Reining in Hong Kong, reinventing Japan, reopening Noma

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Here’s what you need to know

Beijing tightens its grip on Hong Kong. China indicated it would bypass the city’s legislature in imposing a new security law. The US has threatened to sanction entities and officials that enforce the law. Meanwhile, the National People’s Congress meets today, and job creation is sure to be on the agenda.

Baidu may leave Nasdaq. Reuters reports the Chinese search engine hopes for a higher valuation by listing closer to home. While that may be welcome news to some US officials, it’s likely too late for US indexes to get rid of Chinese stocks entirely. Also, the top White House economic advisor said the US-China Phase 1 trade deal is “intact” despite the recent breakup of a US-Chinese robot exoskeleton venture.

Job losses hit businesses old and new in India. More than 3,000 people have been laid off at Indian tech unicorns Ola, Swiggy, and Zomato in the past week, while the shuttering of a factory for the 180-year-old Reid & Taylor fabric brand cost 1,400 jobs. But at least Indians can order alcohol for delivery now.

Japan eased its states of emergency. Prime minister Shinzo Abe lifted emergency restrictions in Kyoto, Osaka, and Hyogo prefectures as the number of new coronavirus cases continues to fall. Hokkaido and the Tokyo metropolitan area could follow as early as Monday.

Facebook and Spotify extended work from home. The music streaming site will allow employees to work remotely through the end of the year, while the social media giant is planning for much of its workforce to never return to the office.

Construction has resumed at Tesla’s Shanghai Gigafactory. The already up-and-running factory is set to double in size so it can start manufacturing Model Ys in the first quarter of 2021.

Gross National Cool

Image for article titled Reining in Hong Kong, reinventing Japan, reopening Noma

In just a few decades, Japan’s global image has changed radically. Particularly in America, which has had a close and complex relationship with Japan since World War II, this image has evolved from fearsome enemy to producer of cheap cars to, finally, a whimsical creative fantasy factory. It took time and the right mix of conditions—economic, certainly, and perhaps social as well—to invent Japan’s global image.

Charting life-changing questions

Changing your life is a big deal. And it’s often very difficult to predict if a dramatic turn will actually make you happier, or shrivel up into little raisins of regret. That’s an instinct we should fight against, according to the findings of a new study by University of Chicago economist and Freakonomics co-author, Steven Levitt.

The study asked people who were having a hard time making a decision to participate in a randomized digital coin toss. Ultimately, 20,000 coins were tossed—and people whose flip led them to make a big change reported being significantly happier than they were before. These were the top questions that the study’s subjects submitted to the fate of the flip.


For Quartz Members: The Coronavirus Living Briefing

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💉 Vaccination: The US government awarded $1.2 billion to UK-based AstraZeneca to speed up the development of a vaccine and reserve 400 million doses—even though the vaccine may never exist.

💳 Finance: Stock prices for the banking giants have leveled off after plunging in April as the number of Covid-19 cases increased exponentially and lockdowns ensued.

✈️ Travel: EasyJet will resume some flights across the UK and France next month. The airline says it will introduce sanitary measures, but continue to fill middle seats.

🧮 Economy: The percentage of borrowers who were falling behind their debts fell in April. The divergence between a crumbling economy and overdue debts probably comes down to forbearance from lenders.

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You asked about virtual reality

When can we start to see AR/VR solutions for events? – Sergio

Big Tech has been saying that virtual reality is on the verge of going mainstream for years. Recent developments—some spurred by the global pandemic–do make it tempting to say this time might be different. Let’s run through a few:

✉️ Do you have a burning question about how coronavirus is changing the world?

Surprising discoveries

NASA wants volunteers to spend 8 months locked in a mock spacecraft. Participants in the simulated Mars mission will be paid an unspecified amount.

Jack Dorsey backed Andrew Yang’s universal basic income nonprofit. The Twitter CEO is giving $5 million to the former US presidential candidate’s effort to make a case for cash grants.

A Sephora worker has Elon Musk’s old mobile number. Lyndsay Tucker gets at least three calls or texts per day intended for the Tesla and SpaceX CEO.

Levi’s is selling collector’s item jeans, Willy Wonka-style. Just five pairs of a batch of gold foil-wrapped 501 jeans will have a rare capital E in the brand’s logo.

The “world’s best restaurant” is now doing burgers. Noma, in Copenhagen, has reopened with basic fare and no reservations.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, billionaires’ old phone numbers, and golden ticket jeans to Get the most out of Quartz by downloading our app on iOS or Android and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Sarah Todd, Marc Bain, Max Lockie, and Liz Webber.