Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—HSBC’s earnings smash, Greece stocks plummet, Trump’s foreign labor

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What to watch for today

John Kerry meets with Gulf leaders to discuss the Iran deal. The US secretary of state will continue his tour of the Middle East in Doha to brief the Gulf Cooperation Council, answer questions, and allay fears that the deal has Iran coming out ahead.

Barack Obama unveils tough new climate rules. The final version of the US president’s Clean Power Plan will require US power plants to reduce carbon emissions by 32%, from 2005 levels, by 2030. The Obama administration shared a flashy video on Facebook laying out the president’s climate change vision.

Greece’s stock market is open again—and it’s not going well. After five weeks of closure due to capital controls in the run-up to negotiating a third bailout, Athens’ main index fell 22.9% in early trading. The nation’s four biggest lenders each fell by the maximum 30%, but authorities suggested the market might yet improve following its initial plummet.

Major insurers report results. Analysts expect AIG to detail another decline in earnings, with some likely to look out for clues about potential consolidation plans. But AllState is expected to report bumper results, after beating expectations for the past eight consecutive quarters.

Over the weekend

HSBC smashed expectations. The London-based bank reported a first-half pre-tax profit of $13.6 billion, up 10% from a year earlier and far ahead of expectations of $12.5 billion. Results were boosted by individual Hong Kong investors taking advantage of China’s volatile stock market; HSBC also confirmed the sale of its Brazilian unit for $5.2 billion.

Puerto Rico: The Americas version of Greece? Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla said his government didn’t have the money to make a $58 million payment that was due Saturday, which will likely be considered a default by investors. Padilla has long warned that his government would be unable to repay the $72 billion it owes to creditors.

The euro zone’s manufacturing sector failed to accelerate… Markit’s Purchasing Managers’ Index for July was 52.4, signaling fairly strong expansion in the euro zone’s manufacturing sector, albeit slightly lower than June’s 52.5. A number above 50 marks expansion; France again contracted, at 49.6, while Greece fell to a record-low 30.

…and China’s shrank the most in two years. The final Caixin/Markit PMI for July dropped to 47.8 from 49.4 in June, signaling greater contraction in activity. Analysts believe the stock market correction may have led to the sharp slowdown in economic activity.

German auto makers bought Nokia’s mapping technology. Daimler, BMW, and Audi agreed to pay almost €2.9 billion ($3.2 billion) for Here, the Finnish company’s smart mapping technology, according to Reuters. Smart maps are expected to become crucial as self-driving cars challenge the auto market.

The wing flap on Reunion was confirmed to be part of a Boeing 777. Malaysian authorities confirmed the part, discovered last week in the Indian Ocean, is from the same model as the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which went missing last year. Authorities dismissed speculation that another object that washed ashore was an aircraft door.

Canada’s prime minister called an October election. Stephen Harper and his Conservative Party will fight to extend its rule after almost a decade in power. The October 19 election will arrive amid disappointing economic performance and questions over government ethics.

Quartz obsession interlude

Jake Flanagin suggests a radical change to the Olympics as we know them. “With the privilege of hosting comes responsibilities—governments must invest large sums of money to build up infrastructure in a short period of time. And in places without reliable systems in place to ensure development is pursued ethically, it’s ordinary citizens that suffer most… The quick solution? Do away with host cities altogether.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Singapore can—and should—save democracy. Democracy is failing globally, but the city-state could fix it for all of us.

Millennials didn’t invent living with their parents. Historically, we believed doing so was best for everyone.

The US is an “oligarchy with unlimited political bribery.” So says former president Jimmy Carter.

Ethical questions shouldn’t get in the way of medical advances. Why stop research because of fears over a future we can’t predict?

Surprising discoveries

The International Space Station made a rare transit in front of the moon. It was visible for just 0.82 seconds—but long enough for this picture.

Donald Trump’s companies applied for more than 1,000 foreign-worker visas. The anti-immigration US presidential candidate has hired hundreds of foreign cooks, vineyard staff, and models.

Microsoft is giving away Windows 10 but charging for ad-free Solitaire. It’ll cost $9.99 per year to play undistracted.

US schools are still segregated. A Missouri law inadvertently allowed students to transfer out of integrated school districts into whiter ones.

A Chinese distiller is being investigated for allegedly adding Viagra to its liquor. The alcohol was marketed for its health benefits.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Viagra cocktail recipes, and what Angela Merkel would do about Puerto Rico to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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