Quartz Daily Brief—Americas Edition—Oil earnings, Taiwan’s premier, Dutch banks, a Facebook showdown

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Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

All eyes on oil. American oil companies ExxonMobil, Chevron, oil engineering firm National Oilwell Varco and Russian oil giant Rosneft all report earnings.

Another data deluge in the US. Changes in non-farm payrolls, unemployment, construction spending, and consumer confidence, and auto sales for January 2013.

Netflix builds a House of Cards. Netflix, which built its business on delivering other people’s content, takes a gamble with the release today of its  first own show: House of Cards, a $100-million TV series starring Kevin Spacey. In another gamble, it will simultaneously release all 13 episodes to its 30 million subscribers in 40 countries.

Cuba votes over the weekend. On Sunday, 612 candidates will run for 612 seats in Cuba’s parliament. The elections may be many things, but suspenseful is not one of them.

While you were sleeping

It’s PMI day! The latest data on the state of manufacturing in 23 economies around the globe—specifically, purchasing managers’ indices (PMI) for manufacturers—has been hitting the wires throughout the day. China and India are expanding and the euro zone is contracting, but all at slower rates. A global index will be released 9.30am ET.  See the full release schedule here.

Taiwan’s premier resigned… Sean Chen stepped down citing health reasons as economic growth slowed and his government’s popularity continued to plunge. He will be succeeded by vice premier Jiang Yi-hua.

…And Spain’s prime minister might soon be forced to follow suit. Mariano Rajoy became embroiled in a corruption scandal after the El Pais newspaper published documents it claims show him and other members of Spain’s ruling party receiving dubious payments. The prime minister is said to have received roughly €250,000 ($340,675) a year for over a decade until 2008.

Fatal explosions in China and Mexico. In China, 26 people have died after a truck carrying fireworks exploded on an elevated road, destroying part of it. Separately, on Friday Mexican authorities determined that yesterday’s blast, which killed 25 people and injured more than 100 at the headquarters of state-owned oil company Petróleos Mexicanos, was caused by a gas boiler.

Another Dutch bank comes under the state’s wing. The Netherlands nationalized SNS Real bank and insurance group SNS Reaal at a cost of €3.7 billion. Dutch bank ABN Amro, nationalized in 2009, is still in government control, meaning that now two of the country’s four systemically important banks are state-owned.

Quartz obsession interlude

Facebook showdown! Two of Quartz’s writers offer opposing views on the social network’s business prospects:

Christopher Mims on how Facebook will never be profitable: “Facebook is a large, inefficient engine for transforming electricity and programmers into a down-market place to sell low-value advertising.” Read more here.

Simone Foxman on why Facebook is a goldmine: ”Facebook’s competitive strategy—to get more users in more places before working out how to make money from them—will give it a virtual monopoly over social media across the globe… Once the company has this monopoly, it can and will capitalize on it.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

How to invest when everyone’s investing. The way to cautiously enter the bull market.

East Asian tinderbox. “A maritime Balkans of the 21st century?

This could be China’s last soft landing. Without deep reforms, the next downturn will be a hard one.

Surprising discoveries

Doctor does daring surgery to rescue a baby born with his face split in halfA feel-good story.

Gold mania is disastrous for India’s economy. How a love for the shiny metal is driving the Indian government deeper and deeper into debt.

If you’re reading this in Latin America, it probably came through this building.

It’s getting harder to make a burger for a dollar. Rising beef prices mean that the $1 McDouble may soon be gone.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, gold addiction diagnoses, and Facebook prognostications to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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