Quartz Weekend Brief—Burger King’s move, Yellen’s revolution, Motorola, Burning Man

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There are four Burger King restaurants in Grand Cayman. When you buy a Whopper there for a Cayman Island dollar, the company pockets all of it tax-free (after paying for the cows). Back in the United States, where Burger King was founded 60 years ago on the premise that beef could be rapidly cooked, the government expects some 35% of the profits. And if Burger King tried to bring home that money from the Caribbean, the US would take a third of that, too.

No wonder American corporations are keeping trillions of dollars in profits overseas, taking advantage of a glaring exception in US tax law. And no wonder Burger King decided this week to pack up its flame broilers and headquarter them somewhere else—in Ontario, Canada, home to another fast food chain, Tim Hortons, with which it intends to merge. The combined company won’t entirely avoid US taxes this way, but it will certainly pay less for its expansion outside North America.

Tax inversions were once a trick played by pharmaceutical companies. Now they are common enough to apply to burgers and doughnuts, too. They even come with the blessing of Warren Buffett, whose Berkshire Hathaway is providing $3 billion in financing for the deal. Politicians may call these deals unpatriotic, but no one has the temerity to stop them.

Clearly, the US needs to write some logic into its tax code. American companies avoid levies largely through loopholes of the country’s own making. Shares of Burger King and Tim Hortons both shot up after news of the merger leaked, which is how investors make clear that they want to see more of this. The US can just watch its corporations stash profits overseas and walk away entirely, or it can devise some rules and incentives to fix the problem. —Zachary M. Seward

Five things on Quartz we especially liked

An embargo hit list for Vladimir Putin. Russia needs the West more than the West needs Russia, but if Putin wants to inflict some financial pain on the rest of the world, Jason Karaian and David Yanofsky found some targets.

Janet Yellen, revolutionary. The Federal Reserve chair has very quietly convinced Wall Street to welcome wage growth, rather than see it as an inflationary red flag. Matt Phillips explained the significance of that shift.

The race to build the first mass-market electric car. Tesla and General Motors are both working on purely electric vehicles that travel 200 miles on a single charge but only cost about $35,000. Steve LeVine looked into which company might prevail. (John McDuling, meanwhile, took a Tesla Model S for a spin and came away even more impressed than he expected.)

How US cities wring money out of the poor. Ferguson, Missouri, isn’t alone in abusing its underclass. Gwynn Guilford examined how fines for minor offenses have become a growing portion of municipal revenue.

Job requirements are fiction. And you should ignore them. Max Nisen pointed out that job postings are aspirational but too often read literally.

Five things elsewhere that made us smarter

The Louisiana coastline is eroding. Climate change and oil drilling are sending much of that land into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening homes, seafood, and the American energy supply. ProPublica and The Lens conducted a stunning visual investigation.

Strangers in their own land. Eastern Ukranians fleeing to the west are being welcomed in Lviv, but the hospitality only extends so far. Annabelle Chapman visited the city for Foreign Policy and found troubling ethnic tension.

How Motorola ruined its culture. And nearly ruined the company in the process. Before Google swooped in (and dumped the company just as fast), Motorola fell victim to infighting, described in detail by Ted Fishman in Chicago magazine.

Inside a billionaire’s playa party pad at Burning Man. Recode’s Nellie Bowles got invited into Clear Channel CEO Bob Pittman’s giant, inflatable, spider-like structure in the desert of Nevada.

Sifting through the wreckage of an Austrian bank collapse. Enormous losses, criminal convictions, vanishing yachts carrying North Korean currency: Gabriele Steinhauser turned up stunning details (paywall) in the Wall Street Journal.

Our best wishes for a relaxing but thought-filled weekend. Please send any news, comments, tax inversions, and Burning Man photos to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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