Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Boston Marathon explosions, Dish deal, gold risks

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Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

A rescue for EU cap-and-trade. The fate of one of the world’s largest climate change initiatives hinges on a vote by European Union lawmakers on whether to temporarily withhold carbon allowances in the EU emissions trading scheme. The plan would allow prices for carbon, currently in oversupply, to rise, but has the EU parliament, member states, and industry divided.

Forecasts from the IMF. The International Monetary Fund releases its twice-yearly world economic outlook in Washington and is expected to cut its forecast for US economic growth. Meanwhile IMF head Christine Lagarde speaks, and finance officials from the Group of 20 nations meet on the sidelines of the event.

Kenya’s new president lays out his agenda. In a speech to Kenya’s houses of parliament, president Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to detail plans to lessen unemployment and reform tax laws, among other measures. Kenyatta faces charges from the International Criminal Court for violence after the last presidential election.

Debate over mental health and guns. The Democrat-dominated US Senate votes on a gun law proposal that would expand background checks on potential gun buyers. Republican lawmakers, against gun regulation overhaul, are expected to push for any new law to focus instead on identifying and treating the mentally ill. In another issue US lawmakers disagree on, a group of senators will unveil a proposal for immigration legislation.

Earnings check. Coca-Cola CoGoldman Sachs, money manager Blackrock, Rio Tinto, and Johnson & Johnson all report first quarter results. 

While you were sleeping

Explosions at the Boston Marathon killed at least three and injured dozens. Two explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, when about half of the race’s 27,000 participants had finished the race, have killed at least two people and seriously injured dozens. Another explosion was reported near the John F. Kennedy Library. Police have not stated the cause of the explosions but only that residents should stay home and avoid any public gatherings. See here for updates.

A last-dish effort. TV provider Dish Network offered to buy America’s 4th-largest mobile carrier, Sprint Nextel, for $25.5 billion—a move aimed at thwarting Softbank’s bid for Sprint. Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen has been courting several second- and third-tier US mobile carriers in a race to make use of wireless spectrum before a deadline set by US regulators.

Iceland and China struck a deal. After six years of negotiations, Iceland and China have struck the first free trade deal between China and any European country. Reykjavik hopes to export Iceland’s marine products and expertise in geothermal and hydropower technology, while Beijing may be more interested in the country’s shipping routes as well as oil and gas supplies.

Gold dropped further. Prices for the precious commodity fell 9%, after dropping 5% last week, marking the metal’s steepest drop in percentage terms in 30 years. Beyond what this says about investor sentiment, the gold collapse could spell risk for the financial system in the form of exchange-traded funds.

US stocks fell as well. The Dow Jones Industrial average dropped 1.8%—its worst decline in months—following weaker-than-expected Chinese economic growth and the Boston Marathon attack news.

Quartz obsession interlude

Gina Chon on how the US government is at least partially responsible for all your dropped calls: “Demand for wireless spectrum is at an all-time high. The shortage of it is the reason for dropped calls, streaming glitches and other annoyances. Besides cursing out your network carrier, there’s another culprit: the US government, which controls the airwaves and licenses spectrum for commercial use. The last time there was a major auction for spectrum was 2008. So instead, mobile phone companies have been scrambling to buy existing spectrum from each other and from cable companies.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

China’s economy is underwhelming. When an explosion in credit brings still slower economic growth that means we’ve reached a “a dead end,” China watchers said in response to slower first-quarter GDP growth than expected.

Plastic surgery to look more Western is a way to get ahead for some.

Venezuela’s new president can’t out-Chávez Chávez. Newly elected president Maduro won’t enjoy the same kind of impunity his larger-than-life predecessor did, possibly ending the country’s era of big-man politics. Unfortunately, his win may have been the worst possible outcome for Venezuela’s economy.

Surprising discoveries

The Obamas made $600K last year. The First Couple’s adjusted gross income for 2012 was $608,611, a fall of 18% from the year before, according to their taxes filed last week. Why the drop? Obama didn’t make as much from sales of his books.

The most important equation to understanding monetary policy is one that was hatched in the blogosphere.

Dennis Rodman as US spy? The FBI has approached Dennis Rodman after the former Chicago Bulls basketball star’s trip to Pyongyang in February, Rodman told the Miami Herald. He also said he’ll be returning to North Korea in August to  ”just hang and have some fun” with dictator Kim Jong Un.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, complaints about dropped calls, and plans to visit North Korea to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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