Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—German manufacturing data, US shutdown thaw, Japanese trade deficit, rocket taxes

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What to watch for today

Signs of a DC thaw? US President Barack Obama said he would consider a short-term extension to the debt ceiling, and influential Republican Sen. Rob Portman floated a plan to cut spending and reform the tax code in exchange for a budget  and debt-ceiling deal.

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. Trade data for the month is also due today, providing insight on internal consumption and global demand.

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.

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

Alcoa, still a bellwether. The aluminum manufacturer is expected to report weak quarterly earnings for the first time since it was dropped from the Dow Jones Industrial Average last month; analysts will still be scrutinizing its results as a cyclical indicator for global growth.

While you were sleeping

China and Japan warned the US. American politicians should “ensure the safety of the Chinese investments,” said Chinese vice-finance minister Zhu Guangyao, though the veiled threat to buy fewer Treasurys is an empty one. And a senior official in Japan’s finance ministry said a US default would cause the dollar to tank, making the yen soar.

China’s services cooled. September’s Markit/HSBC services purchasing managers index (PMI) fell to 52.4 from 52.8 in August, indicating the country’s rebound remains modest.

Carl Icahn took a stake in Talisman Energy. The activist investor bought 5.97% of the Canadian energy firm for about $277 million; its shares surged 8.6%. 

Tokyo’s current account surplus sank, falling 64% year-on-year to a record low for August. For the first time in nine months, overseas income declined, and imports were greater than exports.

Australian job ads rose for the first time since February. The 0.2% increase in September from August, when advertisement declined 2%, shows the country’s weak labor market may be strengthening.

Deadly clashes continued in Egypt. The death toll climbed to 53 amid evidence of a violent stalemate between Egypt’s military-backed government and its Islamist opponents.

Alcatel-Lucent to slash jobs around the world. The unprofitable French telecom-equipment maker said it would cut 10,000 jobs in a cost-cutting move; that’s about 14% of the firm’s global workforce.

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

Don’t dismiss China’s economic reforms. The chances for restructuring are greater than at any point since the 1990s, Henry Paulson says.

Now they tell us. Bank CEOs have a habit of turning into bank critics after 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.

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

Surprising discoveries

Knocking on wood works.  Not to prevent bad things, but to prevent worrying.

Korea’s jellyfish-killing robots could spawn millions of 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 tablet computers? They just debuted on Fox News, they’re custom-made by Microsoft, and they display up to four tweets at a time.

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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