Quartz Daily Brief—Coca-Cola’s earnings, Italy’s new boss, pointless cease-fires, real unicorns

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Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Coca-Cola seeks a pop. Its rivals reported drops in soft drink sales last quarter, but Coke could buck the trend when it reveals earnings today. Investors will also look for more clues about Coke’s new 10% stake in Green Mountain Coffee.

Japan maintains its determined smile. Bank of Japan’s two-day monetary policy meeting wraps up today. No policy changes are expected ahead of April’s tax hike, but the governor’s comments will be read in the context of disappointing fourth-quarter GDP figures.

Venezuela confronts its biggest foe. Opposition leader Leopoldo López, whom the government blames for violence in recent protests, had said he would take to the streets today and risk arrest.

Brazil appeases investors about its future. Brazilian central bank president Alexandre Tombini delivers his year-ahead outlook and will have to convince investors of his commitment to a 4.5% inflation target.

Iran pulls up a seat at the negotiation table. Iran and six world powers meet again in Vienna for another round of nuclear talks, after last month’s interim agreement. Despite initial optimism, the general consensus is that a permanent solution is still out of reach.

While you were sleeping

Italy appointed a new prime minister. Matteo Renzi, the center-left mayor of Florence, was asked by Italy’s president to form a government after Enrico Letta stepped down as prime minister on Friday. The markets applauded the news: The yield on ten-year bonds fell to an eight-year low amid excitement about Renzi’s pledge for economic reform (paywall).

The Libor probe claimed three more victims. The UK’s fraud watchdog charged three former Barclays employees with “conspiracy to defraud” for their involvement in the manipulation of Libor (paywall), the inter-bank interest rate.

Hank Greenberg splashed out on insurance. Hank Greenberg, former boss of AIG, and a group of other investment firms agreed to buy MultiPlan, a company that helps health insurers process claims, in a deal that values the company at $4.4 billion.

An Ethiopian pilot made a bold move for asylum. An Ethiopian co-pilot locked himself in the cockpit when his partner took a bathroom break and diverted the Rome-bound plane to Geneva, claiming he felt threatened in his home country and was seeking asylum in Switzerland.

Quartz obsession interlude

Jason Karaian on Europe’s rising number of Euro-haters. “Does it matter? Insurgents from the political fringe have always been better represented in the European parliament than at the national level, thanks to low turnout and the perception that votes for the obscure, distant institution present an opportunity to protest without serious consequences. But what’s different this time around is that the rightwing insurgents seem serious about teaming up (pdf), which would give them more clout in the parliament. At the same time, the parliament has acquired more power and prominence, not least the ability for the largest party group to pick the next president of the European Commission, the EU’s influential executive arm.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The war in Syria is a blot on human history. It’s the great disaster of our time that represents a step back for civilization, argues Stephen Hawking.

Obama’s presidential library should be in the cloud. As the first digital president, Obama could do better than a physical museum.

Cease-fires make conflicts worse. Both sides use the break to recoup energy and plan their next stage of attack.

America is hurtling toward a Downton Abbey economy. The US economy is growing richer, but its people are not, says Larry Summers.

Surprising discoveries

A British university has built a £20,000 fake pub. They’re trying to find out why people get drunk.

Prisons’ biggest smuggling problem isn’t drugs or weapons. Smuggled cellphones are being used to plot escapes and conduct illegal activity from behind bars.

Unicorns exist. The monodon monoceros is a one-toothed one-horned whale known as the sea unicorn.

Financial trading is stressful work. Market volatility increases levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, which in turn kills one’s appetite for risk (paywall).

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, cease-fires, and unicorn sightings to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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