What to watch for today
Yellen in the hot seat. Janet Yellen, who has been nominated to replace Ben Bernanke as Federal Reserve chair, will appear before the US Senate banking committee. You can already read what she’s going to tell them. (Executive summary: The economy has “made good progress, but we have farther to go.”)
Walmart’s sluggish growth. Walmart’s results, expected to improve slightly, act as a barometer for the retail sector overall, since many consumer-goods companies lean heavily on the retail giant for their sales. Investors will also watch for how Walmart is coping with competition from online retailers.
Europe slows down. We told you this was happening yesterday, but we got it wrong. Sorry. German GDP growth should fall to 0.4% in the third quarter from 0.7% in the second, dragged down by weak industry. France could slow to 0.1% from 0.5%, and the euro zone as a whole to 0.1% from 0.3%.
While you were sleeping
A 23-year-old turned down $3 billion. Photo-sharing app Snapchat reportedly spurned a buyout offer from Facebook. Snapchat’s young founder, Evan Spiegel, apparently wants to wait until next year—when his number of users will probably be even bigger—before considering a sale or investment.
General Motors revealed relocation plans. The car manufacturer said it will move its international headquarters from China to Singapore—that is, from the world’s biggest auto market to one of the smallest and most expensive.
England upped its economic forecast. The Bank of England said the economy should grow by an annual 2.8% this year after unemployment fell to a three-year low of 7.6%—not quite as low as some had predicted, but inching nearer to the central bank’s 7% target before it raises interest rates.
The EU is examining its members. The European Union opened a review of Germany’s economy (paywall), to determine whether it should be doing more to help other countries recover. The EU is also reviewing 15 other member states in a bid to prevent the need for bailouts in the future.
Middle East peace talks stopped once again. Frustrated with a lack of progress, Palestinian negotiators resigned from the peace talks with Israel that resumed in July. Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas said he will need to persuade his team to return, or recruit new negotiators.
Quartz obsession interlude
Heather Timmons on why China has mustered only $100,000 in aid to the Philippines. ”The tight-fisted gift to the Philippines, as islands lie in ruin and bodies rot on the streets, is a reminder of China’s less-than-gracious treatment of its neighbors: China issues passports with maps that assert its claims to the Spratly islands in the South China Sea, forcing other Southeast Asian countries to tacitly acknowledge the claim when they allow Chinese citizens to visit.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
The Sochi Olympics are destroying Russia. The $51 billion of construction projects are ruining the environment.
Bahais are systematically repressed in Iran. And it doesn’t seem to be getting better any time soon.
Europe was wrong to cut interest rates. The side effects (paywall) aren’t worth it.
Unremarkable economies are heroes. Countries like Austria and Canada can’t compete with the growth champions, but they keep the global economy in check.
Vladimir Putin is now a taekwondo grandmaster. The Russian president was awarded a ninth-degree black belt, the highest rank there is, on a visit to South Korea. The 61-year-old doesn’t practice taekwondo, though his judo isn’t bad.
The magic of Starbucks. If you know the right ingredients, you can order a Butterbeer—the Harry Potter delicacy—at Starbucks.
Ultra-high security. As a promotional stunt, Microsoft is having the first Xbox One, which it releases next week, guarded by 20 sharks.
Sandwich.com is up for grabs. From From Yahoo, which currently owns it.
Apple makes $4,540 per second. Google rolls in $1,873, while Facebook’s revenue is a piddling $230.