The Economist Asia Edition December 12, 2020

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.

United Kingdom
The Economist Newspaper Limited - Asia Pacific
51 期号


coronavirus briefs

America reported more than 3,000 deaths in a single day for the first time. Hospitalisations also hit a new record. Most of California’s residents were told to stay at home, as tighter restrictions were introduced in counties where the virus is surging. Officials in France said it was now unlikely that a national lockdown will end on December 15th. In Germany, Angela Merkel said her country should go into a hard lock-down before Christmas. Daily infections in India continued to fall, dropping below 27,000 for the first time in five months. A “cruise to nowhere” in waters off Singapore, which allowed passengers to experience the fun of a cruise ship without disembarking, had to return to port when someone tested positive on board (he subsequently tested negative in a re-test). For our latest coverage of…

the world this week

Politics Britain began the world’s first vaccination programme for covid-19 using a fully tested vaccine. Thousands of people, mostly the very elderly and frontline health workers, received the Pfizer/BioNTech jab in hospitals. Family doctors will also administer the injections, as will care homes by Christmas. Canada became the second country to approve the Pfizer vaccine and will start distribution soon. In America regulators were on the verge of approving it. General Lloyd Austin was tapped by Joe Biden to be his defence secretary. If confirmed, General Austin, who has led America’s command in Afghanistan and Iraq, will be the first black person to hold the job. He will also be a former military man in a position that by tradition goes to a civilian. Donald Trump’s first defence secretary, James Mattis, also…

will inflation return?

ECONOMISTS LOVE to disagree, but almost all of them will tell you that inflation is dead. The premise of low inflation is baked into economic policies and financial markets. It is why central banks can cut interest rates to around zero and buy up mountains of government bonds. It explains how governments have been able to go on an epic spending and borrowing binge in order to save the economy from the ravages of the pandemic—and why rich-world public debt of 125% of GDP barely raises an eyebrow. The search for yield has propelled the S&P 500 index of shares to new highs even as the number of Americans in hospital with covid-19 has surpassed 100,000. The only way to justify such a blistering-hot stockmarket is if you expect a…

last tango in brussels

WITH THE Brexit trade talks deadlocked—again—Boris Johnson flew to Brussels on December 9th to meet Ursula von der Leyen. By having a fish dinner with the European Commission’s president, the prime minister hoped to replicate the last-minute deal that he struck in the Brexit withdrawal treaty in the autumn of 2019 after he went for a walk in Cheshire with his Irish counterpart, Leo Varadkar. This time it seems not to have worked. As we went to press, the two had agreed that negotiations should continue until Sunday, but the dinner failed appreciably to narrow any of the big gaps remaining. Contrary to many reports, the most intractable of these is not over access to British fishing waters. For both sides, fisheries are politically important but economically insignificant, which should make…

capital idea

FOR OVER a decade many people in finance have worried about the decline of the public company. Big firms were shrinking their capital bases by buying back shares. And fast-growing firms, including several hundred tech “unicorns”—startups worth over $1bn—chose to remain in private hands rather than bother with an initial public offering (IPO). The result was riskier corporate balance-sheets and the exclusion of ordinary investors from the ownership of the economy’s most exciting firms. This year has seen a reversal of this trend with an equity-raising bonanza (see Business section). In the past few days Tesla has said it will sell $5bn of new shares, while DoorDash, a food-delivery company, raised $3.4bn in an IPO. In Hong Kong shares of JD Health, a digital-medicine star, rose by over 50% on their…

first, do no harm

WHAT SHOULD you do if a 12-year-old girl says: “I am a boy”? If the answer were simple or obvious, the question would not be so explosively controversial. A good place to start, if you are a parent, is to affirm that you love the child. It should go without saying, too, that no child should be bound by gender stereotypes. Boys can wear dresses; girls can play with cars, or become plumbers. The question gets much harder, however, when children say they hate their body and want a different one. Gender dysphoria (a feeling of alienation from one’s natal sex) is real, and the proportion of children and adolescents diagnosed with it in rich countries is rising for reasons that are poorly understood (see International section). One school of…