Good morning, Quartz readers!
Here’s what you need to know
US food prices keep rising. While the overall inflation rate for July was zero, and gasoline prices have fallen below $4 a gallon, groceries are becoming more expensive.
Donald Trump pleaded the Fifth. The former president refused to give any substantial answers to the New York attorney general investigating his business practices.
Two former JPMorgan traders were found guilty of manipulating gold prices. They were accused of spoofing, a practice outlawed in 2010, in which traders quickly send buy and sell orders without wanting to follow through with them, to create a false sense of demand.
Ethereum readies for a major upgrade. Ether prices rose after the network successfully tested its new proof of stake model, a less energy-intensive way to validate transactions.
Amazon is launching a palm-reading payment system. Whole Foods stores in California will be the first to deploy the technology.
Softbank will slash its stake in Alibaba. The Japanese conglomerate expects to make $34 billion from the sale of around 38% of its most famous investment after reporting a record first-quarter loss.
Costa Rica requested to join a trans-Pacific trade bloc. The country seeks membership of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.
What to watch for
After weeks of rumors and speculation, the Hong Kong government has finally announced that mandatory hotel quarantines for inbound travelers will be shortened from three days to seven.
But Hong Kong’s stringent quarantine measures and at-times contradictory covid policies continue to deter tourists and business travelers. Its economy has taken a hit from the travel slowdown, sliding into a recession last month following two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth.
Fitch Ratings predicts the economy will shrink again this year, as zero-covid policies locally and in mainland China continue to weigh on production, trade, and consumption.
However, the easing of quarantine restrictions has already brightened Cathay Pacific’s second-half outlook and sparked a jump in travel searches for outbound tickets. The resumption of flights between China and the UK could also signal a further easing of covid restrictions in the near future.
The Mouse in the high castle
Walt Disney’s third-quarter earnings had a liberal sprinkling of fairy dust. Theme parks continue to be heroes, but the Mouse may be squeezed along with consumers’ belts due to inflation and recession fears. After all, a week-long Disney vacation “baseline” price for a family of four is $5,731, according to MouseHacking.com.
Theatrically, Disney’s doing fine, with a huge global showing at the box office for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Thor: Love and Thunder. And, unlike with Netflix, streaming is not this earning report’s villain. This quarter, Disney+ reached 152.1 million subscribers—about 5 million more than forecasts guessed. A lower cost, ad-supported tier is expected to help the streaming service become profitable.
A strong slate of content will only help matters, including I Am Groot, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, and The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, all on Disney+, as well as the highly-anticipated Black Panther: Wakanda Forever in cinemas.
US inflation has finally peaked (we think)
US consumer prices didn’t increase at all in July compared to the previous month, coming in much lower than economists’ predictions. Nate DiCamillo explains what could be next, barring any unforeseen circumstances like invasions, factory shutdowns, and massive ships wedged into important canals. It’s been quite a time for the global economy, really.
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Our best wishes for a productive day. Send any news, comments, cool but not geologically significant sightings, and bronze cookbooks to email@example.com. Reader support makes Quartz available to all—become a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Adario Strange, Mary Hui, Sofia Lotto Persio, Julia Malleck, Morgan Haefner, and Susan Howson.