🌍 Russia and China flex

Russian Tu-95 strategic bomber takes off during Russian-Chinese military aerial exercises to patrol the Asia-Pacific region.
Russian Tu-95 strategic bomber takes off during Russian-Chinese military aerial exercises to patrol the Asia-Pacific region.
Image: Reuters

Good morning, Quartz readers!

Here’s what you need to know

Russia and China flexed as Joe Biden visited Asia. The two countries held a joint military exercise, deploying bombers in northeast Asia as the US president met with regional leaders in Tokyo.

Davos is about the economy. World leaders gathered in Switzerland for the annual World Economic Forum meetings are fixated on inflation and risks of recession. Follow all the highlights in our Need to Know: Davos limited email.

SpaceX defended Elon Musk. The human resources chief for the private space flight company sent staff a letter vehemently defending the company’s CEO after Business Insider reported allegations that he sexually harassed a company flight attendant.

The WHO said monkeypox is “containable.” The disease has spread to a dozen countries, and the US is trying to release its monkeypox vaccine soon for high-risk individuals.

Snap snapped. The social media company’s stock fell 40% after CEO Evan Spiegel warned of hardship ahead—but don’t call its comeback over.

Leaks shed light on China’s camps. The photos and videos, published by a media consortium ahead of a visit by the UN’s high commissioner, show violent enforcement tactics in Xinjiang’s detention camps for Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups.

What to watch for

Jensen Huang.
Jensen Huang.
Image: Reuters/Rick Wilking

Nvidia’s earnings call with investors today could mark an inflection point in the company’s booming pandemic run. Like other chip makers, Nvidia has seen its revenues soar during the global semiconductor shortage, which pushed Nvidia’s clients to place massive orders and pay a premium for chips. But now demand may be catching up to supply, and Nvidia’s hot streak may be coming to an end.

About half of Nvidia’s business comes from selling graphics cards for gamers, who have been paying markups to get their hands on the latest Nvidia chips. But those markups have fallen precipitously from a peak of 130% in mid-2021 to 23% now, which may be a sign that demand for Nvidia’s chips is cooling off. Meanwhile, Nvidia is slowing the pace of its hiring, citing worsening macroeconomic conditions and rising inflation.

Have we reached peak dumb meme stock?

Redbox, the DVD vending machine company, is the latest meme stock—it’s also the dumbest. If you’re thinking, “Redbox? I haven’t used that since 2007. How is it worth anything?” then, well, those are good questions. The company, which went public via a SPAC in 2021 and has bled money due to the pandemic’s effects on the film industry, was sold at a discount to Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment for $31 million on May 11.

The sale priced Redbox shares at $0.49, but retail traders—talking about a possible short squeeze on Reddit à la GameStop—have been trying to pump up the stock. The stock traded around $6 per share on May 23, about 12 times the sale price.

When the sale closes in the next few months, Redbox stock will close out at $0.49. So what goes up must come down. Redbox traders are simply hoping there’s a greater fool—and they can get out before it falls.

Pop quiz: Do you smell that?

a perfume bottle with refracted light through it
Image: Eric Helgas, styling by Alex Citrin-Safadi

Where does the perfume ingredient ambergris come from?

  1. Civet cat secretions
  2. Undigested squid beaks
  3. Infected agarwood resin
  4. Bird nest saliva

Answer: 2

Perfume ingredients, both natural and synthetic, come from complex and surprising supply chains. That is poised to change even further as life moves increasingly online, with some scents now being made for virtual consumption, bringing the next level of immersiveness to the metaverse. Follow the sillage of this week’s episode of the Quartz Obsession podcast—perfume, and its provenance.

💨 Listen on: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google | Stitcher

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Surprising discoveries

We’re not at auction anymore. A federal judge blocked the sale of Judy Garland’s famous blue dress from The Wizard of Oz, worth $800,000 to $1.2 million, after a relative of a former owner of the garment sued.

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a… salamander? As it turns out, wandering salamanders do more than wander—they can also parachute out of redwood trees.

Call me maybe, but not from a payphone. The last-remaining street payphone in New York City, located at 49th Street and 7th Avenue, was removed.

An asteroid will whiz by Earth. The space rock, twice the size of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, will make its close encounter this week. Don’t fret, it’s still about 2.5 million miles away.

Sea lions broke into a fish farm. The critters devoured farmed salmon, but conservationists are worried for the sea lions’ safety.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Send any news, comments, binoculars to watch the salamanders, and a telescope to watch the asteroid to hi@qz.com. Reader support makes Quartz available to all—become a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Nicolás Rivero, Julia Malleck, Scott Nover, and Morgan Haefner.