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The Economist

The Economist June 20, 2020

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Country:
United States
Language:
English
Publisher:
The Economist Newspaper Limited
Frequency:
Weekly
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51 Issues

in this issue

1 min.
coronavirus briefs

A randomised trial conducted by scientists at Oxford found that dexamethasone, a cheap steroid drug found in many countries, reduced the death rates for patients on ventilators by 35% and by 20% for those needing oxygen. The president of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández, said he and his wife have covid-19. The remaining lockdown restrictions were lifted in France, enabling bars and restaurants to reopen fully. In England all shops were allowed to open their doors to customers again. Next year’s Oscars ceremony was postponed by two months until April 25th. It is not yet clear whether the event will be held in a theatre or virtually. The English Premier League resumed its season, three months after it was suspended. The football matches are being played behind closed doors. For our latest coverage of the virus…

7 min.
the world this week

Politics Brazil reported a record 35,000 new cases of covid-19 in a day. Even that grim figure is widely regarded as an undercount. India is now recording tens of thousands of new infections each week. In America, Florida, Texas and Arizona set daily records for new cases. Although many places are easing lockdowns, Anthony Fauci, the leading adviser to the White House on infectious diseases, warned that the pandemic is far from over: “The numbers speak for themselves.” Beijing went into “wartime mode” to battle an outbreak of covid-19, the first in the Chinese capital after eight weeks with no cases reported of local transmission. Many of the cases are linked to a wholesale food market. A court in China sentenced the country’s former insurance regulator, Xiang Junbo, to 11 years in prison…

5 min.
the genius of amazon

IN THE SUMMER of 1995 Jeff Bezos was a skinny obsessive working in a basement alongside his wife, packing paperbacks into boxes. Today, 25 years on, he is perhaps the 21st century’s most important tycoon: a muscle-ripped divorcé who finances space missions and newspapers for fun, and who receives adulation from Warren Buffett and abuse from Donald Trump. Amazon, his firm, is no longer just a bookseller but a digital conglomerate worth $1.3trn that consumers love, politicians love to hate, and investors and rivals have learned never to bet against. Now the pandemic has fuelled a digital surge that shows how important Amazon is to ordinary life in America and Europe, because of its crucial role in e-commerce, logistics and cloud computing (see Briefing). In response to the crisis, Mr…

5 min.
the new world disorder

SEVENTY-FIVE years ago in San Francisco 50 countries signed the charter that created the United Nations—they left a blank space for Poland, which became the 51st founding member a few months later. In some ways the UN has exceeded expectations. Unlike the League of Nations, set up after the first world war, it has survived. Thanks largely to decolonisation, its membership has grown to 193. There has been no third world war. And yet the UN is struggling, as are many of the structures, like the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), designed to help create order out of chaos. This system, with the UN at its apex, is beset by internal problems, by the global struggle to cope with the rise of China, and most of…

3 min.
elephant v dragon

IN THE ANCIENT Chinese game of Go, clever players ignore little battles in favour of strategic plays. Leaving local disputes unresolved means that later, when the game tightens and the enemy is off-guard, you can snatch prizes at lower cost. In the 69 years since China truly became India’s neighbour by grabbing Tibet, the world’s two most populous countries have played a similar game. Even as their leaders summited and trade thrived, the Asian giants left a mess of territorial disputes to fester. Mostly these claims, over some 130,000 square kilometres on either side of their 3,488km-long border, have not mattered much. Despite a Chinese “lesson-teaching” invasion in 1962, rare armed skirmishes and less rare fisticuffs between patrols, the border zone has remained relatively calm. Much of it is too rugged…

3 min.
the trouble with green finance

THE FINANCIAL industry reflects society, but it can change society, too. One question is the role it might play in decarbonising the economy. Judged by today’s fundraising bonanza and the solemn pronouncements by institutional investors, bankers and regulators, you might think that the industry is about to save the planet. Some 500 environmental, social and governance (ESG) funds were launched last year, and many asset managers say they will force companies to cut their emissions and finance new projects. Yet, as we report this week (see Briefing), green finance suffers from woolly thinking, marketing guff and bad data. Finance does have a crucial role in fighting climate change but a far more rigorous approach is needed, and soon. One of the shortcomings of green finance might be called “materiality”. Some fee-hungry…