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Bloomberg Businessweek-Asia Edition

Bloomberg Businessweek-Asia Edition 3/5/2018

Each issue of Businessweek features in-depth perspectives on the financial markets, industries, trends, technology and people guiding the economy. Draw upon Businessweek's timely incisive analysis to help you make better decisions about your career, your business, and your personal investments.

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Bloomberg Finance LP
50 Issues

in this issue

4 min
the harvard bet that went splat

Six years ago, Jane Mendillo, then head of Harvard’s endowment, spent a week in Brazil, flying in a turboprop plane to survey some of the university’s growing holdings of forest and farmland. That year, Harvard began one of its most daring foreign adventures: an investment in a sprawling agricultural development in Brazil’s remote and impoverished northeast. There, workers would produce tomato paste, sugar, and ethanol, as well as energy after processing crops. The profits, in theory, could outstrip those of conventional stocks and bonds and keep the world’s richest university a step ahead of its peers. Harvard bet the farm in Brazil and lost. The university, which invested at least $150 million in the development, is now exiting, according to people familiar with the matter who requested anonymity because they aren’t…

4 min
in brief

Asia ● Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, which owns Volvo, acquired a 10 percent stake in Daimler. BYD, one of Geely’s main rivals in China, already has a technology partnership with the Mercedes maker. ● Global smartphone sales fell for the first time since at least 2004, according to Gartner market research. China’s Huawei Technologies and Xiaomi were the only major manufacturers to see increases. Smartphone unit sales, year-over-year change ● There was a run on toilet paper in Taiwan as residents braced for a spike in the cost of paper pulp. Retailers were told to expect a price increase of as much as 30 percent. ● United Nations investigators determined that North Korea has been shipping supplies to make chemical weapons to Syria. Their report also said North Korean technicians have been working at Syrian missile…

4 min
the app with a courier on every corner

In Bogotá’s busiest neighborhoods, the men with orange caps, bags, and the occasional vest or windbreaker stand on almost every corner. They work for Rappi, a two-year-old delivery startup that’s a mashup of Uber Eats, Instacart, and TaskRabbit. Summoned via smartphone, Rappi’s couriers deliver poke bowls, groceries, and even cash, running errands that include paying bills. Regular customers average more than four orders a week, and courier Israel Montes says demand is keeping him better paid than his old minimum-wage job. He delivers restaurant orders on his blue bicycle and has also been hired to give a massage and play video games. As he waits curbside near other couriers, Montes says, “All the time I’m seeing new faces, so many.” Rappi, which charges customers about $1 an order or a flat…

1 min
national gateway project

The two-tube rail tunnel linking New York and New Jersey beneath the Hudson River is in desperate need of repair, but proposed renovations would close one tube at a time, slashing capacity for hundreds of thousands of commuters. The hourly number of Amtrak and New Jersey Transit trains traveling through the New Jersey-New York tunnel on an average weekday The New York-New Jersey Problem Part of the bottleneck arises from the number of New Jersey residents who work in New York because it has more jobs and higher salaries. As a result, New Jersey-based commuters account for billions of dollars in Empire State tax revenue. An onerous trip could mean more Jerseyites choosing to work in their home state—and fewer tax dollars for New York. Why Other States Should Care Long-term lack of access to…

6 min
moving up in the world

After continuous appreciation in 2017, China’s currency, the yuan, has maintained this trend into the new year, boding well for its long-term target of internationalization. According to statistics from China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange, in January 2018 the yuan witnessed its central parity rate gain 3.1 percent against the U.S. dollar—more than half the 5.81 percent increase seen across the whole of 2017, which itself marked the most drastic annual appreciation seen in the past nine years. “The weakening of the U.S. dollar and Chinese authorities’ reinforcement of supervision over capital outflow, such as overseas mergers and acquisitions, are two causes behind the strengthening of the yuan, but a robust Chinese economy is the major driving force,” Xu Hongcai, Deputy Chief Economist of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, told…

2 min
trump’s worst economic idea

Does anyone, anywhere, support Donald Trump’s plan to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports? Trump is considering broad duties of as much as 24 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum, with the aim of protecting national security and pressuring China to reform its practices. This is a terrible way to achieve either ambition. The likely outcome would be to raise prices, hinder growth, jeopardize jobs, and burden taxpayers in the U.S. It would also encourage retaliation and destabilize the system of global trade. Not to be alarmist, it could even raise the cost of beer. The idea is so misguided that it has induced a rare consensus in Washington. Most of Trump’s cabinet opposes the idea, as does nearly every mainstream economist. Farm groups call it a “shortsighted mistake.”…