Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—US-Iran icebreaker, Abe’s “womenomics,” JP Morgan’s mounting legal bill

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What to watch for today

Engaging with Iran. US secretary of state John Kerry and his counterparts from five other major powers will meet with the Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, perhaps setting the ball rolling on a diplomatic solution to Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Meanwhile Iranian president Hassan Rouhani caused a stir with a disputed quote condemning the Holocaust.

US recovery picks up pace. The second and final revision of the second quarter’s GDP is likely to show that the economy grew at a 2.7% annual rate, up from a prior estimate of 2.5%. Pending August home sales, however, are expected to decline marginally.

Taiwan’s currency worry. The central bank is poised to leave benchmark rates unchanged at 1.8%, but the focus will be on the strong capital inflows that have pushed its currency to 4.5 month highs, hurting the exporters that account for almost two-third’s of Taiwan’s GDP.

Earnings kickoff. Athletic gear maker Nike’s first-quarter earnings are projected to rise 24% from the same period last year. The report could be seen as the official start of the US earnings season, since Nike has replaced Alcoa—which traditionally kicked off the season—in the Dow Jones index. Swedish apparel maker H&M could report higher revenues (paywall), but margins might drop as many of the sales were driven by discounts.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe addresses the UN. He is expected to discuss the pro-growth, anti-deflation reforms he’s brought to the world’s third largest economy. But instead of “Abenomics,” he says he’ll focus on “womenomics.”

While you were sleeping

JP Morgan’s legal bill may top $11 billion. The largest US bank is reportedly in discussions (paywall) with regulators to settle investigations related to mortgage-backed securities by paying $7 billion in fines and $4 billion in relief to consumers.

US corporate bonds had a record month. With companies rushing to take advantage of low interest rates, the total amount of investment-grade debt issued in September is on track to surpass the $136.6 billion (paywall) record set in November 2012.

A Beijing court found a general’s son guilty of gang rape. 17-year-old Li Guanfeng, charged with three other men, received a ten-year jail sentence.

Airbus booked $15 billion of deals in Asia. The aerospace giant is selling 160 jets to Chinese and Vietnamese carriers.

Larry Ellison scored a come-from-behind America’s Cup win. The software billionaire’s Oracle Team USA won the final race in San Francisco Bay, completing a remarkable comeback after trailing 8-1.

Three major US data brokers were hacked. The attacks on D&B, LexisNexis, and Altegrity were reportedly orchestrated by a crime syndicate that sold their data online; the FBI is investigating.

The Navy Yard gunman thought the government was attacking his brain. 34-year-old Aaron Alexis, who killed 12 people in a shooting rampage last week, believed he was being subjected to low frequency electromagnetic waves.

Quartz obsession interlude

Heather Timmons on what losing the Alibaba IPO might mean for the venerable Hong Kong stock exchange. “Is Hong Kong really the financial gateway to China? Or will increasingly muscular moves from the mainland and competition from New York and Singapore result in high-flying companies like Alibaba bypassing Hong Kong altogether?” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Janet Yellen’s lack of financial experience is a serious drawback. A Fed chair’s grasp of finance and risk is as important as the ability to understand macroeconomics.

Latin America’s middle-class mirage. Personal incomes are being boosted by state subsidies and transfers, at the expense of investment in transport, security, and utilities.

Bill Gates should follow Steve Ballmer out of Microsoft. Gates’ track record as chairman is patchy. It may be in shareholders’ best interest for him to move on.

Smartphones are changing supermarket shopping. As smartphones make shoppers less impulsive, advertisers will grow louder and more intrusive.

Losing is good for kids. Nonstop awards can actually result in lower achievement.

Surprising discoveries

America’s toilet turnaround. US commode manufacturing makes a surprising comeback.

Slaves to soccer? Nepalese migrants building stadiums for Qatar’s 2022 World Cup are subject to horrific conditions.

North Korea’s Doomsday scenario. A Rand study suggests the brittle regime could collapse with little warning, setting up a China-US military confrontation.  

Wealthy Chinese are far richer than Beijing thinks. Researchers estimate that total undeclared income in China was $1 trillion in 2011, or 12% of GDP.

A deadly earthquake created a new island. The 7.7 magnitude tremor caused a 100-foot high, 200-foot wide island to form in the sea off Pakistan’s coastline.

15% of American adults don’t use the Internet. The main reason: They’re just not interested.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, made in America toilets and tinfoil helmets to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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