Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Fed decision, Hollande’s lucky escape, Boeing-SpaceX, unhappy clams

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What to watch for today

The end of QE is in sight. The US Federal Reserve is expected to cut back bond purchases by an additional $10 billion to $15 billion a month as it wraps up its two-day policy meeting. That would put the two-year-old program of quantitative easing on track to end in October. Next step, an interest-rate hike? The Fed statement should provide clues on the timing and economic conditions for one.

Another divide at the Bank of England? Minutes from this month’s policy meeting will reveal how split the bank was on the decision to keep its benchmark interest rate unchanged. Last month, two policymakers voted in favor of an interest-rate hike, the first divide in three years.

Brazil’s front-runners go head-to-head. A televised presidential debate, organized by Catholic bishops, will pit incumbent president Dilma Rousseff against Brazilian Socialist Party candidate Marina Silva on the questions of abortion and same-sex marriage. The latest poll shows the two women tied ahead of the October 26 election.

Scotland’s final opinion polls trickle in. The polls have been too close to call; the most recent shows support for independence rising to 48%, despite party leaders promising more autonomy if Scotland stays in the union. Although the polls have been criticized for swaying voters, the last one comes in just a day before the referendum on Thursday.

Mount Mayon rumbles on. Authorities have evacuated thousands of people within a five-mile radius of the Philippine volacno as lava began to trickle out of the crater on Tuesday. Scientists predict the volcano could violently erupt within weeks.

While you were sleeping

America will have two spaceships. US space agency NASA will pay Boeing $4.2 billion and SpaceX $2.6 billion to each build a spacecraft to replace the space shuttle for ferrying astronauts and satellites to orbit. Boeing is considered “the least risky option” (paywall), but upstart SpaceX’s system is cheaper and doesn’t rely on imported Russian parts.

François Hollande’s government barely survived. The French president’s new cabinet narrowly won a confidence vote in parliament, 269 to 244. But with abstentions and no-shows putting the result 20 votes short of an absolute majority (paywall), Hollande now lacks support for his planned pro-business policies.

Ukraine put its rebels on a longer leash. The country’s parliament gave the separatist-controlled Donetsk and Luhansk regions “special status,” with temporary self-rule for three years, and granted amnesty to some of the rebels. Ukraine also ratified a trade agreement (the same one that sparked the crisis in the region last year) with the European Union.

Ebola is getting more US troops than ISIL. The US will send 3,000 troops to West Africa in an effort to contain the outbreak. The plan also includes building 17 new healthcare facilities, training thousands of health workers, and opening an international command center in Liberia’s capital. China is also sending more medics to Sierra Leone to help with lab testing.

What currency trading scandal? In an attempt to pre-empt US and UK regulators’ probes into the alleged rigging of currency benchmarks, several big banks have cut off their foreign-exchange dealers’ access to customer orders and online chat rooms, to make it tougher for dealers to collude, manipulate markets, and improperly use client information.

Quartz obsession interlude

Matt Phillips on the lost quarter-century of the American family. “Effectively, inflation-adjusted US median household incomes are still about 1% below where they were in 1989. That’s nearly 25 years ago. And median household incomes are still 9% below the all-time peak back in 1999, when they were $56,895… On the other hand, salaries on the high end of the spectrum have rebounded quite nicely.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Credit may not drive economic growth. It’s a widely-held truism but nobody has ever proved it.

Is the US at war in Iraq and Syria? Nobody’s sure, because American leaders are hopelessly vague both about what the US is doing and its justification.

Tips are no substitute for a living wage. Hotel staff shouldn’t have to rely on customer generosity.

Narendra Modi and Shinzo Abe are having a bromance. The two leaders are soulmates in a way not seen since Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.

Harvard Business School is ruining America. It’s responsible for the pay gap between CEOs and ordinary workers.

You can’t be as “happy as a clam.” Clams don’t have emotions, and even if they did, they’d have little to be happy about.

Surprising discoveries

Venezuela is running out of breast implants. In the latest symptom of the country’s economic crisis, doctors are turning to cheap Chinese implants of dubious quality.

Paid speechmaking is a massive business. Ex-president Bill Clinton made $106 million in 12 years at up to $700,000 for a speech.

What’s bigger than a giant squid? A colossal squid. The second intact one ever found weighed 350kg (770lb) .

North Korean journalists abroad have to file their stories by fax. They’re not allowed to access North Korean websites from South Korea.

Move over, Cronut. The Creffle, a cross between a Belgian waffle, French crepe, and Chinese eggette, is in town.

Samsung is making a ”musicom.” The sitcom-with-music isn’t the first of its kind for the company.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Creffles, and $700,000 speeches to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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