Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—carbon trading, earnings glut, Korean concerns, falling futures

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Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

The EU tries to rescue cap-and-trade. European Union lawmakers vote 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.

The IMF lays out gloomy news. 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 plans. 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.

Do guns kill people, or do crazy people kill people? The Democrat-dominated US Senate votes on a gun law proposal that would expand background checks on potential gun buyers. Republican lawmakers are expected to push instead for a focus 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.

Big swathe of earnings. Coca-ColaGoldman Sachs, money manager BlackRock, miner Rio TintoIntel, Yahoo and Johnson & Johnson all report quarterly results. 

While you were sleeping

No news about who set off explosives at the Boston Marathon. Two blasts at the finish line of the race yesterday afternoon killed three people and injured over 100. The FBI is treating it as a “potential terrorist investigation” but there’s been no hint yet about who was behind it.

South Korea announced stimulus measures. Korea will pump an extra 17.3 trillion won ($15.4 billion) into its economy to create new jobs, support small businesses and boost growth.

North Korean restraint turned out to be short-lived. The dictatorship marked Kim Il-Sung’s birthday, Day of the Sun, yesterday not with a missile test or huge military parade as expected, but a festival of flowers. But Pyongyang made new threats and an “ultimatum” to South Korea this morning, warning that they may not give advance notice of action.

Softbank reels after Dish’s bid for Sprint. The Japanese mobile carrier fell 10% on the Tokyo bourse in the wake of Dish Network’s $25.5 billion offer for Sprint, which Softbank is also bidding for. It’s becoming a battle of the titans (paywall).

Gold’s fall slows slightly. Prices were up a few dollars in early trading today after falling 9% yesterday and 5% last Friday. The recent sell-off marked the metal’s steepest two-day drop, in percentage terms, in 30 years. Besides being bad for gold bugs, this could spell risk for the financial system in the form of exchange-traded funds.

Brent fell too. Brent crude futures traded below $100 for the first time since July last year, suggesting weakening confidence in the global economy

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 we’ve reached a “a dead end.”

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

Venezuela’s new president can’t out-Chávez Chávez. Nicolás Maduro won’t enjoy the same kind of impunity his larger-than-life predecessor did, and that’s bad for Venezuela’s economy.

Pacific islands are disappearing. A new study suggests they will be inundated by rising sea levels faster than previously thought.

Surprising discoveries

The Obamas made only $600K last year. The First Couple’s adjusted gross income for 2012 fell 18%, because the president didn’t sell as many books.

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

How do you steal money from an ATM? Easy: Find a card and guess the PIN. (People, please don’t use your birthday for passwords.)

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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