Quartz Daily Brief—Europe and Africa edition—LinkedIn disappoints, Coke’s European maneuvers, Spotify’s resilience, frightening sweaters

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What to watch for today and this weekend

Japan sits down with the IMF. The government attends a conference in Tokyo along with officials from the International Monetary Fund, which could get a bit awkward: The IMF recently warned prime minister Shinzo Abe that his “economic recovery was fragile and facing substantial risks.”

US energy companies struggle with cheap oil. Analysts expect lower quarterly revenues for Exxon Mobil and Chevron, due to low oil prices. The share prices of both companies have tumbled significantly this year.

The United Arab Emirates deregulates gasoline. On Saturday (Aug. 1), the UAE will be the first country in the Persian Gulf to remove transport-fuel subsidies. Prices are expected to jump, but the government says it will prevent inflation by clamping down on the prices of other consumer goods.

Puerto Rico’s debt payments are due. The US territory must deliver $58 million in so-called “moral obligation” bond payments on Saturday, but recent statements from government officials suggest that may not happen. Analysts say default could lead to a financial crisis (paywall) on the island.

While you were sleeping

LinkedIn’s earnings failed to impress. The company behind the social networking site for professionals reported a second-quarter net loss of $67.7 million, from a loss of $1 million a year earlier, despite a 33% rise in revenue. The loss, in part caused by LinkedIn’s acquisitions spree, turned off investors; the stock fell by 3.9%.

European Coca-Cola bottlers are in advanced merger talks. A merger between two independent bottlers and one Coca-Cola-owned business could increase efficiency and reduce costs for the fizzy drinks maker, according to the Wall Street Journal (paywall). Falling soda sales have prompted the beverage giant to offer new healthier options, which comes at a cost to smaller bottlers.

US economic growth missed expectations. Second-quarter GDP rose 2.3% from a year earlier, due mostly to a rise in exports and consumer spending. That was slightly lower than the 2.7% rate analysts expected, but was an improvement over the economy’s first-quarter slip.

Japan’s consumer prices crept upwards. Excluding food, they increased by 0.1% in June from a year earlier, despite a 2% drop in household spending. The 14th drop in 15 months presents a challenge to the central bank’s attempts to raise inflation levels to 2%; Japan’s jobless rate also ticked up in June from a multi-year low in May (paywall).

Taiwan’s GDP growth hit a three-year low. Second-quarter economic growth fell to just 0.6% from a year earlier, far below expectations of a 2.6% increase, and lower also than first-quarter growth. That drop was triggered by a manufacturing slowdown, as well as falling demand for electricity and gas.

Facebook unveiled its flying internet drone. The unmanned aircraft called Aquila is part of the social network’s elaborate plan to provide internet connectivity from the skies. Construction of the drone is complete, and Facebook will undertake a test flight in the US in the coming months.

Quartz obsession interlude

Dan Frommer on Spotify’s resilience after the debut of Apple Music. “So far, two things are clear: Apple Music was a bit rushed, and Spotify, the leading independent streaming service, is doing just fine… Of course, nobody knows the longer-term impact Apple Music will have on Spotify or the streaming market. Apple has more money, but Spotify may be too big to squash.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Warren Buffett is a feminist hero. He quietly funded a birth control revolution in the US.

Retire early, but don’t leave the working world completely. You’ll be happier if you remain working a little.

The US should treat all criminals like white-collar criminals. Job training and shorter sentences result in less recidivism.

US professional soccer is a retirement home for European stars. Call it the Beckham effect.

Black lives and lion lives both matter. They have one thing in common: They are denigrated by the wealthy.

Surprising discoveries

“Angry Birds” is still the most-purchased iOS app. It has topped Apple’s daily list of paid apps a record 311 times.

Uber complaints are increasingly handled in the Philippines. That’s a turnaround for a company that once took pride in having locals respond to issues.

Swedes have been calling the police to report ugly sweaters. The government is cracking down on silly emergency calls.

The end of invasive colonoscopies may be near. Scientists are developing x-ray pills that can be swallowed, instead.

Your typing tempo is a dead giveaway. It creates a unique profile based on your keystroke patterns.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, ugly sweaters, and keystroke scramblers to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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