Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—HSBC’s job cuts, more MERS cases, China’s cotton, gallons of lube

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What to watch for today

Where will HSBC base its headquarters? The bank gives its investors an update in which it is expected to say whether it will keep its HQ in the UK, where it faces higher taxes, or move it elsewhere. Earlier today, it announced 25,000 job cuts (more on this later).

The FDA decides on cholesterol drugs. Advisers to the American food and drug regulator will decide whether to recommend two strong anti-cholesterol drugs this week, starting with Sanofi today.

Lululemon reports earnings. The Canadian yoga-wear maker has tried to expand its customer base to young girls and men, in an attempt to overcome a major recall in 2013. Today’s earnings will show how well that’s going.

General Motors holds its annual meeting.  Investors will hear about the company’s plans to bolster investments, and vote on a proposal to change the leadership structure. On Monday, two more claims against the company regarding deaths related to faulty ignition switches were approved, bringing the total to 111.

Will MSCI give China stocks a seal of approval? The influential stock index provider decides whether to include mainland Chinese stock markets in its emerging markets index. Should it lend its reputation to the stocks, expect a rush on Chinese blue chips.

While you were sleeping

HSBC axed 25,000 jobs. The (currently) UK-based bank said 8,000 British workers would be included in the cull, which is part of a plan to cut costs by $5 billion within two years. HSBC will also sell off Turkish and Brazilian businesses, while increasing investment in Asia.

Greece’s prime minister sounded conciliatory. Alexis Tsipras said a deal with international creditors could be possible if an agreement was made that pensions would not have to be cut. Tsipras believes Greece is “very close” to a deal.

Fiat Chrysler stepped up its General Motors merger attempt. CEO Sergio Marchionne contacted activist investors to persuade General Motors to agree to a tie-up between the two companies, according to the Wall Street Journal (paywall). Marchionne believes the auto industry needs to consolidate to manage the investments required to develop cleaner vehicles.

Another MERS death in South Korea. The death toll from the respiratory disease climbed to seven and eight new cases were announced—a day after the country’s health minister suggested the spread of the disease might peak. Thousands remain in quarantine, schools are closed, and Hong Kong has warned citizens not to travel there; concern is beginning to focus on the threat to the country’s economy.

More deflationary pressure in China. Consumer prices rose 1.2% in May from a year earlier, lower than April’s 1.5% increase and short of expectations. Factory gate prices fell 4.6%, extending a near 40-month stretch of declines.

Australian business confidence got a boost. National Australia Bank’s gauge rose four points to +7 in May, a nine-month high, on record-low interest rates and confidence around the government’s new budget. But the NAB warned that the domestic economy is still threatened by a slowing mining industry.

Quartz obsession interlude

Marc Bain on the US-China polyester wars.“Those polyester pants on the rack at the fashion chain down the street may owe their existence to China’s nefarious manipulation of the world’s cotton supply.” Read more here. 

Matters of debate

Greece is at risk of losing control of its narrative. Confrontations with the IMF threaten to hijack the ongoing bailout drama.

We’re all guilty of climate change denial. We’re hardwired to forget about existential threats.

US politics needs more like Joe Biden. The vice president is “at heart a salesman” (paywall) and his skills at backroom politics need to come back into fashion.

Republicans are tying themselves in knots by calling the pope a Communist. They are suggesting the pontiff is un-Christian, when the reverse is likely truer.

You’re probably swimming wrong. If it doesn’t feel like “weightless gliding,” you almost certainly are.

Surprising discoveries

Scientists finally figured out why Greenland’s lakes disappear. It’s because ice behaves like Silly Putty.

Hong Kong has a wild boar problem. They’re growing in number—one crashed into a children’s clothing store and bit a mannequin.

You can eat tortillas in space. An astronaut explains it’s not all about freeze-dried food.

Apple removed a “50 gallon drum of lube.” An image of the phrase from a handwritten list in a presentation from its WWDC event was taken down.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, space tortillas, and examples of “weightless gliding” to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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