The Economist September 18, 2021

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Pays:
United States
Langue:
English
Éditeur:
The Economist Newspaper Limited
Fréquence:
Weekly
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51 Numéros

dans ce numéro

8 min
the world this week

Politics The Biden administration defended its decision to introduce vaccine mandates, after more Republican governors said they would fight them in court. Asa Hutchinson, the governor of Arkansas and an advocate of vaccines, said the government’s order “disrupts and divides” America. With only 54% of the population fully vaccinated, Joe Biden thinks mandates are essential. Companies will have to ensure their employees are either jabbed or tested weekly. All federal workers as well as staff in health facilities that receive government money will have to be vaccinated. In Britain the government reversed course and said that vaccine passports for large events would not go ahead. The roll-out of vaccine boosters for over-50s will start, however, to help reduce pressure on the health service. Jabs will also be offered to 12- to 15-year-olds,…

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5 min
down the rabbit hole

THE SCEPTICS have plenty of fodder. The earliest adopters of bitcoin, the original cryptocurrency, used it to buy drugs, while cyber-hackers now demand their ransom in it. Hundreds of millions of dollars of ether, another digital money, were stolen this year after hackers found a bug in some code. Many “believers” are in reality trying to get rich quick from the global mania that has seen the value of cryptoassets reach $2.2trn. Others are freakishly devoted. The entrepreneur who announced in June that El Salvador was adopting bitcoin as an official currency sobbed on stage, claiming it would save the nation. The crooks, fools and proselytisers are off-putting. Nevertheless, the rise of an ecosystem of financial services, known as decentralised finance, or “DeFi”, deserves sober consideration (see Briefing). It has the…

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3 min
needling

ON SEPTEMBER 11TH 2001, when al-Qaeda attacked America, almost 3,000 people died. In response the government overhauled national security and, for better or worse, struck a new balance between liberty and security. On the 20th anniversary of 9/11 roughly 3,100 people in America died because of covid-19. Another 3,100 died on September 12th. And again on the 13th. By our estimates, based on excess deaths, the pandemic has claimed 860,000 lives in America. Yet measures to curb the virus by mandating vaccination, which the Biden administration announced on September 9th, are being treated by senior Republicans as a terrifying affront to liberty. “This is still America,” tweeted Tate Reeves, the governor of Mississippi, “and we still believe in freedom from tyrants.” That is fatally wrong-headed. The details of the Biden mandate…

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4 min
a dynamic do-over

SOMETHING IS ROTTEN with the state of American capitalism. That, at least, is the sentiment in Washington, DC. Democrats and Republicans argue over the rot’s causes. Progressives blame corporate fat cats. Conservatives finger feckless regulators. But there seems to be agreement across the ideological spectrum that American enterprise isn’t what it used to be: less dynamic and more monopolistic at home, and having its lunch unfairly nibbled by Chinese and other rivals abroad. Not so fast. As our analysis this week shows, on many measures America Inc is alive and kicking (see Business section). Not everything is perfect, obviously. But a misapprehension of the corporate reality risks ushering in myth-based policies that end up doing more harm than good. Declinism about corporate America is hardly new. In some ways American business has…

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3 min
how to stop children working

FEW SIGHTS are more pitiful than a child of three, hammer in hand, breaking big rocks into smaller ones to sell for pennies. Such scenes are considered so abhorrent in rich and poor countries alike that the convention of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) which outlaws “the worst forms of child labour” (including soldiering, slavery and prostitution) last year became the first to be ratified by all 187 of its members. Between 2000 and 2016 the number of children working in factories, on farms and down mines fell by almost 94m, to 152m. Yet in the four years to 2020 progress has reversed, with an extra 8m children working, and some 6.5m more doing dangerous jobs. Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for all of the increase. The setback occurred before the covid-19 pandemic,…

3 min
why skippers aren’t scuppered

MUCH OF THE time most people do not think about the complex choreography that makes modern shopping possible. You just click and wait—and not too long, mind—for a package or three to arrive on your doorstep. Over the past few months, however, the world’s supply chains have elbowed their way into the foreground, as surging demand for goods and supply disruptions have restricted the flow of trade (see Finance section). At ports around the world, dozens of ships stacked high with containers wait at anchor for their turn to unload, while the cost to ship a box from China to America’s west coast has jumped roughly tenfold from the pre-pandemic level. You may think the snafus represent the beginning of the end of globalisation. Consumers are learning how infections half a…

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