What to watch for today
Jeremy Corbyn faces his first test. The new UK Labour Party leader will give a speech to the annual conference of UK trade unions—the core of the party’s longtime base. Corbyn’s new shadow government appointments have drawn criticism for not giving women more important positions.
An update on US retail sales. The Commerce Department discloses whether July’s strong numbers were a fluke, or if they continued into August. The answer will be a key factor in the Federal Reserve’s decision on whether to raise interest rates.
A crucial vote for Ukraine’s economy. Lawmakers are due to vote on a debt-restructuring deal that the country’s finance minister reached with foreign creditors. If it passes, it will reduce Ukraine’s $18 billion debt by 20% (paywall) and provide other forms of financial relief.
While you were sleeping
Alexis Tsipras rejected a coalition offer. The incumbent Greek leader said there would be either a “progressive or conservative government” after a Sept. 20 general election, but not a mix. Evangelos Meimarakis, the leader of the conservative opposition, had offered to form a coalition whether his New Democracy party won the election or not; the two parties are neck-and-neck at the polls.
The Bank of Japan held its interest rate… The central bank refrained from moving the cost of borrowing from 0% and reaffirmed its commitment to buying 80 trillion yen ($663 billion) per year in bonds and other assets. Analysts were looking for hints of extra stimulus, aimed at raising inflation to 2%, but governor Haruhiko Kuroda gave no sign of such measures (paywall).
… As Japanese manufacturing confidence tanked. Weak retail sales at home and concerns over a slowdown in China pushed the mood among manufacturers to an eight-month low, according to Reuters’ monthly Tankan survey. The index, at 9 in September from 17 in August, is expected to fall further to 7 by December.
China appeared to be building a third airstrip in contested waters. The military is “clearly” building a 3km (1.9-mile) airstrip on Mischief Reef, one of several manmade islands China has constructed in the South China Sea, according to the US-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank. That would give it further military reach into Southeast Asia, in which several countries have competing claims over parts of the sea.
Hungary enacted tougher laws for migrants. The country passed laws that allows police to arrest and charge migrants scaling the four-meter (13-foot) fence on its Serbia border; a guilty verdict could lead to deportation. The move comes after EU leaders failed to agree on resettling 120,000 migrants, and after Austria, Slovakia, and the Netherlands introduced their own border controls.
Apple predicted record-breaking sales of its new iPhones. Pre-orders for the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus are likely to push opening weekend sales of the handsets past last year’s record 10 million devices, the company said. This is the first year that Apple will launch its latest iPhone iteration in China on its first weekend. Without those China sales, analysts claim the opening weekend would be flat compared to last year.
Quartz obsession interlude
Matt Phillips outlines why the US Fed would be nuts to raise rates now. ”The Fed doesn’t have to hike rates. The global economy and financial markets have already done it. The US central bank would be wise to hold its fire and see how the US economy—still finding its footing after the Great Recession—fares in response, before piling on an interest rate increase of its own.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Don’t blame the West for Syria’s catastrophe. Assad and regional powers—not Obama’s risk-averse policies—bear the most responsibility.
Don’t underestimate the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The country once known for civil war and instability is enjoying a period of economic strength.
Donald Trump and Jeremy Corbyn have one thing in common. They are seemingly authentic voices in an inauthentic age.
The migrant crisis is a preview of the global warming future. Millions more will have to flee their homes due to climate change.
Racial “color-blindness” is counterproductive. Ending racial bias means embracing color consciousness.
Modern furniture is killing firefighters. New synthetic materials, when burned, may be causing higher rates of cancer.
The US doesn’t take $100-million checks. The government’s processing machinery can’t handle anything bigger than $99,999,999.99.
Mexico has its very own WikiLeaks. Méxicoleaks has uncovered a series of major scandals—but participating journalists have been arrested.
A historian thinks he’s pinpointed the oldest known use of the f-word. It’s a nickname in an 1310 English court document.
Terrorists love the Casio F-91W. The iconic digital watch has a reliable timer that’s perfect for setting off IEDs.