The Economist Asia Edition February 20, 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.

United Kingdom
The Economist Newspaper Limited - Asia Pacific
51 期号


coronavirus briefs

New recorded infections in India have tumbled from nearly 100,000 a day in September to under 10,000. In England a study found that infections have fallen by two-thirds since early January. California reported fewer than 5,000 new daily cases for the first time since November. The world’s first “human challenge” study of covid-19 got the go-ahead in Britain. Volunteers aged 18-30 will be exposed to the coronavirus to establish how much of it is needed to cause infection. The hours needed to shut and disinfect New York’s subway system at night have been reduced from four to two, a sign, said an official, that the city “is starting to return to normalcy”. North Korea reportedly tried to hack Pfizer’s computers to find details of its vaccine. Strange for a country that officially claims…

the world this week

Politics A winter storm that covered three-quarters of America’s Lower 48 with snow brought havoc to southern states. A federal emergency was declared in Texas; temperatures plummeted to -2o F (-19o C) in Dallas. Millions of Texans were left without power, as were tens of thousands of people in other states. Many blamed antiquated energy grids for not being able to cope with the surge in demand for electricity. Donald Trump’s impeachment trial for “incitement of insurrection” ended quickly. Fully 57 senators, including seven Republicans, agreed that he had whipped up the mob that stormed Congress on January 6th. But the vote fell short of the two-thirds majority required in the Senate to convict the former president. Mario Draghi was sworn in as Italy’s prime minister, having secured the support of almost all…

america’s better future

TEXAS PRIDES itself on being different. Yet it is in the grip of a winter storm that typifies the Snowmageddon-size problems facing energy in America. Although nobody can be sure if this particular freeze is a sign of climate change, the growing frequency of extreme weather across the country is. Texan infrastructure has buckled. The problem is not, as some argue, that Texas has too many renewables. Gas-fired plants and a nuclear reactor were hit, as well as wind turbines. Worse, Texas had too little capacity and its poorly connected grid was unable to import power from elsewhere (see United States section). Texas shows that America needs both a cleaner grid and a more reliable one. Plans to overhaul American energy will come before Congress in the next few months. President…

another chance

ITALY IS BIG enough to break Europe. Some countries, such as Greece or Portugal, are highly indebted but their fellow Europeans can bail them out, if necessary. Others, like France, Spain or indeed Germany, have large debts in absolute terms, but thanks to the size of their economies and a decent record of growth they can cope without spooking the markets. Only Italy has the triple whammy: a big debt stock in both relative and absolute terms, plus an economy that was stagnant even before covid-19 struck. The arrival of Mario Draghi, sworn in as Italy’s prime minister on February 13th (see Europe section), offers some hope that Europe’s sick man may get a vital healing shot. Mr Draghi, an ex-boss of the European Central Bank, is the latest in a…


IT IS EASY to mock SPACs. For decades these “special purpose acquisition vehicles”, publicly listed pots of capital raised by investors who seek out private firms to merge with, have ushered a small number of flaky and irrelevant companies onto public markets. The present SPAC boom on Wall Street began last year and, true to form, features celebrities-on-the-make, failed bosses looking for redemption and credulous investors keeping their eyes wide shut. Yet it is undeniable that something more serious is also now taking place. The amount of money raised by SPACs in the past 12 months has soared to over $120bn, according to Bloomberg. In a few weeks this year as much has been raised as in the first half of 2020. The boom is spreading to Europe, and Amsterdam…

many hands, light work

INDIA WILL soon end China’s long run as the world’s most populous country. But by some projections its workforce will not exceed China’s until mid-century, even though Indians are much younger. One reason is that so few women in India are in paid work (see Asia section). The International Labour Organisation says that only a fifth of adult women had a job or sought one in 2019, compared with three-fifths in China. The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, a local research firm, put the share of urban women in or looking for work at just 7% in November. During the pandemic, women have typically been the first in India to lose their jobs and the last to regain them. School shutdowns have forced some to drop out of the labour force…