Good morning, Quartz readers!
What to watch for today
The US and China try again. Trade representatives from both nations resume talks in a two-day meeting in Shanghai. Neither side is expecting much to come of the discussion: China is waiting to see how the US will handle Huawei and whether US president Donald Trump looks likely to be reelected in 2020.
The Bank of Japan convenes. In another waiting game, the nation’s central bank is expected to hold off on policy changes until the US Federal Reserve announces its interest rate decision on Wednesday, but will release its quarterly outlook.
Apple, Huawei, and Sony check in. Apple’s up against a rough quarter as it attempts to find a way to make up for slowing iPhone sales. Huawei will post first-half results, buoyed—despite US bans—by a growing Chinese user base. Sony and Samsung also report, as do Pfizer, Bayer, Procter & Gamble, Kellogg, Ralph Lauren, Fitbit, and Grubhub.
While you were sleeping
Pfizer and Mylan joined forces. Both pharmaceutical firms had hit setbacks as their heavy-hitting drugs started facing competition, but hope that a new company—consisting of Pfizer’s off-patent drugs alongside Mylan’s—will put growth back on track.
Boris Johnson gave an ultimatum. The newly minted British prime minister said he would not meet with EU leaders unless they agreed to strike the Irish backstop from the Brexit agreement. The backstop prevents a hard border on the Irish island, and so far, EU officials have been unwilling to negotiate its dismissal.
Ethiopia planted 360 million trees in one day. The country says it has broken the world tree-planting record under an initiative by prime minister Abiy Ahmed to re-green a drought-beset land that’s seen an alarming drop in forestation.
The Gilroy Garlic Festival shooter has been identified. After making suspicious posts to social media, the 19-year-old allegedly cut a wire fence and entered the festival with a semiautomatic rifle he purchased legally in Nevada. Police are still investigating his motive and whether he had an accomplice, as some witnesses claim.
The market saw mixed messages. Both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq indexes were pulled down by a drop in Amazon and Facebook share prices in anticipation of today’s raft of reported earnings. Meanwhile, Beyond Meat lost some flavor with lackluster numbers and a new offering of 3.25 million shares that caused prices to plummet by 10%.
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Our deep dive this week focuses on the modern art economy and how China became a global art powerhouse seemingly overnight. Geopolitics reporter Annalisa Merelli reports on what propelled the growth, what kind of art China makes, buys, and sells, and, as with so much in China, what role the state plays. We also have three member conference calls scheduled this week, starting with Quartz tech editor Mike Murphy talking today about the competitive war for cloud services.
Need a break? Try a fika. The Swedish coffee ritual is a deliberate respite from work to catch up with friends, family, or colleagues on anything but their jobs—and it seems to make Swedes more productive. But once it becomes a conscious productivity hack, it becomes a chore, defeating the purpose of the fika. Meditate on the contradiction at the Quartz Obsession.
Matters of debate
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Transhumanism needs its own annual peace prize. The award would help democratize the movement to conquer death.
Leave the hairdryer; take the conditioner. There are some things you just shouldn’t swipe from a hotel room.
Hollywood can still make good movies. Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood shows that films can take risks and turn a profit.
“Old Town Road” owes its success to kids. Children love the clean, repetitive, musically simple song.
Slipping on banana peels is no joke… Back in 19th century New York, pedestrians got seriously injured from their pratfalls.
…But the prices JW Marriott charges for bananas must be. After Bollywood actor Rahul Bose’s viral tweet about being overcharged for fruit, brands across India are having a marketing field day.
Asian boomers are embracing aging. With some of the world’s highest life expectancies and fastest-growing wealth, the old-timers are living it up.
Robotic contact lenses are here. The devices allow users to zoom in by blinking, and may pave the way for prosthetic eyes.
Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, hotel soap, and luxury bananas to email@example.com. Join the next chapter of Quartz by downloading our app and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was written and edited by Susan Howson and Nicolás Rivero.