Good morning, Quartz readers!
Here’s what you need to know
Royal Dutch Shell’s revenues plunged in 2020. It is the latest energy giant to report a damaging year, with full-year profits falling more than 70% to $4.8 billion.
McKinsey is settling for $573 million over opioids. The deal with 47 US states resolves claims over the consultancy’s role in marketing the dangerous painkillers.
One New York hedge fund reportedly made $700 million off GameStop. According to the Wall Street Journal, Senvest Management bucked the David vs. Goliath narrative.
Parler’s CEO said he’s been fired by its board. John Matz complained about “constant resistance” to his vision for the social media platform.
Myanmar blocked Facebook. Days after seizing power in a coup, the new military government censored the site until Feb. 7 for the sake of “stability.”
Sure, everyone’s a critic. But even so, there are some surprising omissions from the Golden Globe nominations.
What to watch for
Will the Bank of England go sub-zero? Investors are anxiously awaiting the UK central bank’s review on whether to push interest rates into negative territory. It’s a controversial step that policy makers in Japan and the EU have taken, but US officials have resisted.
On the one hand, lower interest rates could hopefully make financing even cheaper and drive investors into riskier assets, like stocks, giving companies more capital to grow. That would be helpful as the economy climbs out of a deep, pandemic-induced recession. But as John Detrixhe explains, it also means savers could see their nest eggs wither, and some say it damages banks by making it harder for them to profit from their loans.
Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expect the BoE to go down the middle: when they publish their findings today, officials may add negative rates to their toolkit, but stop short of actually going negative—for now.
Charting the cost of climate procrastination
Since 1988, or even the 1890s, scientists have said (with increasing urgency) that eliminating greenhouse gas emissions will be essential to avoid a warming climate. Until recently, lawmakers responded with the policy equivalent of, “We’ll deal with this later.”
The nonpartisan energy policy firm Energy Innovation group analyzed the cost to the US economy of waiting 10 more years before passing policies to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. The result: a real bummer of a chart from Michael Coren.
Silicon Valley’s weakening grip on venture capital
The shift to smaller tech hubs has been going on for years, but the pandemic gave it a push. While Silicon Valley isn’t dead yet, the data show it is beginning to give up ground to smaller startup hubs across the country.
The immediate culprit is the pandemic, which has triggered a geographical shift for investors and tech workers from the Bay Area to cheaper climes. Startups and venture capitalists have demonstrated that they can still cut deals despite the lack of physical proximity, removing one of the rationales for piling into the region’s overpriced real estate in the first place. Nicolás Rivero shows how Silicon Valley is losing its place at the table.
✦You’ll always have a place at Quartz’s table, but a membership will give you a more satisfying meal. Try it out free for seven days.
Scotland gives its snowplows the best names. You can track gritters like “I Want to Break Freeze” and “Veruca Salt” in real time.
Damned if we do, damned if we don’t. Pandemic lockdowns kept us off the roads, cleared the skies, and… warmed the planet.
Denmark will have vaccine passports. Digital documentation to prove vaccination status should be ready by spring.
Snakes make some lizards heat up. The presence of predators also makes their legs grow longer, speeding up their escape.
If you’re Hafium Bohrium problems, we feel bad for you, son. We’ve got 99 elements, and einsteinium is one.
Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, ice puns, and terrified reptiles to firstname.lastname@example.org. Get the most out of Quartz by downloading our iOS app and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Hasit Shah, Jane Li, Mary Hui, Jordan Lebeau, and Susan Howson.