What to watch for today
The central bankers’ powwow starts, without its stars. The central bank heads of the US (Ben Bernanke), the UK (Mark Carney), and the EU (Mario Draghi) will all skip the annual Jackson Hole Symposium. But Bernanke will still be the center of attention, as everyone ponders who will replace him.
Gauging global business activity. The euro-zone purchasing managers’ index is expected to show a recovery picking up steam, with Germany leading the way, and weekly US jobless claims will also be closely watched.
Bo Xilai’s trial begins; China’s leaders take the credit. The former regional party boss was accused of accepting 21.8 million yuan ($3.6 million) in bribes, with the help of his wife and son. Chinese media are depicting it as a triumph for the new leadership’s anti-corruption campaign, though that started after Bo’s downfall.
The “Pharaoh” walks free. Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak could leave prison, where he was serving life for complicity in the killing of demonstrators during the 2011 revolution. In an attempt not to look too lenient, the military will then put him under house arrest.
Robert Mugabe kicks off his fifth term. The 89-year-old leader, who has ruled Zimbabwe for 33 years, will be sworn in after a constitutional court dismissed opposition claims that the elections had been rigged.
While you were sleeping
The UN Security Council worked overtime on Syria. Diplomats went into emergency session after rebels accused president Bashar al-Assad’s forces of killing hundreds of people with chemical weapons early Wednesday, and ended with calls for more information. It appears Russia and China blocked orders for a direct investigation.
The Fed gave a weak signal on “tapering,” scaring markets. Minutes of the US central bank’s July 30-31 meeting showed officials still divided on when exactly to start paring back the $85 billion-a-month bond-buying program, although most supported it some time this year. US and Canadian stocks fell in response and stocks in the Philippines plummeted.
China’s manufacturing sector grew. Preliminary data show China’s companies hanging on as a recovery in Europe and the US improves outlook. HSBC/Markit’s flash index came in at 50.1, just above the 50-point line separating expansion and contraction, and up from 47.7 in July.
Hewlett-Packard sounded the warning bell. CEO Meg Whitman said she no longer expects HP to grow its revenues in the next fiscal year, due to weakness in several divisions. The tech giant also reported weak earnings and shuffled its top management.
A damning report for Tepco. The operator of Japan’s leaking Fukushima nuclear power plant was urged at a “less than friendly” meeting with an advisory panel to tighten water management procedures weeks before new reports of another massive leak.
Wells Fargo is slashing jobs. The biggest US mortgage lender may be cutting as many as 2,300 jobs, about 20% of its mortgage loan officers, as demand for refinancing falls due to higher interest rates.
Yahoo! overtook Google. A management and operations overhaul by CEO Marissa Mayer seems to be working at Yahoo!, which attracted more US visitors during July than rival Google, according to Comscore. Excluding mobile visitors, Yahoo! reached over 196 million viewers, 4.3 million more than Google and up 21% from a year earlier.
Quartz obsession interlude
Nandagopal J. Nair on why Malaysia could be the next country after India and Indonesia to fall prey to investor panic. “What’s behind Malaysia’s woes? Falling commodity prices and weakening demand from China. But what makes the country particularly vulnerable to international investor sentiment is the fact that investors hold nearly 50% of its bonds (paywall), much higher than 30% on average for emerging markets.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Assad knows he can get away with using chemical weapons. The evidence is pretty strong already and, despite the ultimatums, little is being done to stop him.
“Work hard, retire early” is no longer an option for bankers. A long, exhausting life of toil is the only option, and it takes a permanent physical toll.
China’s crackdown on Big Pharma is necessary. It will mean a fairer market and improve the investment climate for foreign businesses.
India is flexing its muscles in East Asia. To counter China’s growing influence, India is boosting its military ties in the region.
All the oil we need, but what about the planet? New drilling technologies could increase the world’s petroleum supplies six-fold in the coming years.
Google hides “Easter Eggs” everywhere. Examples include a hidden space invader game in YouTube and an angry cartoon mob in Hangouts.
The lowest temperature in which life can survive is -20 degrees Celsius. Below that, cells become like glass.
Detroit is going to the dogs—literally. As many as 50,000 abandoned dogs are roaming the streets, including swarms of tiny, ferocious dogs that earned one neighborhood the nickname “Chihuahuaville.”
The backbone of BlackBerry World. A single firm in Hong Kong develops a third of BlackBerry’s 120,000 apps.
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