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Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Obama in Ethiopia, China’s stock rout, pharma deals, pee-repelling paint

  • Quartz
By Quartz

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

What to watch for today

Spillover from China’s market rout. Instead of stabilizing the country’s volatile stock markets, it seems like the Chinese government’s heavy-handed stimulus measures are spooking investors. The Shanghai Composite plunged by 8.5% today, dragging down European markets in morning trading.

Obama discusses “plan B” for South Sudan. The US president visits Ethiopia for the second leg of his African tour, where he will sit down with African leaders to discuss potential sanctions if South Sudan’s warring factions don’t agree on a peace deal. Fighting in the world’s youngest country has killed thousands and displaced millions of people.

Baidu’s mobile report card. The Chinese internet giant has been trying to make the switch to mobile apps as consumers desert desktop search, where Baidu is dominant. But the company, which reports quarterly earnings after US markets close, has struggled to generate revenue from mobile users.

Over the weekend

Pharma consolidation picked up speed. Israel’s Teva Pharmaceuticals confirmed the acquisition of Allergan’s generic-drug business for $40.5 billion. As a result, Teva will end its pursuit of Mylan, which is in turn trying to buy Perrigo.

UBS reported early. The bank, which reported earnings a day early to address a leaked report over the weekend, said profits were up 53% in the second quarter, to 1.2 billion Swiss francs ($1.25 billion). Last year’s second-quarter results included a $300 million charge to settle complaints the bank was helping clients dodge taxes.

A Chinese VC opened a $5 billion war chest. GSR Ventures announced a new fund devoted to buying up Western tech, internet, and biotech companies that need to crack the Chinese market. GSR was an early investor in China’s Didi Dache, which holds a substantial lead over Uber on the mainland.

Pearson is trying to sell the Economist. Days after its $1.3 billion sale of the Financial Times, Pearson is also looking to offload its 50% stake in the Economist Group. But the other half is held by a byzantine tangle of individual shareholders, including the Rothschild, Cadbury, and Agnelli families, and nothing can happen without the say-so of a group of independent trustees.

Egypt tested out Suez Canal 2.0. Several cargo ships passed through the new $8.5 billion, 44-mile-long waterway, which can accommodate larger vessels and two-way traffic, ahead of its official opening next month. Security was tight, as the route passes through territory controlled by Islamic militants.

Fiat Chrysler got a record fine for bungling recalls. The automaker was hit with a $105-million penalty by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Its misdeeds include obstructing regulators, making inadequate repairs, and failing to notify car owners in a timely manner—and that’s before it recalled 1.4 million cars that were vulnerable to being hacked over the internet.

Quartz obsession interlude

Gideon Lichfield imagines an Amazon-esque warehouse in about 20 years: “The two pairs of pickers stood motionless, about 20 feet apart with him in the middle, their arms by their sides like an inscrutable honor guard. He stared at them; despite their utterly machine-like appearance, he could almost feel his mind scrabbling to detect faces in their weird, insectile combinations of camera-eyes, anything it could latch on to so he could try to guess their intentions.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

A LinkedIn for sports could replace agents. But don’t expect to discover the next LeBron James.

Advanced math is a lot like jazz. A former prodigy says solving problems is more like practicing scales.

Africa’s love for Obama goes beyond family. He is not just a patron, but a partner.

San Francisco’s progressives made a housing crisis worse. A development ban had unintended consequences.

Stretch limos are a safety hazard. They promise luxury, but lack modern features like passenger airbags.

Surprising discoveries

Twitter is taking down copycat tweets on copyright grounds. Stolen jokes have been deleted. 

You can airlift a cow some water, but… Drought-stricken livestock in Switzerland are turning up their noses (link in French) at water delivered via helicopter.

Airbnb now offers vans down by the river. RVs in Queens, New York go for as little as $22 a night.

San Francisco walls can defend themselves against urinators. A special paint enables a “splash-back” effect.

Your musical preference says a lot about you. “Empathizers” tend to like mellow artists such as Norah Jones.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, stolen tweets, and smooth-jazz playlists to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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