Quartz Daily Brief—Larry Summers, Syria deal, US debt ceiling standoff, affordable rockets

September 15, 2013
September 15, 2013

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Japan will halt its only working nuclear reactor. Reactor 4 at Ohi in western Japan will stop generating electricity, 2.5 years after the country’s worst nuclear accident. There is no timeline for restarting operations.

Review of Portugal’s bailout begins. The IMF, EU and ECB could face resistance from new deputy prime minister Paulo Portas, who wants to ease deficit targets for 2014, after nearly bringing down the Portuguese government in July over austerity measures.

US factories come back to life. Industrial production likely grew 0.4% in August after stalling in July, while the Empire State manufacturing index for September is expected to show a strong pickup.

India’s inflation conundrum. Thanks to a weak rupee that has driven up import costs, wholesale prices could breach the 6% mark in August after hovering around 4% to 5% over the past three months.

Over the weekend

Larry Summers ditches the Fed race. The former US treasury secretary pulled out of the running to succeed Ben Bernanke as big dog at the Federal Reserve, saying things could get ugly in the congressional confirmation battle (paywall).

The US and Russia bowed heads over Syria. In the deal hashed out, the al-Assad regime will have to submit a complete list of its chemical weapons within a week, and destroy its entire arsenal and production facilities in less than a year. The US president called the deal a potential first step toward a political settlement for the civil war. A UN report due today will likely confirm the use of chemical weapons, but probably not a perpetrator.

Obama stamps his foot over the debt ceiling. The US president said trading cuts to his signature healthcare program for an increase in the nation’s $16.7 trillion borrowing limit is not an option. If Congress does not increase the ceiling, the US Treasury will face a cash crunch in a few weeks.

Angela Merkel’s mixed scorecard. The Christian Social Union, sister party of the German chancellor’s Christian Democrats, swept to power in a state election in Bavaria. But another key ally, the pro-business Free Democrats, performed poorly, raising doubts over the coalition’s chances in next week’s national elections.

Repsol is on the prowl in North America. In an effort to boost its investments in politically stable economies, the Spanish oil giant is reportedly looking to spend $5 billion to $10 billion (paywall) for a US or Canadian exploration and production company.

Quartz obsession interlude

Tim Fernholz on why the internet of things will save the US from the great stagnation. “Or at least that’s what a new estimate from innovation guru Michael Mandel says. He figures (pdf) that the “internet of things”—the increasing number of machines equipped with internet-connected sensors—will expand the US economy by $600 billion and $1.4 trillion in 2025, roughly the equivalent of boosting GDP by 2% to 5% over the intervening time period. That could be the difference between so-so growth to the kind of stable growth that drives down debt and unemployment.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The new Syria agreement lets everyone win, except the Syrians. The deal strengthens al-Assad and Putin, and saves face for Obama, but ordinary Syrians will continue to be slaughtered.

Tax hikes could derail Japan’s recovery. A proposed hike in sales tax could dampen consumer activity.

Media companies shouldn’t give up on the education business. They can make most of the compelling opportunity by adapting their content, mindsets and business models.

Tesla’s Model S is the Model T of our time. Elon Musk’s electric sedan is driving us into a cleaner, smarter and less expensive era of personal transportation.

Surprising discoveries

A 450-meter tower with stealth mode. Light-emitting diodes and cameras in a proposed tower in South Korea will allow it to blend with the skies behind it.

Taxing times for the UK. The UK government’s tax adviser was forced to resign after he was recorded giving tips on how to pay less in taxes.

Find the next book you just can’t put down. A new software reviews a book’s narrative structure and suggests another just like it.

Lean launchpad. Japan launched a rocket with just two laptop computers in a pared-down command center manned by an eight-member crew.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, disappearing towers, cheap rockets, to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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