The Economist Asia Edition March 27, 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

Amid a surge in cases, the Indian government was urged to speed up its inoculation programme. Only 44m doses have been administered so far. India has blocked exports of the Astra­Zeneca vaccine so that they can be used domestically. Imran Khan, Pakistan’s prime minister, tested positive for covid-19, apparently with only minor symptoms. Despite having the best vaccine programme in Latin America, Chile went back into quarantine. A rise in infections has possibly been caused by many people taking holidays in January and February, and excess confidence in the vaccine roll-out. In Britain the government said it was considering making it mandatory for carehome workers to get the jab. Spectators from overseas were banned from the Tokyo Olympics, which start in July. → For our latest coverage of the virus please visit coronavirus or…

the world this week

Politics Myanmar’s army continued to shoot at demonstrators and rampage through neighbourhoods where there have been protests against the military coup. Among the victims was a seven-year-old girl, one of at least 260 people killed by the security forces since February 1st. Thousands have been arrested. A court hearing for Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s deposed leader, had to be adjourned because of problems with the internet, which the army has shut down. North Korea fired two ballistic missiles off its east coast, a reminder to Joe Biden that the regime remains a threat to stability in East Asia. Two Canadians went on trial for espionage in China, in separate cases. Western diplomats believe their arrest two years ago was in response to the detention in Canada of an executive at Huawei. China announced…

science after the pandemic

THE FIRST virus to have its genome read was an obscure little creature called MS 2; the 3,569 RNA letters it contained were published in 1976, the hard-won product of some ten years’ work in a well-staffed Belgian laboratory. The SARS-COV-2 genome, almost nine times longer, was published just weeks after doctors in Wuhan first became concerned about a new pneumonia. That feat has since been repeated with getting on for 1m different samples of SARS-COV-2 in the hunt for fearsome variants like the one ravaging Brazil (see Americas section). Within weeks of its publication, the original genome sequence became the basis for the vaccines that today are stymieing the virus wherever supplies, politics and public confidence allow (see Europe section). It is hardly remarkable that medical science has moved on…

unanchored by ankara

ISTANBUL’S STOCK exchange does not open until shortly before 10am, a more civilised hour than most bourses. Investors therefore had time to brace themselves on March 22nd before discovering the full cost of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s reckless decision to fire Turkey’s admired central-bank governor, Naci Agbal, over the preceding weekend. The selling frenzy triggered an automatic suspension of trading twice in the first 45 minutes. Combined with a deep fall in the lira, Turkey’s stocks declined by over 16% in dollar terms by the end of the day. Turkey has grown faster than most emerging markets over the past decade, and even managed to eke out a modest expansion last year. But as Mr Erdogan’s party has accumulated power and audacity, it has eroded the institutional constraints that once ensured…

fintech comes to america, at last

AMERICA IS HOME to both Silicon Valley and Wall Street, yet it has long seemed in the dark ages on digital payments. Until 2018 card purchases required hand signatures, 15 years after Europe switched to chip-and-pin. A cosy credit-card duopoly, consisting of Visa and Mastercard, works with the banks to issue cards, with the result that there has been too little competition and sky-high profit margins. Asia has leapt ahead, with pervasive, fast and dirt-cheap payments services, and a new generation of dynamic fintech firms that have rapidly reached scale. Having outdated and expensive digital financial plumbing is no mere technicality: as online shopping becomes a bigger part of everyday spending, it threatens to become a heavy tax on innovation. And it means too few people, especially in poorer households,…

mid-life crisis

“WON’T YOU give some bread to get the starving fed? We’ve got to relieve Bangladesh,” sang George Harrison, a former Beatle, in 1971. His pleading was warranted. No sooner had local politicians declared the independence of the eastern half of Pakistan (as Bangladesh had previously been) on March 26th of that year than the Pakistani army initiated a brutal war to crush the separatists, at a cost of somewhere between 500,000 and 3m lives. The fighting, along with devastating floods and cyclones, had turned the new country into one of the most destitute spots on Earth. Fifty years on, the improvement in the lives of ordinary Bangladeshis has been remarkable (see Asia section). In 1972 GDP per person was almost 40% lower in Bangladesh than in Pakistan. Now it is more…