Thing One: Draghi's Big Day: Most of the time, watching Europe try to deal with its endless debt crisis feels like nothing more than a kinda-sad, kinda-funny distraction, like Kim Kardashian and Maria Bartiromo discussing the economy.
But every now and then the whole spectacle threatens to flare into a tangible threat to your well-being, and now is one of those times. There are two reasons the crisis has been quiet for the past month or so: summer vacations, and Mario Draghi. Now, vacation is over, and it's crunch time for Draghi. The European Central Bank chief calmed markets over the summer by promising he would do whatever it took to save the euro. This morning he must start to deliver on that promise, or risk losing his credibility, Bloomberg writes. Oh, and he also risks a massive market meltdown. No big whoop.
After its policy meeting this morning, at which the ECB kept its target interest rate unchanged for some inexplicable reason, Draghi is expected to announce that he will start buying the short-term debt of troubled euro-zone countries like Spain and Italy in order to help keep their borrowing costs from getting too far out of control. And not a moment too soon: Europe is in recession, Greece is running out of money once again, and Italy is on the brink of needing to ask for a bailout of its own.
The trouble for Draghi is, Germany continues to resist the most aggressive forms of central-bank assistance, so though the ECB's bond purchases may be unlimited, they will almost certainly be "sterilized," meaning they won't add to the amount of money in the financial system. Unfortunately, Europe could use a little more money, notes Michael Darda, chief market strategist at MKM Partners. And anything Draghi does will only address the symptoms of Europe's illness, not the causes. Without more aggressive action all around, this sad spectacle will just drag on and on.
Thing Two: Clinton Comes Alive: Last night was the second night of the Democratic National Convention, which means that we have only one more night to go, and then we can go four blissful years without another political convention. Last night's festivities included a whole mess of business-related stuff, including a trio of people who said Mitt Romney and Bain Capital ruined their lives. Consumer-rights champion Elizabeth Warren said the financial game is rigged against us. And Bill Clinton delivered one of his classic economic policy wonk-fests. The New York Times fact-checked it all and gave it only three Pinocchios.
Thing Three: Woodward Has Another Book To Sell You: Maybe Bill Clinton won the election for President Obama last night, but Bob Woodward is doing what he can to keep the outcome in doubt. His latest book describes in painful detail last year's embarrassing debt-ceiling fight. Apparently it does not make Obama look so good, says the Washington Post, Woodward's employer. According to the book, Obama underestimated just how awful House Republicans were going to be and didn't impose his will on the negotiations, or something. But we knew all this, yes?
Thing Four: Let's Don't Make A Deal: It is just so hard to be a massive commodities conglomerate these days. All Glencore and Xstrata want to do is have a little $86 billion merger that creates a monstrous mining-and-trading behemoth. But pesky Qatar, which owns a stake in Xstrata and feels it doesn't already have enough money, is threatening to scotch the deal because it wants to milk a few more billions out of it, DealBook writes.
Thing Five: Water Wars: Speaking of fights over resources, The New York Times writes that farmers in the American West are heading for a showdown with oil and gas producers, over water. The energy companies need water for all the relentless fracking they plan on doing, while the farmers need it to, you know, grow stuff. Welcome to the future.
Thing Six: Knocking Nokia: Maybe Nokia's new smartphone, introduced yesterday, will be a massive hit and make Nokia a serious competitor for Apple and Samsung. But Nokia investors weren't waiting around to find out, sending the stock to a 16 percent collapse yesterday. Not an auspicious beginning, at a crucial time for the Finnish phone maker, the Washington Post writes.
Thing Seven: Soda Wars: Two small California cities are about to impose new taxes on soft drinks, in an effort to raise cash and make people guzzle them a little less quickly. In addition to making the ghost of Ayn Rand cry, this could "open the floodgates" to similar taxes around the country, Reuters writes.
Thing Seven And One Half: Born To Run: Sure, why not: Chris Christie and Jimmy Fallon sing Bruce Springsteen.
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Calendar Du Jour:
8:15 a.m. ET: ADP Employment Report for August
8:30 a.m. ET: Weekly Jobless Claims for the week of Sept. 1
10:00 a.m. ET: ISM Services Index for August
Heard On The Tweets:
@gilbertjasono: A PR person just mailed me a diaper and a picture of what I would look like if I was pregnant.
@kaylatausche: Former $JPM CEO Harrison on @CNBC: Building #bank supermarkets was based on real efficiencies. "It was not an unnatural act."
@dandhicks: Four years ago Wall Street was driving America off a cliff like Thelma & Louise. Today Elizabeth Warren is running for Senate.
@LaMonicaBuzz: Will Mario Draghi announce plans to buy unlimited amounts of Spanish bonds and Finnish cell phone stocks tomorrow morning? #ECB $NOK
@KenJennings: I actually am better off than I was four years ago, but that's only because Oasis broke up.
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