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Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Berlusconi’s comeuppance, Barclays plugs a hole, Wendy Murdoch lawyers up

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

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 energy trading between 2010 and 2011, and the bank is expected to offer a settlement for $400 million or more.

Wendi Murdoch prepares for battle. Rupert Murdoch’s estranged wife hired a new lawyer, suggesting that divorce negotiations may turn nasty.

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.

Bradley Manning faces the music. 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 he faces.

While you were sleeping

Barclays scrounged for new capital. The British bank said it would sell 5.8 billion pounds ($8.9 billion) in new shares to meet new regulatory requirements and boost its balance sheet. It also reported net income of 671 million pounds for the first half of 2013, up from 148 million pounds last year.

More bank earnings. Deutsche Bank said that second quarter net profit halved, to 335 million euros ($445 million), due to legal expenses arising from a range of lawsuits. Santander fared better, reporting an eight-fold rise in profits as it recovered from real estate losses. UBS reported a 775 million Swiss franc profit ($833 million), beating estimates despite a settlement over mortgage-backed bonds.

Pfizer scored. The world’s biggest drug maker reported strong second quarter net income of $14.1 billion, up more than fourfold on a year earlier, putting it in a good position to achieve plans to split its business into branded and generic units.

A dejected BP didn’t. Lower oil prices cut into the UK-listed oil company’s revenues, which totaled at $94.71 billion in the second quarter, down from $94.98 billion a year earlier. Estimated costs from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster rose to $9.6 billion.

A series of explosions tore through a propane factory in Florida. After initial worries that some workers may have been caught in the blasts, all employees have now been accounted for and no fatalities reported, but seven were injured and the fires rage on about 40 miles north of Orlando.

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

The Reserve Bank of India held its ground, leaving benchmark interest rates at 7.25% and promising to roll back other rate increases “in a measured way” as it attempts to stem a rise in the rupee.

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

Indian child labor is a deplorable necessity. Until the underlying cause is eradicated, a ban is unrealistic (paywall).

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.

The 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.

Surprising discoveries

The potent smell of fear. The scent of a scared person triggers fear in the sniffer.

Creating a potty mouth. Chinese scientists use stem cells from human urine to grow teeth.

A true 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.

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

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, fast food value estimates and fear-based colognes to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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