The Economist Continental Europe Edition August 7, 2021

The Economist is the premier source for the analysis of world business and current affairs, providing authoritative insight and opinion on international news, world politics, business, finance, science and technology, as well as overviews of cultural trends and regular Special reports on industries and countries.

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1 min
coronavirus briefs

The WHO made a plea to rich countries to delay giving out booster shots of vaccines until the end of September so that supplies can be diverted to poorer countries, where the vast majority of people have not been inoculated. New York became the first city in America to require proof of vaccination for customers entering restaurants, gyms and other indoor venues. Enforcement will begin on September 13th. More cities in America, including Atlanta, Los Angeles and Washington, DC, reintroduced rules either requiring or recommending that people wear masks in public indoor spaces. Louisiana said that everyone over five, regardless of vaccination status, should wear one in public. Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, rejected a mask mandate. Hospitalisations from the disease and new cases are at their highest in the state since the…

7 min
the world this week

Politics The Taliban intensified their assault on Afghanistan’s cities, with fighting raging in Herat, the country’s thirdlargest, Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province, and Kandahar. The Taliban also claimed responsibility for a bomb attack at the home of the defence minister in Kabul. The jihadists have been emboldened by the imminent withdrawal of American forces from the country. Muhyiddin Yassin, Malaysia’s prime minister, lost his majority in Parliament when 11 lawmakers from a coalition partner withdrew their support. Mr Muhyiddin has clung on to power despite a slim majority by forestalling a vote of confidence. He has promised to reconvene Parliament in September and face a no-confidence motion then. Covid-19 continued to rage across South-East Asia. Indonesia crossed 100,000 recorded total deaths from the virus. Daily infections in Thailand and Malaysia are…

5 min
the people’s panopticon

THE GREAT hope of the 1990s and 2000s was that the internet would be a force for openness and freedom. As Stewart Brand, a pioneer of online communities, put it: “Information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time.” It was not to be. Bad information often drove out good. Authoritarian states co-opted the technologies that were supposed to loosen their grip. Information was wielded as a weapon of war. Amid this disappointment one development offers cause for fresh hope: the emerging era of opensource intelligence (OSINT). New sensors, from humdrum dashboard cameras to satellites that can see across the electromagnetic spectrum, are examining the planet and its people as never before (see Briefing). The information they collect is becoming…

3 min
a self-solving problem

ONE FIRM’S crisis is another’s opportunity. A shortage of semiconductors has helped pump up the valuations of firms such as Nvidia, whose chips power everything from video-gaming to machine learning and data centres (see Business section). But boom time for sellers means misery for buyers. Carmakers, whose products have become computers on wheels, are among the victims. Profits at Ford, America’s second-biggest carmaker by volume, fell by half in the most recent quarter amid a global shortage of chips. Analysts say the industry might build around 5m fewer cars this year, all for want of their tiniest components. Carmakers are not the only firms feeling the pinch. Apple and Microsoft have also warned that they will be affected. Politicians are being drawn in, too. Chips will be on the agenda later…

3 min
zambia’s crucial election

IN THE LATE 1980s Zambians, inspired by the changes sweeping through eastern Europe, demanded the end of their own oneparty state. In 1991 Kenneth Kaunda, the country’s founding president, reluctantly agreed to multiparty elections. He lost. But in leaving office willingly, even personally removing the presidential pennant from his car, Kaunda ensured that his country was a trailblazer for democracy. By the end of the decade nearly every country in Africa had gone to the polls. During the commodities boom of the 2000s the economy of the continent’s second-largest copper producer grew by about 7% per year. Though far from perfect, Zambia seemed more likely to become the next Botswana (democratic and middle-income) than the next Zimbabwe (despotic and wretched). How things have changed. Since it took office in 2011 the…

3 min

TWELVE YEARS after bitcoin was born, governments are still struggling to cope with cryptocurrencies. Britain has banned Binance, a crypto exchange and the European Union’s regulators want transactions to be more traceable. On August 3rd Gary Gensler, the head of America’s Securities and Exchange Commission, said cryptocurrency markets were “rife with fraud, scams and abuse” and called on Congress to give his agency new regulatory powers. The price of bitcoin, the biggest cryptocurrency, gyrates with regulators’ every word. Governments have an obligation to fight the deception, tax evasion and money laundering that plagues the crypto world. Police seizures of bitcoin suggest that they are becoming more zealous. The harder issue they must grapple with is whether cryptocurrencies threaten the financial system. Were bitcoin to collapse, our crypto “stress test” suggests that…