Quartz Daily Brief—The ruble’s savior, space investments, Christie’s record, cheap grenades

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Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Obama’s State of the Union. The US president will give a speech at 9pm local time (10am HKT) outlining his goals for the rest of his term. He’s already previewed some of his talking points, including free community college and a capital-gains tax increase.

Russia’s ruble savior starts work. Dmitry Tulin takes over as the central bank’s head of monetary policy after Ksenia Yudaeva was shunted aside, and will try to rein in the free-falling ruble. Tulin’s seen worse: He was deputy head of the bank right after the Soviet Union fell apart.

Davos, day one. Nearly 2,900 people—only 17% of them women—are gathering for the World Economic Forum in picturesque Switzerland to discuss a wide swath of topics. Here’s our full, searchable, sortable participant list.

Microsoft’s new operating system. Windows 10 was officially unveiled in September, but now Microsoft will provide more details on the new OS, as well as on the next version of Windows Phone. It’s live-streaming at 1am Thursday HKT, should you care that much.

Data, data, data. On the calendar: The Bank of Japan updates its growth and inflation forecasts. The Bank of Canada is doing the same. The Bank of England releases minutes from its last meeting. And Brazil may raise its base interest rate to 12.25%. As for corporate earnings: American Express, eBay, and SanDisk are due to report.

While you were sleeping

Morgan Stanley became the latest big bank to underperform. Its adjusted earnings per share were lower than expected. That was chalked up to a slowdown in trading volume which has also caused declines among most of Morgan Stanley’s big competitors (paywall). Nonetheless, the bank is bringing back bonuses.

Yemen’s presidential palace fell to rebels. President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi was in the building when the attacks began, but reports say he’s safe. The shelling violates a barely day-old ceasefire between the government and the Shia Houthi rebels who control large parts of the country. A UN envoy is returning to the region in an attempt to restore order.

More big bets on space. Founded by ex-NASA scientists, Planet Labs said it’s raised $95 million in a funding round. The company launches flocks of small satellites and sells the images and data they gather. And Elon Musk’s SpaceX confirmed a $1 billion investment from Google and Fidelity, valuing the rocket maker at $10 billion.

The IMF predicted a slower world economy. Despite falling oil prices, the Fund revised down its previous predictions for global GDP growth, to 3.5% for 2015 and 3.7% for 2016. It trimmed its projections for most regions too, except the US, which it now expects to grow at 3.6% this year, up from an earlier prediction of 3.1%.

Christie’s had its best year yet. The auction house reported last year’s sales rose 16% to a record £5.1 billion ($7.7 billion) thanks in part to new buyers (paywall). Nearly one-third of its sales were to customers new to the company. Despite the strong performance, its CEO abruptly left last month.

Netflix smashed expectations. Its earnings per share were 60% higher than Wall Street expected. Netflix also added 4.33 million streaming subscribers (pdf), with over half of those outside the US. The firm has also said it’ll start offering Sony’s North Korean caper The Interview this weekend in the US and Canada.

Quartz obsession interlude

Leo Mirani offers a peek at the likely tech stories of the year. “January may be coming to a close, but the flood of predictions, forecasts, and prognostications for the year ahead hasn’t abated. Among the dross however is the annual list of predictions from GP Bullhound, a boutique investment bank that specializes in tech companies. The bank is worth listening to: As a dealmaker straddling start-ups and large firms, it sees trends as they’re happening. And its record of predictions from 2014 is more hit than miss.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Disruptive technology is killing the American dream. The more things become automated, the more the middle class will be hollowed out.

New sanctions on Iran are a bad idea. The fragile progress so far towards a nuclear deal is more important than bringing the country further to its knees.

France has itself partly to blame for the Charlie Hebdo attacks. The way it’s treating its immigrant poor breeds extremism.

Greece needs to end austerity—immediately. The leader of the leftist Syriza party argues that his country should be allowed to pay back its loans on its terms (paywall).

China needs to stop harrassing foreign multinationals with capricious investigations. Premier Li Keqiang could use his visit to Davos to offer some reassurance.

Surprising discoveries

Facebook knows when you fall off the wagon. According to the social network’s check-in data, this is the week it first detects people giving up on new year’s fitness resolutions.

India’s tigers are multiplying. Everywhere else in the world, populations are falling, but India saw a 30% increase between 2010 and 2014.

This wasn’t the market economy we were hoping for. In the Central African Republic, a grenade is cheaper than a can of Coke.

Two are more committed than one. Quitting smoking or losing weight is easier when your partner joins in the challenge.

Work makes you drink. Data from 14 different countries show that the more hours you work, the more alcohol you imbibe.

Here’s how to escape from a moving car. Tips from Daniel Craig’s stuntman, no less.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, frightening weapon prices, and stunt tips to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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