Bloomberg Businessweek-Asia Edition

Bloomberg Businessweek-Asia Edition

November 2, 2020

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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and the winner is …

The U.S. Federal Reserve sets its benchmark on Nov. 5, two days after the general election. Economists expect borrowing costs to remain steady at 0.25%. Berkshire Hathaway reports earnings on Nov. 7. Warren Buffett has had a busy quarter, including a financing deal for E.W. Scripps and a bet on software maker Snowflake. The European Commission releases its quarterly economic forecasts on Nov. 5. With the virus making a brutal comeback, the bloc is facing another downturn. Alibaba delivers earnings on Nov. 5. China’s largest and most valuable corporation has benefited from retail sales in Asia rebounding after Covid restrictions eased. Malaysia unveils its annual budget on Nov. 6. The government has promised a combination of business-friendly policies and fiscal stimulus to help stabilize the economy next year. Fans waiting for the latest James Bond…

the antibody underdog

In April, Eli Lilly & Co. Chief Executive Officer David Ricks made a radical decision. He told U.S. regulators the drug giant would halt production of a colon cancer medicine at a New Jersey plant in order to start making a coronavirus antibody treatment that hadn’t even moved into human testing. “We had no evidence it would work,” Ricks recalls. “It now sounds slightly crazy, but in the middle of the pandemic, it seemed like the right thing to do.” It was an expensive risk. Or as Ricks puts it, just the kind of “unusual maneuver” necessary to bring patients a treatment when they need it most: before a vaccine becomes widely available (page 42). Any day, Lilly could find out whether the bet has paid off. Both Lilly and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals…

when the pitchman isn’t human

During the pandemic, many social media influencers—those online tastemakers marketers use to reach young, connected consumers—have been stuck at home. But not Seraphine, whose flowing pink hair, catchy songs, and cute Instagram posts about her cat have won her a devoted fan base of nearly 400,000 followers who track her every move. She’s busy making appearances in Shanghai to promote her music and prepping for a future collaboration with K-pop girl group K/DA. Dealing with the harsh realities of pandemic life is easier for her because, well, she’s not real. Seraphine is a digital creation of Riot Games Inc., the folks behind League of Legends, a hit e-sports game. So she can keep cranking out posts—and marketing tie-ins—on Twitter, Instagram, and SoundCloud despite lock-downs or travel restrictions. (That doesn’t mean she…

gig economy—yes or no?

The gig economy is preparing for a reckoning. California voters are set to pick sides during the Nov. 3 elections in one of the most fraught debates of today’s labor market: Are flexible working arrangements worth the trade-offs of weaker job security and fewer benefits? A state ballot measure, known as Proposition 22, would exclude app-based companies from California’s new gig economy law, which makes it tougher for companies to classify workers as contractors rather than employees. If voters reject the proposition, the companies would have to start treating drivers as staff who are eligible for benefits such as guaranteed minimum wages, paid sick days, and other standard protections. Ride-hailing apps Uber and Lyft and food delivery services DoorDash, Instacart, and Postmates sponsored the initiative, pouring a record $200 million into…

cornering heath-care markets

The Florida city of Naples is known for its abundance of white-sand beaches, restaurants, and resorts. But when it comes to cancer care, some residents may find themselves with little choice. A single company, GenesisCare, operates all four of the city’s radiation treatment centers. GenesisCare got its foothold in Naples after buying another chain, 21st Century Oncology, that grew with backing from private equity investors. Throngs of wealthy people hoping to retire on Florida’s Paradise Coast made it plum territory for the business, according to Isaac Vire, a former radiation therapist at 21st Century. “Naples is kind of a cash cow,” he says. For years now, private equity has been following a similar strategy in a wide range of medical fields—from anesthesiology to hospice care—buying small practices and putting them under a…

innovation how to fight food waste

Once smallholder farmers in the Kenyan village of Masii have picked their crops, all they can do is wait until a buyer trucks through. The system works fairly well for beans and corn, but mangoes—the area’s other main crop—spoil more quickly. If the trader is late, they rot. “We lose market because the mangoes go spotty,” says Obadiah Kisaingu, chair of the Masii Horticultural Farmers’ Cooperative Society. He estimates 40% of the co-op’s mango crop is lost to spoilage. But a simple coating could change that. A California company has created a formulation that doubles—or for some foods even triples—the shelf life of fresh produce, enabling farmers like Kisaingu to access far-off, larger markets. Apeel Sciences Inc., based in Santa Barbara, exceeded a $1 billion valuation in May when it received $250…