The Economist Continental Europe Edition December 4, 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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51 Numéros

dans ce numéro

8 min
the world this week

Politics Governments scrambled to limit the transmission of Omicron, the latest strain of covid-19, which initial evidence suggests spreads faster than earlier mutations, including Delta. First identified in South Africa, Omicron has been detected in dozens of countries. The World Health Organisation warned that Omicron poses a “very high” global risk. Joe Biden said it was “a cause for concern, not a cause for panic”. The governments of Israel and Japan stopped foreigners from crossing their borders. Restrictions on travel from southern Africa were imposed by America, Britain, the European Union, South Korea and a host of other countries. Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said it was time for all EU member states to discuss whether to make covid-19 vaccines mandatory. So far, only Austria has done…

5 min
danger ahead

A LITTLE MORE than a year after the first success of a covid-19 vaccine in a clinical trial, a sense of dread has struck much of the world. The Omicron variant of the coronavirus, first publicly identified on November 24th, may be able to circumvent the defences built up by vaccination or infection with covid-19. The World Health Organisation declared that Omicron poses a “very high” global risk. The boss of Moderna, a vaccine-maker, warned that existing jabs may struggle against the heavily mutated new variant. Faced with the ghastly prospect of yet more lockdowns, closed borders and nervous consumers, investors have reacted by selling shares in airlines and hotel chains. The price of oil has slumped by roughly $10 a barrel, the kind of drop often associated with a…

3 min
salt in the wounds

THE TAX plans of President Joe Biden were once full of lofty promises. He and Democrats in Congress would reverse Donald Trump’s tax cuts, make the wealthy pay more and fully fund all manner of desperately needed climate and social-policy programmes with the proceeds. The middle class would rise and the top 1% would manage. As the messy drafting of Mr Biden’s main spending bill—the Build Back Better Act—nears its conclusion after months of wheeling and dealing, it is clear that, when it comes to tax, the result is not lofty at all. The president was unable to whip his slim congressional majorities into reversing Mr Trump’s tax law and increasing marginal rates on capital gains, corporate profits or top individual incomes. And so his plan to raise revenue is a…

4 min
local heroes

A DECADE AGO the relentless expansion of American internet giants promised world domination. With their vast home market affording them economies of scale, the likes of Amazon, PayPal and Uber looked destined to monopolise the screens of everyone from Californian charmers to Kalahari farmers. Today America still rules the global tech industry, broadly defined, accounting for 71% of the market value of listed firms. Nonetheless a different pattern has emerged in the part of the technology industry that focuses on providing internet services to consumers. Here, activity is more dispersed and less American. The trend has been highlighted this year by a rush of flotations of emerging-market internet firms (see Business section). Instead of a few monoliths, three different categories of business have formed. Using a taxonomy first drawn up by Asia…

4 min
bad medicine

ONE PIONEER tried transplanting testicles from straight men into gay ones. Sigmund Freud thought hypnosis might work. Priests and imams have tried to “pray away the gay”; doctors administered electric shocks while patients were shown erotic images, in an attempt to recast pleasure as pain. Psychologists, psychiatrists and quacks have been trying to “cure” homosexuality for at least a century. These days, thankfully, “conversion therapy” is much less common than it used to be. Partly that is because it does not work. Mainly, though, it is because society has changed. Although homophobia still exists, people across the West increasingly see same-sex attraction as something normal and unremarkable. But Britain’s government wants to clamp down on conversion therapy all the same. A bill to make the practice illegal will soon be put…

3 min
who will police interpol?

MATTHEW HEDGES, a British doctoral student, says he spent nearly seven months mostly in solitary confinement in a prison in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). He tells of being drugged, interrogated, blindfolded and forced to stand all day in manacles. He falsely confessed to being a spy just to end the agony, he says. He was eventually pardoned and freed. To his horror, the man he accuses of complicity in his torture, Ahmed Naser al­Raisi, the inspector-general of the UAE interior ministry at the time, who was in charge of prisons, was neither sacked nor demoted. The UAE denies the claims and on November 25th Mr al­Raisi was elected Interpol’s new president. Interpol was set up to help countries’ police forces work together to catch crooks. It has an unfortunate habit…