What to watch for today
The Fed releases its minutes. An account from the central bank’s July 28-29 meeting could offer new information about the timing of a long-anticipated increase in the benchmark US interest rate. The Labor Department will also report US consumer prices for July, which are likely to fall short of the Fed’s inflation goal.
Angela Merkel visits Brazil. The chancellor will push her hosts to grant German businesses better investment terms in the country during a two-day trip to Brasilia. Germany has 1,300 firms active in Brazil, and they have invested $21 billion into the country’s slumping economy.
Norway releases its investment returns. The country’s $871 billion sovereign wealth fund, which holds about 1% of all of the world’s stocks and bonds, recently announced it would divest from companies involved in palm oil plantations.
Japan launches a space cargo mission. The unmanned launch was initially delayed due to inclement weather in Japan. Kounotori (“white stork”) is scheduled to reach the International Space Station on Aug. 24, carrying 4.5 tons (4 tonnes) of supplies and research equipment.
US retailers continue to report their earnings. Target, Lowes, and Staples will post their quarterly results. Other earnings include: Cathay Pacific, Carlsberg, Swisscom, L Brands, and NetApp.
While you were sleeping
Some good news for the US economy. Despite weaker than-expected Wal-Mart results and concerns about China, strong earnings from Home Depot and US housing data suggest that consumers are spending like it’s 2006.
Chinese tech firm Tencent invested $50 million in a Canadian messaging app. The latest funding round for Kik gives the company an implied valuation of about $1 billion. Kik CEO Ted Livingston said the company wants to become as ubiquitous in the West as Tencent’s dominant messaging app, WeChat/Weixin, is in China.
Thai police released video footage of a Bangkok bombing suspect. The man, wearing a yellow T-shirt, can be seen leaving a backpack at a shrine in a busy Bangkok shopping district where an explosion killed at least 22 people. In a second attack on Tuesday, an explosive was thrown from a Bangkok pier. The government said the attacks were specifically intended to hurt the country’s economy, and hinted that its political opponents were involved.
A record number of migrants entered the EU in July. Newly released data showed that 110,000 migrants came into Europe last month, many of them Syrians coming to Greek islands from Turkey. Nearly 340,000 migrants have arrived at the borders of EU nations so far this year—marking a 175 percent rise from the same period in 2014.
US regulators joined a German investigation of Ford. The US Securities and Exchange Commission will help German investigators looking into alleged bribes by Ford and DB Schenker—the freight business of state-owned rail company Deutsche Bahn—to speed up the passage of joint containers through customs in Russia.
Quartz obsession interlude
Zheping Huang on how China’s untrained teenage firefighters make disasters like Tianjin worse: “China has a total of 113,110 contract firefighters, [who] reportedly don’t stay in the job long thanks to low payment, lack of promotion, and great danger. … It is still not clear how many of these contract workers were deployed to the blast site, but what is clear is they paid a heavy price.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
You won’t get the truth about World War Two from Japan. Shinzo Abe’s “apology” speech was targeted solely at his conservative domestic audience.
Yes, Amazon’s culture is terrible. The company’s single-minded focus and intensity does not extend to taking care of its employees.
It’s a great time to be a CEO. Corporations are doing well, despite doomsday scenarios.
Business travel is, in fact, terrible. Complaints from frequent flyers are backed by new research on “hypermobility.” (paywall)
Sex actually doesn’t sell. A new study finds that advertisements with sexual content are actually less effective.
The newest health fad is fat-infused water. It contains two grams of coconut oil and is said to taste like “liquid soap.”
Humans descended from the trees much earlier than we thought. The intel comes from a 1.8 million year-old pinky bone.
Chartreuse is the color of disruption. It is an an unavoidable color in startup offices.
An entrepreneurial farmer opened a fake bank in China. He hired his daughter as a fake teller.
IBM has built a rat brain on a computer chip. It has 48 million digital neurons.