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Bloomberg Businessweek

Bloomberg Businessweek 7/24/2017

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
pins and needles in the heart of the alps

Producing the intricate, lacy embroidery used in lingerie, evening dresses, and bridal gowns is the kind of detailed labor that’s been increasingly farmed out to Asia. Emanuel Forster makes it in Switzerland. Forster is co-chief executive officer of Forster Rohner AG, a 113-year-old company in the eastern city of St. Gallen that produces fabric that can cost thousands of dollars per yard—including material he says was used in the dress British socialite Pippa Middleton wore at her wedding in May. Forster Rohner is among dozens of Swiss textile producers that have managed to survive, and even thrive, despite wages that are among the world’s highest and a currency that’s risen 50 percent against the euro since 2008. “It’s clear that we don’t think the strong franc is great,” says Forster, a…

3 min
wal-mart cracks the whip on suppliers

Long known for squeezing its vast network of suppliers, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is about to step up the pressure. The focus this time is delivery scheduling, and the giant retailer isn’t messing around. Two days late? That’ll earn you a fine. One day early? That’s a fine, too. Right on time but goods aren’t packed properly? You guessed it—fine. The program, labeled On-Time, In-Full, seeks to add $1 billion to annual revenue by improving product availability at stores, according to slides from a presentation reviewed by Bloomberg, and it underscores the urgency Wal-Mart feels as it raises wages, cuts prices, and confronts rival Amazon.com Inc. “Wal-Mart has to find efficiencies wherever it can,” says Laura Kennedy, an analyst at Kantar Retail. “They’re trying to squeeze and squeeze and squeeze.” The initiative builds…

3 min
alibaba tries to get in the game

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., China’s e-commerce leader, has been attempting for a few years to multiply sales of sporting goods and related merchandise on its platforms, which totaled about 76 billion yuan ($11.3 billion) last year. (The U.S. market is more than 10 times that.) The problem is that, for its size, China doesn’t have much of a sports industry. So a relatively tiny arm of the company is trying to make one. Alisports, a 210-person subsidiary funded partly by Chinese telecom Sina Corp. and venture company Yunfeng Capital Co., is tapping its primary parent’s troves of data on about 500 million shoppers to organize and broadcast sports competitions and aim products at local markets. It’s teamed up with sporting goods companies, as well as national and local sports teams, schools,…

6 min
after the bombs have fallen

“Their narrative isn’t going away. On the messaging front, they will adapt or stay one step ahead” After Iraqi forces reclaimed control of Mosul, the country’s second-largest city, on July 10, Iraq Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared “total victory” over Islamic State. The American commander of the global coalition to defeat the group, U.S. Army Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, said the loss of Mosul had dealt a “decisive blow” to the terrorist organization. With U.S.-backed Kurdish and Arab fighters preparing to capture Raqqa, the terrorists’ stronghold in Syria, President Donald Trump predicted “the total destruction of ISIS.” Three years since the insurgent group declared the establishment of an “Islamic caliphate” straddling Iraq and Syria, it faces military defeat. Islamic State no longer possesses a base of operations from which to coordinate sophisticated…

4 min
now it’s revamp, not replace

Donald Trump has gone squishy by stages on the North American Free Trade Agreement, which he once called “the worst trade deal maybe ever signed anywhere.” In April, aides persuaded him not to abrogate the 23-year-old trade pact with Canada and Mexico. On July 17, moderates scored another victory: The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative released objectives for renegotiating Nafta that aim to tune it up, not gut it. “Overall this looks like a Nafta modernization. It’s not like the whole of Nafta is up for grabs,” says Antonio Ortiz-Mena, a senior adviser at Albright Stonebridge Group, a Washington diplomacy advisory firm, who previously headed the economic affairs section of the Mexican Embassy. Even after Trump relented last spring on killing the three-way pact, some analysts expected he would direct…

15 min
the mad cheese scientists

“HERE’S A LITTLE SECR ET. IF YOU USE MORE CHEESE, YOU SELL MORE PIZZA” In a usual year, Taco Bell juggles about 4,000 new menu ideas. A dozen, maybe, will ever see the light of day. Trimming all this fat is the job of the chief food innovation officer, Liz Matthews, and a 40-person team of chefs, food scientists, nutritionists, microbiologists, chemists, and even one entomologist (he does food safety). Observers have unironically called this crew fast-food “disruptors.” In the past five years, Matthews’s team has trotted out such blockbuster menu items as the Doritos Locos Taco (in Nacho Cheese, Fiery, and Cool Ranch varieties), a breakfast taco with a waffle for a shell, and a chalupa with fried chicken in place of its usual flatbread. Until a year and a…