Bloomberg Businessweek June 28, 2021

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2 min
in brief

Global Covid-19 cases are approaching 179 million, and more than 3.9m have died. Although over 2.7 billion vaccine doses have been given worldwide, some developing countries in Africa and Latin America that rely on the WHO-backed Covax relief effort are experiencing shortages. Sweden was thrown into political chaos after Prime Minister Stefan Lofven lost a confidence vote in parliament on June 21. Hobbled by a dispute over how to liberalize the country’s complicated housing rental system, Lofven now must patch together a new coalition or call a snap election. Containers are piling up at Shenzhen-Yantian, one of the world’s largest terminals, in southern China, after a Covid outbreak there among port workers. The backlog puts further strain on already stretched global markets. The Tokyo Olympics, which start on July 23, will limit spectators to…

3 min
a better plan to fix the stock problem in congress: ban trades

All too often, Congress seems to confirm voters’ suspicions that the rules don’t apply to their elected leaders. That goes double when it comes to money matters. With trust in government at a low ebb, nothing is more important than holding the country’s politicians to the highest standards of financial propriety. Up to now, lawmakers’ efforts to police themselves have failed. In 2012, after a series of stock-related scandals, Congress passed a law designed to prevent members from using their privileged positions to gain an edge in the stock market. In theory, the Stock Act would block them from trading based on nonpublic information acquired from their official duties and require them to report their trades within 45 days. Almost 10 years later, it’s clear that the law hasn’t worked. Congress…

1 min
tennis, anyone?

The Digital Life Design conference on July 1 hosts speakers from technology, business, and politics, including European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. The Credit Suisse Sustainability Week (June 28-July 2) will explore the financial-services industry’s role in environmental protection and the energy transition. Celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti will be sentenced on June 30 for attempting to extort millions of dollars from Nike and defrauding one of his clients in the process. The Mobile World Congress takes place virtually from June 28 to July 1. Telecom companies are racing to roll out faster 5G technology to make networks more efficient. OPEC+ meets on July 1 to discuss demand for oil. With inventory data showing a pattern of demand outstripping supply, there are voices in the group advocating a hike in output. French voters head to…

6 min
will a strongman relent?

It’s 11 a.m. on a Saturday in early June, and I’m in Caracas, Venezuela’s capital, on the 10th floor of the finance ministry. One side of the building overlooking the dilapidated downtown has enormous portraits of Simón Bolívar, South America’s great liberator; Hugo Chávez, the socialist revolutionary who won the presidency in 1998; and Chávez’s successor, Nicolás Maduro, who rules Venezuela today. The presentation I’ve been summoned to see starts with a PowerPoint slide in Spanish. It reads: “The Attack on Venezuela.” I’ve been in the country less than 24 hours. Let the propaganda begin, I think. A few weeks earlier, in mid-April, I’d received a WhatsApp call dangling the possibility of an interview with Maduro. It was from Hans Humes, a New York-based hedge fund manager whose specialty is investing…

6 min
global bloomberg businessweek june 28, 2021 giants need india’s tiny stores

Measuring barely 200 square feet, Nagaraju Bhoganatham’s tiny store in Bengaluru is packed to the rafters: Bulging burlap sacks of rice and lentils are heaped against overflowing tubs of peanuts, dried red chiles, and clumps of jaggery. Fragrant spice-mix masalas, bottles of honey, tiny jars of pungent asafoetida spice, detergents, shaving cream, hair conditioner, and instant coffee compete for room on crowded wooden shelves. There’s even a rack in the corner for mops, brooms, and other cleaning gear. The grocery in the heart of the city’s dense Chunchugatta Gate neighborhood is one of India’s 20 million mom and pop stores, called kiranas, which have been fixtures in the country’s retail landscape for decades. In much of the world, small merchants have been driven out of business by huge retailers such as…

6 min
a vaccination honor system?

In Raleigh, N.C., the Players Retreat restaurant will open this month for the first time since the pandemic began. It’s checking the vaccine cards of would-be diners and will only allow inoculated patrons to dine inside. Owner Gus Gusler made that decision out of concern for his wife, Doris, who suffers from a severe respiratory condition that makes it unsafe to be in close proximity to unvaccinated people. “I promised our team we wouldn’t go back to work until my wife and I felt comfortable coming in and having a beer at the bar,” Gusler says. As for anyone who tries to enter under false vaccination pretenses: “I consider that an assault.” But, he concedes, “There’s no way to really know for sure.” The restaurateur and millions of other business owners trying…