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Bloomberg Businessweek

Bloomberg Businessweek 2/20/2017

Each issue of Businessweek features in-depth perspectives on the financial markets, industries, trends, technology and people guiding the economy. Get the digital magazine subscription today and 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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United States
Bloomberg Finance LP
50 Issues

in this issue

4 min
the kremlin’s new disinformation machine

As French centrist presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron began surging in polls recently, his campaign was hit by a report calling him a “U.S. agent” and hinting that he’s a homosexual who’s backed by a “very wealthy gay lobby.” The source? Sputnik, a news agency controlled by the Kremlin. In a throwback to Soviet-era propaganda efforts, Russia’s sprawling state-run media empire is buzzing ahead of elections this year in the Netherlands, France, and Germany—putting Europe’s political establishment on alert after intelligence agencies accused Russia of meddling in the U.S. presidential race. Sputnik and RT, a state-owned global TV network, “make it their daily business to put out fake news,” Richard Ferrand, secretary-general of Macron’s En Marche! party, told France 2 television on Feb. 13. In Germany, the Kremlin’s global media operation is giving…

4 min
music festivals have a volume problem

As the musical duo Big Grams took the stage at the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival last June, Antwan Patton, better known as rapper Big Boi, looked out at the crowd in Manchester, Tenn., and saw an audience that had shrunk by half from his last appearance in 2011. Bonnaroo, named best festival by Rolling Stone in 2008, has a reputation as one of the nation’s most successful and innovative music events. Yet ticket sales reached an all-time low in 2016—dropping 46 percent from 2011—and the festival lost several million dollars, according to people familiar with Bonnaroo’s finances who asked not to be identified. “What we did last year didn’t resonate with the fan base,” says Joe Berchtold, chief operating officer of Live Nation Entertainment. Live Nation, the world’s largest concert promoter,…

4 min
the master chides his students

Frank Byrd was a 25-year-old stockbroker at Merrill Lynch in Memphis when he first read Warren Buffett’s annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders. He recalls thinking, “It’s the first thing that I read that I said, ‘This makes sense.’” Byrd had noticed that his clients who did the best in the market hardly ever traded; like Buffett, they bought stock in companies they admired and stashed it away for years. “I knew it wasn’t theory,” he says. “I knew it worked.” He later decided to study investing at Columbia Business School—Buffett’s alma mater—and then worked for 15 years in the hedge fund industry. The billionaire investor has been on Byrd’s mind recently. Buffett inspired a generation of financial pros to believe beating the market was possible, but lately he’s been lecturing…

4 min
do-it-yourself transhumanism

“What’s that thing sticking out of your head?” a woman asks the man with a serpentine antenna between his eyes. Neil Harbisson turns, parts his bowl-cut blond locks, and curves the antenna toward the buttinsky. “It’s a way to hear color,” he says. “What’s it connected to?” she asks. Harbisson looks up at her with smiling, cobalt eyes. “My brain.” At an outdoor cafe at L.A.’s Original Farmers Market, passersby are constantly checking out Harbisson, 34, and his partner, Moon Ribas, 31. In her left arm, she has a Bluetooth implant designed to analyze the earth’s seismic movements. What’s it feel like? “Two heartbeats,” she says. Harbisson, whose U.K. passport shows he’s the first legally recognized cyborg, was born colorblind. He designed his antenna—which translates colors into one of 360 musical tones he’s memorized—back in…

6 min
how to lose $6 billion

Since its founding in 1873 as Japan’s first maker of telegraph equipment, Toshiba has survived a litany of challenges, from the Great Kanto earthquake of 1923, to having its factories bombed into rubble during World War II, to the drubbing of the Zune music player it co-developed with Microsoft. Now the conglomerate may be undone by four nuclear power plants under construction in the American South. Blown deadlines and budgets at the reactors in Georgia and South Carolina overseen by Toshiba’s Westinghouse Electric subsidiary resulted in the resignation of Toshiba Chairman Shigenori Shiga on Feb. 14 and a 712.5 billion yen ($6.3 billion) writedown on its nuclear reactor business. That charge to cover cost overruns at Westinghouse eclipses the $5.4 billion that Toshiba paid for the company in 2006. The financial…

2 min
vietnam shrugs off the loss of a trade pact

Because of its export-driven economy, Vietnam probably would have benefited from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade treaty more than any other nation. Now that President Donald Trump has withdrawn the U.S. from the deal, Vietnam is turning to its Asian neighbors. The end of the treaty “will push us to expand in other markets,” says Nguyen Duc Kien, deputy head of the National Assembly economic committee. “We have a lot of potential to increase exports” to markets in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and to some “countries where we have bilateral trade agreements, such as Japan.” The U.S. is by far the largest customer for the apparel, electronics, furniture, and shoes that Vietnam makes and will probably remain so for some time. In five years, Vietnam doubled the value of its exports…