Quartz Daily Brief—Asia Edition—Calm Carney, Syria strikes, big bank fines, scary surgery

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What to watch for today

Brazil mulls an interest-rate hike. The central bank, which has been grappling with high inflation and a plunging currency, will issue its decision on the nation’s benchmark interest rate. Economists expect the rate to rise from the current 8.5% to 9.5% by the end of the year.

Keep Calm and Carney on. Mark Carney, the Bank of England governor, is likely to talk down borrowing costs that have shot up in response to the recent run of strong economic data. Carney is expected to reiterate a pledge to keep interest rates at their current record low of 0.5% until unemployment falls to 7%.

Signs of strain in US housing. Pending home sales are expected to have declined in July, in one of the first signs that rising mortgage rates may be hurting the housing recovery.

While you were sleeping

Military strikes against Syria could start later this week. The US and UK are likely to launch limited strikes as a penalty for the use of chemical weapons by the Bashar al-Assad regime. The White House insisted that the US is not looking for a regime change in Damascus.

US banks face big fines for mis-selling mortgages. US regulators are reportedly demanding $6 billion from JP Morgan to settle allegations it sold securities to government-backed mortgage companies—Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—without checking their quality. And a judge has lifted obstacles to a government lawsuit that seeks $1 billion in damages from Bank of America on similar charges.

A London Whale suspect was arrested. In more JP Morgan news, Javier Martin-Artajo, one of two former traders at the bank charged with hiding losses on bad bets that cost the bank more than $6 billion last year, surrendered to police in Spain and said he’d resist extradition.

Tiffany’s China business sparkled. Strong sales in China and higher prices helped the world’s second-largest luxury jewelry retailer offset muted business in the US in the second quarter. The company also raised its profit forecast for the year.

Facebook released its first transparency report. 74 countries demanded information on 38,000 users in the first half of 2013. The US alone accounted for more than half of the requests.

Quartz obsession interlude

Matt Phillips on the steps India should take to stop its currency crisis. “The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) needs to put everything it’s got into intervening in the markets to beat back the speculators pushing the rupee lower. That means it has to draw a line in the sand and defend it by using its stockpile of foreign exchange reserves to buy rupees in the open market.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The Fed shouldn’t about the emerging market sell-off. Large capital flows into and out of emerging markets are neither new nor rare. 

Another bailout won’t help Greece. Only a moratorium on debt payments and relief from austerity can put Athens back on track.

Is compulsory voting undemocratic? Going to the polls is a legal duty in Australia, which votes next month; critics argue the law stifles political freedom.

Asia’s mega-mall boom is headed for a bust. Overcapacity and slowing retail sales are already leading to high vacancy rates and low rents.

Unlimited vacation time isn’t as great as it sounds. Employees end up taking less time off because it’s too hard to figure out how much to take.

Surprising discoveries

Mansions in Geneva are selling at bargain rates. A proposal to end tax breaks for foreign millionaires is spooking home owners.

A good reason to have science on your mind. Research shows that merely thinking about science can trigger moral behavior because it’s perceived as a moral pursuit.

The vicious cycle of hatred. People who tend to hate things they know about are also more likely to hate things they know nothing about.

South Korean surgeons are pushing the boundaries of plastic surgery. They can carve permanent smiles into otherwise sullen faces.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Swiss mansion listings and surgical smile designs to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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