What to watch for today
On the G20 agenda: Fed, Syria, and snubs. In St Petersburg, heads of state will discuss the possibility of military intervention in Syria and the likely impact of the US Federal Reserve’s imminent “taper” of monetary stimulus. In a snub to the Kremlin, Barack Obama will meet Russian human rights activists instead of president Vladimir Putin.
Central banks in pause mode: Asia. The Bank of Japan is unlikely to make any change to the unprecedented stimulus measures it announced in April, but will take stock of the fallout of the slowdown in the emerging markets.
Central banks in pause mode: Europe. The European Central Bank is poised to leave interest rates unchanged at 0.5%, but it may raise growth projections (paywall) slightly. No change is expected from the Bank of England either, but a steady stream of cheerful economic data may force it to start raising rates sooner than than it thought.
The warm-up for Friday’s main event. US private payroll data and weekly jobless claims will provide a prelude to Friday’s official jobs report, the big number the Fed will look at before deciding its timeline for paring back its asset purchase program.
While you were sleeping
A step closer to bombing Syria. The US Senate’s foreign relations committee voted 10-7 to approve a resolution for the use of force against the Bashar al-Assad regime. The full Senate will vote on it next week. Meanwhile Barack Obama tried to rally global support, saying that the ”world set a red line” over the use of chemical weapons, not him.
US auto sales raced ahead… Big car makers including Ford, GM, Toyota and Chrysler delivered double-digit growth in sales last month as consumers took advantage of low interest rates and favorable lease deals. The housing recovery and rising consumer confidence also boosted sales.
…But auto imports hurt the US trade balance. The deficit grew 13% in July compared to June as imports of cars and car parts from Canada and Mexico surged to a record high. The Fed’s “Beige Book” survey of regional economic performance showed only modest expansion in July and August.
Samsung got creative with its smart watch. The South Korean electronics giant launched the $300 Galaxy Gear that boasts a tiny camera and 1.6-inch (4.1 cm) color display, and can be used to make phone calls. But its bulky size and short battery life may prove its undoing.
Quartz obsession interlude
Steve LeVine on how Vladimir Putin, flush with gas profits, is ready to pick some more fights. “Putin is likely to continue sharp resistance to plans by the European Union to form free trade agreements with former Soviet republics, in particular with Ukraine. He will also not easily agree to harsher oil sanctions against Iran should the US advocate them. And Putin will also strongly push back against European plans to file anti-trust sanctions against Gazprom.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
How the Syrian Electronic Army suddenly got so good. The pro-Assad hacker group may have had more than a little help from Iran.
Lessons on investing from someone who’s been both investor and investee. What a bank analyst learned when she became CFO of a tech firm instead.
A hint that the crisis is over. Commodity prices are starting to decouple from equities, suggesting that forces of supply and demand are back at work.
Silicon Valley’s language problem isn’t foreign accents. It’s that English is “broken” in a way that makes it hard for foreigners to learn.
The answer to your parking nightmares. The prototype of a South Korean electric car will park itself and fold nearly in half with a tap on a smartphone.
Feline mayors. Morris the cat has popped up on campaign posters in in the eastern Mexican city of Xalapa. He already has 100,000 likes on his Facebook page. Meanwhile, Stubbs, a cat who has served 16 years as honorary mayor of a town in Alaska, is in serious condition after being mauled by a dog.
A Chinese village is back from the dead. The ghost town has emerged from under water five years after it was flooded following an earthquake.
A miniature frog that hears with its mouth.The 11-millimeter long amphibian’s head is simply too small for fully formed ears.