Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—US debt vote, Hong Kong typhoon, Oktoberfest economics, soldier-robot love

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What to watch for today

Raghuram Rajan takes center stage in India. In his first monetary policy meeting, the new central bank governor is expected to remove liquidity tightening measures put in place in July to support the rupee. The bank is likely to keep benchmark rates unchanged at 7.25% to tame inflation.

First punches thrown in the US debt-ceiling brawl. The House of Representatives will vote on a stopgap funding bill, meant to avert a government shutdown on Oct. 1, that defunds president Barack Obama’s signature health-care law. The Senate is almost certain to block the measure, and the White House has promised to veto it.

Obama’s new greenhouse gas regulations. The Environmental Protection Agency will announce the first carbon limits on US gas and coal-fired power plants.

The new iPhone goes on sale. Customers lined up first in Australia for the for the iPhone 5s and 5c, followed by Japan, China, and Singapore. This is the first time Apple is simultaneously releasing its new iPhone in China.

Typhoon Usagi bears down on Hong Kong. The strongest storm of the year so far, with winds of up to 160 miles per hour, is on track to make landfall on Sunday.

Bo Xilai’s verdict is due on Sunday. The former high-flying Chinese politician is charged with corruption, embezzlement, and abuse of power, and is expected to be sentenced to at least 20 years in prison. In a defiant letter to his family, Bo proclaimed his innocence and vowed that “the truth will come out one day.”

While you were sleeping

Japan’s government is planning over $14 billion in corporate tax breaks to counter a sales tax hike designed to pay for welfare spending, the Nikkei newspaper reported (paywall).

The EU and Singapore wrapped up a comprehensive free trade agreement. The 28 European states hope the pact could lead to a deal with ten more Southeast Asian countries in the coming years.

Another trading glitch, this time at the NY Fed. A technological snafu at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s bidding system last week blocked a multibillion-dollar order for three-month Treasury bills from Goldman Sachs. The Fed was forced to make amends by manually allotting Goldman more T-bills than the bank had asked for.

Nokia’s CEO got $25.5 million for engineering its partial sale to Microsoft. Nokia will pay CEO Stephen Elop €18.8 million ($25.5 million) in compensation when he returns to Microsoft after the completion of the $7.2 billion deal.

US home sales hit a six-year high. Sales of previously-owned homes unexpectedly rose 1.7% in August to a 5.48 million annual rate, a sign that buyers were rushing to lock in mortgage deals before interest rates rose still further.

Pope Francis told off the Catholic church for its “obsession” with divisive issues like abortion, homosexuality and contraception, and warned that its moral structure could “fall like a house of cards” unless it changed.

Mars probe comes up empty. NASA’s Curiosity rover has found no signs of methane—a strong indicator of life—despite evidence found by earlier exploration. In other news, Brazilian hackers targeted the space agency after confusing it with the spy agency NSA.

Quartz obsession interlude

Roberto A. Ferdman on the bizarre, rule-defying economics of beer at Munich’s Oktoberfest. “Dating all the way back to 1980, a 1% increase in beer prices at the event has, rather incredibly, corresponded with a 0.3% increase in demand. Oktoberfest beer, the report explains, falls into the category of what economists call a Giffen paradox, whereby the demand for and price of a good increase simultaneously.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Stop thinking of Apple and Google as competitors. They’re actually locked in a symbiotic embrace from which neither can escape.

A delayed “taper” is the last bit of help emerging nations will get from the Fed. They should learn to live without the US central bank’s extraordinary stimulus.

Banking without risk is impossible. The financial system depends on short-term money to fund longer-term investments, and it can never be made fail-safe.

Indonesian protesters should stop obsessing about bikinis. Instead citizens of the world’s largest Muslim country should focus on issues that really matter, like poverty and corruption.

Surprising discoveries

The Romans were nanotechnology pioneers. 1,600 years ago, they impregnated a jade-green glass with silver and gold particles to make it appear red when lit from behind.

Soldiers can fall in love with their robots. A study finds they get emotionally attached to bomb-disposal robots and occasionally even hold funerals for them.

Giving up $6.3 million for a clear conscience. A Spanish man who found a winning lottery ticket turned it in saying he wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if he claimed the prize.

The right body language can get you served first at a bar. Squeezing between customers, chatting with friends, and reading menus are definite no-nos.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, ancient nanotech, and Oktoberfest economics anomalies to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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