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Bloomberg Businessweek-Asia Edition

Bloomberg Businessweek-Asia Edition December 16, 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

2 min
$aving veni¢e

In 1971, Americans established the Save Venice foundation to help repair the city after a record deluge in 1966. The nonprofit has since funded the conservation of more than 1,000 artworks. Its mission is more pressing after November’s flooding, the worst acqua alta since 1966. ⑤ Melissa Conn, who runs its Venice office, says water “broke over the floodgates and moved stonework and marble. We’re worrying about the foundations of the buildings as well as the stonework.” Save Venice has a range of funding options. How will it put your money to use? $500 A day’s pay for a conservator Only trained conservation pros can carry out restoration work. They must rinse stonework with distilled water and assess conditions at the site. “Sending the cleaning lady in doesn’t really work,” Conn says. Larger…

3 min
retailers don’t love your apple card

This holiday season will be the first for the Apple Card, the highest-profile new credit card in years. And every time a customer waves an iPhone at the register to use it, a retailer may feel an extra pinch on its profits. That’s because the card, backed by Goldman Sachs Group Inc., is designated “elite,” which means that higher interchange fees are levied on every swipe or tap. These aren’t paid by the consumer but by the merchant as part of the cost of accepting credit cards. The higher fees on elite cards help support generous reward programs. Card networks Visa Inc. and Mastercard Inc. tell merchants the higher costs are justified because premium cardholders also have more buying power. For example, according to payment processor Auric, since January 2018 the average…

2 min
warming we want

The 100% recycled 700-fill-power goose and duck down is reclaimed from cushions, bedding, and other used items that can’t be resold. Processing renders it hypoallergenic. The shell is two-layer, 4-oz. Gore-Tex made with 75-denier polyester derived from recycled plastic bottles. Interior baffles keep the down in place, saving you from cold spots—or looking like you’re wearing a quilt. The wind- and waterproof thigh-length jacket comes in black, brown, and navy. Currently, 69% of Patagonia’s line includes recycled material. They hope to use only recycled or renewable materials by 2025. The company has donated more than $110 million to environmental groups since starting its tithing program in 1985. Patagonia’s first national environmental campaign, in 1988, pushed an alternative master plan to de-urbanize the Yosemite Valley. There’s long been an inherent tension in the rugged outerwear of Patagonia…

6 min
not in my backyard

The countryside of St. James Parish, an hour west of New Orleans, is a hodgepodge of bayous and sugarcane fields, smokestacks and riotous tangles of steel pipe. Taiwanese conglomerate Formosa Plastics Group has a $9.4 billion plan to add a new landmark: a giant complex to make petrochemicals used in products such as playground equipment, drainage pipes, and artificial turf. The company calls it the Sunshine Project. But environmentalists consider its arrival as anything but sunny, saying it could emit more than 13.5 million tons of greenhouse gases annually, equal to about 10% of the increase in U.S. carbon dioxide emissions in 2018 compared to a year earlier. Formosa says emissions from the complex won’t be that high. Over the past decade, Taiwan has tightened regulations, making major local expansion difficult for…

17 min
yes, they’re listening

Ruthy Hope Slatis couldn’t believe what she was hearing. She’d been hired by a temp agency outside Boston for a vague job: transcribing audio files for Amazon.com Inc. For $12 an hour, she and her fellow contractors, or “data associates,” listened to snippets of random conversations and jotted down every word on their laptops. Amazon would only say the work was critical to a top-secret speech-recognition product. The clips included recordings of intimate moments inside people’s homes. This was in fall 2014, right around the time Amazon unveiled the Echo speaker featuring Alexa, its voice-activated virtual-assistant software. Amazon pitched Alexa as a miracle of artificial intelligence in its first Echo ad, in which a family asked for and received news updates, answers to trivia questions, and help with the kids’ homework.…

5 min
a celestial traffic jam

Since the Soviet Union launched Sputnik in 1957, Earth’s atmosphere has become home to almost 5,000 orbiting spacecraft. Yet despite the growing traffic, there’s been only one documented collision between satellites, when an Iridium communications craft and a dead Russian Kosmos spysat crashed 500 miles above Siberia a decade ago. The risks are increasing fast, though. In the coming decade, tens of thousands of new satellites are scheduled for launch as billionaires such as Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Richard Branson plan constellations of craft offering internet from space. Worse, debris such as old rocket parts, out-of-service satellites, and bits of shrapnel—the Iridium-Kosmos crash created thousands of pieces that will litter the skies for decades—represent a growing threat. The U.S. Air Force tracks more than 20,000 bits of space junk orbiting the…