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Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Obama’s mortgage overhaul, Loeb’s rejection, terror threats in Yemen, toilet hacks

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

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.

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.

A Boston crime boss awaits a verdict. Jurors will begin deliberations in the case of James (Whitney) Bulger, a notorious Boston underworld chief in the 1970s and ’80s, after more than a month of testimony.

Earnings season rolls on. It’s a big media day, with Disney, Time Warner and Liberty Media all reporting earnings.

While you were sleeping

A pan-European recovery? British industrial production rose more expected in June, up 1.1 percent from May. Italy’s recession is now the longest since World War II, but second quarter GDP shrunk less than expected, down 2% annually.

Sony snubbed Daniel Loeb. The electronics/entertainment giant unanimously rejected a proposal to sell its entertainment unit, telling the hedge fund manager once known as Mr. Pink. Loeb said he would “explore further options to create value for shareholders.”

The US ordered all non-essential personnel out of Yemen. The move is the latest reaction to apparent terrorist threats from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

Australia cut rates for the eighth time in two years. The central bank reduced benchmark rates by 25 basis points to 2.5%, the lowest level on record, in an attempt to counter a slowdown of demand from China.

Clash on the India-Pakistan border. India reported the deaths of five soldiers in border clashes with troops in Pakistani uniforms, derailing any attempt to restart peace talks. Meanwhile, security concerns overshadowed proceedings against former Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf, set to be charged in the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, pushing back the date of the indictment  to August 20.

Standard Chartered felt the hurt in Asia. The bank took a $1 billion write-down on South Korea and said it would miss its revenue target due to a slowdown in emerging markets, especially Singapore and China. Legal & General reported a 13% rise in pre-tax profits for the first half of 2013, with big gains in asset management, bulk annuities and retirement solutions.

Deutsche Post raised forecasts. Europe’s largest postal service said that it expected earnings before interest and taxes to reach 1.15 billion euros ($1.53 billion) this year, 50 million euros more than previously thought, as focus on parcel delivery and express services pays off.

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

The latest Republican talking point on al Qaeda is spectacularly wrong. There’s an awful lot of hyperbole going on.

Bangladesh’s biggest problem isn’t faulty factories or poverty. It’s politics, which could help solve both but doesn’t.

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 provides one great example of how vital libraries are to priming the world’s appetite for reading.

Surprising discoveries

Singaporeans are the second-most indebted people in Southeast Asia. Households have loans averaging 151% of annual income.

Memory isn’t what it used to be. Experiments on mice show that scientists will soon be able to change the emotions we associate with a memory.

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.

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

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