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Richard Branson went to the edge of space. His flight, just nine days before that of fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos, marks the beginning of the age of space tourism.
It was a big weekend for sports. Lionel Messi led Argentina to win the Copa América, Italy and England faced off for the Euro Cup, Australian Ashleigh Barty and Serbian Novak Djokovic took home top prizes at Wimbledon, and UFC star Conor McGregor broke his leg during a fight.
G20 finance leaders acknowledged that carbon pricing could help fight climate change. It’s one of a “wide set of tools” that could be used to reduce carbon emissions worldwide.
The delta variant continues to cause an uptick in Covid-19 cases. Libya has closed its border with Tunisia in an effort to contain the variant, while Myanmar and Indonesia face oxygen shortages.
Thousands were evacuated due to flooding in China’s Sichuan province. There have been no casualties since the heavy rains that started Friday have raised the water level of 14 rivers, but there’s more rain in the forecast.
The Taliban claimed that it now controls 85% of Afghanistan. The unverifiable claim comes just days before the US is set to complete its military withdrawal from the country.
China pushed back against the US’s blacklisting of Chinese companies. After a new government rule restricted US companies from working with the 23 organizations over their alleged role in human rights violations in Xinjiang, the Chinese commerce authority called the act “a serious breach of international economic and trade rules” and an “unreasonable suppression.”
What to watch for
Elon Musk takes the stand in Delaware in a trial over an old deal. In 2016, carmaker Tesla paid $2.6 billion to acquire home solar energy company SolarCity; Musk was chairman of both companies at the time. Shortly after the deal went through, the world learned that SolarCity wasn’t just in debt as was previously thought—it was insolvent.
The plaintiffs in this case, who are primarily pension funds that owned Tesla stock, claim that the deal was effectively a bailout and did little more than enrich Musk himself.
The question at hand is whether Musk orchestrated the deal. If he loses, he’ll have to pay back the $2 billion or so; some speculate it could even threaten the future of Tesla. If he wins, it will be yet another lawsuit from which Musk escapes scot-free.
Charting the spike in denim sales
After 15 years of skinny jeans, we’re entering a new “denim cycle.” Between changing styles and altered waist sizes, lots of people are in the market for jeans again. That’s good news for Levi’s, which saw its total sales rise 156% in the three months ending May 30 versus the same period last year. Granted, the comparison was against last year’s pandemic plunge in denim sales, so there was practically nowhere to go but up. But Levi’s CEO Chip Bergh is optimistic that these factors could drive denim sales for years to come.
Ethical investing by the digits
Investors are increasingly putting their money in line with their values. They’re taking special interest in companies that adhere to high standards for ESG—environmental, social, and corporate governance criteria.
~$40 trillion: Money held in ESG assets worldwide
$53 trillion: Total of ESG assets worldwide by 2025, according to Bloomberg Intelligence
1/3: Proportion of global investments that could be ESG by 2025
90%: Millennials active in the markets who say they believe in sustainable investing, according to a 2019 study by Morgan Stanley
$285 billion: How much ESG funds grew in 2020 alone, a 96% increase over 2019
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(👇 The first one is so good, we got rid of its paywall.)
🍞 Zimbabwe’s new high-denomination banknote can’t buy a loaf of bread
🏃 Politics are coming for the “apolitical” Olympics
💸 The Fed’s digital dollar could bring millions into the digital economy
🔌 Biden’s executive order will restore net neutrality—if Congress cooperates
⚽ How do Nigerians identify with England soccer hero Bukayo Saka?
🌏 The IMF wants poor countries’ debt erased in exchange for climate action
Beyond Meat’s plant-based chicken is here, and it’s almost as good as the real thing. More importantly, it chews like the real thing—crucial as it seeks to edge into the multi-billion-dollar chicken and fake meat markets.
Black Widow broke box office records. The film raked in an estimated $87.8 million over the weekend, the biggest debut this year, proving that nothing can fill theaters quite like Marvel can.
Tree DNA was used in court. It helped convict a Washington man who stole timber and then started a forest fire.
India’s most populous state wants people to have fewer children. Newly proposed legislation in Uttar Pradesh would restrict government benefits to families with more than two children.
A toilet at a South Korean university drives a digital currency. The waste becomes biogas that powers a building, and the people who use it earn enough to buy a cup of coffee.
Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, non-skinny jeans, and meatless chicken to email@example.com. Get the most out of Quartz by downloading our iOS app and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Marc Bain, Lila MacLellan, and Alexandra Ossola.