Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Banco Espirito bailout, HSBC’s victimhood, India’s corruption crackdown, airlifting rhinos

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What to watch for today

Ghana requests a bailout from the IMF. The cedi has dropped 40% (paywall) against the dollar this year, making it the worst-performing currency in the world. Ghana was once seen as a model economy in sub-Saharan Africa but has suffered rising deficits since it began oil production three years ago.

Another Gaza ceasefire. Israel declared a partial seven-hour break from fighting at 10am local time (3am ET) to allow humanitarian aid to reach the Gaza Strip. The strip’s southern town of Rafah is excluded from the ceasefire, however, and the Israel Defense Forces said it would retaliate against any attack.

The Ebola virus continues to spread. The head of the World Health Organization says Ebola is spreading faster than efforts to control it. The epidemic has claimed more than 700 lives in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

Over the weekend

HSBC played the victim. The British bank reported a smaller-than-expected first half profit, a mere $12.3 billion before taxes. Chairman Douglas Flint bemoaned “unprecedented” pressure on staff to deal with complex regulations, saying: “I do not think we have ever had to ask so much of so many.”

A big bailout for Banco Espirito Santo. Portugal’s central bank scrambled to put together a €4.9 billion ($6.6 billion) rescue that will split the bank in two, carving out its toxic assets into a state-funded “bad bank” and putting the remaining assets into a recapitalized new bank that it will put up for sale. Shareholders and some bondholders will be wiped out in the process.

Narendra Modi kicked off his anti-corruption drive. Sudhir Kumar Jain, the chairman of India’s state-run bank Syndicate, was arrested over allegations of bribery. He is accused of taking 5 million rupees ($82,000) in return for raising companies’ credit limits.

Indonesia’s economy is surprisingly sunny. Exports rose 4.5% in June, compared with expectations of a 1% drop. Imports were expected to fall 4% but rose 0.5% instead, suggesting household spending is stabilizing.

An aerospace bellwether was cleared for takeoff. First-half pretax profit at Senior Plc, which produces parts for companies such as Boeing and Airbus, rose 22% to £45.1 million ($75.9 million) from the same period a year earlier. Commercial airline fleets are expanding globally, leading to higher demand.

Aeroflot’s low-cost subsidiary was grounded. European companies withdrew aircraft insurance for Dobrolet and refused to fulfill leasing, repair, and maintenance agreements due to anti-Russia sanctions.

The Islamic State won new territory in Iraq. The group took three towns from Kurdish security forces (paywall) in northern Iraq, increasing its ability to transport goods and weapons between Syria and Iraq. The militants also seized control of Iraq’s biggest dam, giving it the ability to flood major cities.

Warren Buffett became a smidge richer. His firm, Berkshire Hathaway, earned $6.4 billion in the second quarter, the most money it has ever made in a single three-month reporting period.

Quartz obsession interlude

Gwynn Guilford on how climate change will affect the wines we drink. ”By mid-century, more than four-fifths of the land in France, Italy, and Spain that’s now used for vineyards will be producing grapes unsuited for wine, according to a 2013 study. Australia stands to lose up to three-quarters of its currently viable vineyard land; California’s looking at a 70% decline.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Computer programming is a tradeCollege degrees should not be required (paywall).

Palestinians should take Israel to court. Mahmoud Abbas should ask the International Criminal Court to investigate alleged war crimes.

Facebook’s consumer testing is nothing new. Do you think supermarkets sections are laid out by accident?

Artificial intelligence is “potentially more dangerous than nukes.” Elon Musk is investing in AI to keep an eye on things. 

Ebola is not a global threat. Because the virus isn’t airborne, it is quite difficult to become infected.

Surprising discoveries

You can’t drink the water in Toledo. The Ohio city declared a tap water ban after toxic algae in Lake Erie compromised its supply.

South Africa is airlifting its rhinos to Botswana. They should be safer from poachers there.

Robot bees will pollinate our food in the future. They will replace the rapidly disappearing honeybee.

Children’s chemistry sets used to contain uranium. Along with other highly dangerous chemicals.

People are actually buying the Amazon Fire phone. Apparently they haven’t read the reviews.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, robot bee schematics, and Lake Erie water samples to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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