Quartz Daily Brief—Europe 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 shut down for the first time in nearly two decades. Lawmakers continued their game of legislative ping pong late into Monday night, with the House passing the latest Republican plan (paywall) to delay Obamacare. But the Democratic-controlled Senate killed the Republican-backed provisions and sent the bill back. The shutdown—the first since 1995—will cost the economy $300 million a day.

Obamacare launches. Despite the 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. Japan faces its own version of the fiscal cliff.

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.

The Australian prime minister is in Indonesia. Tony Abbott says he and Indonesia president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono are “united” in dealing with asylum seekers, many of whom use the Southeast Asian country as a transit point in their attempts to reach Australian shores.

While you were sleeping

Two US generals were effectively fired over a deadly attack in Afghanistan. In a rare public censure, the two senior Marines were forced into retirement for failing to defend a US base during a 2012 Taliban strike that killed two soldiers.

Seventy-three kidnapped migrants were rescued in northeastern Mexico. The victims—some of whom had been held for over three months—were from Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Mexico; abductions are common in northeastern Mexico, an area controlled by drug cartels.

Venezuela is expelling three US diplomats. President Nicolas Maduro said the three were being kicked out for scheming to undermine the country’s economy; US officials rejected the accusation.

China’s September manufacturing data fell short of estimates. The official Purchasing Managers’ Index came in at 51.1, short of a 51.6 estimate; the data and a private index released yesterday indicate the country’s rebound may not be as robust as some thought.

Likely effects of a US shutdown. 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

The U.S. debt ceiling is the Germans’ fault. American lawmakers created the fiscal device to fund the country’s involvement in World War I.

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).

Surprising discoveries

Located: a mysterious volcano that erupted in the 13th century. Scientists say the Samalas Volcano, on Lombok Island, Indonesia, may be responsible for a massive explosion in 1257 that left its mark in Arctic and Antarctic ice.

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 has 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, Chinese gold stickers, and notes in cursive to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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