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The Economist Continental Europe Edition

The Economist Continental Europe Edition 08/18/2018

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.

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

Politics A highway bridge collapsed in Genoa, Italy, during a rainstorm, killing at least 38 people. The reasons for the collapse are under investigation. Italy’s populist government vowed to spend more on infrastructure—something some of its members had previously dismissed as unnecessary. America continued to demand that Turkey release a pastor, Andrew Brunson, who is being held on dubious terrorism charges. Donald Trump said American sanctions would tighten until Mr Brunson is freed. Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, retaliated by raising tariffs on American goods and vowing to boycott Apple. Turkish smart-phones will do, he said. Protesters in Moscow denounced the imprisonment of a group of teenagers belonging to a political discussion group called “New Greatness”. The teenagers were sentenced to up to two years for extremism. The European Commission gave Poland one month…

5 min.
modern love

THE internet has transformed the way people work and communicate. It has upended industries, from entertainment to retailing. But its most profound effect may well be on the biggest decision that most people make—choosing a mate. In the early 1990s the notion of meeting a partner online seemed freakish, and not a little pathetic. Today, in many places, it is normal. Smartphones have put virtual bars in people’s pockets, where singletons can mingle free from the constraints of social or physical geography. Globally, at least 200m people use digital dating services every month. In America more than a third of marriages now start with an online match-up. The internet is the second-most-popular way for Americans to meet people of the opposite sex, and is fast catching up with real-world “friend of…

5 min.
turkey’s turmoil

THERE was a time when people thought that a secular, democratic Turkey would eventually accede to the European Union and join the club of wealthy liberal states known as the West. There was a time, too, a few years ago, when Turkey was a darling of emerging-market investors. Those days are long gone. Politically, the country has been tilting away from the West for years: becoming more stridently Islamist, picking fights with NATO allies and transforming itself into a virtual autocracy under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Economic-policy orthodoxy has been junked. High growth rates have depended on foreign borrowing: the amount of corporate foreign-currency debt has more than doubled since 2009. Mr Erdogan, who believes that high interest rates magically cause inflation rather than cure it, has stopped the central bank…

3 min.
the prickly prince

ELON MUSK, a mercurial entrepreneur, wants to take Tesla, his electric-car firm, private. That will cost billions. Where will he find the money? On August 13th Mr Musk gave an answer: from Saudi Arabia, probably (see Schumpeter). It is a common refrain. When visionaries want someone rich to back something bold, they turn to Muhammad bin Salman, the crown prince who runs the oil-rich kingdom. He has committed $45bn to a Japanese tech fund and plans to build an ultramodern city on the Red Sea costing $500bn. If Prince Muhammad wants to invest in electric cars too, why not take his cash? One reason for caution is that what the prince gives, he can suddenly take away. This month, after Canada’s foreign minister tweeted that Saudi Arabia should not lock up…

3 min.
pilot error

COME December, it will be 40 years since the Communist Party endorsed Deng Xiaoping’s proposal for reform. What followed was an economic transformation on a scale and at a pace that had never before been witnessed in human history. One of the secrets of Deng’s success was his encouragement of experimentation (see China section). He did not dismantle Mao’s disastrous “people’s communes” in one go. He did so over several years, allowing different places to try different methods. He turned a blind eye when local authorities allowed peasants to farm their own plots and sell their crops. When output soared, he made this official policy. In 1980, to the horror of Maoists, he set up “special economic zones” along the coast to carry out free-market trials. These too proved a…

3 min.
the bridges of decay

CONCRETE can last a very long time. The roof of the Pantheon in Rome is the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome; it was completed in around 125AD by Hadrian, an emperor. But concrete structures can also fail, with tragic consequences. Although it is too early to know the cause of its collapse, something clearly went very wrong with the Morandi bridge in Genoa, which was completed in 1967 and crashed to the ground on August 14th with the loss of at least 38 lives. In Italy itself fingers are already being pointed: at the operator of the bridge, at the bridge’s designer, at politicians at home and abroad (see Europe section). But the Genoa disaster also carries a warning that stretches well beyond the country’s borders. Concrete, on which the Morandi…