Bloomberg Businessweek-Europe Edition March 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.

United Kingdom
Bloomberg Finance LP
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50 Numéros

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2 min
in brief

Global coronavirus cases have exceeded 117m and more than 2.6 million people have died. After a sluggish start, vaccination campaigns are gaining momentum in many countries; 319 million shots have been given worldwide. Germany says it aims to inoculate 10 million people a week by the end of March. Tesla is building a more than 100-megawatt energy storage project in Angleton, Texas, the state whose ailing electric grid almost collapsed in February. Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill cleared its final hurdle in the House on March 10. The president plans to sign the legislation, his first major political victory, on March 12. Saudi Arabia said on March 8 that some of the world’s most protected oil infrastructure was attacked by missiles and drones. While the strikes were intercepted, the barrage of assaults,…

3 min
congress is broken. earmarks might help spark compromise

Just don’t call them earmarks. Plans are in the works to revive a legislative procedure in which lawmakers can tie funding in appropriations bills to specific projects—airports, bridges, museums—in their home state or district. The process will now be referred to by the serene euphemism of “community project funding,” because the traditional terms (earmarking, pork, horse-trading) have come into disrepute. Whatever it’s called, it’s a good idea. Earmarking got a bad rap over the years, and not without reason. Total spending on such measures rose from less than $3 billion in 1991 to $29 billion at its peak in 2006. Tales of misspent money proliferated. Favors were exchanged. Crimes were committed. You might recall a $223 million set-aside for connecting a remote Alaskan town to a yet more remote island. An uproar…

1 min
a masked world

Dutch general elections on March 17 are a referendum on Mark Rutte’s handling of the pandemic. The prime minister just extended restrictions to the end of the month. The U.S. House Committee on Financial Services meets virtually on March 17 on the retail trading bonanza that drove shares up and burned many investors last month. China releases key economic data on March 15, including industrial production, fixed-assets investment, and retail sales, pointing to a continued recovery. FedEx reports earnings on March 18. Courier services have benefited from record package deliveries, but the cost of dropping off parcels at private homes has also shot up. The Federal Reserve sets interest rates on March 17. Chair Jerome Powell will likely reaffirm his looser-for-longer stance, with no room for tightening of policy. Nike posts earnings on March 18.…

9 min
how the spac era will end

Whenever greed meets reality and giddy markets collapse, Wall Street pros usually say they sensed the end was coming. The warning signs were so familiar, they belatedly confess, that it was difficult to believe anyone could miss them. The chain of fools was running out. This can’t last. Today those sober words are being whispered again in American finance, this time about one of the biggest money grabs in the business, SPACs. Once dismissed as sketchy Wall Street arcana, these publicly traded shells are created for one purpose: to merge with real businesses that really make money. Nowadays everyone who’s anyone seems to be doing one, from Alex Rodriguez to Paul Ryan. The count from the past 15 months stretches to 474 SPACs. Together they’ve raised $156 billion. Picture GameStop Redditors meet…

6 min
china’s big chill

In barely 40 years, China has dramatically opened up its economy and become one of the world’s primary growth engines. Now, President Xi Jinping is making ambitious plans to pull ahead of rivals by turning his country into a digital powerhouse. But Xi’s drive toward tech dominance is being threatened by an unexpected speed bump: China’s forceful crackdown on Jack Ma’s business empire. The abrupt fall from grace of the Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. co-founder has cast a chill over parts of China’s technology sector, according to local entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, even as Xi prepares to pour trillions of dollars into making the country self-sufficient in everything from semiconductors to software. One startup founder in Ma’s home province of Zhejiang says he no longer aspires to Alibaba-size success, fearing the risk…

5 min
where evs aren’t only for the affluent

Chinese factory worker Weng Changqing knew he wanted an electric car before he even had his driver’s license. Living in a small town in eastern China and looking to start a family, he figured the savings on gas and maintenance would allow him to afford to buy his first ride. He wasn’t in the market for a Tesla Model 3, which starts at about $38,000 in China. Instead, the 37-year-old bought a 66,900-yuan ($10,000) crossover from local electric-vehicle maker Hozon Auto. It’s one of a growing number of vehicles that run on batteries and electric motors gaining popularity in lower-income parts of the country because of their modest prices and lower running costs. (EVs don’t need oil changes, spark plugs, or the various belts that have to be replaced periodically on…