Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—German manufacturing data, US shutdown thaw, NSA meltdown, 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 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. The country’s exports rose in August, pointing to Europe’s ongoing rebound.

Citizens United sequel? The US Supreme Court will hear oral arguments about individual campaign contribution limits.

New $100 bills. Redesigned $100 bills will start circulating in the US; an unknown but significant number of the old 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 scrutinize its results as a cyclical indicator for global growth.

While you were sleeping

Mysterious power surges hit the NSA. The agency’s gargantuan new data center in Utah has suffered 10 electrical meltdowns in the last 13 months, postponing its opening by a year.

Beware of tapering, emerging Asia. The region’s policymakers will need to marshal foreign capital flows and encourage growth while grappling with reduced Fed stimulus, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said.

Australian business confidence soared. The National Australia Bank index for August advanced to its highest level in three and a half years following the restoration of majority government and the reduction of interest rates. Elsewhere, Australian job ads rose for the first time since February, indicating the country’s weak labor market may be strengthening.

The UK economy is humming along. A British Chambers of Commerce survey found increasing manufacturing and services activity in the third quarter that could represent 0.9-1% growth, the fastest pace in five years.

China’s services de-accelerated. 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.

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.

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 world needs a “rocket tax” against the space debris in the hit film Gravity. “[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

Why does Iran want nuclear talks? Because they’re following North Korea’s playbook.

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

The TSA might be cool with carry-on marijuana. If you’ve got a medical card or are flying from Colorado to Washington, federal agents are inclined to be mellow.

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

The shutdown is making us sick. While food safety officials are furloughed, a major salmonella outbreak is taking place.

Surprising discoveries

What’s the time in Antarctica? It’s complicated, but researchers have found various solutions to a thorny time zone issue.

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

Korea’s jellyfish-killing robots could spawn millions more. There’s a reason some of the critters are called “hydras.”

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, carry-on marijuana stories and jellyfish remains to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.


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