Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Argentina’s deadline, Hong Kong’s vote, the decline of IPOs, Auschwitz selfies

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What to watch for today

Argentina’s debt deadline. The country may enter into technical default if it can’t figure out a way to settle with bondholders. A US judge ruled that the country’s attempt to pay off its restructured bondholders was illegal as it left out holdouts due payment under different terms. The deadline may be extended another month to July 30th.

Inflation data for the euro zone. The European Central Bank only just started newly aggressive monetary stimulus, and it’ll likely take some time to be felt. So if today’s inflation figures don’t show much change, it won’t make the bank add more stimulus, but it’ll be interesting to see whether there’s been any early effect.

BNP settles over sanction violations. The fine, reportedly a record $8.9 billion (paywall), is for concealing some $30 billion in transactions for clients in countries like Sudan, Iran, and Cuba despite US sanctions. The bank also won’t be allowed to clear US dollar transactions for up to a year, though it seems to have won a six-month delay on that.

The future of US public sector labor. The US Supreme Court is set to rule on Harris vs. Quinn, and could overturn the requirement that public-sector workers pay a “fair share” of union dues even if they are not members. That would greatly undercut unions’ power to engage in collective bargaining.

Over the weekend

Hong Kongers thumbed their noses at China. Some 780,000 people voted in an unofficial referendum, over the objections of Chinese authorities (paywall). The voting was between various proposals for democratic reform, all of which would let the public, rather than a committee, nominate candidates for chief executive of Hong Kong.

The central bank for central banks warned about “euphoric” markets. In its annual report, the Bank of International Settlements said that central banks have been lured into a false sense of security, that frothy financial markets are ignoring fundamental economic issues, and that there are warning signs of banking crises on the horizon.

China’s news agency prepared to go public. Xinhua released a preliminary prospectus (paywall) on its plans to offer shares in its digital arm on the Shanghai Stock Exchange. This comes two years after the IPO of the website of the People’s Daily. The company plans to raise some $241.2 million from the offering.

Carlos Slim is buying out AT&T. The Mexican billionaire is purchasing the 8.3% stake that AT&T has long held in his company, América Movil, for $5.57 billion. The move comes because AT&T is purchasing DirectTV, which competes with América Movil for paid TV customers in Latin America.

American Apparel took out a protection policy against its ex-CEO. The ousted founder and former boss of the clothing retailer, Dov Charney, is apparently trying to acquire more stock in order to increase his influence. The company’s board adopted a shareholders rights program to fend him off.

Quartz obsession interlude

Gwynn Guilford on why the movie Frozen strikes a (very lucrative) chord in Japan. ”Undoubtedly, Japanese audiences are responding to the same qualities that have turned Frozen into a global phenomenon. Not only is the music catchy, but the story is morally nuanced enough that adults seem to enjoy it as well as children. And then there’s the fact that Frozen revolves around the relationship between strong, commanding female characters who defy the “Disney princess” stereotype (even though they technically are monarchs). That latter point is what makes Frozen‘s unexpected popularity—particularly among Japanese women—so striking.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The American IPO is dying. Burdensome regulation and aggressive short-sellers have made it much harder for companies that aren’t already huge to go public.

It’s no surprise that so few CEOs are openly gay. Most of them are of a generation that grew up in an extremely anti-gay environment.

Convention centers are a great way for cities to lose money. They end up benefitting private companies and failing to deliver economic benefits.

The European Commission just picked the wrong president. Jean-Claude Juncker is not going to be a reformer, and his election highlights the many dysfunctions of European politics.

Prisons should be abolished. GPS-enabled electronic monitoring is more effective at cutting recidivism, and cheaper too.

Surprising discoveries

Chinese dissidents are being sent on fancy paid vacations. To keep them out of the news, they are forced to take holidays during important national events.

Auschwitz selfies are popular with Israeli teenagers. But not everyone thinks posing with your pals under an “Arbeit macht frei” sign is cool.

The UK is suffering a sperm shortage. Sperm banks are seeing fewer donors and relying more on imported semen.

Tuesday is the most productive day in America. Or at least, it’s the day people work longest. Friday workdays are an average of 20 minutes shorter.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, suitable Icelandic names, and tips for setting giant diamonds to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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