Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Abenomics slumps, Indian inflation, US vs. ISIL, German flag bandits

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What to watch for today

The BoE clarifies its stance. The UK central bank’s quarterly update to its forecasts will provide hints about when it might will raise interest rates. Earlier, the UK unemployment rate fell to 6.4%, its lowest level since 2008.

Tencent tries to upstage Alibaba. The Chinese internet giant is due to announce a billion users for its popular WeChat and QQ messaging services when it releases quarterly results, in an attempt to steal Alibaba’s pre-IPO thunder.

A boost for US shopping. July retail sales are expected to post a 0.2% month-on-month rise and retailer Macy’s should report a jump in profit, which would represent much-needed good news from the US consumer.

Quarterly results for tractors and Ebola drugs. Also due to report is Deere & Co, the world’s biggest maker of agricultural, forestry, and construction equipment, along with Canadian drugmaker Tekmira, which is developing an experimental drug to treat Ebola.

The Israel-Hamas ceasefire ends at midnight (5pm ET). The two sides, aided by Egyptian negotiators, have not yet been able to agree on a long-term truce.

While you were sleeping

The US stepped up its fight against ISIL. The Obama administration is mulling a rescue mission for thousands of stranded Yazidi refugees, who are besieged by the extremists. The US also sent an additional 130 military personnel to the Iraqi Kurdish capital, Erbil.

Bad news for Abenomics… Japan’s economy shrunk by the most since 2011, contracting by 6.8% on an annualized basis due to a sales tax increase. The decline casts doubt (paywall) on whether prime minister Shinzo Abe’s stimulus-heavy policies can revive Japan’s economy.

…And for China… Industrial output and retails sales figures showed the economy slowed slightly in July, which will make it more difficult to reach the government’s 7.5% annual growth target.

…And the euro zone. Industrial production was down by a worse-than-expected 0.3% in June—the latest in a series of grim data points as the bloc struggles to break free from years of economic malaise. Uncertainty caused by the Ukraine crisis also caused the German ZEW indicator of economic sentiment to fall sharply

India’s inflation spiked. The consumer-price index rose nearly 8% in July from the previous year, putting more pressure on the central bank to keep interest rates high. Lower-than-normal monsoon rains are threatening to make inflation even worse.

Ukraine and Russia quarreled over aid. Kiev vowed to block a Russian aid convoy due to fears that Moscow will use the shipment to prop up pro-Russian separatists. The convoy of nearly 300 unmarked white trucks could reach the border Wednesday night local time (paywall).

An Iranian woman won math’s top prize. Maryam Mirzakhani is the first woman to win the Fields Medal, considered the equivalent of mathematics’ equivalent of the Nobel Prize.

Quartz obsession interlude

Leo Mirani on how Indians will soon outnumber Americans on the internet. “A flood of cheap smartphones in the market is encouraging rapid internet adoption. According to Kunal Bahl, who runs Snapdeal, one of India’s largest e-commerce sites, 60% of people who buy a mobile phone from his website have never bought a phone before. They’re mainly gravitating toward smartphones like this one, which runs Android 4.4 and costs $50 (and currently is sold out). Everybody from Google to Xiaomi is rushing into the market.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Brain-training won’t make your kids smarter. The programs make big promises, but they’re a waste of time.

Marathons are a gender parable. Men rush to the finish line, while women pace themselves.

World of Warcraft can be a resume booster. Organizing large-scale virtual raids demonstrates enhanced leadership abilities (paywall).

Don’t let your kids grow up to be farmers. The median US farm income is negative $1,453.

Surprising discoveries

Artists, not terrorists, swapped the Brooklyn Bridge flags. It was an homage to German-born bridge engineer John Roebling.

There’s something cuter than a baby panda. A Chinese zoo announced the arrival of the world’s first surviving panda triplets.

Why you can’t catch your own typos. The brain misses tiny errors when it’s focused on more complex mattters.

A 400-year-old fruit stacking conundrum has been solvedJohannes Kepler was right all along.

Pittsburgh’s airport is primed for fracking. It’s sitting on enough natural gas to power the state of Pennsylvania for a year and a half (paywall).

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, baby panda pajamas sets, and Daily Brief typos (not “mattters,” that was a joke) to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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