caloric bargain

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What to watch for today

Crunch time for Berlusconi. Italy’s supreme court decides whether the former prime minister will face jail and a ban from public office for tax fraud, a move that could threaten the survival of the ruling coalition.

JP Morgan pulls out the checkbook. US authorities say it used improper bidding tactics in US energy trading between 2010 and 2011, and the bank is expected to offer a settlement for $400 million or more.

The Fed works on its communications skills. The US central bank is likely to announce that its $85 billion-a-month bond-buying program will continue, although it may attempt some better messaging (paywall) this time. The consumer confidence index for July and the S&P Case-Shiller home price index for May are also due.

India’s central bank holds on tight. The Reserve Bank is expected to leave the benchmark repo rate unchanged at 7.25% as it tries to prop up the falling rupee.

Barclays scrounges for fresh capital. The British bank is reportedly looking to raise up to £5 billion ($7.68 billion) to boost its leverage ratio (paywall) to mandatory minimums levels. Barclays, along with Deutsche Bank, UBS and Banco Santander, will also report second quarter earnings.

A dejected BP. The energy giant’s second quarter earnings are likely to take a hit from paying more compensation for damages related to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster. BP may have shirked some liability now that Halliburton, its partner in the well, has confessed to destroying evidence related to the disaster.

Bradley Manning faces the fire. Legal experts believe the US soldier accused of leaking more than 700,000 sensitive documents to WikiLeaks will be found guilty on at least some of 21 criminal counts, including aiding the enemy, which carries a life sentence.

While you were sleeping

Japan’s industry flagged. Output fell by 3.3% in June from the month before due to reduced auto production, in the biggest fall since March 2011, although figures were affected by May’s impressive performance. Meanwhile, unemployment fell to a seasonally adjusted 3.9%, slightly better than expected, and household spending fell 0.4% on the year before.

A pension fund got acquisitive. Canadian department store chain Hudson’s Bay agreed to acquire American luxury retailers Saks for $2.4 billion. Hudson’s bid was backed by the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, Canada’s largest public retirement fund, which happens to be a dealmaking powerhouse.

Air supremacy. Reports suggest American Airlines and US Airways will soon win EU approval to create the world’s largest carrier. The airlines had offered to surrender slots at Heathrow and Philadelphia airports to new entrants, after regulators made a stink about the deal stifling competition.

The Bank of Italy opened Pandora’s box. The central bank is inspecting the books of some of the country’s top lenders amid concerns over bad loans, which have increased for 27 consecutive months (paywall). Banks found to have insufficient capital buffers may be forced to sell assets.

A new FBI director. Former US attorney general James Comey, a Republican who has previously opposed government surveillance proposals, was confirmed in a 93-1 vote in the US Senate.

Gunmen assaulted a Pakistani prison. The attack began on Monday night as over 100 Taliban fighters and suicide bombers attacked a prison holding thousands of prisoners. A Taliban spokesperson claimed that 300 prisoners had been freed.

Quartz obsession interlude

Theo Francis on how people like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates can make or lose billions when their companies report earnings. “Mark Zuckerberg made $5 billion last week, and Bill Gates lost $1.6 billion the week before. That’s all on paper, of course, and in percentage terms their gains and losses were the same as those of any other investor—it’s just that the two men hold big slugs of shares in the companies they founded.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

China’s skyscraper curse. Broad Group’s 90-day vanity project to build the world’s tallest building is synonymous with all that is wrong with China.

The UK should accept that it’s London-centric. Rebalancing Britain’s distorted economy is an idea that never goes out of fashion but never amounts to anything either.

Immigrants will account for almost all the growth in the US labor force through 2050. Cities that educate and integrate immigrants will set themselves up for success.

Middle class rage can only partially explain the global wave of protests. Protests have been erupting primarily against older regimes.

Surprising discoveries

Value menu. The McDonalds McDouble burger is one of the cheapest sources of calories in human history.

Money ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. Less than a third of millionaires with between $1 million and $5 million actually feel wealthy.

Spacing it. The US space agency admitted that its shift to the cloud left sensitive data at risk.

The Gangnam Style effect. Shares of a company founded by the father of South Korean rapper Psy surged 800% for no apparent reason.

Top US cities are drowning. Major parts of 1,700 cities and towns including Boston, New York and Miami will be below sea level by 2100.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, historic caloric bargains and one-hit-wonder share price fluctuations to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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