China retaliates, US stocks tank, coffee placebo effect

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Mike Pompeo meets with Vladimir Putin. After a delay to meet with European leaders, the US secretary of state is due to discuss arms control, election interference, and Iran with Russia’s president. Ukraine, Venezuela, and North Korea will reportedly round out the agenda.

 Brazil’s president visits Dallas. Jair Bolsonaro will speak to a chapter of the World Affairs Councils of America, after a higher profile visit to New York was cancelled due to criticism from human rights groups.

The Cannes Film Festival begins. The prestigious French cinema showcase will feature new films from heavyweights including Quentin Tarantino and Pedro Almodóvar, though it is already being criticized for featuring only four films (out of 21) with female directors.

While you were sleeping

US stocks tanked after China’s retaliatory tariff hikes. Beijing said it would apply duties of up to 25% on more than 5,000 US products worth $60 billion. US stocks suffered their worst day in more than four months: The S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 2.4%, and the Nasdaq Composite plunged 3.4%.

The Chinese owner of Grindr said it would sell the app under US pressure. Beijing Kunlun Tech said it reached an agreement with the US government to sell the gay dating app by June 30, 2020. Until then the company agreed not to access users’ personal information, due to fears the information could be used to undermine US national security.

The US supreme court allowed a class action lawsuit against Apple to proceed. iPhone buyers are suing the company for monopolistic practices in the App Store, arguing that consumers have overpaid by “hundreds of millions of dollars” since Apple offers no other way of loading software onto smartphones. A court ruling in their favor could result in huge fines and and an overhaul of the App Store.

Uber plummeted on its second day of trading. It only got worse after the company’s lackluster IPO, as shares fell more than 10% for a valuation of $62 billion—a far cry from its $100 million target. In an email to staff, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said: “There are many versions of our future that are highly profitable and valuable, and there are of course some that are less so.”

A California court hit Bayer with a $2 billion weedkiller verdict. The jury ruled in favor of a couple who blamed the company’s Roundup product for giving them cancer. Two previous Roundup trials contributed to a 30% drop in the German petrochemical giant’s stock price.

Quartz Obsession

Staplers: Holding it together for over a century. Even in increasingly paperless offices, staplers are still a big business. There are artisan stapler-makers that will set you up with something cute or brawny—or there’s Swingline, the market leader, which has its own pop culture cachet from the 1999 cult classic “Office Space.” We’ve collated everything you need to know in today’s Quartz Obsession.


Today we begin our field guide on Boeing’s 737-Max crisis. It’s possible that Boeing weathers the storm and the status quo prevails. However, if the Boeing Max crisis precipitates a more fundamental industry disruption, imagining what comes next is nothing short of existential for the state of modern aviation.

Matters of debate

Join the conversation with the new Quartz app!

A “sex strike” won’t erase punitive abortion laws. A recent proposal is well-intentioned, but rooted in antiquated ideas about female sexuality.

University presses shouldn’t have to make money. Their goal should be solely to spread knowledge.

Sunscreen is better in Europe. American lotion is goopier, greasier, and less protective than the stuff across the pond.

Surprising discoveries

Just thinking about coffee can help you focus. The effect only works for people who associate coffee with alertness, ambition, and productivity.

At the ocean’s deepest depths, researchers found a plastic bag. A submarine expedition to the bottom of the Mariana Trench also discovered several plastic candy wrappers.

Self-cloning crayfish are conquering Europe. Crayfish that mutated into existence just 25 years ago now numbers in the millions.

A notoriously stinky fruit forced the evacuation of an Australian library. Authorities feared a gas leak, but the real culprit was a durian.

The worldwide helium shortage is no laughing matter. The gas is a crucial element in medical devices and chemical research.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, stinky fruit, and helium stockpiles to Join the next chapter of Quartz by downloading our app and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was written and edited by Steve Mollman and Holly Ojalvo.