Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—ECB’s uncharted territory, Sony’s spiraling woes, Iran’s acquiescence, Sochi’s toothpaste bombs

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What to watch for today

A moment of truth for the ECB. Euro-zone inflation has fallen to 0.7%, so the European Central Bank may venture into uncharted territory and cut its main lending rate to zero. It might also cut the deposit rate, making it the first major central bank to dabble in negative interest rates.

LinkedIn’s continued growth. The business-focused social network is set to report impressive fourth-quarter revenue growth of 44% to $438.3 million, as it increases both the number of users and revenue per user. Earnings per share should inch up, too.

AOL’s video success. Results from the internet’s top display ad company will show how well it’s monetizing video. This is the company’s first earnings report since it acquired and sold some of its less profitable assets like hyperlocal site Patch.

General Motors’ global outlook. Analysts expect a big increase in GM’s fourth-quarter profit thanks to strong sales of upgraded models in the US and China. Key will be plans to minimize losses in Europe and expand in Asia’s luxury markets.

While you were sleeping

Sony’s woes spiraled. The iconic electronics firm now expects a full-year loss of 110 billion yen ($1.1 billion); only three months ago it predicted a 30 billion yen profit. As expected, Sony is exiting its personal computer business and will restructure its TV division at the cost of 5,000 jobs.

Legal problems dragged down Credit Suisse. Profits rose a paltry 2% to 267 million Swiss francs ($295 million), well below expectations. The bank set aside $568 million in provisions over US investigations into hidden offshore accounts.

Iran acquiesced on its nuclear reactor, saying it is willing to modify its Arak facility to produce less plutonium—a point of contention that nearly derailed international talks in November.

Vodafone dropped off in Europe but gained in India. The mobile giant posted a 4.8% decline in its third quarter revenue, slightly better than expected. Declines in Europe were countered by strength in Africa and Asia, particularly India, where revenue grew 13% and data use more than doubled.

Line’s super-charged growth. The Tokyo-based messaging app, which has 340 million users, announced a five-fold leap in annual revenues, to $120 million. Around 60% of those came from games.

A scary Dreamliner emergency. An Air India flight from Melbourne to Delhi was diverted to Kuala Lumpur after all three of its navigation systems failed.

Toothpaste became a threat in Sochi. The US issued a warning to airlines and the Russian government about the risk of bomb materials being smuggled into the Winter Olympics in toothpaste tubes.

Quartz obsession interlude

Gwynn Guilford on the wider repercussions of China’s housing downturn. “A slowdown would mean that real estate developers, many of whom borrow through shadow finance channels, would struggle to pay back retail investors who effectively loaned to them via wealth management products (more on those here). A lot of that investment has flowed one way or another through China’s shadow banking system, the unregulated credit that allows banks to shunt loans to dodgy borrowers. But the threat to China’s financial system is much broader than that.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Cupertino could be the next Detroit. Like the Motor City, it’s a one-industry town.

Puerto Rico should default on its debts. It would be messy, but the island would ultimately be more secure.

Quora is the new press release. The platform presents an evolving narrative that can also be controlled.

The big social networks are saturated. Now the rest of the internet can grow around them.

Surprising discoveries

Flappy Bird is a cash cow. The ridiculously difficult mobile game is netting its Vietnamese developer $50,000 a day from in-app advertising. 

How the Target hackers broke in. Through the refrigeration guy.

South Korea is running a kimchi deficit. Imports outweighed exports by $28 million last year.

The NYPD is beta-testing Google Glass. Stop, frisk and smile.

McNuggets come in four standard shapes. The ball, the bell, the boot, and the bow tie.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, spare kimchi, and favorite McNugget shape to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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