Bloomberg Businessweek-Europe Edition March 22, 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

There have been almost 121 million coronavirus cases worldwide, and nearly 2.7m people have died. France, Germany, Italy, and other countries in Europe temporarily suspended use of the AstraZeneca vaccine while they evaluate possible side effects, including blood clots. The company says its shot is safe. President Biden is considering the first major federal tax hike since 1993. His proposal would mostly affect those earning more than $400,000 a year. The revenue would help pay for his broad economic and infrastructure plans. Volkswagen’s stock surged as much as 29% on March 16, the most in more than a decade. Investors applauded the carmaker’s ambitious push into battery-powered vehicles, targeting 1 million EV sales this year. The Netflix drama Mank scored 10 Oscar nominations. The black-and-white film about Citizen Kane writer Herman Mankiewicz leads the pack…

3 min
as the castro era nears an end, the u.s. should engage with cuba

Some House Democrats are pressing President Biden to reverse U.S. policy on Cuba again, returning to the détente that prevailed before Donald Trump took office. Biden should indeed take the first steps toward renewed openness—and put the onus on Cuba’s leaders to respond. As with so many of his predecessor’s policies, Trump was quick to declare the Obama administration’s rapprochement with Cuba a “bad deal” and began dismantling it wholesale, imposing or reimposing more than 200 restrictions on travel, trade, and financial and diplomatic ties. The clampdown won Trump votes in South Florida, but by almost any other measure it failed. Cuba’s Communist regime remains firmly entrenched, and it’s grown even more dependent on U.S. rivals China, Russia, and Venezuela. Hard-liners in Havana have continued to crack down on dissent. Cuban…

1 min
social media’s reckoning

Israel holds general elections on March 23. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is hoping his rapid vaccination campaign will impress voters more than his recent corruption trials. GameStop reveals quarterly earnings on March 23. The computer game retailer has found itself the darling of day traders and the source of some consternation among regulators. Tencent reports its quarterly earnings on March 24. China’s government is increasingly cracking down on major internet companies to curtail their power. Mexico’s central bank sets interest rates on March 25. Banxico faces a narrowing path to cut rates again from 4%, already the lowest they’ve been in almost five years. Fed Chair Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen make their first joint appearance on Capitol Hill on March 23, to discuss their response to the pandemic. The World Bank presents…

6 min
europe injects more doubts

In the eyes of many Europeans, gung-ho populists such as Donald Trump and Boris Johnson failed to afford Covid-19 the gravity it required last year. The European Union’s staid, safety-first approach by comparison kept down the Continent’s mortality rate. Yet caution and collegiality are now looking more like a hindrance on the way out of the pandemic. The EU’s slow, some say botched, vaccine rollout is exposing flaws in the communal system that threaten to weaken the bloc economically and its leaders politically. The problem has been exacerbated by several countries’ move on March 15 to suspend AstraZeneca Plc’s coronavirus vaccine over concerns about blood clots. Compounding a sense of drift and panic, their decisions went against the advice of the European Medicines Agency, the EU’s regulator. It warned of a…

6 min
ge gets back to the simple life

Despite its storied history as an industrial icon founded by Thomas Edison, General Electric Co. by a decade ago had morphed into a massive financial-services company bigger than all but a handful of U.S. banks. That transformation brought with it a maddeningly complex web of businesses, opaque accounting, and financial risk that dogged it for years. So when Chief Executive Officer Larry Culp on March 10 announced a $30 billion deal to unload GE’s aircraft-leasing business, the move returned something long absent from GE: simplicity. Jet lessor GE Capital Aviation Services, or Gecas, was the biggest remaining business of GE Capital, the once-sprawling financial-services company that in 2010 had more than $600 billion in assets. After the unit’s sale to Irish rival AerCap Holdings NV closes a year from now, GE…

4 min
an arms race on autopilot

A dozen years into its fight with the Islamic insurgent group Boko Haram, Nigeria is getting some new weapons: a pair of Wing Loong II drones from China. The deal is one of a growing number of sales by state-owned Aviation Industry Corp. of China (AVIC), which has exported scores of the aircraft. The United Arab Emirates has used AVIC drones in Libya’s civil war, Egypt has attacked rebels in Sinai with them, and Saudi-led troops have deployed them in Yemen. The company’s drones “are now battle-tested,” says Heather Penney, a fellow at the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, a think tank in Arlington, Va. “They’ve been able to feed lessons learned back into their manufacturing.” Nigeria is getting AVIC’s second generation of Wing Loongs—the name means “pterodactyl”— which can fly…