Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Yellen is Obama’s pick, US debt wrangling, Brazil rates, cheater’s high

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What to watch for today

Obama will pick Yellen… The president will reportedly nominate the 67-year-old as chairwoman of the Federal Reserve; if she’s approved by the Senate, she’ll be first woman to run the bank—and will immediately grapple with ending Ben Bernanke’s stimulus plan.

And Fed minutes are released. The US Federal Reserve releases the minutes of its Sept. 17-18 policy meeting, where it decided not to start winding down stimulus measures, surprising investors. The minutes could shed light on what’s reportedly been a tense debate within the 19-person Fed decision-making group.

Progress on a US debt deal. Maybe. Democrats in the US Senate are expected to introduce a bill this week that would give the president the power to raise America’s debt limit unless two-thirds of both chambers of Congress disapprove. President Barack Obama said he would negotiate with Republican lawmakers on budget issues, but only after they agree to re-open the government and raise the debt ceiling.

Peak Brazilian interest rates. Brazil’s central bank is expected to raise the country’s base interest rate—already at 9.0%—by half a percentage point. Analysts say monetary tightening should end soon, given the country is nearing the politically unpalatable sphere of double-digit interest rates.

Any signs of an HP turn-around. At a Hewlett-Packard analyst meeting, investors will be looking for signs that CEO Meg Whitman can finally make good on promises to turn the tech company around, especially its enterprise division selling hardware, software and services to large businesses. HP’s stock has dropped 17% over the past three months.

Summits and meetings. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund’s annual meeting continues in Washington. Meanwhile, the ASEAN regional bloc holds a summit in Brunei in the wake of APEC’s just-finished gathering.

While you were sleeping

Obama said China profited from his missed Asia trip. The president reiterated what many have been saying: His shutdown-induced absence at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit aided China’s engagement with the region. “I should have been there,” he said.

Iran will offer nuclear limits… The country’s leaders are set to propose halting their production of nuclear fuel in exchange for the easing of US and European sanctions, The Wall Street Journal reports.

…While South Korea said the North restarted its main reactor. Pyongyang fired up its Yongbyon plant, a South Korean lawmaker said, following through on its April promise to restart the facility.

Apple is preparing to unveil new iPads. AllThingsD reports the firm will release a new iPad and iPad mini on Oct. 22. (No word on whether or not giant tablets are also in the works.)

Tweeter got a new stock symbol. Tweeter Home Entertainment Group is now THEGQ, rather than TWTRQ, which some investors confused with Twitter. The company’s name remains the same.

Emerging economies are dragging down the global economy. The IMF cut its forecast for global growth this year to 2.9% from a previous estimate of 3.2%. The culprits? Slower growth in India, Brazil and China.

The quarterly earnings season kicked off. Metals giant Alcoa exceeded analyst profit estimates thanks to cost-cutting, and despite a 3% decline in aluminum prices since the end of June.

Quartz obsession interlude

Matt Phillips on the market’s reaction to progress toward preventing a default on US debts. “The yield on some very-short-term Treasury-bills, normally the safest thing you can possibly own, has been shooting higher. The spike is mostly concentrated around Treasury bills that mature later this month and in early November, just as the US Treasury department will be running low on cash if the debt ceiling isn’t raised… The bond markets are sending a very bad signal about the prospects for any near-term solution to the US debt ceiling fight, and they may even be bracing for a worst-case outcome, such as a default.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

We should ditch our old phone networks. Few people use the old copper wire technology, and maintenance costs telecom firms $13.5 billion a year.

When exactly will the US run out of money? It could be Oct. 24 instead of Oct. 17.

A stock market crash is the best way to resolve the US debt ceiling crisis. A real crisis and total loss of confidence would push Washington to stop procrastinating. 

Weak leadership, not slowing economic growth, is the real threat to Asian economies

The best thing about Google’s new Chromebook is its charger. The newly announced laptop is charged via a micro-USB cable, which means you can use the same charger as for your phone, tablet or smart watch.

Surprising discoveries

Why do we cheat? Because unethical behavior produces a high.

Loud aircraft noise may be bad for your heart. People who live close to airports may be at increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

What’s really killing all the bees? Too much stress, which could come from non-lethal doses of pesticides, poor nutrition and bad weather.

People in positions of higher status say “I” less frequently, according to new research.

Your sweet tooth is displacing poor people. By 2020, the world will consume 25% more sugar than it does now—demand that means more impoverished villagers in Africa, Asia and Latin America will be kicked off their land to make room for sugar cane.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, alternate uses for copper wire, and bee stress reduction techniques to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.


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