Quartz Daily Brief—Asia Edition—Syrian dilemma, Verizon-Vodafone, Nasdaq freeze, Martians

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What to watch for today

Will the US’s resolve on Syria waver? Britain’s parliament has voted not to take part in a strike on Syria, reflecting public opposition. US president Barack Obama is reportedly open to going it alone, but it would be the first major campaign in at least 25 years without UK support. French president François Hollande, too, has been sounding more cautious than before. Meanwhile US officials are reportedly pretty certain the Syrian military launched last week’s chemical-weapons attack on civilians but can’t be sure the order came from president Bashar al-Assad.

India’s continuing slowdown. Expect GDP growth to be just 4.6% in the April-June quarter—the third consecutive period below 5% and the slowest pace since 2009. Prime minister Manmohan Singh will make a statement in parliament on the state of the economy and what the government is doing to arrest the fall of the rupee.

Brazil’s short-lived recovery. Growth of 2.6% is forecast, driven by record grain and oil seed harvests. But economists expect persistent inflation, high interest rates and declining business confidence to take their toll in the coming months.

America’s fickle consumers. Consumer spending probably increased for the third straight month in July, as the recovery in the labor and housing markets boosted sentiment. But consumer confidence data for August may show a slight dip from July’s six-year high.

Britain’s good news. Consumer credit and mortgage approvals for July are likely to increase, the latest evidence of a recovery. The euro zone is also reporting inflation, consumer confidence and unemployment data.

While you were sleeping

The Fed may have sped up the Verizon-Vodafone deal. Verizon’s offer to buy out Vodafone’s 45% stake in it could reportedly be finalized in a week’s time (paywall), to lock in loan rates on what could be a $130 billion acquisition before the US Federal Reserve tightens monetary policy and sends interest rates up. Vodafone could land a £24 billion ($38 billion) windfall, thanks to a bizarre tax loophole.

“Shadow banks” will have to fall in line by 2015. The Financial Stability Board, a global task force of regulators, has outlined measures to curb excessive risk-taking in the $60 trillion industry. The reforms include better data collection to identify risks, and steps to prevent runs on money market funds.

The US grew faster than expected. Second quarter GDP rose at a 2.5% annualized rate, up from an initial estimate of 1.7%, on strong exports of goods and services. That raises the chances of the Federal Reserve reducing its stimulus program next month.

The Nasdaq said last week’s freeze-up was partly its fault. The exchange operator said that connection problems between Arca, an all-electronic exchange owned by rival NYSE, and Nasdaq’s systems led to a data overload that brought trading to a halt for three hours on Aug. 22.

Amazon placated European regulators. The online retailing giant agreed to stop restricting traders signed up to its Marketplace platform from offering products elsewhere for cheaper. The UK’s Office of Fair Trading said it would consider dropping a probe into the company, and Germany’s antitrust body is expected to follow suit. 

The NFL agreed to compensate players with head trauma. American football’s governing body agreed to a $765 million settlement with more than 4,500 former players who suffered advanced dementia and other health problems due to concussions received on the field.

Quartz obsession interlude

Simone Foxman on why the real plan for Google Glass may be to sell it to businesses, not consumers. “Though Google has been promoting the device with heart-warming videos on rollercoaster rides and in children’s playgrounds, for the next few years at least, its main customers will be large businesses. Members of the Glass operations team have been on the road showing it off to companies and organizations, and they told Quartz that some of the most enthusiastic responses have come from manufacturers, teachers, medical companies, and hospitals. That suggests that they may be trying to persuade firms to buy the device and develop applications for it.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

How to save your startup when no-one will give you funding. Focus on the most distinctive parts of the business, be honest with team-mates and hang on to hope.

Sending your kids to private schools harms the education system. If more rich parents choose public schools, their quality will only improve.

Twitter will become more like Facebook. Making conversations easier to follow will make Twitter more popular, but less useful as a source of real-time news.

Stock options are on the verge of extinction. Restricted shares, which give employees the full value of a company’s stock at a future date, are emerging as new favorite.

Surprising discoveries

Genetic tweaks make mice live longer. Suppressing a single gene increased their lifespans by 20%; the research could help fight diseases like Alzheimer’s.

This is the US government’s secret budget. The latest leak from Edward Snowden: a breakdown of $52.6 billion in intelligence spending.

An illegal international pipeline… for vodka. Border guards discovered a tube crossing the Kyrgyzstan-Kazakhstan border that may have carried thousands of liters of liquor.

We may be descended from Martians. A geochemist argues that life began on Mars and was blasted to Earth by meteorites.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, secrets of longevity, and vodka to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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