Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—ECB and Greece, China’s record debt, Japan’s military boost, cheerleader salaries

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What to watch for today

Europe’s central bank considers its Greek life support. A decision by the ECB on whether to increase emergency liquidity assistance to prop up Greek banks in the aftermath of an agreement for a third bailout is due. Today is also the ECB’s regular meeting—no change is expected on interest rates nor quantitative easing measures.

Janet Yellen’s congressional testimony continues. The Federal Reserve chief heads to the Senate for round two of her semi-annual report on monetary policy. Yellen will reiterate her optimistic outlook for the economy and plans to raise rates.

Low expectations for Google’s earnings. The internet company’s second-quarter results are expected to suffer from a strong US dollar (around half its revenue is made overseas), the challenges presented by the shift to mobile, and from the investments Google is making to diversify. 

More earnings. Blackstone, Goldman Sachs, América Móvil, eBay, Mattel, and Citigroup are among those reporting results.

While you were sleeping

Greek lawmakers passed austerity laws. Measures insisted upon by creditors were passed after a marathon session of parliament, enabling the country to acquire up to €86 billion ($94 billion) in bailout funds. Dozens of prime minister Alexis Tsipras’s party voted against the new laws, while some protestors hurled petrol bombs (paywall) at the parliament building. German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said a temporary Grexit might still be a good idea.

Japan passed two pro-military bills. The lower house of parliament approved bills that would allow Japan’s military to fight overseas for the first time since the end of the World War II. Most believe the upper house will approve the bills, despite public opposition.

The euro zone avoided deflation. Consumer prices rose 0.2% in June from a year earlier (paywall), the second consecutive positive reading, but still lower than May’s 0.3% rise. The biggest increase in spending was in restaurants.

Carrefour posted Brazilian growth and Chinese declines. The world’s second-largest retailer after Wal-Mart reported second-quarter sales of €21.4 billion ($23.4 billion), slightly above expectations. More competition in Europe drove sales growth lower and in China, it fell by 12.3%; those falls were offset largely by growth in Brazil.

China’s debt levels reached a record high. Outstanding loans reached 207% of GDP in June, up from 125% in 2008. The figure, which covers business loans and household borrowing, rose 12% in June compared with a year earlier—far faster than China’s 7% rise in GDP.

Europe’s car sales rose the most in more than five years. Registrations were 1.4 million in June, up 15% compared with a year earlier. The biggest jump since governments offered incentives to buy new cars in 2009 came on the back of a long growth stretch in the euro zone and low unemployment in the UK; analysts predict a 6% increase in sales this year.

Quartz obsession interlude

Lily Kuo on how North Carolina’s odorous pork industry is driven by Chinese demand. “An acrid odor of rotting eggs fills her yard at least twice a week and occasionally her home, giving her nausea and on some occasions causing her to vomit. All she can do is wait until it passes or ask her son who lives next door to drive her to the nearby Walmart where she paces the aisles until her breathing returns to normal.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The euro zone will fudge its way out of trouble. When it comes to the Greek debt crisis, don’t underestimate Europe’s endless capacity for compromise.

Success is a zero-sum game. Coming in second only makes you the first loser.

Just how good is “To Kill A Mockingbird?” Atticus Finch is certainly no role model, for starters.

Nobody can clean up Reddit. The message board will always be dominated by a malignant group of overwhelmingly male adolescents and adolescent wannabes.

Motherhood is a lonelier undertaking than ever. The gains of working mothers have made things even worse.

Surprising discoveries

There are “truthers” who think NASA faked pictures of Pluto. Others believe NASA is censoring pictures of buildings on Pluto.

Seaweed can stand in for bacon. Scientists have patented a protein-packed strain of algae that they say tastes great with eggs.

One Chinese company gives employees regular breaks from smiling. It allows people to wear a mask to work, supposedly to relieve social pressure.

Funeral homes are high-risk workplaces. Exposure to formaldehyde makes employees prone to a deadly neurodegenerative disease.

California cheerleaders can now receive minimum wage. A new law designates them as “employees” under labor regulations.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, smile masks, and pictures of the Monolith on Pluto to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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