Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Argentina’s default, Snapchat’s funding, Samsung’s bad year, DC baby boom

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What to watch for today

John Kerry finds a friendlier crowd in India. The US secretary of state is on a three-day trip that he hopes will go better than his disastrous visit to the Middle East. The fifth annual India-US Strategic Dialogue will be a chance to build relations with prime minister Narendra Modi’s new government.

The Czech Republic holds at “technical zero.” The Czech central bank, struggling to push inflation back up towards its 2% target, will likely hold its benchmark interest rate at 0.05% and continue weakening the koruna against the euro (paywall).

A turnaround in the euro zone? Eurostat releases its preliminary consumer price index. Analysts will be looking for signs that the core inflation rate strengthened in July due to European Central Bank president Mario Draghi’s expansive monetary policy measures.

Tesla’s halfway report. The electric car maker targeted 35,000 deliveries this year, and its second-quarter earnings offer a glimpse into its progress. Investors will be hoping for news on the company’s anticipated $5 billion “gigafactory” plant for making batteries, which could be as big a business for it as cars.

News from the oilfields. ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips and Royal Dutch Shell all report earnings, which could be interesting after the last few months’ turmoil in oil-producing regions.

Can Brazil pay off its debt? Latin America’s largest economy releases figures for the primary budget balance of the country (paywall), including state and municipal governments, which will give investors a peek into whether the country is able to service its debt, which Standard & Poor’s downgraded earlier this year.

Correction: In yesterday’s brief we referred to Argentina as Latin America’s largest economy; it’s the third or fourth largest, depending on whether you ask the Argentinians or the Colombians.

While you were sleeping

Samsung had its worst quarter in two years. Q2 operating profit fell 24.6%, in line with the company’s guidance, but it also warned that the second half of the year “will remain a challenge” as its smartphones are squeezed by intense global  competition. Samsung’s top-of-the-line Galaxy S5 phone was outsold by the iPhone, and cheaper Chinese phones are gaining market share at the cheaper end of the market.

Argentina defaulted on its debt. The deadline passed for a $539 million payment on bonds due in 2033 and Standard & Poor’s declared the country to be in default. A court-appointed mediator said Argentina’s government has reached no deal with its holdout creditors, but there are reports of a side deal between the holdouts and banks that could mitigate some of the economic pain.

China was told to grow slower. A report from the International Monetary Fund recommended GDP growth of just 6.5-7% in 2015. China’s target for this year is 7.5%, but achieving this relies too much on unsustainable government investment, the report said.

UK consumer confidence took a surprise fall. The GfK NOP survey showed the first fall in six months in July, after a nearly-10-year high in June. A general election is due in May 2015, and the cost of living is becoming a hot topic.

Snapchat is raising serious cash. The photo messaging app is in talks for a new funding round that would value it at $10 billion, and Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba is a potential investor. If the funding comes together, Snapchat looks smart for spurning a $3 billion acquisition offer from Facebook not long ago.

The Fed held steady. The Federal Reserve cut its bond-buying stimulus by $10 billion a month, as planned, and left short-term interest rates unchanged.

Quartz obsession interlude

Roya Wolverson on why business travelers should think twice about booking with Airbnb. “Airbnb bookings aren’t always the bargain they appear to be. That’s partly because business travelers are more likely to need an entire apartment for work privacy, not just someone’s spare room. A US city-by-city study by the web data company Priceonomics found that while renting a private room on Airbnb is about half as expensive on average than staying in a hotel, renting an entire apartment is less of a bargain, with a cost savings of just over 20%.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Singapore’s surveillance state is a big data lab. But can it create a harmonious society?

Europe’s museums are too popular. Overwhelming crowds are forcing institutions to choose between accessibility and art preservation (paywall).

The end of the big-box store era will soon be upon us. Customers are edging away from Target and Walmart and turning to the web or smaller boutiques.

Nintendo’s empire is doomed. Smartphones and tablets threaten the console business.

Surprising discoveries

A copper shrub cools a computer without fans. The metal foam heat sink is certainly an attention-grabber.

There are geysers on one of Saturn’s moons. The jets spotted on Enceladus suggest there are deep oceans of water that could potentially harbor life.

Washington, DC is having a baby boomlet. The government shutdown nine months ago gave federal employees a lot of spare time.

A blood test could predict your risk of suicide. It picks up a genetic mutation in how the brain deal with stress.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Saturnian geyser photos, and puppy modeling shots to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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