Weekend Scan: 112 dead in Tianjin, 95 missing; civil rights leader Julian Bond dies; Japan 2Q GDP likely to drop


    Julian  Bond

    Updated throughout the day

    August 16

    Early Monday, Japan reports the preliminary data on second quarter GDP, and analysts aren’t looking for good news. The WBP Online survey expects the annualized rate to be -1.8%, a sharp drop from the unusually robust 3.9% recorded in the first quarter. China, of course, is considered a major drag on regional growth — and that’s before the stock market nosedived and the government devalued the yuan.  Spending and exports are expected to be sluggish. In the U.S., market watchers will turn their attention to the minutes from the Federal Reserve’s policymaking meeting in July, due out Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. ET.  Also on the schedule: July housing starts and the Consumer Price Index, both due out Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. ET, and existing home sales on Thursday at 10:00 a.m. ET.

    Big read on China: Sinologist Christopher Balding evaluates the top six reasons for the yuan devaluation. To the key questions, did China devalue to free the RMB to market forces; to start a currency war, or to become a currency reserve — Balding says: Yes and no. Balding’s World (h/t Quartz)

    Death toll in Tianjin rises to 112. The levels of sodium cyanide stored at the warehouse that exploded earlier this week are reported to have been 70 times above the legal limit. Ninety-five people are still missing and the area has been evacuated. Firefighters are donning gas masks and hazard suits. The Guardian

    Julian Bond, civil rights leader, dies at 75. The grandson of a slave, he protested U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, and became the first African American to be nominated as vice president of the United States. He withdrew his name because at 28 he was too young. Bond was the first leader of the Southern Poverty Law Center and was also president of the NAACP. No cause of death was given. Reuters

    A missing Indonesian plane carrying 54 people was found in a remote region of Papua. No word yet on whether there were any survivors. BBC

    Donald Trump issues white paper on immigration. The plan would require Mexico to build a wall on the U.S. southern border; would rescind automatic citizenship to children of immigrants; and would put a “pause” on green cards. CNN

    Oil companies get approval to export oil. The U.S. Department of Commerce has signalled that it will allow U.S. oil companies to export light sweet crude to Mexico in exchange for the heavy oil pumped there. This gives oil companies a new market for exports. Wall Street Journal (paywall)

    Big read on Amazon. An inside look at the often times brutal workplace of the online retail juggernaut.  New York Times (paywall)

    KKR’s Samson files for bankruptcy. KKR’s Samson Resources will file for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. KKR will lose $4.1 billion in cash in the move, that comes after the firm finalized a restructuring with key lenders Friday. Wall Street Journal

    Soros slashes China investments. Soros Fund Management sold off most of its stakes in Chinese companies Alibaba and Baidu. The firm bought an iShare ETF that tracks large-cap Chinese companies. Wall Street Journal

    GE homes in on E.U. deal. The E.U. is expected to approve a $13.8 billion bid of GE for the French Alstom’s power business. Reuters

    Buffett discloses new investments. Berkshire Hathaway added to its stake in Charter Communications, but also dropped its stakes in National Oilwell Varco and Phillips 66. The firm also invested in paint company Axalta Coating Systems. Reuters

    You won’t believe this:

    A museum dedicated useless inventions. Like transparent suitcases and a buttonhole from Napoleon’s vest. To get to the Nonseum, you’ll need to fly to Vienna and rent a car for the hour-long drive. It just might be worth it. The Local

    Lord Snoop Dogg? Snoop thinks of himself as royalty. The American hip-hop artist and marijuana aficionado commissioned two paintings of himself as old European nobility. Snoop Dogg appears as Italian duke Cesare Borgia and Austrian Archduke Leopold Wilhem. Esquire


    Photo: Fairfax Library Foundation