Quartz Daily Brief—Europe and Africa edition—TTIP delayed, European banks downgraded, Apple’s privacy obsession, controversial currency

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

What to watch for today

The Bilderberg Group holds its annual conference. Global elites are gathering in Austria for a series of secretive meetings about international affairs. Don’t expect much news, unless an interloper makes it through security at the Interalpen-Hotel Tyrol.

Emirates defends its global expansion. The airline’s president Tim Clark speaks at an aviation industry luncheon in New York about a bitter trade spat between Gulf carriers and US airlines. The latter contend their Middle Eastern counterparts receive unfair government subsidies.

The US treasury releases its monthly budget report. A deficit of $98 billion is expected for the month of May. In April it recorded its biggest surplus in seven years.

Microsoft rolls out its gigantic new tablet. The touchscreen Surface Hub, which comes in 54- and 84-inch (137-213 cm) versions, was first unveiled in January, but details on pricing and availability come out today.

Krispy Kreme’s donut update. The chain is expected to post an 8.6% decline in quarterly profits as it battles rapidly expanding competitors like Starbucks and Dunkin’ Brands.

While you were sleeping

Europe delayed its vote on Obama’s trade deal. Lawmakers postponed indefinitely a vote on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, after failing to reach a compromise over controversial aspects of the agreement. The deal received over 200 amendments, suggesting it would fail in parliament, but some believe it will get a vote in the summer.

Standard & Poor’s downgraded UK and German banks. The ratings agency lowered its assessment of the operating units of Deutsche Bank, Barclays Bank, and Commerzbank, among others, as it said government support in a crisis was now “uncertain” (paywall). The downgrade is in response to an EU directive that saves taxpayer money from being used to bail out banks.

Barack Obama is “poised” to send more troops to Iraq. The US president is preparing to send around 500 military advisers to a new base in the ISIL-dominated Anbar province, according to the Wall Street Journal (paywall). Troops would train Iraqi forces to better fight the Islamic State, but could risk drawing the US into direct combat with the militants.

More good signs from Japan’s economy. Core machine orders rose 3.8% in April, a larger increase than the month before and much better than an expected decline (paywall). That will be well received by the central bank, which is struggling to raise inflation to 2%.

Australian consumer sentiment plunged. The Westpac index fell 6.9% in May to 95.3, its lowest since January and below the 100 mark, meaning pessimists outnumber optimists. The bad news could prick business confidence, which rose to a nine-month high in May.

The Texas policeman who pointed his gun at teenagers quit. Corporal Eric Casebolt resigned “on his own will” after he was filmed tackling a 15-year-old black girl at a pool party and aiming his gun at others. Hundreds demonstrated against Casebolt after the video was put online.

The Indian army clashed with insurgents on the Myanmar border. Days after rebels in the area ambushed Indian soldiers, killing 18 and injuring 14, the Indian army said it inflicted “significant casualties” on the rebels with help from the Myanmarese government.

Quartz obsession interlude

Leo Mirani on Apple’s new obsession with user privacy. “Apple, argues Apple, does not pass along your data to third parties or use it to profile you. It only uses it to make your services better. This is a seductive (and also probably reductive) argument, but it strikes at an undenial truth about the internet business in 2015: No company can hope to survive without access to user data.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

No one owns music anymore. Artists should rely on live listening experiences instead.

Vladimir Putin is not a Bond villain. Keep treating him like one, though, and that’s what he might become.

Organic farming is a goldmine. It is much more profitable than conventional farming.

The US for-profit university experiment has failed. And it continues to waste taxpayers’ money.

Africa has a secret economic history. Residents have not always been poor, and poverty is not inevitable.

Surprising discoveries

Belgium defied France to mint a coin to commemorate Waterloo. It will be worth €2.50.

A Chinese actress is being sued for her intense stare. A Shanghai TV viewer said it caused him “spiritual damage.”

Climate change is creating child brides in Bangladesh. Disaster-stricken families are marrying off girls as young as 10 years old.

Malaysia blamed naked hikers for a deadly earthquake. It arrested two people for “angering the mountain’s spirit.”

The creator of the best tabloid headline ever has died. Vinnie Musetto came up with “Headless Body in Topless Bar” for the New York Post.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, killer headlines, and anti-French coinage to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

Sign up for the Quartz Daily Brief here, tailored for morning delivery in Asia, Europe & Africa, and the Americas.