Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Japan holds steady, French hotels in Iran, terrorists’ favorite watch

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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 traditional base. Corbyn’s new shadow government appointments have drawn criticism for not giving women more important positions.

How happy are American shoppers? The Commerce Department discloses whether July’s strong retail sales 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.

Ukraine holds a crucial vote. Lawmakers are due to vote on a debt-restructuring deal that the country’s finance minister agreed 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

The Bank of Japan held its interest rate… The central bank refrained from raising its benchmark rate 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, but governor Haruhiko Kuroda gave no sign of such measures (paywall).

… As Japanese manufacturers’ 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.

Hungary enacted tougher laws for migrants. The country passed laws that allow police to arrest, charge, and potentially deport migrants scaling the recently erected fence on its border with Serbia. 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, following Germany’s lead.

Standard & Poor’s upgraded South Korea’s rating. The agency bumped the country’s credit rating up  to AA- from A+, after unemployment fell to a seven-month low of 3.6% last week. That’s the highest rating for South Korea since 1997, and will be welcomed following a tough year so far.

AccorHotels announced an Iranian branch. The French chain will open an Ibis and a Novotel by Tehran’s airport, making it the first international hotel chain to enter Iran since a nuclear deal led to an easing of international sanctions. The hotels will offer a total of 500 rooms, and are slated to open next month.

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.

Donald Trump and Jeremy Corbyn have one thing in common. They are seemingly authentic voices in an inauthentic age.

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.

The refugee crisis is a preview of the global warming future. Millions more will have to flee their homes due to climate change.

Germany can’t handle Europe’s refugee crisis. It closed its borders because it was quickly overwhelmed.

Surprising discoveries

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—and participating journalists have been arrested.

A historian thinks he’s pinpointed the oldest known use of the f-word. It’s a nickname in a 1310 English court document.

Terrorists love the Casio F-91W. The iconic digital watch has a reliable timer that’s perfect for setting off bombs.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Olde English profanities, and checks (all denominations accepted) to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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