Bloomberg Businessweek October 26, 2020

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2 min
in brief

Global coronavirus cases have surpassed 41m and almost 1.2 million have died. With pandemic fatigue taking hold, Europe is seeing a spike in infections. Italy, France, Spain, the U.K., and other countries are tightening restrictions on gatherings. Purdue Pharma will pay $8.3b and plead guilty to three felonies to settle federal probes of how it marketed OxyContin, an addictive painkiller blamed for sparking the opioid epidemic. About 15,000 Americans die every year from prescription opioid overdoses. The U.S. Department of Justice filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google parent Alphabet. Google is the “unchallenged gateway” to the internet and used anticompetitive practices to maintain its monopoly in search, the government said in a complaint filed on Oct. 20. It’s possibly the most significant U.S. antitrust action in a century, but investors brushed it off:…

3 min
trump’s h-1b visa reforms will make america poorer

Newly announced reforms to the H-1B immigrant visa system have the potential to reduce the number of foreign workers allowed into the U.S., just as intended by the Trump administration. The problem is that the goal makes no sense. If implemented, the changes will seriously harm many businesses—small companies and health-care providers especially. Overall, they’ll hurt U.S. workers, not help them. While the president has already modified the H-1B program, which brings 85,000 skilled workers to the U.S. each year, the new rules go further. The policy tightens the definition of “specialty” occupations that qualify for H-1B status and prevents companies from hiring foreign workers unless they have degrees that precisely match available job postings—making it impossible to hire a worker with an engineering degree as a software programmer, for instance. To…

1 min
happy anniversary, christine!

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis releases its third-quarter GDP estimate on Oct. 29. Analysts predict a sharp rebound from last quarter’s –31.4%. ▷ 28 Also on Oct. 29, the Conference Board reports its gauge of U.S. consumer confidence. Economists say the number should edge slightly higher from September’s figure. The Bank of Canada meets to set interest rates on Oct. 28. Forecasters don’t anticipate a change from the bank’s current rate of 0.25%. In Germany, the Federal Statistical Office on Oct. 30 is expected to report a 9% decline in third-quarter GDP, following the second quarter’s 9.7% drop. The Nov. 1 Caixin Manufacturing PMI should show a modest uptick in manufacturing in China. On Oct. 18 the country reported third-quarter GDP of 4.9%, near pre-Covid levels. Sotheby’s fall sale of impressionist and modern art…

9 min
a subcontinent of inequality

It’s been a punishing year for women in India—and not only because Covid-19 has made life and work a daily crisis. The barriers remain stark in 2020: economic, cultural, legal, political, even journalistic. The summer saw some of the country’s television channels and newspapers demonizing a Bollywood actress who was accused of everything from black magic to murder after her actor boyfriend reportedly killed himself in June. When autumn arrived, media became fixated on another woman—a teenager belonging to India’s lowest caste, the Dalit community, who was allegedly gang-raped by members of a higher caste and died on Sept. 29. The caste violence and the Bollywood scandal are at different ends of India’s social spectrum. One involved a woman oppressed by religious tradition in the depths of society; the other, a…

6 min
why adm is making veggie burgers

Grab a slice of bread in the U.S., a tortilla in Mexico, a glass of orange juice in the U.K., or a pork dumpling in China, and odds are Archer-Daniels Midland Co. has had a hand in it. For decades, ADM, once the self-styled supermarket to the world, helped put the big in Big Food. From trading soybeans to manufacturing high-fructose corn syrup to refining ethanol, it had reach and power rivaled by few in agriculture. But after years of slack growth in its old-line businesses, the 118-year-old giant is hitching its future to such things as pet food, veggie burgers, and probiotics. Nowhere is the company’s headfirst plunge into nutrition on better display than at its ADM Science and Technology Center in Decatur, Ill., a renovated 200,000-square-foot school building. There,…

6 min
covid threatens women pilots’ progress

Growing up in Amsterdam, Rachna Sharma Reiter felt like the exception. At age 7, she knew she wanted to be an airline pilot but never met any girls her age who shared that ambition. At flight school in the U.S., she was one of three women in a class of 150. After 16 years in the cockpit, she still finds herself being viewed as an anomaly. “It seems like things haven’t really changed,” says Reiter, who works for U.K. discount airline EasyJet Plc. “Whenever I go somewhere, they always tend to think I’m a flight attendant, even when I’m in my pilot’s uniform.” The path to the flight deck has never been easy for women. Beyond the gender assumptions, there are the structural forces impeding progress. Male-dominated militaries have long fed…