Bloomberg Businessweek-Europe Edition May 24, 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 passed 164 million, and deaths topped 3.4m Meanwhile, more than 1.5 billion vaccine doses have been given. The virus has flared up again in parts of Asia: A new outbreak has forced Singapore to return to lockdown-like conditions. Fighting between Israel and Hamas has now killed at least 224 Palestinians and 12 Israelis. On May 19, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rebuffed President Joe Biden’s demand that he wind down the conflict, saying airstrikes on Gaza (above) would continue. AT&T will spin off its media operations and merge them with Discovery’s assets to form a new company. The combined entity, which the deal values at about $130b could offer some serious competition to streaming giants Amazon, Disney+, and Netflix. 17 Donald Trump faces another criminal investigation. On May 18, New York…

3 min
don’t just waive the protectionist jones act. scrap it for good

Another domestic energy crisis, another waiver of the U.S.’s Jones Act. In response to the ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline, which delivers about 45% of the fuel for the Eastern Seaboard, President Joe Biden’s administration said it would allow two exemptions from the 101-year-old act, which restricts waterborne commerce between U.S. ports to ships that are built, crewed, and owned by Americans. Citgo Petroleum Corp. and Valero Energy Corp. now have permission to use foreign vessels to transport oil products between the Gulf Coast and the East Coast. Hurricanes forced previous presidents to suspend the law to ensure deliveries of food, fuel, and other goods. This time, Biden should face reality and bury the act under the waves. As with most protectionist measures, the Jones Act harms the very people it purports…

1 min
let’s meet again

EU leaders convene in person in Brussels on May 24-25. Among the topics on their agenda: Reducing carbon emissions at least 55% by 2030 from 1990’s levels and navigating the tense post-Brexit relationship with the U.K. The Bank of New Zealand announces its interest rate decision on May 26. The bank has signaled it’s in no rush to halt monetary stimulus as the economic outlook remains uncertain. Ford will brief investors and analysts on May 26. The automaker is expected to provide updates on its EV strategy as part of the Ford+ plan. At its 74th assembly, being held virtually from May 24 to June 1, the WHO will discuss ways out of the yearlong pandemic and how to prevent the next one. South Africa’s former president, Jacob Zuma, is set…

5 min
china’s vaccine diplomacy

The Covid-19 pandemic has been a devastating public-health catastrophe the world over. For China, it’s also provided an unprecedented geopolitical opportunity. After it got the outbreak under control, and with world leaders distracted by their own countries’ health struggles, it was able to use the chaos of the pandemic to step up political crackdowns in Hong Kong and Xinjiang. Other nations cried foul, but China persisted. Perhaps most important, early exports of its rapidly developed vaccines have provided Beijing with a potent diplomatic calling card in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. And as the global death toll mounts, Chinese officials get to brag about their virus-fighting success around the world even as they gain greater access and influence in far-flung capitals. “The U.S. response to the epidemic is…

7 min
f.o.r.o. fear of running out

Dennis Wolkin, whose family has run a business making crib mattresses for three generations, should be sleeping soundly right now. Economic expansions are usually good for baby bed sales. But that extra demand can quickly turn from a blessing to a curse without the key ingredient: foam padding. Lately there’s been a run on the kind of polyurethane foam Wolkin uses—in part because of the deep freeze across the U.S. South in February, and because of “companies over-ordering and trying to hoard what they can,” he says. “It’s gotten out of control, especially in the past month,” says Wolkin, vice president of operations at Atlanta-based Colgate Mattress, a 35-employee company that sells products at Target stores and independent retailers. “We’ve never seen anything like this.” Although polyurethane foam is 50% more…

5 min
it’s shark week for discovery

Over the years, Discovery Inc., the owner of Animal Planet and steward of Shark Week, has mesmerized TV audiences with all sorts of Darwinian marvels. Alligator snapping turtles. Giant Tasmanian crayfish. Tree kangaroos. Now, Discovery is trying to pull off its own evolutionary leap, crawling out of the choppy seas of basic cable to invade the fertile land of streaming TV. On May 17, Chief Executive Officer David Zaslav sat alongside John Stankey, the CEO of AT&T Inc., at a hastily convened investor call and provided a blurry snapshot of their newly hatched, multiheaded entertainment hydra. The executives disclosed that AT&T, just three years after completing its costly acquisition of Time Warner and renaming it WarnerMedia, would be spinning off its media assets, which include CNN, TNT, TBS, and the Warner…