The Economist August 28, 2021

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1 min
coronavirus briefs

America’s Food and Drug Administration gave its full approval for the Pfizer vaccine, which hitherto has been used under an emergency authorisation. The decision will embolden public and private bodies thinking of mandating the jab. The Department of Defence was one of the first to respond and said it would enforce vaccine mandates on its troops. New York City decided that all staff who work in schools must have a least one shot by September 27th. Taiwan began inoculating people using a vaccine developed by Medigen, a Taiwanese drug company. Critics say the emergency authorisation of the vaccine has been rushed. Facing another wave of covid-19 despite its high vaccination rate, Israel expanded its booster-shot programme to over-30s. There are signs that the extra dose may be working to curb infections. → For our…

7 min
the world this week

Politics Having seized control of Afghanistan, the Taliban told women to stay at home, supposedly for their own safety. America and other countries advised their citizens not to go to Kabul airport because of the imminent threat of a terrorist attack. The Taliban warned that there would be “consequences” if American troops remained beyond the evacuation deadline of August 31st. Ashraf Ghani, Afghanistan’s former president, turned up in the United Arab Emirates. A group of fighters in the Panjshir Valley continued to resist the new regime. The World Bank suspended funding to Afghanistan, in part over concerns that the Taliban would interfere with development projects aimed at women. The IMF has already halted payments to the country. America and other countries froze almost all of Afghanistan’s $9bn in foreign reserves. Experts warned…

5 min
where next for global jihad?

IN YEMEN THEY set off fireworks; in Somalia they handed out sweets; in Syria they praised the Taliban for providing a “living example” of how to “bring down a criminal regime” through jihad. Around the world, jihadists were elated by the fall of Kabul. Through willpower, patience and cunning, a low-budget band of holy warriors has vanquished America and taken charge of a medium-size country. To Muslims who yearn to expel infidels and overthrow secular states, it was evidence that God approves (see Briefing). The ripple effects could be felt far and wide. In the next few days President Joe Biden will have to sort out the mess he has created at Kabul airport, where throngs are clamouring to flee. It is a dangerous moment for his presidency (see Asia section).…

3 min
a rock in a hard place

DURING DEBATE in Parliament and in unattributed briefings, British MPs, ministers and officials have used language to describe America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, and America’s leader, rarely heard from such mouths. The withdrawal was “shameful”, “dishonourable” and “catastrophic”. President Joe Biden was “gaga” and “doolally”. Tony Blair, the prime minister who sent British forces into Afghanistan at America’s behest in 2001, wrote an article calling the withdrawal “imbecilic”. Other reports, soon denied, claimed that the current prime minister, Boris Johnson, had referred to Mr Biden by the pejorative coined by his predecessor, Donald Trump: “Sleepy Joe”. The “special relationship” between Britain and America has been through many a rough patch over the years—and Britain was hardly the only American ally to complain (see Britain section). However, today’s venting suggests the strain is…

3 min
the powell punt

WHEN NOMINATING the chairman of the Federal Reserve, America’s president picks the person who wields the greatest immediate power over the global economy. Fed leadership brings with it control over American interest rates, responsibility for an $8.3trn balance-sheet and the obligation to regulate the world’s most important banks. A mistake in the Eccles building can throw millions out of work, roil global markets or unleash inflation. The Fed even props up offshore financial markets by offering foreign central banks a ready supply of dollars. The fate of Jerome Powell, the incumbent chairman whose term expires in February, lies in President Joe Biden’s hands (see Finance section). It is unclear how history will view Mr Powell’s first term. Before the pandemic, his loose monetary policy helped unemployment reach historic lows without provoking…

4 min
the future of cappletalism

WHEN TALKING about Apple, it is hard to avoid superlatives. It is the world’s most valuable firm, with a market value of $2.5trn. Over 80% of that has been amassed during the tenure of Tim Cook. No other chief executive has created more absolute value for shareholders. As he celebrates his tenth anniversary at the helm this week, he can look back with satisfaction. Instead of trying to imitate Apple’s co-founder, he took Steve Jobs’s creation and made it better and bigger. Much of that success has come from maintaining Apple’s record of innovation and its brand. But Mr Cook has also made the most of an era of open, globalised capitalism that is fading away. He plans to stay in charge for five years or more (see Business section).…