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Bloomberg Businessweek-Asia Edition

Bloomberg Businessweek-Asia Edition May 4, 2020

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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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in brief

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases around the world now exceeds 3m Almost a third of them are in the U.S., where more than 50,000 have died. Some of the hardest-hit countries in Europe, such as Spain and Italy, have started easing restrictions as the rate of new infections declines. The U.S. economy shrank 4.8% in the first quarter, marking the biggest slide since 2008. But the worst is yet to come, with the current quarter bearing the full brunt of the lockdown. Analysts expect the economy to tumble by a record amount. Surfers at Australia’s fabled Bondi Beach rushed to catch some waves after authorities reopened it for swimming and surfing following a five-week shutdown. HSBC warned that losses from bad loans may balloon to $11 billion this year, the highest since…


Locked Out of Work The U.S. reports unemployment data for April on May 8. With the economy in lockdown for much of the period, the jobless rate has surged from its half-century low, and some gloomy forecasts see it reaching 30% this quarter. The Bank of England sets interest rates on May 7. The U.K.’s nationwide shutdown could be lifted later in the month, at which point the economy can start its struggle to revive. On May 5, German Chancellor Angela Merkel hosts a summit for the car industry to find ways to reignite one of the country’s most important industries. When Lyft reports first-quarter results on May 6, it will detail actions to shore up its financial position and cut costs while supporting riders and drivers. Nomura releases earnings on May 8. New CEO…

the human cost of cheap meat

It looks like bad times for Big Meat. The meat processing industry was slow to recognize the danger of Covid-19: Workers continued to work elbow-to-elbow and without masks long after other Americans took precautions. Outbreaks of the disease among employees have now forced the shutdown or slowdown of dozens of plants that produce beef, pork, and chicken. Tyson Foods Inc. Chairman John Tyson has placed full-page ads saying “the food supply chain is breaking.” The world is dismayed by scenes of farmers euthanizing hogs and chickens that can’t be sold—even as meat prices are leaping and supermarket shelves are emptying. But it’s not all bad for Tyson and the other companies that dominate U.S. meat production, including Cargill, Brazilian-owned JBS USA Holdings, and China’s WH Group, owner of Smithfield Foods. The…

unhappy hour at emirates

Until recently, Tarek Sultani Makhzoumi typically spent every other week of the year on the road, traveling from London to the U.S. or the United Arab Emirates. Like many road warriors, Makhzoumi, chief operating officer for healthcare technology company MAP Sciences, became accustomed to the perks of constant corporate travel—everything from restaurant-class in-flight meals to lie-flat beds in business or first class—on business-focused carriers including Emirates. But in the era of shrunken corporate budgets and a growing embrace of videoconferences, such extravagances risk becoming relics of a globe-trotting past. Moreover, many travelers are likely to remain reluctant to spend time in densely packed lines at airports, queue up at temperature-measuring checkpoints, or sit for hours in close proximity to strangers. “The process of getting into a plane is going to be…

when big companies crashed the party

When the U.S. government began approving almost $350 billion in emergency assistance on April 3 to small businesses hurt by the Covid-19 pandemic, many tiny outfits thought it was finally their chance for some desperately needed relief. But while some mom and pop operations waited in vain for their share of a federal bailout, a 700-person biotech company that recently paid a multimillion-dollar settlement to the Justice Department was approved for a loan. So was a telecommunications company with 1,270 workers, almost half of them outside the U.S. The Paycheck Protection Program, promoted as a Covid-19 lifeline for operations with fewer than 500 workers, provided tens of millions of dollars in loans to businesses with far larger payrolls than that, according to disclosures filed by publicly traded companies that received the…

how ventilator fraud went viral

As hospitals and governments around the world furiously search for medical ventilators to help treat Covid-19 patients, some have been drawn to the large number of merchants in China offering to sell the lifesaving machines. One account on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter and the country’s most popular microblogging site, is offering 1,000 of Beijing Aeonmed Co.’s VG70 ventilators for sale. But the listing is far from a find. First, the seller’s price of about $51,000 apiece is roughly 50% more than the model’s usual price. An investigation of the seller’s history shows that the Weibo account until recently focused on blogging about beauty products and posting makeup photos, rather than marketing medical equipment. Moreover, Li Kai, a director of Beijing Aeonmed, the purported maker of the machines in the…