Good morning, Quartz readers!
What to watch for today
Bank of America and Goldman Sachs report second-quarter earnings. Trading revenue is expected to be weak (paywall) due to low market volatility in the quarter, following the pattern set by other banks that announced earnings last week.
Results for defense, computer, and pharma companies are on tap. Industry bellwether Lockheed Martin recently benefitted from the US arms deal with Saudi Arabia and a bigger fiscal 2018 budget. IBM is expected to post another revenue decline. Pharma giant Johnson & Johnson is in robust health after its $30 billion purchase of Swiss biotech company Actelion.
The UK unveils its Jane Austen £10 note. The polymer note will be revealed by Bank of England governor Mark Carney on the 200th anniversary of the writer’s death. Besides the queen, Austen is the only woman pictured on an English bank note.
While you were sleeping
The Republican health-care bill is dead in the water. The announcement by Mike Lee of Utah and Jerry Moran of Kansas that they won’t support the bill leaves it two votes short of passing. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called for a Senate vote in the coming days to repeal Obamacare altogether without a replacement. Donald Trump on Twitter also backed a repeal of Obamacare and a “clean slate” start.
Britain’s inflation rate dropped to 2.6% in June. That’s down from 2.9% in May, but still leaves Brits feeling pinched as basic wages are rising by 2%. The decline in sterling’s value continues to hurt UK consumers, although the pound briefly hit a 10-month high (paywall) against the US dollar on Tuesday morning, edging to $1.3126 for the first time since September 2016, before falling again.
Flipkart sweetened its buyout bid for Snapdeal. Indian e-commerce giant Flipkart upped its offer for its smaller rival to $950 million from $850 million. A merger between India’s two biggest e-commerce players could help them stave off competition from Amazon, which is investing $5 billion in the market.
Ericsson’s lame results upped investor pressure. The Swedish network-equipment company’s sales fell 8% in the second quarter—as did its share price (paywall) on the news. Activist investor Christer Gardell is demanding the company radically cut costs. The outlook is poor: CEO Borje Ekholm said the market for network gear is expected to slump this year.
The White House threatened Venezuela with sanctions. In a statement Monday evening, it called president Nicolás Maduro “a bad leader who dreams of becoming a dictator” and warned that if the ruling socialist party went ahead with its plan to rewrite the constitution to consolidate power then “strong and swift economic actions” (paywall) would follow. Over seven million Venezuelans voted against it in a non-binding referendum on Sunday.
Quartz obsession interlude
Manu Balachandran on a Mumbai-based company that makes toothpaste and soaps from cow dung. “The spotlight has never been so firmly on the cow in India. Since Narendra Modi took charge as prime minister in 2014, bovine-worship has assumed a distinctly menacing character. Several people, mostly non-Hindus, have been lynched for transporting cows and consuming beef.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Business leaders need to read more science fiction. The genre forces us to question our assumptions—the key to solving problems in creative ways.
Technology is setting us up for a training crisis. Repetition and apprenticeships are popular training strategies in many types of businesses with high automation potential.
The US opioid crisis is not unprecedented. A similar epidemic beset the country 150 years ago, and doctors solved it by prescribing less addictive painkillers.
There may be dangerous chemicals in powdered mac and cheese. Phthalates have been banned from some children’s products (paywall) for causing birth defects and behavioral problems.
Male writers of psychological thrillers are adopting gender-neutral pen names. Since women are the biggest consumers of books like Gone Girl, male authors don’t want (paywall) readers to doubt the authenticity of a book delivered by a female narrator.
Tofu was a luxury food in pre-modern Japan. The upper-class delicacy suddenly gained mass popularity in the mid-18th century.
An Australian senator resigned after discovering he was a Kiwi. Green party deputy leader Scott Ludlum is ineligible to serve with dual Australia-New Zealand citizenship.
A Chinese mall offers “husband storage” pods while wives shop. The free service includes a chair, monitor, computer, and retro 1990s games.
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