Skip to navigationSkip to content

🌍 Unleash the audits

Next month the US will start auditing e-commerce giants from China

The side of what appears to be a white shipping container depicts the words "Alibaba Group" with its logo in English and Chinese, and then beneath 10 Chinese characters with the English translation "To make it easy to do business anywhere" placed beneath it. The top of the photo shows some leaves, as if the photo was taken from beneath a tree.
China OUT/STR/AFP
A company slogan is seen at Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba's headquarters in Hangzhou in China's eastern Zhejiang province on May 27, 2022. 
This story was published on our Quartz Daily Brief newsletter, The concise, conversational rundown you need to start your day.
Published

Good morning, Quartz readers!


Here’s what you need to know

The US will audit Chinese e-commerce giants Alibaba and JD. Vetting starts next month, according to Reuters, following a landmark audit deal that may reduce delisting risks for China.

Russia shut its natural gas supply to Germany. The Nord Stream 1 pipeline was suspended for maintenance, but Europe fears energy cuts are being used as a “weapon of war.”

Euro zone inflation hit 9.1%. Nine consecutive months of record high consumer prices have intensified calls for a big ECB rate hike next week.

Toyota will invest $5.6 billion to boost EV battery output. The world’s largest carmaker plans to begin production between 2024 and 2026 at its US and Japanese plants.

Italy entered talks to sell Alitalia airline to Delta and Air France. Their bid, led by investment firm Certares, beat out a rival offer from MSC-Lufthansa to acquire the former national carrier.

Ghana’s currency fell to a record low. The cedi, one of the world’s worst performing currencies, hit below 10 to a dollar. The country is in talks with the IMF for a $3 billion loan.

Tencent and Sony will buy nearly a third of FromSoftware. The developer of the fan favorite game “Elden Ring” will get $263 million from the transaction.



What to watch for

On Friday, the US government will stop sending out free at-home covid tests. The program, which has run for nine months and provided about 600 million free test kits, is being halted because Congress has not approved enough funding.

Free testing will also be suspended in schools, shelters, and correctional facilities as the government stockpiles kits in anticipation of a fall covid surge. The White House has also indicated that by year’s end it will no longer purchase covid tests, vaccines, or treatments, leaving their procurement and distribution to the commercial healthcare sector.

The suspension of these programs is just the latest example of the US government distancing itself from the pandemic and putting the responsibility of managing it on the public and private sectors. At least a fresh round of covid boosters are on their way, with 15 million doses slated to be ready for shipment next week.


DALL-E is coming for animation

Image copyright: Adario Strange/Midjourney
A image created using Midjourney using the prompt “Superman meets Spider-Man”<br />

Popular tools like OpenAI’s DALL-E 2 and Midjourney have stoked an ongoing debate in graphic design circles on machine-generated content. Mainly, the question is if it’s art to type “a bird sitting in a tree on a sunny day in the style of Rembrandt” into a system and render an artificial image.

Whether you hate generated art or want to emulate Andy Warhol’s factory-like process, there’s no denying, logically, that DALL-E 2 and Midjourney are systems that in the future might be used to animate artificially generated images. Need content for a new Superman meets Spider-Man movie? One day you could not only generate the above AI image that Quartz’s Adario Strange got from Midjourney, but also animate it.

While the technology sounds cool, it could have far reaching repercussions for animators and special effects artists around the globe, including more than 62,000 working in the US.


Who knows best, personal financiers or economists?

If you think most economists would agree with the advice in the personal finance book you just bought, think again. A new study finds that economists disagree with personal financiers on saving, managing your financial portfolio, paying back debt, and home ownership.

Image copyright: Sarah Todd

Why the discrepancy? Well, as Quartz’s Sarah Todd explains, it starts with one side paying a little bit more attention to psychology. ✦ Member support helps keep Quartz stories like these free and accessible to all. Sign up today and take 40% off when you do!



Quartz’s most popular

🤑 America’s billionaires are twice as rich as previously estimated…

🤝 …and its pro-union sentiment is higher than it’s been in 57 years.

🔌 Japanese and South Korean firms are ramping up EV battery investments in the US…

🏍 …while electric batteries are fueling the shift from petrol-powered bikes in Kenya.

🚀 NASA has a risky new plan to launch its Moon rocket…

🛢 …while any plan to fix Europe’s broken power market will mean breaking it more.



Surprising discoveries

A nursing home in Japan wants to feel more like a nursery. The facility is recruiting toddlers to bring merriment to the octogenarian residents.

Genetic engineering could save American chestnuts from extinction. Regulators still need to weigh in on the practice, which isn’t without critics.

Humpback whale songs can go viral. The mammals pass their songs from one population to the other, spreading the tunes across thousands of miles.

AI software earned the French taxpayer $10 million. A program compared aerial images to land registry databases to find and fine undeclared private swimming pools.

There ain’t no party like a Bongo’s Bingo party. In Liverpool, UK, cards with lots of tiny squares on them are the hottest tickets in town.


Our best wishes for a productive day. Send any news, comments, humpback tracks, and Bongo’s Bingo invites to hi@qz.com. Reader support makes Quartz available to all—become a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Sofia Lotto Persio, Annalisa Merelli, Julia Malleck, and Morgan Haefner.

📬 Kick off each morning with coffee and the Daily Brief (BYO coffee).

By providing your email, you agree to the Quartz Privacy Policy.