🌎 Southwest goes south

Plus: Oil stocks will be hot in 2023
🌎 Southwest goes south

Good morning, Quartz readers!

This is the last Daily Brief edition of 2022. Look out for a special edition landing in your inbox on Monday, Jan. 2 before normal service resumes on Tuesday, Jan. 3. 

Here’s what you need to know

Southwest Airlines’ meltdown caused rivals to cap some of their fares. As stranded travelers scramble to rebook their tickets, US lawmakers are mulling over industry consolidation and consequences for the budget airline.

Exxon is fighting the EU’s windfall tax on fossil fuel excess profits. The US oil giant argued in a lawsuit that the bloc’s executive arm doesn’t have the authority to enact the legislation.

US congressman-elect George Santos faces a federal probe over his CV embellishments. The Republican politician has admitted lying about his education and work history.

Crypto exchange Kraken will pull out of Japan. Citing a weak global market, the company will cease operations next month and deregister from Japan’s Financial Services Agency.

A pair of US economists is going after the junk food industry. In a working paper, the researchers argue childhood sugar consumption can influence lifelong health and wage outcomes.

Bolivian authorities detained a prominent opposition leader. The arrest of Santa Cruz governor Luis Fernando Camacho sparked protests in the country’s economic hub.

What to watch for

Adidas, Maersk, and Penguin Random House are just some of the big corporations that are welcoming new leaders in 2023 and beyond—but a lot of factors will influence just how long they’ll stay.

Leadership changes show a company is in want of new energies and vision, but they can be unsettling. Among the transitions that usually follow are layoffs, organizational reshuffles, and revamped strategies. The perception of the new boss may also move the stock for better or worse.

Quartz has a guide to the biggest CEO changes in 2023 and what they might mean for their respective enterprises. The new leaders have their plates full, with to-do list items like launching Yeezy sneakers without Ye (formerly Kanye West); making a giant shipping firm carbon neutral by 2040; and getting blockchain-based gaming off the ground. Easy enough.

Oil stocks will be hot in 2023

The past year was a good one for oil stocks, and 2023 is shaping up to be about as rosy. Analysts at Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are predicting another spike in oil prices as lockdowns ease in China and the US refills its Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Compared to the S&P 500 index, which is down more than 20% this year, the five best-performing US oil companies—Exxon, Marathon, Hess, Occidental, and the oil services company Schlumberger—finished 2022 with their shares worth 87% more, on average.

A line chart showing the change in share price since Dec. 27, 2021, among US companies versus broader S&P Global indexes.
Graphic: Tim McDonnell

But any investor taking a longer-term view should proceed with caution. After a century of booms and busts, the oil market’s endgame is visible on the horizon, and a growing number of major banks are closing their purse strings to new oil drilling. When that happens, these stocks won’t look so hot.

Kafka, Hesse, and more are going public

On Jan. 1, works of literature, music, and film first copyrighted in 1927 will enter the public domain in the US. This means that Hermann Hesse’s novel Steppenwolf, the final set of Sherlock Holmes stories, and the classic song, “I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!”—among many other works—will be free for anyone to copy, share, and build upon.

✦ Quartz’s Amanda Shendruk picked out the most notable books, movies, and music entering the public domain this coming year. If you love stories like these, help keep content like this free and accessible too by becoming a Quartz’s member. We’re offering 50% off!

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Surprising discoveries

Smashed turtle shells are helping paleontologists figure out the original depth of buried items. Even if erosion wiped away soil layers on top of sites, the flattened armor doesn’t lie.

There’s a name for the distinct curved shape of hanging lights and tinsel. The mathematical name of the drape is a catenary, which, when inverted, is the perfect arc for vaulted roofs.

Scientists made a blood test for Alzheimer’s disease. The test, which still needs to be validated, could get people diagnosed much earlier.

Sophia, the famous AI robot, has two sisters. Grace and Desdemona look just as scary.

South Korea will allow sex doll imports. Thousands of dolls have been confiscated by customs under a clause banning goods that “harm the country’s beautiful traditions and public moral.”

Our best wishes for a productive day. Send any news, comments, perfect catenaries, and AI family photos to hi@qz.com. Reader support makes Quartz available to all—become a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Sofia Lotto Persio, Julia Malleck, Tim McDonnell, Ananya Bhattacharya, and Morgan Haefner.