Good morning, Quartz readers!
Here’s what you need to know
Lebanon designates a new prime minister. Ambassador to Germany Mustapha Adib is expected to take on the premiership after winning the support of major parties to form a new government following the deadly Beirut port explosion. Meanwhile, French president Emmanuel Macron will again visit Lebanon to push for political reforms.
Montenegro’s parliamentary election results. Exit polls show the ruling pro-Western Democratic Party of Socialists leading the pro-Russian opposition alliance by a hair in a vote marked by a disputes over a law on religious rights introduced last December.
Warren Buffett pivots to Japan. Berkshire Hathaway said it had taken just over 5% of the shares in five large Japanese trading companies, and may boost the stakes to 9.9%. The investments will reduce Buffett’s dependence on the US economy.
Extremists in Germany tried to storm the Reichstag. Some 38,000 people in Berlin protested coronavirus restrictions on Saturday, with some carrying far-right flags and symbols. Several hundred broke through a security barrier outside the federal parliament building before being dispersed by police, in what the president called an “unbearable attack” on democracy.
China may need to approve a TikTok sale. Beijing’s new restrictions on exports of AI technologies could require ByteDance to get government approval before selling TikTok’s US operations to Microsoft, Oracle, Walmart, or anyone else.
What to watch for this week
Monday: The UK government’s scheme subsidizing restaurant diners’ meals draws to a close. Argentina learns if enough creditors have accepted its offer to restructure $65 billion of foreign debt. India is expected to post a record quarterly GDP slump.
Tuesday: Universal Covid-19 testing begins in Hong Kong. US president Donald Trump visits Kenosha, Wisconsin, where protests erupted after Jacob Blake, a Black man, was shot.
Wednesday: Fourteen suspects in the 2015 attacks on the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine and a Jewish supermarket in Paris go on trial. Pope Francis resumes public appearances after a months-long hiatus.
Thursday: Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai is sentenced in a criminal intimidation case, and faces up to five years in prison if convicted. France unveils a coronavirus recovery plan.
Friday: BRICS foreign ministers hold a meeting.
Charting back-to-school season in India
Indian parents are clocking the stress that the pandemic and online classes are causing their kids. Nearly 80% of parents in India’s metros and smaller cities said they would not send their children to school this year, according to a survey published by edutainment company SP Robotic Works.
Answers varied by the respondents’ source of income. Noted the survey, “The response from different cohorts is also rooted in their appetite for risk and the need to explore other avenues of income during these turbulent times.”
Obsession Interlude: Future of Finance
What does it mean to be obsessed with the future of finance? We asked senior reporter John Detrixhe to explain it to us like we’re 5:
The future of finance looks a lot like its past—but ever bigger and faster. Take Robinhood, the brokerage app that has helped power a stock market boom. Almost every generation seems to get a brokerage built around the technology of its time. In Merrill Lynch’s day, brokers talked face to face with their customers. In Schwab’s it was by phone, and now it’s by app.
The evolution shows that whizzy tech doesn’t always wipe out the old guard. Upstarts occasionally break in, while a handful of dominant players have shown remarkable adaptability and staying power.
Have these changes made the world a better place? There have been plenty of scams and fiascos, as well as booms and busts, over the past 100 years. Yet trading and investing have also gotten cheaper, more popular, and more accessible thanks to tech and new regulations. Which suggests there’s lots of promise in our financial future, but the perils will never go away.
Forecasts will all become clear—or clearer, anyway—when you keep tabs on our Future of Finance obsession.
What’s the tea on bubbles?
Speaking of perils, does now feel like a good time to buy stocks? Many around the world are thinking yes. In China, regular people are packing into brokerage houses to buy shares. Americans are feverishly refreshing their Robinhood and TD Ameritrade brokerage apps, while newbie traders in India are enamored with penny stocks. A growing number of Brits, too, are taking a fancy to shares.
It’s too soon to call this an outright bubble—a confounding surge in prices before the crash—but research suggests we should be vigilant. A survey of studies indicates that bubbles are partly caused by standard economic stuff like easy credit and government policy, but they can also spring from the stories we tell each other, as well as the hormone-induced high some people get from trading. Read more in our field guide to the next bubble.
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A unicorn beach inflatable took a child out to sea… The three-year-old was rescued by a ferry’s crew, who saw the mystical animal floating towards them and took action.
…and a kite took a child up into the air. A three-year-old girl was lifted off the ground during a kite festival in Taiwan, but managed to land safely.
“Nonfiction” doesn’t necessarily mean “fact.” Most nonfiction books aren’t fact-checked, unless the author is willing to pay for it.
A bad internet connection scuppered an international chess tournament. Russia and India were declared joint winners in the online Chess Olympiad after the two Indian players lost their connection.
Japan suggested wiping down Mauritius mangroves by hand. It’s one of the proposed ways to clean up an oil spill from a Japanese freighter.
Correction: Saturday’s weekend edition attributed an essay on Chinese dissidents supporting Trump to Mary Hui. It was written by the inimitable Jane Li, to whom we apologize for the error.
Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, fact-checked books, and tied chess games to firstname.lastname@example.org. Get the most out of Quartz by downloading our app on iOS and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Mary Hui, Isabella Steger, Susan Howson, and Kira Bindrim.