Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Japan’s super typhoon, Samsung’s profit plunge, Iraq’s power vacuum, heroin marketing

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What to watch for today

Jean–Claude Juncker begins his charm offensive. The likely next president of the European Commission will spend the next two days meeting with a series of political groups in the European parliament, in an attempt to convince them he’s the right man for the job.

Alcoa kicks off earnings season. The aluminum giant releases second-quarter results, which will show the effect of weak aluminum prices, and the outlook for the global aerospace sector.

Brazilian inflation ticks upwards. The government will release inflation data for June, which are expected to show weakness against the dollar and a World Cup boost. A Bloomberg survey estimates consumer prices rose 6.51%, a fraction over the government’s upper target inflation range of 6.5%.

Moguls gather in Sun Valley. At the annual Allen & Co. conference of top media and tech execs in California, the planned mega-mergers of US telecoms firms are likely to dominate the agenda (paywall).

Legal pot goes on sale in Washington, the second US state where marijuana can be sold for recreational use. In Colorado, which legalized recreational use six months ago, the governor recently said the outcome “could’ve been a lot worse.”

While you were sleeping

Samsung’s profits plummeted. The Korean electronics giant said its second-quarter earnings will be only $8.1 billion, far short of analysts expectations, due to low demand for its smartphones and tablets in China and Europe. Sales at its display unit, which makes smartphone and tablet screens for other manufacturers, also plunged.

A major storm loomed over Japan. Typhoon Neoguri weakened slightly overnight, but still had sustained winds of 108 mph (175 km/h) and gusts up to 154 mph as swept past the Japanese islands of Okinawa. More than 100,000 residents were urged to evacuate, dozens of flights were grounded, and an oil refinery shut down as a precaution.

Iraq will remain rudderless a while longer. The country’s next parliamentary meeting was postponed for five weeks after politicians failed to agree on nominations for a new government. There is strong pressure on prime minister Nouri al-Maliki to step down, but Shiite politicians have shown little interest in replacing him.

Japan’s current account surplus beat analyst estimates. Income from overseas investments allowed Japan to post its fourth consecutive current account surplus in May. The surplus reached 522.8 billion yen ($5.1 billion), compared with a Bloomberg estimate of 417.5 billion yen.

Uber took on New York City taxis. The startup that allows people to order a car via a smartphone temporarily cut its fares by 20% in New York, to compete with standard yellow cabs. But that’s also a 20% wage cut for Uber drivers.

Eduard Shevardnadze died. The Soviet foreign minister who helped Mikhail Gorbachev break up the USSR and went on to become a divisive president of his native Georgia was 86.

Quartz obsession interlude

Tim Fernholz on what the US’s busiest port explains about the world’s economy. “The first thing you notice on a visit to the Port of Los Angeles is the cranes towering along the water, poised over the massive ships beneath them. The second is that there are no people, at least none visible: Sometimes you catch sight of a silhouette in a crane’s control room or a truck cab, but the work that goes on is largely far above human scale. This is the US gateway to the most important economic trend of the new century: The epic export-driven growth of China’s economy.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Stop complaining about Facebook research. In fact, we should insist Facebook researches what it is doing to us.

Don’t panic about market corrections. They’re normal, inevitable, and all but impossible to forecast.

Silicon Valley is investing in the wrong stuff. Money is flowing to instant messaging instead of potentially transformative research (paywall).

America’s love of soccer is no fad. The audience is younger, better informed, and more likely to stick around until the next World Cup than ever.

Russia is losing its battle with stagflation, despite the Kremlin’s attempts to put a positive spin on recent economic news.

Surprising discoveries

The British press is “clap-shaming” theater goers. Some Martin Freeman fans clapped at his first scene in Richard III, and the tabloids have plenty to say about it.

FedEx was saved by a Vegas gambling trip. During a cash flow crisis in 1965, founder Fred Smith took the company’s last $5,000 and turned it into $32,000, buying the company enough time to eventually make it big.

Japanese grapes can be incredibly expensive. A wedding hall spent $5,400 on the the first 30 Ruby Roman grapes of the season.

ATM skimmers have gotten frighteningly tiny. The devices that thieves attach to cash machines to steal card data are incredibly difficult to detect.

Heroin baggies include surprisingly intricate marketing. From planned obsolescence to diluting brand power, the underground economy mirrors the legitimate one.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, expensive grapes, and collectable heroin baggies (sans heroin) to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.


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