Good morning, Quartz readers!
What to watch for today
The second US presidential debate is about to start. At 9pm US Eastern time (9am Hong Kong time), President Obama will face off against Mitt Romney. The president’s advisers have promised he’ll be more aggressive this time after a lackluster first-round performance. Here are some ways to watch the debate online. And here are the questions we think the candidates should be asked (and probably won’t be).
Will Spain request a European bailout? Stocks have been rising on reports that Germany is now open to Spain’s requesting a precautionary credit line, on top of a rescue for its banks. There is speculation that the request could come as early as this week’s EU summit.
What’s next for China Gas? After their $2 billion hostile bid for China Gas was blocked by regulators, Sinopec and ENN have decided to go into partnership with the gas producer. But the terms of the deal are still to be worked out, and more consolidation in the sector is still expected.
While you were sleeping
Did Pandit fall or was he pushed? Citigroup announced that Vikram Pandit had stepped down as chief executive. He says he went of his own accord. The abruptness of it makes some people think otherwise. He’s replaced by Michael L. Corbat in a shake-up that highlights long-standing tension on the bank’s board, but suggests a pivot back towards the company’s retail-banking roots.
Moody’s decided not to punish Spain. The ratings agency affirmed the Spanish government’s Baa3 credit rating, maintaining its negative outlook but still classifying Spanish debt as “investment-grade.” Investors had been expecting a downgrade to “junk” status, which would have been pretty nasty for the government and for Spanish corporations.
US earnings reports continued. Goldman Sachs reported a third-quarter profit at $1.5 billion, or $2.85 per share, compared with a year-earlier loss of $428 million. Tech giant IBM posted $24.7 billion in revenue for the third quarter, slightly below analysts’ estimates of $25.3 billion, as customers appeared put off by a strong dollar.
China inched closer to losing its spot as America’s top lender to Japan. While its economy remains in the doldrums, Japan raised its holdings of US treasuries by 6% to $1.12 trillion, compared to China’s $1.15 trillion.
Britain refused to hand over to US authorities an autistic computer whiz who hacked into US military databases, effectively rolling back a controversial extradition treaty between the two countries.
Google got slapped on the wrist, as European regulators from 27 countries called on the online giant to be more transparent about how its data is collected.
Quartz obsession interlude
In our obsession with the Euro Crunch, contributing editor Clive Crook asks Why economists can’t agree on just how much austerity hurts. “The fiscal multiplier is a measure of the effect that cuts in taxes or increases in public spending will have on a country’s GDP. If a $1 billion increase in the budget deficit expands output by $1 billion, the multiplier is one. If output doesn’t change, the multiplier is zero. Many economists think the multiplier is one or more. Most think it’s positive, but a few think it’s negative—i.e., that austerity actually helps the economy rather than hurting it. Most of today’s arguments about budgetary policy boil down to this disagreement.”
Matters of debate
3D printing patent trolls? A sweeping patent, from a company that trades patent rights, may prevent US citizens from using 3D printers to create objects that come from unauthorized designs.
The wrong incentive for fertility. Angela Merkel’s proposed subsidy for families who keep their children out of state daycare is not the answer to Germany’s fertility problem.
The hidden menace of monetary policy. Inflation caused by quantitative easing and slow growth are just asking for another financial crisis.
Rogue geoengineer dumps iron dust off Canada’s coast in an attempt to alter the chemistry of the ocean, sell carbon offsets to companies in need, and save the planet from climate change.
Over $25 billion worth of pictures by painters like Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso and Claude Monet were stolen in an art heist in Rotterdam. However, stealing art isn’t a lucrative crime, as revealed by the FBI’s founder of the art team, because the thieves have no one to sell their bounty to without proof of authenticity.
If current extinction rates continue, the earth could lose three quarters of all of its species in 300 years.
Rhino poaching is hitting record highs in South Africa to supply Asia’s demand for the tusks, which are claimed to have medicinal properties.
Thailand’s central bank meets to set monetary policy. The governor has already said that it will keep rates steady.
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