Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Bezos buys a newspaper, Obama’s mortgage overhaul, Loeb’s rejection, toilet hacks

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What to watch for today

Obama backs a mortgage overhaul. The US president is expected to propose the gradual elimination of state-backed lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, who were bailed out by the government during the financial crisis, in favor expanding a more privatized system allowing loans to be repackaged as securities for investors.

Another rate cut Down Under. The Australian central bank will probably cut interest rates by 25 basis points to a record low 2.5% in the face of weak Chinese demand for Australian natural resources—the eighth rate cut since 2011.

A pan-European recovery? Germany’s manufacturing orders are likely to pick up in June, industrial production data from the UK and Italy are expected to improve, and Italy’s second quarter GDP is expected to have shrunk only 2.2% year-on-year, which in Italy counts as good news.

More demand for US goods. June’s trade deficit should narrow to $43 billion as exports pick up steam and the value of imports cools from its second-highest level on record. Canada will also report its trade balance.

Earnings season rolls on. It’s a bit of a media day, with Disney, Time Warner, Liberty Media and Deutsche Post all reporting earnings. Standard Chartered bank is likely to bounce back from a sluggish first quarter despite the slowdown in China, Porsche, and Merck report, among others.

While you were sleeping

Jeff Bezos is buying the Washington Post for $250 million. The billionaire Amazon founder, acting on his own without the involvement of his e-commerce company, was seen as both the highest bidder and best steward for the iconic newspaper. There are some hints at how things will change with Bezos in charge—and we really should have seen this coming.

Sony snubbed Daniel Loeb. The electronics/entertainment giant unanimously rejected Loeb’s proposal to sell as much as 20% of the company in an initial public offering, telling the hedge fund manager once known as Mr. Pink that 100% ownership of its entertainment unit was essential to success.

Why the US closed its embassies. American officials said that Osama bin Laden’s successor, Ayman al-Zawahri, had ordered the group’s Yemen affiliate to launch an attack. Intercepted communications between the two suggested that an attack could have begun as early as last Sunday.

Fukushima sprung a leak. Japan’s nuclear watchdog says a barrier built to contain radioactive ground water in the tsunami-hit nuclear plant has been breached, raising the possibility that contaminated water could start pouring into the Pacific Ocean.

HSBC could be fined $1.6 billion. While reporting surging first-half profits, the bank warned of the sum it might have to pay up under a lawsuit filed by a US regulator over improperly sold mortgage-backed securities.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng bank doubled net income. The HSBC-owned lender beat even the highest estimate on first half profit, reporting record figures of HK$18.5 billion ($2.4 billion), up from HK$4.84 billion a year earlier, partly due to a one-time accounting change.

Quartz obsession interlude

Tim Fernholz on whether the US government is an intellectual-property hypocrite or just in love with Apple. “The move to keep Apple’s products in stores isn’t much different from how other countries protect their own companies, but analysts fear it will undermine US aspirations for a more objective IP order. Critics of the US IP push note that the US is favoring an open interpretation of patent law here to favor Apple, even as it pushes back against other countries who use similar logic to push back on patents for products like medicine.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Obama’s Apple favoritism is still a win for Samsung. The Korean company just got more leverage on two other patent cases where a ban on its goods may be considered.

Libraries don’t have to be a thing of the past. Melbourne’s provides one great example of how vital libraries are to priming the world’s appetite for reading.

Outsourcing doesn’t make you a bad parent. Nannies and daycare can free you up to do more important things with your child.

Don’t believe talk of a European recovery. Hopeful economic data mask spreading joblessness, growing bailout fatigue, and continued weakness in the private sector.

Surprising discoveries

The toxins of the 1%. The notionally healthier lifestyles of the rich mean they absorb higher levels of certain chemicals found in sushi and sunscreen.

In the future, even toilets will be hacked. The luxury Satis toilet is vulnerable to smartphone hacks that cause it to flush unexpectedly—but at least it’s not the bidet function.

Tiny private satellites are the future of business. They are becoming smaller, cheaper and more valuable to the private sector for the data insights they provide.

Beer is a downer. Young Americans are becoming more likely to drink wine or spirits.

Men are better at gauging risks and rewards. In financial decisions, men focus on the bigger picture, while women pay closer attention to detail.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, rich-people toxins and toilet hacks to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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