Quartz Daily Brief—Asia Edition—US shutdown, Abe’s tax plan, Peru’s dirty gold, China’s gold stickers

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What to watch for today

The US government shuts down. It’s looking pretty certain after the US Senate rejected a last-minute spending proposal (paywall) passed by the House—though Republican moderates might still conceivably avert a shutdown. Beginning at midnight on Monday US eastern time, it would send at least 825,000 of the government’s 2-million-plus workers home.

Obamacare launches. Even if there is a shutdown, the Affordable Care Act—the very thing that prompted the political showdown—will still take effect, so the marketplaces where lower-income Americans can buy health insurance will open for business.

Shinzo Abe tries to have it both ways. Japan’s prime minister is expected to announce his first hefty tax increase in an attempt to cut the government’s massive debt, but also a big stimulus package that could all but wipe out the first year’s tax gains.

European unemployment remains at a record high. The EU releases jobless numbers for the 17 euro-zone countries at 11am in Luxembourg. Economists expect a 12.1% rate for August.

While you were sleeping

A shred of hope for Italy. Having wreaked havoc by ordering the five ministers from his center-right party to quit the governing coalition, Silvio Berlusconi was fighting dissent in the ranks (paywall). That might force him to back down before a confidence vote that the prime minister, Enrico Letta, has called for Wednesday.

The slump in emerging markets hit Unilever. Thanks to slowing growth and cheaper currencies in emerging markets, the consumer-goods company is expecting sales growth between 3% and 3.5% this quarter.

And it’s not just Unilever. US companies in general have been posting negative earnings outlooks for the quarter at the second-highest level since 2001, though in the previous quarter they were even more alarmist.

Likely effects of a US shutdown emerged. There will probably be no US jobs report this Friday, and aircraft awaiting delivery to customers could face delays being certified. On the other hand, the Securities and Exchange Commission says it has money to stay open for “a few weeks”, so Twitter’s IPO may not be delayed.

Quartz obsession interlude

Roberto A. Ferdman on a report detailing the sorry state of Peru’s gold-mining industry. “In total, Peru now exports more illegally produced gold than cocaine, which is staggering, considering that Peru happens to be the world’s largest exporter of cocaine. The working conditions in Peruvian mines, which often include severe isolation, staggering amounts of child labor, extreme cases of overworking, and countless incidences of forced labor and abuse, rival those of most any poorly-regulated industry around the world.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Don’t write off Indian manufacturing. Pressure to compete is at last bringing about a quiet revolution in the country’s management culture.

Cursive is an art; keep it alive. 45 US states are demoting joined-up handwriting from their curricula in favor of keyboard skills, but they’re missing the point.

How to get rich on the internet. Don’t try to invent something new; just solve a really basic human need better than anyone else (says the co-founder of Twitter, who should know).

Surprising discoveries

China just loves those golden iPhones. The new gold-colored iPhone 5s is in short supply, but you can get a gold sticker for your regular iPhone for $2.

When the US government shuts down, it really shuts down. Federal employees on furlough will be breaking the law if they so much as check their email.

Toyota’s made a handsome return on Tesla. Though the Japanese firm isn’t investing in electric cars, Tesla shares it bought three years ago have gone up by some $500 million.

A political divorce. An Egyptian man divorced his wife of 10 years for marching in a Muslim Brotherhood demonstration.

Federal Reserve, eat your heart out. India’s temples are holding on to an estimated 2,000 tonnes of gold worth roughly $84 billion dollars.

Best wishes from Quartz for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Peruvian or Indian gold, and Chinese gold stickers to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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