Bloomberg Businessweek-Europe Edition February 15, 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

Global coronavirus cases have exceeded 107m and almost 2.4 million people have died. The pace of vaccinations is picking up, with more than 138 million shots given. The WHO has recommended AstraZeneca’s new vaccine for all adults, but South Africa is pausing its rollout after a trial showed it had limited efficacy against a new variant. Daimler is separating its luxury car and commercial vehicle operations by distributing a majority of its Daimler Truck unit to shareholders. As part of the move, to be completed by yearend, the company will change its name to that of its most iconic brand: Mercedes-Benz. “He didn’t just tell them to fight like hell. He told them how, when, and where.” Representative Joe Neguse of Colorado, one of the Democratic impeachment managers, describes on Feb. 10 President Trump’s…

3 min
immigration reform shouldn’t ignore enforcement

President Biden’s early efforts on immigration have focused on quickly mending the damage done by his predecessor. Quite right. President Trump was especially active—and especially foolish—on immigration, so there’s plenty to undo. But Biden is also looking ahead and has proposed a comprehensive reform that’s meant to resolve the issue for the foreseeable future. This part of his thinking is harder to endorse. Trump issued a blizzard of executive orders on immigration, most of them ill-conceived. Courts rejected many as illegal. Biden’s early orders on the issue are mostly an effort to pick up the pieces. He’s rescinded the travel ban imposed on some Muslim-majority countries, stopped work on Trump’s wall along the southern border, moved to restore the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that Trump tried to hobble, and…

1 min
farewell, king of coal

Ivan Glasenberg presides over Glencore’s earnings one last time on Feb. 16 before stepping down after almost two decades as CEO. Glasenberg built the commodities company into the world’s biggest shipper of coal. ▶ The Federal Reserve releases the minutes of its Jan. 26-27 meeting on Feb. 17. The Fed has said it will remain supportive for a long time to help the economy recover. ▶ Singapore presents its annual budget on Feb. 16. The city-state, hoping for a continued economic recovery, is seeking to reopen its borders to tourism and trade. ▶ Credit Suisse reports fourth-quarter earnings on Feb. 18. The bank has warned that it incurred a loss in the quarter after setting aside $850 million for legal costs in the U.S. ▶ Hedge funds must disclose their U.S. equity investments in…

6 min
is this goodbye?

Albert Ho shuffles across the dining room of Hong Kong’s Foreign Correspondents’ Club in a suit jacket and black scarf and slumps into his seat. The 69-year-old lawyer, democracy campaigner, and opposition politician has just come from visiting two friends in prison. One of them is Jimmy Lai, the media tycoon and pro-democracy activist whose Apple Daily newspaper cheered the city’s protest movement before Beijing quelled the unrest with a draconian national security law that it wielded to charge him with “foreign collusion.” Lai has been denied bail while awaiting trial. Another was the politician Wu Chi-wai, the former leader of the city’s main opposition Democratic Party and one of 55 activists and ex-lawmakers arrested in early January. John Clancey, an American lawyer at Ho’s firm, was also taken into custody…

6 min
fast-tracking a vaccine factory

On the outskirts of Marburg, a small college town in Germany, a handful of hazmat-clad workers from coronavirus vaccine manufacturer BioNTech SE anxiously huddled around a clean-room lab bench on Feb. 9, as a chain of chemical reactions silently unfolded inside a giant plastic bioreactor bag. This was the moment of truth for the company’s new factory, hastily retrofitted to produce 750 million doses a year of one of the most sought-after products in the world: the active ingredient for the messenger RNA vaccine sold by BioNTech and its partner Pfizer Inc. Demand for the vaccine, which BioNTech initially created, has been so massive that the partnership’s manufacturing facilities—a BioNTech mRNA plant in Mainz, Germany, three Pfizer factories in the U.S., facilities belonging to several other production partners across Europe, and…

6 min
online booze gets a covid boost

The lockdowns early last year were like a cruel reversal of “a guy walks into a bar” jokes for the alcohol industry. Instead of fun scenarios where anything could happen, people were stuck at home, bars were closed, and in the U.S. most consumers had no idea how to buy booze online. Financial results for alcohol companies were constrained, and their supply chains had to be redirected away from bars, sporting events, and concerts to whatever homebound consumers they could reach. There was even a shortage of the aluminum cans needed for some beers as they scrambled to adjust. Then, something funny did happen: Alcohol producers, held back from the e-commerce revolution in the U.S. by laws that date to the 1930s, suddenly saw online sales skyrocket. Beverage makers started to…