Quartz Daily Brief—Asia Edition—Bahrain tense, Europe turns, Icahn bites, handbag loans

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Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Europe’s longest recession since World War II may end. Second-quarter GDP is expected to grow 0.2%, the first positive reading since the third quarter of 2011. France and Germany also report GDP, and both are expected to show improvements.

UK unemployment to remain stubbornly high. The rate for the second quarter will probably stay unchanged at 7.8%. It’ll be the first release of jobless data since the Bank of England’s new policy of “forward guidance” linking future interest rates to unemployment.

Bahrain warns protesters. The government says it will “forcefully confront” democracy activists planning to take to the streets on the anniversary of the failed “Pearl Revolution” of 2011.

Don’t hold your breath about Israel-Palestine talks. Negotiations resume, but Israel’s decision to expand settlements in East Jerusalem may hinder any real progress.

Mixed earnings. US retail giant Macy’s should report higher earnings and offer some clues about how Americans will spend this fall. Networking giant Cisco is set to report strong numbers, thanks to North American markets. Farm equipment maker Deere’s earnings are likely to take a hit due to the slowdown in the prices of agricultural commodities. China’s Tencent, which denied rumors that it’s spinning off its WeChat service, reports too.

While you were sleeping

A challenge to the world’s biggest airline. The US Justice Department filed a surprise lawsuit against the proposed merger of American Airlines and US Airways, another sign of the department’s renewed aggression. It’s probably a way to make the airlines give up more airport slots.

No jail for the London Whale. Further reports confirm that former JP Morgan trader Bruno Iksil, whose bets led to more than $6 billion of losses last year, won’t face US prosecution because he provided evidence about internal communications (paywall) at the bank. Two of Iksil’s superiors could be charged today, though.

One famous investor took a big bite of Apple… Carl Icahn announced on Twitter that he holds a “large position” in Apple stock and the tech giant was “extremely undervalued.” And in what may be the first move in a long campaign, he said Apple should implement a larger buyback of its shares.

…while another bit the bullet at JC Penney. Bill Ackman’s resignation from the struggling retailer’s board ended an unusually public rift among company directors. CEO Mike Ullman and board chairman Thomas Engibous, two people Ackman wanted out, will stay on.

Street battles erupted in Egypt. Supporters and opponents of ousted President Mohamed Mursi hurled rocks at each other on the streets of Cairo, leading to at least one death, while the police resorted to tear gas. But there were some hopeful signs for a mediation effort led by Al-Azhar, a top religious authority.

Quartz obsession interlude

Lily Kuo on why a proposed Indonesian ban on exporting maids to the rest of the world won’t put an end to the practice. “The government wants to set up a formal work scheme where foreign employers hire workers for specific tasks like cooking and babysitting rather than to be a household’s catch-all servant. Given that over one in ten Indonesians live in poverty, it’s likely that many will go through informal, as well as formal, channels to keep finding work abroad.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

China’s economy may be $1 trillion smaller than it says. A study claims that the government manipulated housing price data between 2000 and 2011 to make inflation look smaller.

Kick Argentina out of the G20. It’s an irresponsible debtor and it’s far too friendly with Iran.

Japanese workers should get paid more. Sharing the benefits of Abenomics with them will generate a virtuous cycle in Japan’s economy.

The Hyperloop is underwhelming. The costs of Elon Musk’s futuristic transport system outweigh the benefits.

Men who work with women do more housework. Men in female-dominated jobs will do 25% more household chores than those in a male-dominated profession.

Surprising discoveries

A clever way to combat movie piracy. Let users watch a pirated film for 20 minutes, then shut it down and ask them to pay.

Pawning purses for quick cash. A Hong Kong firm lets wealthy women borrow money using designer handbags as collateral (paywall).

Tear down that mountain. A Chinese man was ordered to remove a mountain villa, complete with fake rocks, that he built on top of a skyscraper.

How to save your local bookstore: Donate. Crowdfunding is the independent bookshop’s latest tactic for survival.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, anti-piracy ideas, and outrageous rooftop structures to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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