Lego’s solid foundation, welcome to Green Haven, George Jetson

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Here’s what you need to know

Lego’s finances are a lot stronger than plastic. Revenue grew 7% to $2.5 billion, while operating profit jumped 11% to $600 million in the first half of 2020. “We’ve done it despite Covid-19,” the Danish toy company’s CEO Niels Christiansen told the Financial Times (paywall), explaining that Lego no longer relies on physical stores.

Donald Trump praised law enforcement on a visit to Kenosha. The US president did not meet the parents of Jacob Blake, whose shooting last month by a police officer sparked ongoing protests, and blamed “domestic terror” for the “destruction” in the Midwestern city. Kenosha is a former manufacturing hub that narrowly fell to Trump in 2016.

Social media giants are still failing to stop disinformation. Facebook said yesterday that a Russian operation even hired real (and possibly gullible) journalists to produce content that would appeal to leftwing voters in the US and UK. Meanwhile, more than half of young Africans do not regard Facebook as a trustworthy source of news.

The US issued an order to temporarily halt many evictions. The Centers for Disease Control and the Department of Health and Human Services jointly acted to prevent thousands of people being kicked out by landlords until the end of the year, citing the public health risks of doing so.

A member of the Kennedy clan lost in Massachusetts for the first time. Incumbent Democrat senator Ed Markey defeated 39-year-old Joseph Kennedy III, who’s a four-term congressman and the great-nephew of JFK, in the state’s senatorial primary. Markey will stand for re-election on Nov. 3.

Obsession interlude: Future of Finance

“The American businessperson can always return home to America,” said Carson Block, a well-known short seller who made his name betting against Chinese companies.

That’s also what the founder of hedge fund Muddy Waters said when Quartz asked him about Hong Kong’s future as a financial center. The former British colony has long been a haven for international financiers. A key question is whether that will shift following the passing of Beijing’s national security law, which criminalizes subversion of China’s authority.

For now, bankers and lawyers from the US and Europe don’t seem too fussed about the law, even though violations carry penalties including lifetime imprisonment. But that attitude could change quickly if a Western professional gets arrested for saying or tweeting something considered subversive.

In the meantime, Block says it’s clear what the law means for native Hong Kongers: “These are people who just got their liberties absolutely snatched away from them in one stroke. They are much worse off.”

Keep tabs on our Future of Finance obsession here.

Charting coronavirus childbirths

Jobs are scarce, huge sections of the economy are shut down, and a deadly virus continues to spread around the world. Faced with these decidedly un-family-friendly conditions, American women are reconsidering their plans to have children.

A chart showing US women saying they're less likely to have children

About one-third of US women have decided to have fewer children or delay pregnancy because of coronavirus, according to a survey of more than 2,000 women. Those decisions follow a consistent pattern in US history: During times of economic stress, the birth rate drops. These changes of plan are also significantly more common among minority groups and the economically vulnerable.

For a calm, rational, even curious approach to the pandemic, sign up for the Coronavirus: Need to Know email below:

What’s Popping?

Image: Giphy

Wouldn’t it be nice to know if we are heading for a bubble before it pops?

The feedback loop between financial markets and bubbles is fiendishly difficult to unravel, which helps explain why the bookshelf of boom-and-bust literature gets heavier every year.

Our latest field guide lets you skip the history books, survey the current trading landscape, and unpack whether we’re headed for another financial bubble. We’ve assembled a list of the most influential and interesting writing, people, and research to keep you up to date: from the academic who coined the term “irrational exuberance” to a network of journalists covering global market structures.

✦ Stay ahead of the curve and outside the bubble with half off the first year of your Quartz membership. Simply sign up with promo code: SUMMERSALE.

Welcome to Green Haven

Promotional poster for Leeside climate haven.
Image: Matt Chinworth

As climate change displaces people from their homes, cities are preparing for an influx of new residents. Quartz’s special project Welcome to Green Haven examines how governments and thinkers are anticipating mass migration’s effects on society, and planning to make our new climate havens more sustainable:

  • 🏙 Climate-related displacement will eventually amount to one of the largest mass migrations in human history. Here’s how cities can prepare.
  • 🚚 Fifteen years after Hurricane Katrina, a growing number of people in coastal Louisiana are migrating to higher ground.
  • 🗺 In Miami, a city threatened by tropical storms, sea level rise, and heavy rainfall, city planners are creating a highly detailed map to help decide which neighborhoods get saved.
  • 🔮 What might a climate haven look like? Take a visit to the fictional city of Leeside.

Surprising discoveries

Sip another joint? These rolling papers can be turned into disposable straws.

This Belgian city’s got heart. More specifically, the heart of its first mayor, unearthed from the public fountain where it was entombed.

Gather ‘round the smartphone tree. Chicago-area Amazon drivers are stringing up their phones to beat out competitors for delivery jobs.

There was a George Jetson sighting at LAX. Not really, but pilots reported seeing a person in a jetpack  as they were preparing to land.

“Singing” dogs still exist in the wild. DNA evidence confirmed the first sightings of the New Guinea dogs, whose howls sound like whale songs, in 50 years.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, buried organs, and canine tunes to 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 Hasit Shah, Liz Webber, and Max Lockie.