Bloomberg Businessweek October 4, 2021

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2 min
◼ in brief

● Worldwide there have been more than 233 million cases of Covid-19, almost 4.8m people have died, and 6.2 billion vaccine doses have been given. On Sept. 28, Pfizer and BioNTech said they’d submitted data to the FDA showing their vaccine is safe and effective in children 5 and older. ● In Japan, Fumio Kishida, a former foreign minister, overcame popular reformer Taro Kono to win leadership of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, positioning him to become the prime minister. Kishida, 64, who’s pledged to steer the country away from “neoliberal” policies, promised tens of trillions of yen in spending to bolster the middle class. ● A firefighter working to save the ancient giants of California’s Sequoia National Forest. Wildfires have already burned 1 million acres in the state this year. ● Colombia…

3 min
the fda drags its heels on e-cigarettes

The Food and Drug Administration needs a wake-up call. More than 3 million U.S. high school students and an additional half a million middle school students use electronic cigarettes, many of which are loaded with so much nicotine they couldn’t be legally sold in Canada, Europe, or the U.K. The addictive nature of these products makes them a menace to students’ health, and it’s clear that kids are being drawn in by a tactic the industry has long used to hook young smokers: offering sweet, flavored products. Yet the FDA has dragged its feet to get the high-nicotine, flavored—including menthol—e-cigarettes that have fueled the youth epidemic off the market. The agency recently blew past a court-imposed Sept. 9 deadline to either authorize the sale of the top-selling e-cigarette brands that are…

1 min
▶ back to school—back to work?

▶ Germany on Oct. 8 reports its trade balance for August. In recent months imports have been rising faster than exports for the manufacturing powerhouse. ▶ Australia’s central bank meets to set interest rates on Oct. 5. With the economy more affected by the delta variant than expected, analysts do not forecast a change from 0.1%. ▶ The Ivey Purchasing Managers Index, a key gauge of business conditions in Canada, comes out on Oct. 7. Hiring and inflation are improving, so the index has been on the upswing. ▶ At World Mental Health Day, on Oct. 10, the World Health Organization will host meetings that focus in particular on Covid’s impact on people’s emotional well-being. ▶ The Global Gaming Expo meets in Las Vegas on Oct. 4-7. Arizona Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill is delivering…

5 min
europe’s energy crisis is coming for the rest of us

This winter, the world will be fighting over something that’s invisible, yet rarely so vital—and in alarmingly shorter supply. Nations are more reliant than ever on natural gas to heat homes and power industry as they work to quit coal and increase the use of cleaner energy sources. But there isn’t enough gas to fuel the post-pandemic recovery and refill depleted stocks before the cold months. Countries are trying to outbid one another for supplies as exporters such as Russia move to keep more natural gas home. The crunch will get a lot worse when temperatures drop. The crisis in Europe presages trouble for the rest of the planet as the continent’s energy shortage has governments warning of blackouts and factories being forced to shut. Inventories at European storage facilities are at historically…

8 min
china’s boozy work culture fuels a #metoo reckoning

Erine joined the Chinese ride-hailing service Didi Global Inc. in 2020, she says, attracted by the opportunity to work for one of the world’s hottest tech companies. That July she had one of her first assignments in a small town—a client meeting that ended with a banquet, the food washed down with many bottles of red wine and the Chinese liquor called baijiu. That wasn’t unusual: Chinese business dinners often involve lots of alcohol, not unlike the boozy work meetings of 1960s New York featured in Mad Men. Erine, now 33, was the only woman at the table, and she says she felt obligated to join the heavy drinking and keep going when the party moved to another restaurant. The next thing she says she remembers is the client groping her…

3 min
for airlines, a new middle class

For decades, ferrying tourists to vacation destinations has helped major airlines cover basic costs, but the front of the plane is where they’ve racked up the bulk of their profits. So when the pandemic whacked business travel, carriers were left looking for another way to pad the bottom line. Increasingly they’re finding it in premium economy, where travelers can avoid the cattle-car aesthetics of coach without spending thousands of dollars for business class. And with Covid-19, growing numbers of leisure travelers are willing to splash out for a bit of extra elbow room at fares that are frequently more than double the cheapest economy seats. “People are desperate to take charge of their lives now, and airlines can no longer force them into just one or two categories,” says Juha…