Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—All eyes on DC, Merkel’s coalition talks, Asia’s typhoon trifecta, kid-powered bicycle-bus

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What to watch for today

Washington deal-makers scramble. The US government has three days until it risks running out of cash, and US lawmakers are scrambling to come up with a deal to extend the country’s borrowing limit. IMF head Christine Lagarde and the heads of three of the world’s most powerful banks warned that the fate of the global economy hangs in the balance.

US markets respond to a deal-less weekend. Investors could react negatively to the ongoing stalemate when the New York Stock Exchange reopens. U.S. bond markets are closed for Columbus Day.

Merkel’s coalition talks. German Chancellor Angela Merkel discusses forming a coalition government with the country’s Social Democrats, who want a nationwide hourly minimum wage of 8.50 euros ($11.51).

Mother nature beats up Asia. Typhoon Nari is expected to hit Vietnam, while Wipha is on course for eastern Japan. Here are radar images of Wipha, Nari and Cyclone Phailin, which landed in India Saturday.

International market holidays. Egypt and a few other exchanges in the Middle East close for the beginning of the Eid religious holiday. The Tokyo Stock Exchange closes for the country’s national day celebrating sports and health, Hong Kong for a holiday celebrating ancestor worship and India for Dussehra, celebrating the annihilation of evil.

While you were sleeping

India inflation jumped to a seven-month high. The September wholesale price index advanced 6.46% from a year earlier compared with August’s 6.10% gain; the central bank is now more likely to raise interest rates.

Ikea’s sales rose. The furniture retailer’s full-year sales increased 3.1%, thanks to brisk sales in China and Russia, with the company also gaining market share in “almost all markets.”

The UK relaxed visas for Chinese visitors. Chancellor George Osborne said Chinese nationals traveling to the EU will no longer need separate UK visa applications.

Netflix is discussing cable deals. The online video service is in talks with cable-TV companies like Comcast and Suddenlink Communications to offer Netflix via their set-top boxes, the Wall Street Journal reports. 

Life got pricier in China. September consumer prices rose more than expected, increasing 3.1% from a year earlier and advancing from 2.6% in August, presenting a tough challenge for policymakers who want a rebound without too much inflation.

Argentina’s president left the hospital. Five days after brain surgery to remove a blood clot, 60-year-old Cristina Fernandez returned to her official residence. She faces 30 days of rest; it’s unclear when she’ll resume work.

Iran refused to give up the goods. Iran rejected Western demands that the country ship sensitive nuclear material out of the country. Negotiations between the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, Germany and Iran over Iran’s nuclear program are set to start in Geneva on Tuesday.

Quartz obsession interlude

Todd Woody on how the second-biggest clean technology investor is an oil giant. ”The second-most active corporate deal-maker isn’t a ‘don’t be evil’ Silicon Valley tech giant. Rather it’s a company from the Dr. No sector—oil multinational ConocoPhillips, according to a new report from research and advisory firm Cleantech Group. Between the third quarter of 2011 and the second quarter of 2013, ConocoPhillips invested in 18 deals, putting cash into startups such as Cool Planet, biofuels developer, and Skyonic, which has invented a technology to capture carbon dioxide from industrial emissions.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Economic inequality is a choice. Joseph Stiglitz argues that countries can create shared prosperity if they want to.

Forget about your passion and goals. Fail your way to success, says “Dilbert” creator Scott Adams.

The G20 is losing focus. Leaders of the G20 once focused on hammering out deals on fiscal stimulus; now their agenda is confused and amorphous, ranging from climate change to food security.

Yellen isn’t the issue. The US Federal Reserve has bigger problems to confront than who’s running it; There’s waning confidence that its policy tools can fix the economy.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner is in trouble. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which just won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, is bogged down by budget and staff cuts that are jeopardizing one of the most successful nonproliferation agreements.

The US political system is the country’s latest bubble. If market participants believe that the US’s once capable system is now dysfunctional and unpredictable, a pivotal event like a default could move markets dramatically.

Surprising discoveries

A kid-powered school bus? Yes: A Dutch company created a “bicycle-bus” powered by up to ten pedaling children—and steered by an adult.

Cloak-and-dagger screenplay-protection tactics. The steps nervous Hollywood filmmakers take include using digital watermarks, altering words to catch leakers and fiercely guarding print copies.

The story of quinoa’s rise. Bolivian farmers, an in-demand grain, and the triumph of delivery.

If you cried in space, the tears would pool in your eyes like a blob. So says this astronaut’s fact-check of the sci-fi film Gravity.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, bicycling innovations and space tears to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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