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🌎 Markets tense over Taiwan

A fall in Asian stocks and low US equity futures reflected concerns over the trip’s repercussions on US-China relations.

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks at an event.
Saul Loeb
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  • Sofia Lotto Persio
By Sofia Lotto Persio

Newsletter writer and editor


Good morning, Quartz readers!

Here’s what you need to know

Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan has markets in jitters. A fall in Asian stocks and low US equity futures reflected concerns over the trip’s repercussions on US-China relations.

A US operation killed the head of Al-Qaeda. President Joe Biden announced Ayman al-Zawahiri was targeted in a drone strike in Afghanistan.

Twitter went after Elon Musk’s backers. The social media giant subpoenaed banks and tech moguls in its legal bid against the billionaire.

The SEC charged 11 people in an alleged crypto Ponzi scheme. The suspected fraudulent project raised $300 million from investors.

Amazon’s carbon emissions grew. The company emitted more pollutants as business boomed during the pandemic. Meanwhile, a group of scientists called for research on the risk of human extinction due to climate change.

California became the third US state to declare a state of emergency over monkeypox. The declaration should boost vaccination efforts.

What to watch for

Starbucks is expected to report $8.14 billion in quarterly revenue on Tuesday. Last quarter, America’s bean queen saw a 15% increase in consolidated net revenues year-on-year, hitting a record $7.6 billion, supported by mobile orders, deliveries, and its membership program. But third-quarter sales are likely to remain depressed amid a slowed Chinese market and inflationary pressures, though a slight letup in the country’s zero-covid approach could help.

Meanwhile, the unionization drive in Starbucks’ largest market, the US, is keeping up momentum, even in the face of alleged union-busting activity. Interim CEO Howard Schultz continues to butt heads with labor organizers, having raised wages for all non-unionized workers this week. So far, his anti-union actions have yet to really dent the bottom line.

Strong consumer retail spending and Starbucks’ robust customer loyalty are likely to continue carrying it through a tough economy without too much turbulence, though increasing worker bargaining power is something to keep an eye on. (And if you want to give a tip on your next coffee run, check out your closest unionized Starbucks.)

Do NFTs made tangible still count as NFTs?

An image of an open Tiffany & Co box in the classic blue bird eggshell shade, the interior is black and features a pendant of a stylized, pixelated person's face made out of gems.
Image copyright: Tiffany & Co.
<b>An “NFTiff.”</b>

There’s never been a slick way to show crypto art outside of the digital realm, but Tiffany & Co. has seized the opportunity. The iconic jewelry brand has given owners of CryptoPunks, the digital avatars and so-called “original NFTS” developed by two Canadians in 2017, a way to physically manifest their treasured pixels.

For 30 ether ($50,000), the LVMH-owned jeweler is selling 250 “digital passes” that give CryptoPunk owners the opportunity to convert their avatar into a gem-encrusted pendant. Each gold pendant will contain about 30 precious stones like blue sapphires, violet amethysts, and bright red spinel, tracing the Punk’s pixel design. Only those who already own a CryptoPunk are eligible to buy “NFTiffs,” as the pendants are called.

Since Tiffany’s unveiled the project last weekend, more CryptoPunks have changed hands than any other time since July 18, for an average price of $74,000.

Boom and gloom

A worker in a blue hardhat walks through an industrial setting.
Image copyright: Darley Shen
<b>Oil prices dropped as trading opened this week.</b>

China’s factory activity dropped unexpectedly in July, according to the latest manufacturing purchasing manager’s index report—a sign that any economic rebound from the country’s disruptive covid lockdowns and its tumultuous real estate sector remains tenuous at best. The country’s poor economic outlook is adding to broader concerns about a global slowdown, especially since China is a key contributor to global growth.

But oil buyers have spotted a silver lining: the economic woes of the world’s largest crude importer are helping to drag down oil prices.

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