Bloomberg Businessweek-Europe Edition February 8, 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.

United Kingdom
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1 min
in brief

Coronavirus cases globally have surpassed 104m and more than 2.2 million people have died. But the vaccine effort is picking up, with almost 105 million doses given. Johnson & Johnson unveiled a vaccine with two advantages over the competition: It only needs to be given once and can be stored in a normal refrigerator. Brian Sicknick, the U.S. Capitol Police officer killed in the Jan. 6 riot, lies in honor in the Rotunda on Feb. 3. “We cannot move on without accountability. We cannot heal without accountability.” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, on Instagram on Feb. 1 discussing the Capitol invasion, during which she feared for her life. Jack Ma’s Ant Group will transform itself into a financial holding company. People familiar with the plan hashed out with Chinese regulators say it will…

1 min
the ex-president on trial

Oil giant Shell gives an update on its energy-transition strategy on Feb. 11. With fossil fuels falling out of favor, the industry is turning increasingly to renewable sources. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell shares his outlook at the Economic Club of New York on Feb. 10. Economists want to hear about the future of the Fed’s asset purchases. SoftBank reports fiscal third-quarter earnings on Feb. 8; founder Masayoshi Son will run through the numbers. The fund has recovered, after startup investments paid off. The Bank of Russia publishes its interest-rate decision on Feb. 12, with Governor Elvira Nabiullina hosting a news conference. Economists see rates holding steady at 4.25%. General Motors reports earnings on Feb. 10. GM’s embrace of bigger SUVs such as the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Sierra pickups has attracted buyers. Feeling boxed…

4 min
stopping the next pandemic starts now

As the First World War wore on, a new scourge erupted: an influenza pandemic that left even more bodies in its wake than the conflict itself. But the 1918 pandemic was overshadowed by the war, and its lessons went unheeded. One hundred years later, the world faces a similar test. When the Covid-19 pandemic eventually recedes, will we learn the lessons it is teaching us? Or once the emergency subsides and life returns to “normal,” will we carry on the same as before? Sooner or later, a virus may emerge or reemerge that could be more transmissible than the Covid-19 virus, more virulent, or both. But efforts to identify dangerous new viruses remain limited. The pandemic is at the forefront of everybody’s attention, and it’s essential to harness that sense of trauma…

7 min
europe reaches for london’s crown

In the beginning was the Big Bang. It was 1986, and the moribund British economy appeared stuck in an unbreakable cycle of postindustrial decline. Then came the jolt that opened up U.K. financial markets to the world and turned the City of London into the nation’s dynamo. Banks gathered in the Square Mile, and companies flocked to list on the newly deregulated stock exchange. Caricatured gents in bowler hats meeting over tepid ale were displaced by a generation of Gordon Gekko-style traders. More than three decades of near unbroken growth ensued as the Big Bang propelled London to the status of Europe’s preeminent financial center with the vast majority of trading in bonds, euro-denominated foreign exchange, and derivatives. Now the City of London has to contend with the fallout from a far…

6 min
there’s still a lot of work to do

Just two months ago, the prospects for beating the novel coronavirus with highly effective vaccines couldn’t have seemed better. Shots from Moderna and the Pfizer-BioNTech partnership proved more than 90% effective in preventing Covid-19 symptoms in massive trials, surpassing the most optimistic forecasts. An end to the pandemic appeared imminent. Yet pharma companies now suddenly face a daunting challenge that few anticipated we’d see so soon: an onslaught of fast-spreading and potentially dangerous mutations of the virus. So even as they ramp up production in the early stages of a massive rollout, drugmakers have to retool their vaccine strategies. That’s raised the possibility that patients will need extra shots to protect against the new strains—and that drugmakers could get a new revenue stream that, for some, may prove lucrative. The highly transmissable…

4 min
taking the travel out of duty free

Bargain-hunting travelers have long fattened the profits of duty-free shops, but Covid-19 travel restrictions have hammered those perfume-suffused emporiums. Except in one place: China’s Hainan Island, where even domestic visitors can shop duty free. Last year the government eased restrictions on such purchases as more Chinese tourists unable to journey abroad flocked to the island, providing a lifeline for the global industry. Duty-free sales in China “have been extremely solid in the last 12 months,” says Jean-Marc Pontroué, chief executive officer of high-end watchmaker Panerai, which is adding two duty-free locations on Hainan this year. “We remain optimistic, because the Chinese can hardly get out of China.” China is now extending parts of that Hainan policy to the mainland, with duty-free shops in central Shanghai, Beijing, and about a dozen other…