Quartz Daily Brief—Asia Edition—Alcoa reports, Bloomberg’s challenge, rocket taxes, jellyfish shredders

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What to watch for today

Industry bellwether no more? Alcoa reports third-quarter earnings for the first time since it was dropped from the Dow Jones Industrial Average last month. The aluminum manufacturer is expected to report weak profits, but analysts will still be scrutinizing its results since raw materials are a cyclical indicator for global growth.

Inside Cristina Fernández’s head. The day after the US Supreme Court upheld a ruling forcing Argentina to pay creditors on defaulted government bonds, the country’s beleaguered president will undergo surgery to remove a subdural hematoma—a clot of blood inside the skull that’s been pressing on her brain.

Can German manufacturers keep up the pace? Orders for German manufactured goods are expected to bounce back up by 1% in August after dipping 2.7% in July.

New $100 bills. Redesigned $100 bills will start circulating in the US—and will eventually make their way around the world. An unknown but significant number of $100 bills are parked on foreign soil.

While you were sleeping

Washington remained deadlocked. With the US government shutdown entering its second week and the Oct. 17 deadline looming for raising the debt ceiling, the S&P 500 dropped to its lowest level in a month. There were hints the debt ceiling could be extended for a few weeks to give Republicans and Democrats more time to negotiate.

Bankruptcy makes strange bedfellows. Teetering on the verge of bankruptcy, Serbia may get up to $3 billion in loans from the United Arab Emirates by the end of 2014. Given Serbia’s role in fighting Muslims during the Yugoslavian wars of the 1990s, the two countries have never been close.

A challenge to Bloomberg’s dominance. Thomson Reuters and Markit launched their new chat service for finance professionals, which they hope will lure companies to cut back on Bloomberg terminal subscriptions in the wake of a privacy scandal that hit Bloomberg earlier this year.

Alcatel-Lucent to slash jobs around the world. The French telecom-equipment maker said it would cut 15,000 jobs. The troubled company—which posted a $1.2 billion loss for the six months ending June—will also close operations in Toulouse and Rennes in France.

Deadly clashes continued in Egypt. Health officials have raised to 53 the number of those killed in fighting between supporters and critics of the Egyptian military. Clashes began on Sunday, the 40-year anniversary of the country’s last war with Israel.

A win for medicine. Two Americans and a German won the Nobel Prize for medicine. Their research on how insulin is manufactured and released into the blood helped shed light on diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.

Quartz obsession interlude

Adam Pasick on why the film Gravity shows that the world needs a “rocket tax” against space debris. “[A] study found that commercial satellite firms launch more satellites than is ‘socially desirable,’ and they use launch technology that is more likely to create debris ‘because they only compare individual marginal benefits and costs of their technology choice and fail to take into account social benefits and costs.’ That puts space debris squarely into the category of a ‘negative externality,’ much like regular Earth-bound pollution, where the costs are unfairly borne by a third party—in this case just about everyone else on Earth.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

There’s a simple reason why so many products fail. Consumers just don’t understand what they do.

Ex-bank bosses get ornery. Bank CEOs have a habit of turning into bank critics once they retire.

Not every earth-shattering discovery gets the recognition it deserves. These five revolutionary breakthroughs haven’t won Nobel prizes, at least not yet.

Washington is failing for a bunch of reasons. Among them: big business no longer controls the Republican Party, Ted Cruz has too much power, and too much transparency can hinder consensus.

How the firm that makes Candy Crush can avoid a Zynga-sized crash. All has to do is wean itself off Facebook.

Everything Malcolm Gladwell writes is compelling. But it isn’t because he’s good at writing.

Surprising discoveries

Korea’s plan to shred a jellyfish plague using robots could spawn millions more jellyfish. There’s a reason some of the critters are called “hydras.”

The world’s most ambitious brain project. Some 130 European research institutions are starting a 10-year collaboration to map the human brain, simulate it, and develop neuro-inspired technologies.

The world’s biggest kaffeeklatsch. 13,800 people gathered in a town square in Colombia for coffee, as a promo intended to up the country’s coffee consumption. 

The world’s biggest tablet computers? Well, big, anyway. They just debuted on Fox News and they’re custom-made by Microsoft.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, brain maps and jellyfish remains to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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