Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—zooming Toyota, News Corp, offline Syria, unliveable cities

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What to watch for today

Syria remains offline. Internet traffic from Syria dropped off around 3 pm New York time yesterday and still hasn’t returned. Observers fear this could be a tactic by the government to hide an attack from the outside world.

News Corp. presents its last quarterly results before splitting into two. Here’s a chart to explain Rupert Murdoch’s new News Corp. and 21st Century Fox.

Buon giorno, Tsipi. US Secretary of State John Kerry, on a visit to Italy, will meet with Israel’s Tsipi Livni to discuss talks with the Palestinians. They haven’t invited the Palestinians, though.

It’s Britain’s state opening of Parliament. The Queen will arrive at Westminster in all her finery and make a speech laying out the government’s planned legislation for the coming year. Among the laws planned is yet another attempt to turn citizens into arms of the immigration department, with a bill proposing landlords check their tenants’ immigration status.

While you were sleeping 

Toyota tripled its profit. The Japanese auto giant reported full-year profits of ¥962.1 billion ($9.7 billion), up from ¥283.5 billion last year. The forecast for next year? A whopping ¥1.37 trillion. Now say, “Thanks, Abenomics.”

China’s trade numbers rose more than expected. Exports grew 14.7% and imports were up 16.8%. China swung to a $18.16 billion surplus, after a $884 million deficit in March. The trade numbers have been laughably implausible lately, but Chinese authorities have made noises about cracking down on shenanigans.

Signs of economic recovery. Germany’s industrial production unexpectedly rose for a second month in a row. Production increased 1.2% in March from February, compared to a predicted decline—though some economists predict any recovery to be bumpy.

Telefonica dropped its earnings call. Spain’s biggest phone company saw Q1 profits rise 21% to €902 million from €748 million last year even as revenue fell 8.8% to €14.1 billion.

Alibaba’s revenue shot up 80%. China’s e-commerce heavyweight saw income rise to $1.84 billion in the last quarter of 2012, with profits up 156% to $650 million, as revealed by a Yahoo filing.

Russia and America agreed to do something about Syria. A joint conference, with Syria’s government and rebels in attendance, is to be held within a month.

Quartz obsession interlude

Gwynn Guilford on why China’s promise to open up capital flows is a big deal… but don’t hold your breath. “Exchange rate and interest rate repression are so fundamental to China’s economic growth that there is almost nothing that would not be affected by reforms—it’s a Rube Goldberg contraption of financial and political interests, with almost unimaginably large amounts of money and political power held in the balance. That’s why the government has traditionally been extremely opaque about how and when it will implement reforms. That’s not likely to change.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Emerging market cities are miserable. They also risk becoming literally uninhabitable.

Yields on emerging market government bonds are ridiculously low. Somebody is going to get hurt. Oh, and that goes for junk bonds too.

Twitter is an enabler of hate groups. They use it for disseminating links to hate and terrorist materials.

Bill Gates vs. the US deficit. The rich should pay more to reduce it, says Bill.

Unlike MBAs, economics doctorates are not worthless.

Surprising discoveries

Fringe benefit. Turkey is developing a reputation as the mustache transplant capital of the world.

Get me rewrite. US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has tamed his loopy signature for its appearance on the new US dollar.

Guitar heroes. Women find a man sexier when he’s holding a guitar.

Unemployed Danes are advertising their services. By sitting in shop windows.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, mustache models, and signature suggestions to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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