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The Economist Continental Europe Edition

The Economist Continental Europe Edition 07/28/2018

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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The Economist Newspaper Limited - Europe
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8 min.
the world this week

Politics At least 81 people were thought to have perished in forest fires near Athens, with many more unaccounted for. The wildfire is believed to be the worst in post-war Europe. Dry conditions have also led to fires in a number of other countries, including Sweden, Norway and Latvia. In Japan a record-breaking heatwave pushed temperatures above 40 C (104 F) in Tokyo for the first time. At least 65 people have died across Japan because of the heat over the past week; more than 22,600 have been hospitalised. Spain’s People’s Party chose a new leader following the resignation of Mariano Rajoy, who was forced to stand down as prime minister last month. The new leader is Pablo Casado, a right-winger. France was gripped by a presidential scandal involving one of Emmanuel Macron’s…

5 min.
planet china

SHUNNING all false modesty, China’s leader, Xi Jinping, calls his idea the “project of the century”. The country’s fawning media hail it as a gift of “Chinese wisdom” to the world’s development. As for the real meaning of the clumsy metaphor to describe it—the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)—debate rages. The term itself is confusing. The “road” refers mostly to a sea route; the “belt” is on land. Countries eager for China’s financing welcome it as a source of investment in infrastructure between China and Europe via the Middle East and Africa. Those who fear China see it instead as a sinister project to create a new world order in which China is the pre-eminent power. All roads lead to Beijing One cause of confusion is that the BRI is not a single…

3 min.
breaking the fever

PRIESTS, teachers and parents have for generations advised their wards to think twice before speaking, to count to ten when angry and to get a good night’s sleep before making big decisions. Social networks care little for second thoughts. Services such as Facebook and Twitter are built to maximise “virality”, making it irresistible to share, like and retweet things. They are getting better at it: fully half of the 40 most-retweeted tweets date from January last year. When sneezing pandas and dancing cockatoos sweep the internet, no harm is done. But viral content can have grave consequences. In the 2016 presidential election, Americans spread divisive posts that had been planted on Facebook by Russian troublemakers; the social network reckons that about 40% of Americans saw at least one of them. Virality…

3 min.
concentration problems

IN 2016 we decried falling competition in America, where profits have surged as industries have become more concentrated. This week, drawing on our own research and a study by the Resolution Foundation, a think-tank, we report that a similar—if not yet as severe—problem has taken root across the Atlantic (see Britain section). That is bad for ordinary Britons, who pay 25% more for goods and services than they did in 2008, even as wages have grown by just 19%. Moreover, as Britain grapples with what sort of place it should be after Brexit, the whiff of oligopoly risks turning people against capitalism. If you split the British economy into 250-odd industry sectors, you will find that in nearly 60% of them the four biggest firms claim a larger share of revenues…

4 min.
spanish lessons

JUST six years ago Spain seemed to be the European Union’s biggest economic calamity, menacing the survival of the euro itself. As it goes on holiday this week, it is in much brighter shape. Thanks to structural reforms and some good fortune, it is enjoying a sustained recovery. Spanish politics has little of the xenophobia common elsewhere in Europe. Forty years after it became a democracy, on issues of personal liberty such as gay marriage Spain feels Scandinavian rather than southern European. Boasting the world’s second-highest life expectancy, a good health service and world-class transport infrastructure, it is in many ways a great place to live. Yet that is not how many Spaniards see it. The slump in 2009-13 opened wounds that have yet to heal (see Special report). Spain is…

3 min.
never smile at the crocodile

FOR the first time since independence in 1980, Zimbabwe goes to the polls on July 30th without Robert Mugabe on the ballot. Instead the old despot’s former sidekick, who took his place after a coup last year, is bidding for legitimacy, together with Zanu-PF, the ruling party. Emmerson Mnangagwa (pictured, right), nicknamed the Crocodile for the way, over nearly four decades, he used to bide his time before suddenly crunching Mr Mugabe’s enemies, now presents himself as a reformed character. He vows to save the economy from disaster, revive the country’s farms and mines, compensate whites whose land was stolen under Mr Mugabe, stamp out corruption and bring back harmony and prosperity. Do not believe it. However honeyed and sensible Mr Mnangagwa’s recent words, his record of evil-doing cannot be…