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Bloomberg Businessweek-Asia Edition

Bloomberg Businessweek-Asia Edition November 11, 2019

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

9 min
the setbacks and resilience of california

More nation-state than U.S. state, California is a land of superlatives: the most populous, the most prosperous, home to the most companies in the S&P 500, the fifth-largest economy in the world. Its scale also makes it one of the most powerful, much to the annoyance of Donald Trump’s Washington. Lately, however, the state is also the most incendiary in the union—not just because of its wildfires and accompanying blackouts, but also because they’ve sparked heated debate over whether its future remains golden or is inexorably in eclipse. Just past noon under the clear, blue sky of Halloween day, Kurt Mikell returned to survey what remained of his mulch and compost depot downhill of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif. The Easy Fire had torn through Mikell’s 5…

17 min
k-pop’s moment of truth

If K-pop has a spiritual home, it’s probably SMTown. Operated by SM Entertainment Co., the six-story complex in Seoul’s wealthy Gangnam district is a high-tech shrine to South Korea’s most successful cultural export. The lobby walls are covered with framed black-and-white head-shots of SM’s “idols,” as K-pop stars are known. By the elevators are hundreds of Polaroid-style portraits of the same artists in a more candid light, albeit with skin so touched up it appears carved from marzipan. The centerpiece of SMTown is a museum honoring the label’s most prominent groups. There’s an extensive section for Super Junior, a 13-member boy band that was one of K-pop’s first big-ticket acts, and another for Girls’ Generation, a syrup-sweet ensemble that flirted with global stardom thanks to mixed-language tracks such as I Got…

6 min
tear gas chokes hong kong

King Ng, once a healthy 72-year-old retired mechanical engineer, now suffers from headaches so severe he often can’t sleep. He’s taken two weeks’ worth of antibiotics for an upper respiratory infection, yet his throat is still itchy and dry and he has a lingering cough. Three months ago, Ng inhaled tear gas through the closed—but not airtight—windows of his second-floor apartment. Hong Kong police have used the substance to quell pro-democracy protests almost every weekend, and occasionally on weeknights, since June 12. They’ve fired almost 6,000 rounds, according to a tally of figures released in police briefings, in areas that are home to as many as 88% of Hong Kong’s 7.4 million residents. On that particular day, Aug. 5, police fired 800 rounds as the demonstrations spread through 14 of Hong Kong’s…

5 min
corralling brazil’s tax code

At more than 7 feet, it’s taller than Lebron James. And with 41,266 pages, it’s about 85 times longer than the collected stories of Franz Kafka. Vinicios Leoncio spent more than 1 million reais ($250,100) to assemble an oversize volume of Brazil’s tax code to demonstrate the absurdities of the system. For fun, he perches on top of his creation. “It’s an attempt to make the stupidity of the Brazilian tax legislation visible,” says the tax lawyer. Fresh off its success in winning congressional support for a landmark pension overhaul, the administration of President Jair Bolsonaro has set its sights on revamping the tax code, a goal that has eluded prior governments. The lower house and the senate have put forward their own plans. Vice President Hamilton Mourao promised on Oct. 23…

2 min
more than two hands

Many fine mechanical watches are handmade to some extent. Expert craftsmen build delicate components into a tiny, ingenious machine, and artisans paint, carve, apply, and polish the elements you see on the outside. But Stephen Forsey of the esteemed Swiss brand Greubel Forsey says his Hand Made 1 timepiece is 95% crafted by hand-operated tools. It’s an extraordinary claim, especially for a watch that includes a tourbillon—a challenging, always-moving complication that helps ward off gravity’s effects on timekeeping. “It’s easier for me to tell you what we didn’t handmake than what we did,” Forsey says: only the sapphire crystal, mainspring, case gaskets, spring bars, and jewels. THE COMPETITION • Bovet 1822, an almost 200-year-old Swiss watchmaker, specializes in beautiful hand-painted or -enameled dials with designs from nature and fantasy. Each of its…

4 min
fit enough for a pharaoh

Six weeks before the premiere of Philip Glass’s Akhnaten at the English National Opera in London, its star, Anthony Roth Costanzo, discovered he’d be appearing onstage naked. And not just for a moment—he’d be walking around fully nude, under a spotlight, for a solid five minutes. “At the first break from rehearsal, I called the ENO and was like, ‘Is there a trainer?’ ” Costanzo says. It was 2016, and at the time he was 33, 5 feet 8, and weighed about 130 pounds. Hardly out of shape, he acknowledges, and yet “if someone told you that in six weeks you’ll be naked in front of 20,000 to 30,000 people, you’d want to look the best you could, too.” After canvassing friends for a decent trainer recommendation and coming up empty-handed, Costanzo…