🌏 It pays to leave Tokyo

Plus: GE is shaking up the S&P
A boy holds a Japanese national flag during the New Year's appearance by the Japanese royal family at the Imperial Palace on January 2, 2023.
A boy holds a Japanese national flag during the New Year's appearance by the Japanese royal family at the Imperial Palace on January 2, 2023.
Photo: Tomohiro Ohsumi (Getty Images)

Good morning, Quartz readers!

Here’s what you need to know

Japan is paying families to move out of Tokyo. It’s offering households ¥1 million ($7,650) per child to leave the capital in an effort to reverse population decline in other regions.

Beijing criticized new covid rules on travelers from China. The US, France, and Japan, among other nations, have imposed restrictions on arrivals as cases in China surge.

Sam Bankman-Fried pleaded not guilty to fraud. The founder of collapsed crypto platform FTX could face up to 115 years in prison if convicted in the multibillion-dollar fraud case.

Germany received liquified natural gas from the US... The LNG shipment was delivered to a newly-built terminal in the North Sea as Germany seeks to replace energy supplies from Russia.

…and Bulgaria signed a natural gas deal with Turkey. Bulgaria’s Bulgargaz sealed a 13-year deal with Turkey’s Botas as it seeks to wean off Russian energy dependence.

South Korea slapped Tesla with a $2.2 million fine. Antitrust authorities found the EV maker exaggerated its driving range. Meanwhile, Tesla said it delivered a record 1.3 million cars in 2022, and promoted China chief Tom Zhu.

Pakistan has new measures to conserve power. The country ordered that all shops must shut by 8:30pm local time, and restaurants by 10pm amid an energy and economic crisis.

What to watch for

General Electric is about to launch the first of its three-part spin off on the public markets. GE Healthcare, which comprises medical technology, pharmaceutical diagnostics, and digital solutions, officially starts trading on the Nasdaq under the ticker GEHC today (Jan. 4).

GE Healthcare, which in November was estimated to be worth $31 billion, is also getting a spot on the S&P 500. That will set off a domino effect as it replaces Vornado Realty Trust, which will move to the S&P MidCap 400 on Jan. 5. Vornado will replace logistics firm RXO, which in turn will enter the S&P SmallCap 600, marking the exit of chiropractic care company The Joint Corp.

The second act of GE’s split is planned for early 2024, with a new entity combining its renewable energy, power, and digital units into one business. The remaining part of GE will focus fully on aviation, the company’s most lucrative segment.

People just aren’t that into grocery delivery

Instacart, the grocery delivery firm that boomed during the pandemic, capped off last year with a fourth cut to its valuation.

The most recent 20% slash lowered Instacart’s worth to $10 billion. The startup has struggled to hold on to its pandemic gains, and recently shelved its IPO plans for the year. Several factors have ground Instacart’s wheels to a squeaky halt: rising inflation, cut-throat competition in the sector, and post-pandemic consumption patterns that have people returning to in-store shopping and other shopping formats like click-and-collect.

It’s not just Instacart—valuations are tumbling across the sector. Ultrafast grocery delivery service Gorillas was bought by Getir in December 2022 for a price that gave its investors little or no return on investment, while other competitors like Buyk and Fridge No More shut down early last year.

The biggest movie releases to watch in 2023

A non-Disney slasher flick Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey; a 30-minute dance number that’ll end Magic Mike’s Last Dance; Chris Pratt voicing Mario in The Super Mario Bros. Movie. 2023, it seems, is shaping up to be quite the year at the box office.

Quartz reporter Ananya Bhattacharya has a rundown of the biggest movie releases to watch this year that may well top the industry’s 2022 flicks—so long as covid’s resurgence doesn’t wreak havoc.

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Surprising discoveries

Dogs in Nahant, Massachusetts are donning metal spikes. Owners are buying the armor to fend off coyotes.

Some organisms eat viruses. Two plankton have been identified as the world’s first “virovores.”

A British town canceled its New Year’s fireworks to protect a walrus. Thor stopped by Scarborough, had a wank, and then waddled off. 

Smoking has been banned at Miami beaches. We wonder what Crockett and Tubbs would think.

Penguins may recognize themselves in the mirror. Though they didn’t exactly pass their self-recognition tests with flying colors.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Send any news, comments, dog armor, and self-actualizing penguins to hi@qz.com. Reader support makes Quartz available to all—become a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Ananya Bhattacharya, Sofia Lotto Persio, Julia Malleck, and Morgan Haefner.