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Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Argentina’s last gasp, Synchrony IPO, Russia’s double trouble, Al Qaeda Kidnapping Inc.

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

What to watch for today

A challenge to South Korea’s president. Special elections could turn Park Geun-hye’s parliamentary majority into a minority, torpedoing her ability to push through stimulus measures for the struggling economy.

Argentina’s last gasp. Latin America’s third-largest economy will almost certainly default on its debt at the close of business, potentially wiping out its foreign reserves. Argentine economy minister Axel Kicillof has joined last-ditch negotiations in New York.

The US interest rate debate picks up again. The Federal Reserve’s monetary policy meeting is unlikely to alter rates, but investors will be looking for clues about future tightening. Keep an eye on the price of gold.

Will Sprint find a second wind? The fourth-largest US wireless carrier lost 2.5 million subscribers in the last 15 months, and investors will be hoping to see a turnaround (paywall) as it announces its quarterly results.

Synchrony Financial reels in the big bucks. With 25 companies going public in the US this week—the most in 14 years—General Electric’s North American consumer finance arm is expected to raise over $3 billion by selling 125 million shares, making it the biggest US debut this year.

Barclays feels the dark pool effect. The UK bank’s earnings call will likely emphasize its less risky retail banking business. Its investment banking side could see a drop in trading revenues after a scandal over its “dark pool” trading arena that has caused brokers to cut ties with the firm (paywall).

While you were sleeping

Double trouble for Russia. The US announced new sanctions just hours after the EU agreed to broaden economic punishments on Russia. The new measures will hit Russia’s technology, energy, defense, and financial sectors.

US regulators want monitors in foreign banks. The New York Department of Financial Services is pushing to post observers in the US offices of Barclays and Deutsche Bank (paywall), as part of its investigation into alleged foreign exchange manipulation, according to the Wall Street Journal. The regulator put an observer in BNP Paribas’s office ahead of a record $9 billion fine.

Reports of more violence in Xinjiang. A group of people wielding knives and axes attacked civilians, a police station, and government offices on Monday, in news that only surfaced more than 24 hours after the events occurred. Although 13 people have reportedly been killed, details are sparse.

Japanese factory output slipped. Production fell 3.3% in June, far faster than a predicted 1.2% decline, adding to concerns that Abenomics reforms aren’t proving to be effective.

Twitter and New York Times results moved in opposite directions. The newspaper’s shares opened lower after the company reported weaker-than-expected quarterly results. On the other hand, Twitter shares went up 35% after its monthly active users and ad revenue blew past estimates.

Ebola took the life of another doctor. Sheik Umar Khan, the doctor leading Sierra Leone’s fight against the virus, fell victim to it after treating some 100 patients. The out-of-control outbreak has killed over 670 people, including the top Ebola specialist in Liberia, and infected two American healthcare workers. Also not good: People in rural areas are terrified of foreign doctors.

Microsoft revealed details of its new phone. The software giant unveiled to employees that its next smartphone will have a 5 megapixel forward-facing camera and a 4.7″ screen—all the better to take selfies with.

Quartz obsession interlude

Matt Phillips on how the Family Dollar/Dollar Tree merger embodies everything wrong with American capitalism. “The fact that these poor Americans—and the retailers that serve them—are doing so badly attracted the attention of some of the richest and best-connected investors in the world. Funds associated with the activist investors Nelson Peltz and Carl Icahn have snapped up significant chunks of Family Dollar in recent months—as has the hedge fund manager John Paulson.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

A destructive solar flare is the biggest threat to humanity. The effects of an electromagnetic pulse would be worse than an asteroid or even nuclear war.

Israel’s strategic position can only get worse. That means it is unlikely to reach a major peace deal in Gaza.

Modinomics is off to a bad start. The Indian prime minister’s attempt to stop a trade deal isn’t helping the economy.

Chocolate divides the world into beggars and gluttons. Most poor cacao farmers have never tasted the end product (video).

Parenthood is unethical. The only way to spare your children pain is not to have them in the first place.

Surprising discoveries

Al Qaeda reaped $66 million in European ransoms last year. It operates a very profitable kidnapping business (paywall).

Preventing lion attacks? There’s an app for that. Smartphones and solar lighting are keeping predators at bay in Kenya.

California has an Uber for medical marijuana. Eaze delivers weed to your door (but only with a doctor’s note).

Intergenerational trauma might be passed on by smell. That’s the result of a study involving a lot of scared mice.

The next hot group fitness class is inspired by Dutch speed-skaters. It has all the signs (paywall) of becoming the next Zumba.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, solar flare survival tips, and anti-predator apps to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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