Good morning, Quartz readers!
What to watch for today
The Bank of Japan interest rate decision. The central bank is expected to make no changes on policy, and focus more on its growth and inflation forecasts. It has consistently lowered inflation forecasts since 2014 as Abenomics has fallen short of expectations.
The European Central Bank meets. The ECB is expected to reduce its bond-buying program in September. In the meantime, it’s expected to hold interest rates steady.
Microsoft releases its quarterly earnings. The tech giant is expected to announce major layoffs as it reorganizes its sales staff to focus on its growing cloud computing business.
While you were sleeping
Trump ended a covert CIA operation in Syria. The Obama-era program to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels in the fight against Bashar al-Assad was questionably effective (paywall). But the move raised eyebrows in light of the scrutiny over Trump’s relationship with Russia, which fiercely opposed the initiative.
Morgan Stanley excelled as Amex floundered. For the second straight quarter, Morgan Stanley came out ahead of its rival Goldman Sachs, boasting a better-than-expected quarterly profit of $1.76 billion (paywall) on strong trading revenue. Separately, American Express posted a 36% decrease in quarterly profit after losing an exclusive partnership with Costco.
US-China economic talks didn’t exactly go as planned. Delegates from both countries canceled news conferences without explanation. Earlier in the day, US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and other Trump administration officials demanded a “more fair” trade relationship.
French armed forces chief Pierre de Villiers resigned. De Villiers stepped down after butting heads with president Emmanuel Macron over proposed defense budget cuts that would reduce military spending by €850 million ($980 million) in an effort to better manage state spending.
The US Supreme Court issued a split decision on Trump’s travel ban. It upheld a lower court’s ruling to allow grandparents and other relatives (paywall) from six majority-Muslim countries, but tightened restrictions on refugees.
Quartz obsession interlude
Ephrat Livni on how the American legal system helped define the hot dog. “The differences between a hot dog and a sausage, say the cognoscenti, are the production process and flavors. ….Hot dogs are a subset of the sausage but the meat used for franks are ground finer and emulsified. Hot dog recipes tend to use far fewer spices than other sausages.” Read more here.
The dark clouds forming / Over US-China talks / Sharpens taste for steel
Matters of debate
Withdrawing from NAFTA will kill 50,000 US jobs. Imposing taxes and tariffs on imports made in Mexico will handicap US automakers.
Hawaii is not just an “escape.” Self-centered travel essays are problematic, especially when they’re about places with a history of colonialism.
Don’t mandate paid parental leave. The US doesn’t need another middle-class entitlement that would harm low-income workers.
A 9-year-old discovered a million-year-old fossil. He tripped on a hike in New Mexico, landing face to face with the tusk of an ancient “elephantine creature” (paywall).
Hip-hop has overtaken rock as the dominant US music genre. The rise of streaming has reshaped the charts.
A British cheesemaker is offering a cash reward for the return of a stolen chunk of cheese. It happened near the village of Cheddar.
815 companies are lined up to join Canada’s marijuana market. With legalization on the 2018 agenda, growers are crossing their fingers for a weed shortage.
A woman invented a house that was “basically a gigantic dishwasher.” Frances Gabe, who patented and built the self-cleaning home, died in December at 101 (paywall).
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