Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Greece starts payback, Norway’s GDP shrinks, porpoises in London

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What to watch for today

Tensions rise in North and South Korea. The authoritarian North fired shots across the border, believed to be aimed at loudspeakers on the South Korean side of the border that have been airing anti-Pyongyang propaganda. South Korea fired back.

Greece began its payback process. The country triggered a process to pay €3.2 billion ($3.56 billion) that it owes to the European Central Bank. ”The payment was made, the funds are on their way,” a Greek government official told Reuters. A $95-billion bailout package was approved yesterday by the euro zone’s finance ministers.

Pacific typhoons gain strength. Goni and Atsani are on track to reach super-typhoon status, with winds stronger than 150 mph (240 kmh). Goni is nearing the Philippines and Taiwan and could potentially hit the Korean Peninsula and Japan’s Ryuku Islands. Atsani may also make landfall in Japan.

Hewlett-Packard leads earnings. The company reports quarterly results ahead of a Nov. 1 split into two businesses—one focused on PCs and printing, the other on business systems and software. Sales and earnings are expected to be down, and the company’s shares have slumped 17% in the last three months. Gap,, China Mobile, and Intuit also report results.

While you were sleeping 

Chinese business sentiment soared. The MNI China Business Indicator jumped 17% in August to 57.1, a 12-month high (paywall). New orders and production rebounded to their highest levels of the year. But the surveys upon which the score is based were conducted just before Beijing devalued the yuan, so it’s unclear whether the jump will be sustained.

Norway’s economy was hit hard by weak oil prices. The  Scandinavian country’s GDP contracted by 0.1% in the three months to June, after growing a revised-down 0.1% in the previous quarter, due to the continued low price of oil, which is beginning to hit house prices in Stavanger—Norway’s Houston (paywall). Excluding oil and gas, Norway grew 0.2%, after expanding a revised 0.3% in the first quarter.

The Chinese yuan won’t be a reserve currency for at least another year. The International Monetary Fund’s executive board approved an extension of the current basket of reserve currencies until September 2016. The decision comes just one week after China devalued the yuan, in part to improve its chances of being in the IMF basket.

Qantas returned to profit. Australia’s national carrier has reported a return to full-year profit, with an underlying pre-tax gain of A$975 million ($717 million), compared with a loss of A$646 million a year ago. Low fuel prices and tough cost-cutting measures helped. The company also placed an order for eight Boeing Dreamliners.

Quartz obsession interlude

Josh Horwitz on how China’s smartphone companies plan to actually make money. ”OnePlus and Xiaomi are betting on an untested business model. They both aim to sell handsets for almost no profit, to gain market share and edge out competitors like Samsung. After that, they hope to earn the bulk of their profits off of other things they sell to these smartphone users.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The Ashley Madison data leak is none of your business. Here’s how to behave around affected work colleagues.

CEOs are often the last to know about employee grievances. Work culture isn’t what you intend, it’s what you actually do.

Myanmar needs the world’s support. The nation is close to resolving its long-running conflicts with armed ethnic groups.

You can support animal rights and still eat meat. But it may require eating animals that die of natural causes.

Choosing a career in engineering doesn’t mean giving up on your artistic side. There is plenty of poetry in technology.

Surprising discoveries

There’s an incredibly easy fix for tasteless supermarket tomatoes. They should be dipped in warm water.

Dead 50 years ago, the Thames river is again full of wildlife. Seals and porpoises have been spotted venturing into central London.

The most common crop in America is also the most useless. It’s the grass growing on front lawns.

Japan has too many 100-year-old citizens. The government had to stop buying them all presents because of the increasing cost.

India has the world’s first solar-powered airport. The facility in Cochin is powered by 45 acres of solar panels. 

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, flavorful tomatoes, and gifts for Japanese centenarians to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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