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The Economist Asia Edition

The Economist Asia Edition September 19, 2020

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.

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United Kingdom
The Economist Newspaper Limited - Asia Pacific
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51 Issues

in this issue

1 min.
coronavirus briefs

Israel imposed a new lock-down. It will overlap with Jewish holidays, such as Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. An ultra-Orthodox government minister resigned in protest. India’s accumulated cases passed 5m, less than two weeks after they reached 4m. France jumped past 10,000 cases a day. Jean Castex, the prime minister, warned that there had been a “clear deterioration” of the situation. Boris Johnson’s government promised to speed up the processing of covid-19 tests in England after it emerged there was a backlog of 185,000. AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford resumed their clinical trial of a vaccine following a short postponement when a volunteer fell ill. Eli Lilly, another pharmaceutical company, said that an experimental drug it has produced has an antiviral effect. For our latest coverage of the virus and its consequences please visit…

7 min.
the world this week

Politics Suga Yoshihide became Japan’s 99th prime minister. He won the leadership of the Liberal Democratic Party with 377 votes of a possible 535, following Abe Shinzo’s resignation due to ill health in August. Mr Suga, who served as Mr Abe’s chief cabinet secretary, has promised continuity. But his background and stated priorities suggest a narrower focus on the economy. Thailand became the first South-East Asian country to loosen tourism restrictions introduced during the pandemic. Visitors who agree to a 14-day quarantine and a minimum stay will be allowed to enter. Malaysia’s prime minister, by contrast, said he would tighten controls at borders. Singapore will give all adult residents vouchers worth S$100 ($73) to spend on local hotels and sights. European Union leaders held an online meeting with China’s president, Xi Jinping. They…

5 min.
power in the 21st century

OIL FUELLED the 20th century—its cars, its wars, its economy and its geopolitics. Now the world is in the midst of an energy shock that is speeding up the shift to a new order. As covid-19 struck the global economy earlier this year, demand for oil dropped by more than a fifth and prices collapsed. Since then there has been a jittery recovery, but a return to the old world is unlikely. Fossil-fuel producers are being forced to confront their vulnerabilities. ExxonMobil has been ejected from the Dow Jones Industrial Average, having been a member since 1928. Petrostates such as Saudi Arabia need an oil price of $70-80 a barrel to balance their budgets. Today it is scraping along at just $40. There have been oil slumps before, but this one…

3 min.
off target

AT POINTS IN the past decade the European Central Bank (ECB) was the only institution standing between the euro zone and financial oblivion. Europe’s problem was budgetary inhibition and insufficient risk-sharing. Monetary policymakers were the only game in town. No longer. Earlier this year the European Union agreed to issue joint debt to fund a fiscal response to the pandemic, sending confidence in the currency union surging. Now the most pressing problem in euro-zone economic policy stems from Frankfurt. It is that hardly anyone believes the ECB is serious about hitting its inflation target of “below, but close to, 2%”. Covid-19 continues to leave most of the world with a 90% economy in which activity is depressed (see Finance section). Disinflation is the natural consequence. In August euro-zone prices fell for…

3 min.
birth of the frankenfirm

ON AUGUST 6TH, when the White House told TikTok that it had 45 days to shut down or find an American buyer, there was a risk that the Chinese-owned video app would disappear from America, infuriating its 100m users there and destroying billions of dollars of investors’ wealth. Now a last-minute fudge seems to have been found. TikTok has said it will enter a complex partnership with Oracle, an American tech giant, that is designed to show it is more under American sway. The day before Nvidia, an American semiconductor company, bid $40bn for Arm Holdings, a British-based chip-design firm, triggering a storm in Britain about how to stop its tech champion from being dragged into America’s trade war. Far from being oddities, the two episodes offer a preview of…

4 min.
amateurs to the rescue

IN 403BC Athens decided to overhaul its institutions. A disastrous war with Sparta had shown that direct democracy, whereby adult male citizens voted on laws, was not enough to stop eloquent demagogues from getting what they wanted, and indeed from subverting democracy altogether. So a new body, chosen by lot, was set up to scrutinise the decisions of voters. It was called the nomothetai or “layers down of law” and it would be given the time to ponder difficult decisions, unmolested by silver-tongued orators and the schemes of ambitious politicians. This ancient idea is back in vogue, and not before time. Around the world “citizens’ assemblies” and other deliberative groups are being created to consider questions that politicians have struggled to answer (see International section). Over weeks or months, 100 or…