Bloomberg Businessweek-Europe Edition July 19, 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 surupassed 188 million, and more than 4m have died. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced plans to lift most remaining Covid-19 restrictions starting on July 19, a move some critics characterized as reckless. European Union officials agreed to postpone a levy on goods and services sold online by EU companies. The tax would apply to companies with annual sales of €50 million ($59 million) or more. G-20 countries also formally endorsed a proposal for a global minimum corporate tax rate of 15%, a plan U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen also backs. Cubans took to the streets by the thousands on July 11 in a spontaneous protest against economic policies and food and medicine shortages. Activists called it the biggest demonstration since the Maleconazo uprising of 1994. The U.S. consumer price index…

3 min
fresh air in the office isn’t an amenity. it’s a necessity

Covid-19 has taught the world quite a few things. Not least the value of fresh air. Indoors—in restaurants, church halls, nursing homes, meatpacking plants—the contagion spread easily, as virus particles exhaled by the infected hung in the air to be inhaled by new victims. Outside, flows of air dispersed those same aerosols enough to bring the spread of the disease almost to a stop. Schools, offices, and other indoor spaces need better ventilation to minimize the harm from new coronaviruses, cold and flu viruses, and every other sort of airborne pathogen. This calls for rethinking how indoor air is controlled. The need for guidance on safer ventilation in schools is urgent and under discussion. State and local building codes should also be revised. Economizing on buildings’ use of energy is vital…

1 min
empty stands

The G-20 Environment Ministers’ Meeting takes place in Naples, Italy, on July 22. The next day is the Ministerial Meeting on Climate and Energy. Themes include water use and biodiversity. The Salzburg Summit, July 22-24, will gather CEOs and government officials to discuss trends in European business, politics, and sciences, notably the digitalization of the future. IBM reports second-quarter earnings on July 19. The company may see higher sales growth in most segments, especially global business services, analysts say. American Express delivers second-quarter earnings on July 23. Analysts expect them to be strong, with year-on-year revenue growth for the first time in five quarters. The National Association of Realtors releases its June existing-home sales report on July 22. An uptick is predicted, indicating that more buyers were able to enter the market. Lawyers for Civil…

5 min
fear of a digital dollar

Imagine logging on to your own account with the U.S. Federal Reserve. With your laptop or phone, you could zap cash anywhere instantly. There’d be no middlemen, no fees, no waiting for deposits or payments to clear. That vision sums up the appeal of the digital dollar, the dream of futurists and the bane of bankers. It’s not the Bitcoin bros and other cryptocurrency fans pushing the disruptive idea but America’s financial and political elite. Fed Chair Jerome Powell promises fresh research and a set of policy questions for Congress to ponder this summer. J. Christopher Giancarlo, a former chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, is rallying support through the nonprofit Digital Dollar Project, a partnership with consulting giant Accenture Plc. To perpetuate American values such as free enterprise and…

5 min
get ’em while they’re hot

Buoyed by a rush of locked-down homeowners investing in high-end barbecue gear, grill makers are taking advantage of soaring sales to go public. Within a week of the traditional U.S. barbecuing holiday, July Fourth, two companies filed paperwork for initial public offerings. Traeger Inc. and Weber Inc., the biggest American manufacturers of barbecue grills, will tap public investors for the first time this summer after decades of being closely held. And BBQGuys, an online retailer of grills, outdoor kitchens, and other accessories, whose investors include football greats Eli and Peyton Manning, is in talks to go public through a merger with Velocity Acquisition Corp., according to people with knowledge of the matter. The combined company is set to be valued at about $900 million, including debt, they say. So-called stay-at-home trades…

6 min
china’s no. 1 booze gets a makeover

For centuries, baijiu has been a staple at celebrations in China. The fiery alcohol has aided diplomacy, as when Richard Nixon and Zhou Enlai raised a glass or two to toast the Sino-U.S. detente in the 1970s. And to this day a $390 bottle of Moutai, a preferred gift across the mainland, can still open a surprising number of doors. But China’s potent national tipple, usually imbibed over long banquet meals, faces a challenge. The older generation, for health reasons, is consuming less of what’s broadly viewed as the booze of choice for men in their 40s and above. And younger Chinese don’t care much for it. At about 110 proof, the clear liquor distilled mostly from fermented sorghum is an acquired taste for many hipsters, who increasingly are likely to…