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Quartz Daily Brief—Algeria’s election, Brazil’s sugar king, the cloud’s epic battle, friendly drug dealers

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

What to watch for today

Algeria’s president goes for a fourth term. Abdelaziz Bouteflika looks likely to win today’s election, despite controversy over whether the 77-year-old is in condition to keep governing and growing disenchantment among younger Algerians.

A four-way powwow on Ukraine. Russia, Ukraine, the EU and the US will hold talks in Geneva to try to defuse the standoff. Yesterday pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine seized a bunch of Ukrainian armored cars and had some fun joyriding them.

What Europeans think about their cars. Industrywide EU car sales for March come out. Volkswagen already reported a near 8% uptick in sales—the highest in more than a year.

All that glitters is not Goldman Sachs. Wall Street’s biggest investment bank is reports earnings for its first quarter. The expectation is that revenues will come in 14% lower than the same period last year.

Soda sales continue to fizz. PepsiCo’s soda business is likely to show a contraction in the first quarter, as already happened to Coca-Cola earlier this week.

While you were sleeping

More Brits are working. Unemployment in the UK fell to 6.9%, the lowest reading in five years. But it might have to fall even further if prime minister David Cameron wants to keep his job.

Brazil’s sugar king could become its railway king too. Billionaire Rubens Ometto’s sugar firm, Cosan, won shareholder approval to buy America Latina Logistica, which operates nearly half Brazil’s rail lines, giving it a crucial export pathway as Brazil’s farm industry booms.

Google’s juggernaut showed some cracks. The global internet giant reported net income well below predictions. The news contrasts with Yahoo’s rather upbeat earnings announcement the day before, though that says more about the very different expectations markets have of the two companies.

SodaStream sale rumors swirled again. The Israeli firm is in talks with a buyer, possibly PepsiCo, reported an Israeli newspaper. But we’ve heard that story at least a couple of times before.

Bank of America had a bad day. The US’s second largest bank by assets reported that it lost $276 million in the first quarter, its first negative quarter in three years. A $6 billion spend on legal bills to settle disputes tied to the financial crisis was only partly to blame.

Quartz obsession interlude

Christopher Mims on Amazon and Google’s mammoth battle for the cloud. “Google is playing catch-up with a single market leader, Amazon, that has a track record of destroying incumbents in every industry it gets into. What Google has in its favor, besides a sheer technical expertise, is that it already runs the biggest cloud-computing operation in the world—just that it puts most of it to a different use.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Russia isn’t the real problem in Ukraine. Ukraine’s internal divisions are.

Americans need to start birthing more babies.  ”Declining populations have always followed or been followed by very bad things.”

The MH370 tragedy won’t stop Chinese families moving to Malaysia. It’s an increasingly attractive place for middle-class Chinese seeking to escape pressures at home.

Corporate culture comes from the top, not the bottom. 80% of office culture is dictated by a company’s founders.

Surprising discoveries

The insane logistics of India’s election. Including 1.7 million electronic voting machines.

There can be such a thing as too much exercise. Especially if you then eat unhealthily because you think you’ll just burn the calories.

The Dutch are the friendliest drug dealers. French dealers, on the other hand, are the most likely to beat up their clients.

“Spooning” while sleeping is a sign of happiness. Less happy couples sleep further apart.

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