Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—US rates confusion, Republicans’ second debate, successful bird marriages

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What to watch for today

Will the Federal Reserve raise rates? Everyone is watching, and economists are split, on whether the US central bank will raise interest rates for the first time in nine years as it begins its two-day meeting. Ahead of the decision, US stocks rose by more than 1% on Tuesday afternoon.

The US right gets into it during the second debate… The 11 main contenders for the Republican Party’s nomination will debate the issues at 8pm ET, with the four weakest contenders facing off in a second-tier debate at 6pm ET. Surprise frontrunner Donald Trump can expect better attacks from his rivals this time around.

…as Jeremy Corbyn shows what the British left is made of. The new leader of the Labour Party, possibly the most leftwing in its history, will take on prime minister David Cameron in his debut at Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons at 12pm local time. Corbyn has said he will ”crowdsource” suggestions for his allotted initial six questions as leader of the opposition.

US inflation leads economic data. The consumer-price index reading for August is expected to change little from July as gasoline prices fell and a strong dollar muted underlying inflation—which should add to confusion on whether the Fed is going into rate-raising mode or not. Elsewhere, data is due on Brazilian retail sales and South African retail sales.

Oracle and FedEx report earnings. The company’s cloud computing products have been performing well, but that’s not enough to make up for the fall in traditional software use. Analysts expect year-over-year quarterly sales to decline to $8.5 billion, from $8.6 billion a year ago. Results are also due from US delivery firm Federal Express.

While you were sleeping

Fiat Chrysler signed a labor pact. The massive United Auto Workers union agreed to a tentative pact that offers updated medical coverage and amendments to payment schemes for 40,000 workers. A pay raise is expected for all workers, and there are preliminary discussions about the “Big Three” auto companies pooling healthcare costs.

The UN wants a special Sri Lanka war crimes court. The group’s human rights agency issued a long-awaited 261-page report on war crimes on the conflict between the Sri Lankan government and the rebel Tamil Tigers, in which about 40,000 ethnic Tamils were killed. The proposed special court would look into “horrific” abuses on both sides.

Australia began Syrian airstrikes. The Australian air force hit its first targets inside Syria, destroying an armored personnel carrier and an oil collection point operated by ISIL, a US official said. Australia’s air force has been active in Iraq for around a year, but has now joined the US and a coalition of Arab states in directly targeting threats in Syria. France is also expected to join soon.

Euro-zone and UK inflation were revealed. In the 19 countries that use the euro, prices showed a 0.1% year-on-year rise in August, a slow-down from the 0.2% annual rise in July and lower than expected. In the UK, the consumer-price index edged back down to zero in August from 0.1% in July, largely due to the plunging price of fuel.

Thailand held its interest rates steady. The central bank kept its benchmark lending rate at 1.5%, as expected (paywall). The beleaguered economy—the second largest in Southeast Asia—faces volatile global markets, high levels of household debt, and growing risks from China’s economic slowdown.

Pro-government demonstrators held a rally in Malaysia. Thousands of red-shirted protestors took to the streets of Kuala Lumpur, in response to last month’s Bersih 4 rallies calling for democratic reform. With the demonstrators mostly ethnic Malay, there was a somewhat unsettling racial element to the rally.

Quartz obsession interlude

Matt Phillips on what might be the greatest monetary experiment in history. “For years, everyone involved with investing has wanted to know: When will the Federal Reserve raise interest rates? But there’s another important consideration that isn’t asked nearly enough: Can the Fed raise interest rates?” Read more here.

Matters of debate

China’s economic model is kaput. The government needs to rethink its relationship with the market.

Syrian refugees are not a security threat. But treating them as such risks becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Viktor Orbán’s fear-mongering could backfire. The Hungarian prime minister is staking his popularity on xenophobia.

Tablets aren’t dead yet. The advent of detachable keyboards will make them the future of personal computing.

Surprising discoveries

Elton John says Vladimir Putin called him to discuss gay rights. The Kremlin says it didn’t happen, so who to believe?

Helping kids with math homework makes them worse off. It only makes children more anxious.

Love matches are more successful than arranged marriages. For birds, at least.

Robert Mugabe read the wrong speech in parliament. It was a repeat of a speech from last month.

ISIL’s military commander was trained by the US. Tarkhan Batirashvili was formerly part of a US-trained special forces unit in the nation of Georgia.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, lovebirds, and antiquated Mugabe speeches to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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