The Economist Asia Edition December 19, 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


the world this year

A novel coronavirus, possibly transmitted by animals sold at a market in the Chinese city of Wuhan, spread to create one of the worst global crises since the second world war. Covid-19 has so far caused over 73m recorded infections and more than 1.6m recorded deaths. On January 23rd the Chinese authorities imposed a quarantine in Wuhan, soon extending it to the rest of Hubei province and beyond. Variants of this “lock-down” policy were adopted by other countries as they struggled to contain the outbreak. Every breath you take By late January cases were widely reported in Germany, Japan, Taiwan and Vietnam. Markets were rattled, fearing disruption to global supply chains that run through China. By late February the World Health Organisation said that most infections were occurring outside China. Italy was…

the plague year

WARREN HARDING built a campaign for the presidential election in 1920 around his new word “normalcy”. It was an appeal to Americans’ supposed urge to forget the horrors of the first world war and the Spanish flu and turn back to the certainties of the Golden Age. And yet, instead of embracing Harding’s normalcy, the Roaring Twenties became a ferment of forward-looking, risk-taking social, industrial and artistic novelty. War had something to do with the Jazz Age’s lack of inhibition. So did the flu pandemic, which killed six times as many Americans and left survivors with an appetite to live the 1920s at speed. That spirit will also animate the 2020s. The sheer scale of the suffering from covid-19, the injustices and dangers the pandemic has revealed, and the promise of…

credibility gap

FIVE YEARS ago antitrust was a backwater. In America complacent trustbusters had failed to spot the rise of big tech firms. In the European Union they noticed it, but didn’t do much. But the competition cops have at last sprung. On December 15th the EU unveiled two draft digital-services laws that would create a sweeping supervisory apparatus to control Silicon Valley. In America the federal government has just launched antitrust cases against Google and Facebook. These moves mark the biggest shift in competition policy in a generation, so you might expect investors to be worried that big tech firms are under serious threat. Instead, their reaction has been Olympian indifference. The market value of the five biggest Silicon Valley firms has risen by 46% in 2020, to reach $7.2trn. Antitrust’s…

getting girlhood right

FOR MUCH of human history and in many places, girls were considered property. Or, at best, subordinate people, required to obey their fathers until the day they had to start obeying their husbands. Few people thought it worthwhile to educate them. Even fewer imagined that a girl could grow up to govern Germany, run the IMF or invent a vaccine. In most of the world that vision of girlhood now seems not merely old-fashioned but unimaginably remote. In much of the rich world parents now treat their daughters as well as they do their sons, and invest as much in their future (see Essay). In field after field girls have caught up with boys. Globally, young women now outnumber young men at university. The speed of change has been blistering. Fifty…

ten years after the spring

“WHAT KIND of repression do you imagine it takes for a young man to do this?” So asked Leila Bouazizi after her brother, Muhammad, set himself on fire ten years ago. Local officials in Tunisia had confiscated his fruit cart, ostensibly because he did not have a permit but really because they wanted to extort money from him. It was the final indignity for the young man. “How do you expect me to make a living?” he shouted before dousing himself with petrol in front of the governor’s office. His actions would resonate across the region, where millions of others had reached breaking-point, too. Their rage against oppressive leaders and corrupt states came bursting forth as the Arab spring. Uprisings toppled the dictators of four countries—Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen. For…

admiration nation

IN MOST YEARS most countries improve in various ways. In 2020, however, premature death and economic contraction became the new normal, and most countries aspired only to dodge the worst of it. Inevitably, our shortlist of most-improved countries includes some that merely avoided regressing much. Few people would argue that life in New Zealand was better in 2020 than in 2019. But the virus has been contained. When only 100 cases had been detected, the prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, closed the borders, locked down the country and urged its “team of 5m” (ie, the whole population) to be kind to each other. Only 25 Kiwis have died and life has more or less returned to normal. Rugby stadiums finished the season packed with fans. The amiable Ms Ardern was re-elected with…