Quartz Daily Brief—Europe and Africa edition—Currency wars, Tencent’s Canadian investment, fat water

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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 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.

Japan launches a space cargo mission. The unmanned launch was initially delayed due to inclement weather. Kounotori (“white stork”) is now scheduled to reach the International Space Station on Aug. 24, carrying 4.5 tons (4 tonnes) of supplies and research equipment.

More earnings. Target, Lowes, and Staples will post their quarterly results. So will Cathay Pacific, Carlsberg, Swisscom, L Brands, and NetApp.

While you were sleeping 

Tencent invested $50 million in a Canadian messaging app. In doing so, the Chinese internet company valued Kik at 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.

Vietnam devalued its currency. The central bank announced that it has devalued the dong by 1%—its third devaluation this year—by moving its reference rate to 21,890 to the dollar. That comes just a week after China gave markets a greater impact on its currency valuation, leading some to suggest a currency war could break out.

US authorities approved the “female viagra” drug. The Food and Drug Administration voted to approve Flibanserin (paywall). Owned by Sprout Pharmaceuticals, it’s the first treatment for sexual desire disorder in women.

Japan’s exports beat estimates. Shipments rose by 7.6% in July from a year earlier, higher than the expected 5.5%. But they were still lower than last year’s 9.5% rise, due in part to less demand for cars and electronics in Asia. That could mean more stimulus measures are required for Japan to achieve its goal of 2% inflation.

A round of good news for the US economy. Despite weaker-than-expected Wal-Mart results and concerns about ripples from China’s faltering economy, strong Home Depot earnings and US housing data suggest that Americans are spending like it’s 2006.

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

Don’t believe the pushback, Amazon’s culture is terrible. So says the spouse of a former employee.

Emerging Asia is learning it can’t just rely on China. A decade of lazily riding China’s growth is coming to an end.

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 (paywall) on the ill effects of “hypermobility.”

Surprising discoveries

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 pinky bone that dates back 1.8 million years.

Sex doesn’t sell. A new study finds that advertisements with sexual content are less effective.

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.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, rat-brain chips, and fat water to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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