Quartz Daily Brief—Asia Edition—Samsung’s smart watch, US trade deficit, S&P’s charge, the magic of Beethoven

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What to watch for today

Discussions on Syria. French lawmakers will debate but won’t vote on military action against the Bashar al-Assad regime; president François Hollande has said France will wait for the outcome of a vote in the US Congress next week. That’s looking more promising for president Barack Obama, after he won the support of key Republican leaders.

US economic data. The gap between exports and imports is expected to have widened to $38.8 billion, and sales of new cars and light trucks are estimated to have jumped 17% year-on-year, as US consumers spend more while much of the world slows down. The Federal Reserve’s “Beige Book” regional economic report will also be released.

European data. Revised euro-zone GDP is expected to confirm that the region is out of recession. Imports, exports and retail sales will give further clues as to the extent of the recovery.

Samsung’s chunky smart watch. The South Korean electronics giant will beat Apple to market with the launch of its Galaxy Gear.  Leaked photos of the wearable device seem to confirm our reservations about smart watches.

Rosh Hashana begins. Sunset today marks the start of the Jewish new year and high-holiday season.

While you were sleeping

The winners and losers in Microsoft’s $7.2 billion acquisition of Nokia. The deal darkens the prospects of Windows Phone partners and others like BlackBerry, while Samsung and cheap Chinese manufacturers stand to gain. Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, a former Microsoft hand, engineered the deal, but his track record at the Finnish company may hurt his chances of succeeding Steve Ballmer as Microsoft CEO. Microsoft’s decision to keep the Nokia brand name on low-end phones is brilliant.

Standard & Poor’s hit back. The ratings agency claimed that the US justice department’s fraud lawsuit against it is a retaliation for its decision to downgrade the US in August 2011, and violates its freedom of speech.

The US economy picked up steam. Strong manufacturing and construction data could influence the Federal Reserve’s decision on winding down an era of ultra-loose monetary policy when it meets later this month. (The decisive numbers will be in Friday’s jobs report.)

The countdown to a new iPhone officially began. Apple sent out invitations for a September 10 event where it is expected to unveil the two new versions of the iPhone—the iPhone 5S, or 5C, with a fingerprint reader, as well as a cheaper mass-market version.

Quartz obsession interlude

Jason Karaian on how European soccer clubs are the fiscal opposites of European governments. “If you take each country’s top league as a whole, net spending flips the common economic narrative on its head. Northern Europe shows a taste for aggressive deficit spending—led by England, with France and Germany doing their part—while the prudent periphery—Spain, Italy and Portugal—collects more than it pays out. Despite Madrid’s spending spree, on balance La Liga in Spain brought in the equivalent of $140 million more in fees than it spent on players.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The world economy is in the hands of the US Congress—again. The vote on Syria, the debt ceiling debate, and the confirmation hearings for the next Fed chief could destabilize global growth.

Why Vladimir Putin is standing up for Bashar al-Assad. He’s thinking about his own job security.

What the world can learn from Sweden. Its economic recovery shows that a welfare society can adopt fiscally conservative free-market policies.

Surprising discoveries

Want your parcels delivered by drone? Move to China. It could be a leader in legalizing commercial drone use.

Anyone can take pictures of you from a satellite. An international “open skies” policy means commercial entities can control a satellite over any spot with relatively little regulation.

The biggest piano class in the world. 32,000 students have signed up for an online class on Beethoven’s sonatas.

A weekend diving trip that netted $300,000. A Florida family found sunken treasure on a historic wreck in the Atlantic Ocean.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, satellite images, and treasure maps to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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