Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—India’s budget, Slim diversifies, office narcisists thrive, Martha Stewart’s drone

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What to watch for today

Ban Ki-moon addresses the Israel-Palestine conflict. The UN secretary general will brief the Security Council on the crisis after up to 20 Palestinians were killed by Israeli airstrikes overnight. Israeli reserve soldiers have already been called upon and Israel has not ruled out a ground invasion.

Carlos Slim looks beyond Mexico. The billionaire is looking to diversify into the energy industry and Brazilian and Peruvian markets after being forced by the Mexican government to dismantle his domestic telecom empire. “We have to take advantage of this great window while it lasts,” Slim told Bloomberg Businessweek.

The Bank of England edges towards a rate hike. The central bank is unlikely to raise its record-low benchmark rate (0.5%) at today’s policy meeting, but incoming deputy governor Nemat Shafik suggested that it might soon do so as spare capacity in the economy is declining—one of governor Mark Carney’s triggers for raising rates.

Will Family Dollar’s results matter? The US discount store chain reports its quarterly earnings, which are forecast to decline by about 18%, but analysts will be more interested in whether the company is planning to sell itself, under pressure from activist investor Carl Icahn. Weekly US chain store sales figures, which are also due, are likely to show a continued rebound in consumer spending.

While you were sleeping

India unveiled a cautious “budget for growth.” Prime minister Narendra Modi’s government disappointed those looking for big policy announcements or structural reforms, but did announce relaxed foreign investment caps in the defense and insurance sectors. Finance minister Arun Jaitley also laid out plans for a new tax on goods and services in an attempt to close a dangerous fiscal deficit that has reached 4.6% of GDP.

European factories slowed down. Unexpectedly grim readings for industrial production in both France and Italy showed how fragile the euro zone’s supposed recovery remains. France also blamed workers taking too many four-day weekends in May.

Commerzbank prepared for a $600-800 million fine. US regulators will fine the German bank a far smaller amount than was paid by France’s BNP Paribas, according to Reuters. Commerzbank is accused of dealing with Iran and other countries under US sanctions.

China’s trade data disappointed. Exports rose 7.2% in the year to June, ahead of May’s 7% rise but far below expectations of double-digit expansion. A 5.5% rise in imports narrowed the trade surplus to $31.6 billion from $35.9 billion.

Japanese machine orders plummeted. Machinery orders fell 19.5% in May, the largest monthly fall in nearly three decades. Economists had expected a monthly climb of 0.7%. The dire figures will cast doubt over the likelihood of a recovery following Japan’s April tax rise.

China-based hackers snooped on US government payrolls. The cyber-attackers accessed US government worker data (paywall) in March and appeared to target those who applied for top-secret security clearance, according to the New York Times.

The UK introduced emergency surveillance laws. Security services will be given the controversial power to force phone companies to keep records of customers’ calls, including location, time, and phone number data. The laws will expire in 2016.

Quartz obsession interlude

Jason Karaian on the company that thinks it can create an incorruptible banking benchmark. ”So why is Credit Benchmark so sure that the data it gets won’t be fiddled? Crucially, because it comes directly from the systems that the banks already use to calculate how much capital they hold against their various exposures—which is also shared with regulators.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Capitalism’s glory days are over in rich countries. In poor countries, they have another 46 years to go.

Manipulative narcissists thrive at the office. Humble employees tend to stay at the bottom of the org chart.

Obama’s $3.7 billion plan won’t stem the migrant tide. Increased aid to Central America would be much more effective.

One question can improve women’s health. “Would you like to become pregnant in the next year?

Surprising discoveries

American roosters are shooting blanks, and their impotence is pushing up the price of chicken.

Martha Stewart loves drones. “Controversial but fabulous, drones do a good job,” the lifestyle doyenne proclaimed.

An Uber driver in DC kidnapped his passengers. He fled from a taxi official in a terrifying high-speed chase.

The man who wrote the book on running with the bulls got gored. He survived.

Signs of a tech bubble. A social media company’s stock rose 24,000% in 16 days, and it’s not clear if it actually exists.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, handmade drone doilies, and rooster aphrodisiacs to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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