Bloomberg Businessweek-Europe Edition February 1, 2021

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.

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2 min
in brief

Coronavirus cases globally have surpassed 100m and almost 2.2 million people have died. In Europe, delivery delays have led some lawmakers to demand vaccine export limitations. That proposal drew a sharp rebuke from the U.K., which warned the EU against “vaccine nationalism.” Merck is discontinuing development of its two experimental Covid-19 vaccines after early trial data showed they failed to generate an immune response. Russian security forces cracked down on protests in support of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny, with tens of thousands of people taking to the streets in cities nationwide since Jan. 23. On Jan. 26, 45 Republican senators voted to dismiss Trump’s second impeachment trial. Kentucky’s Rand Paul brought up the procedural vote, saying the Constitution rules out convictions of officials who are no longer in office. (Most legal scholars strongly…

3 min
u.s. leadership in technology is in danger. government can help

From the cotton gin to the mobile phone, the U.S. has produced some of the most useful inventions of the past three centuries. Yet by several measures, its traditional leadership in science and technology is under threat. As President Joe Biden’s administration begins, reviving American ingenuity should be among his top priorities. Biden should, as a start, push to raise government investment in research and development. Federally funded research has been a crucial component of U.S. scientific success, helping to produce everything from GPS technology to search engines to the internet itself. In recent years, almost one-third of patents granted have relied on such research. Yet annual federal R&D spending as a share of gross domestic product has stagnated at about 0.7% over the past three years, down from an historical…

1 min
log in, we’re open

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presents India’s annual budget on Feb. 1. Among the challenges facing the country is reviving lackluster domestic consumption. Oil giant BP reports earnings on Feb. 2. The pandemic-induced crash in energy markets has forced companies to lower price forecasts, write down assets, and scale back drilling plans. The Reserve Bank of Australia sets interest rates on Feb. 2. Economists see the cash rate remaining at 0.1% into this year, as the country’s economy begins to recover. South Africa hosts the virtual Mining Indaba natural-resources conference on Feb. 2-3. Guest speakers include Mark Cutifani, CEO of mining company Anglo American. Nintendo’s earnings on Feb. 1 will most likely show it got a boost from a development that’s troubling many parents: Kids stuck at home are spending a lot more time gaming. Groundhog…

6 min
xi insists

As Joe Biden settles into the White House, there’s been endless debate about what his China policy should, could, and will be. Yet it takes two superpowers to tango, so Xi Jinping’s approach to Biden will be every bit as critical as Biden’s to Xi—perhaps even more so. Any significant improvement in U.S.-China relations is impossible unless Xi is willing to dance. Is he? We don’t know with any certainty. Xi doesn’t share very much about his thinking on U.S. policy. He rarely ever even mentions the U.S. by name. As with so much else in China, we’re stuck parsing Xi’s comments, dissecting his actions, and making some educated projections. A picture does emerge from the murk. And unfortunately for global stability and prosperity, it doesn’t look good. The reason can be found…

5 min
rock’s drumbeat of deals

Bob Dylan was supposed to spend the summer of 2020 on tour, winding his way from the Les Schwab Amphitheater in Bend, Ore., to the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts in upstate New York. Instead, stranded at home because of the pandemic, he lined up the biggest payday of his career. For years, music executives had approached Dylan about buying his catalog, which includes more than 600 songs such as Blowin’ in the Wind and Like a Rolling Stone. Dylan always turned them down, but in December the 79-year-old reconsidered and made more than $300 million in a pact with Universal Music Group Inc. The sale was the largest in a spate of recent deals in which stars have cashed in on their old songs. Lindsey Buckingham, Shakira, Neil Young, and…

4 min
the virus is hitting carmakers, too

When the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami ravaged Japan in 2011, ocean water flooded factories owned by Renesas Electronics Corp. Production at the swamped facilities ground to a halt—a major hit for Renesas, of course, but also a devastating blow to the Japanese car industry, which depended on Renesas for semiconductors. Lacking chips for everything from transmissions to touchscreens, Honda, Nissan, and Toyota were forced to shut down or slow output for months. As the perils of just-in-time manufacturing and the dangers of relying on a single supplier for key components became obvious, automakers vowed to steer clear of similar snafus in the future. Yet a decade later, the global auto industry finds itself in an almost identical predicament. The catalyst for the breakdown this time is a slower-moving natural disaster: the…