Bloomberg Businessweek-Europe Edition December 28, 2020

Each issue of Businessweek features in-depth perspectives on the financial markets, industries, trends, technology and people guiding the economy. Draw upon Businessweek's timely incisive analysis to help you make better decisions about your career, your business, and your personal investments.

United Kingdom
Bloomberg Finance LP
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3 min
in brief

There have been more than 77.7 million coronavirus cases worldwide, and 1.7m people have died. A mutation that may make the virus more infectious emerged in the U.K., forcing London into a full lockdown on Dec. 19 and leading governments to suspend travel to the country. The U.S. Congress passed a $900 billion pandemic relief bill on Dec. 21. The package includes help for small businesses and the jobless and a $600 one-time payment to most Americans. It also provides funds for vaccine distribution, food assistance, education, and child care. The Kilauea volcano erupted on Dec. 20 for the first time in more than two years, placing Hawaii’s Big Island on high alert. Pakistan was granted $2.55b in debt payment relief on Dec. 22 from creditors including the Group of 20 nations. It’s a…

2 min
the covid bill is welcome, but more help will be needed

The pandemic relief bill passed by Congress on Dec. 21 will provide vital support for the economy and for millions of Americans struggling to cope with the public-health emergency. At several points in recent weeks, after months of needless delay, lawmakers seemed ready to settle for doing nothing at all. In view of the stress that many households are under, that would’ve been unconscionable. Certainly this long-overdue agreement is welcome. That said, it’s only a stopgap. Congress and President-elect Joe Biden’s administration will need to come forward as quickly as possible with another package—ideally one that remedies the defects of this deal. The $900 billion plan was initially put together by a bipartisan group of senators acting at the last moment before Congress begins its yearend break. It provides new one-off payments…

6 min
that hack is the sound of inevitability

The world has a way of reminding us of our own helplessness. The year 2020 has had more than its share of examples to choose from, but for those who prefer to direct their existential dread toward the inability of anyone to protect their digital data, the recent revelation of one of the most significant cybersecurity attacks in history is an excellent place to start. This past spring hackers managed to insert malicious code into a software product from an IT provider called SolarWinds Corp. whose client list includes 300,000 institutions. About 18,000 of them were exposed when they downloaded a legitimate update from SolarWinds—which of course is the exact thing you’re supposed to do to keep your defenses fresh. The attackers spent months running free through their victims’ networks before…

12 min
the very public humbling of jack ma

When Jack Ma took to a Shanghai conference stage in October, China’s most famous entrepreneur was on the brink of pulling off an unprecedented $35 billion initial public offering for the finance juggernaut he co-founded two decades earlier. Ant Group Co.’s listing would value the company at more than $300 billion and swell Ma’s own fortune beyond its already blistering $61 billion, cementing his position as the nation’s richest man. Ma, a co-founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., China’s largest company, told the audience that day at the Bund Summit that he was torn about speaking, but felt this was a “most critical” moment in the development of finance. What followed was a 20-minute roasting of anachronistic government regulation that would suffocate innovation in China. It was a vintage…

4 min
opendoor’s costly path to success

The startup Opendoor raised billions of dollars by convincing investors it would reshape the U.S. housing market to work better for consumers. Sure enough, its method of high-volume house flipping has proved popular with home sellers and inspired copycats throughout the industry, paving the way for it to go public through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company. But before it can declare success, it needs to stop bleeding cash. Opendoor, whose shares increased 5.9% on its first day of trading on Dec. 21, is built around the premise that many people who want to sell their homes will be willing to accept a smaller profit if offered a quick transaction that allows them to avoid hiring a broker, opening their houses to and haggling with strangers, and waiting weeks…

4 min
biden faces a battle to hold the internet together

Almost a decade ago as vice president, Joe Biden believed that the internet was at an inflection point. In a 2011 speech he warned other countries that they wouldn’t be able to reap the internet’s economic benefits if they undermined its openness by imposing national-level censorship rules and other technical roadblocks. “There isn’t a separate economic internet, political internet, and social internet,” he said. “They are all one.” When Biden becomes president in January, he’ll confront the reality that some key nations haven’t heeded his warning. National policies in various countries have reduced the range of globally shared websites and platforms while adding obstacles to online communication and commerce. Officials who served with Biden in the Obama administration expect that he will push the vision he laid out then, but some…