What to watch for today
Scots say “aye” or “nay.” After months of lobbying, Scotland’s independence referendum starts at 7am UK time and ends at 10pm; results will start arriving early Friday morning. The latest opinion poll puts the “no” vote ahead by only 52-48, though bookmakers are giving “no” fairly strong odds.
Alibaba names its price. The Chinese e-commerce giant will price its record-setting IPO, which could raise as much as $25 billion, ahead of the stock’s debut on the NYSE on Friday. Earlier this week, the company raised its share price range to $66-68 due to increased demand.
Ukraine’s president pays Obama a visit. Petro Poroshenko will seek military and economic aid during talks with the US president, amid a shaky ceasefire with separatists.
A tricky call for Switzerland. The Swiss central bank will probably leave its benchmark interest rate near zero and reaffirm the franc’s peg to the euro. But it might just take the rate into negative territory, in reaction to last week’s similar move by the European Central Bank.
A possible purge of Pakistan’s protestors. Prime minister Nawaz Sharif has threatened to clear a camp of demonstrators in Islamabad, led by cricket star and opposition leader Imran Khan, who are calling for his resignation.
While you were sleeping
Australia said it foiled a beheading plot. More than 800 police officers conducted raids across the country and detained 15 suspects who were allegedly planning to commit violent acts at the behest of an Australian who is part of the Islamic State extremist group. According to court documents, the suspects planned to abduct and behead a random Sydney resident on camera.
The Fed saw the light at the end of the QE tunnel. The Federal Reserve announced it will cut monthly bond-buying by $10 billion in October as it steps back from the unconventional monetary policies adopted during the Great Recession. It didn’t change its promise to keep interest rates low for a “considerable time.”
US logistics contractors were hacked by China. Around 50 infiltrations against private companies responsible for moving military personnel and weapons took place in 2012 and 2013, according to a US senate investigation. At least 20 of the attacks are thought to have been carried out by hackers from the Chinese government; Beijing denied any involvement.
China’s property squeeze tightened. Official data showed a month-on-month fall in property prices in 68 of the 70 major cities surveyed in August, compared with 64 cities in July. Average prices fell 1.1% in August.
Apple launched iOS 8. Millions of iPhone users eagerly tried to download the latest operating system and got stuck on discovering they’d need 5.7 GB of free space. (You can get around that by downloading it to a computer instead.) The new OS is getting good reviews, but read this before you upgrade.
Obama got the go-ahead to arm and train Syrian rebels. The US house of representatives approved a $500 million plan to help the rebels fighting the Islamic State. Meanwhile, after remarks by a top general saying the US might send in ground forces, Iraq prime minister Haider al-Abadi said the return of foreign troops would not be allowed.
Hyundai made a Gangnam Style splurge. The Korean conglomerate successfully bid more than $10 billion on a plot of land in Seoul’s exclusive Gangnam district, trumping an offer from Samsung. Hyundai shares fell 4%; the property was appraised at only $3 billion.
Quartz obsession interlude
Matt Phillips on why Germans love paying in cash. “[T]heir attitudes toward currency must owe something to Germany’s tumultuous monetary history. During the Weimar-era hyperinflation that peaked in 1923, prices rose roughly a trillion-fold, as Germany attempted to pay its onerous war reparations with devalued marks. The sheer lunacy of the sums involved make this everyone’s favorite hyperinflation.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Investors should be terrified of Alibaba. Chairman Jack Ma is trustworthy, but the corrupt, opaque Chinese political system isn’t.
U2 is the new Nickelback. Everybody hates the band because it wants so much to be liked.
Russians and Scots have something in common. Their nationalism outweighs rational economic thinking.
Space travel isn’t just for governments anymore. It’s time for NASA to leave low Earth orbit work to the private sector.
New York City is looking to hire a new blacksmith. The annual pay is $100,725.12.
An American man was caught trying to swim to North Korea. He wanted to meet Kim Jong-un.
There’s a black market for pumpkin spice latte syrup. The pilfered Starbucks ingredient can fetch up to $120 per jug.
A English couple has been holding hands for 700 years. Archeologists found their skeletons in a 14th-century pilgrimage site.
David Hume’s wine cellar may still be intact. The Scottish philosopher’s last dinner party was on July 4, 1776.
Click here for more surprising discoveries on Quartz.
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