The Economist Continental Europe Edition

The Economist Continental Europe Edition February 29, 2020

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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 The WHO said that most new cases of covid-19, a novel type of coronavirus, are now being reported outside China. The number of cases surged in South Korea; Italy recorded hundreds of infections, more than in any country outside Asia; and there were worries that Iran was underreporting the spread of the epidemic within its borders. Iran’s deputy health minister tested positive for the disease. China postponed the annual sessions of its rubber-stamp parliament because of concerns about the outbreak of covid-19. The meetings had been due to start in Beijing in March and involve thousands of delegates. Despite a fall in the daily numbers of new cases in China, Xi Jinping, the president, said the epidemic was “still grim and complex”. A Chinese court sentenced Gui Minhai, the co-owner of a…

5 min.
going global

IN PUBLIC HEALTH, honesty is worth a lot more than hope. It has become clear in the past week that the new viral disease, covid-19, which struck China at the start of December will spread around the world. Many governments have been signalling that they will stop the disease. Instead, they need to start preparing people for the onslaught. Officials will have to act when they do not have all the facts, because much about the virus is unknown. A broad guess is that 25-70% of the population of any infected country may catch the disease. China’s experience suggests that, of the cases that are detected, roughly 80% will be mild, 15% will need treatment in hospital and 5% will require intensive care. Experts say that the virus may be five…

5 min.
america’s nightmare

SOMETIMES PEOPLE wake from a bad dream only to discover that they are still asleep and that the nightmare goes on. This is the prospect facing America if, as seems increasingly likely, the Democrats nominate Bernie Sanders as the person to rouse America from President Donald Trump’s first term. Mr Sanders won the primary in New Hampshire, almost won in Iowa, trounced his rivals in Nevada and is polling well in South Carolina. Come Super Tuesday next week, in which 14 states including California and Texas allot delegates, he could amass a large enough lead to make himself almost impossible to catch. Moderate Democrats worry that nominating Mr Sanders would cost them the election. This newspaper worries that forcing Americans to decide between him and Mr Trump would result in an…

3 min.
this way out

AFGHANISTAN HAS been at war for more than 40 years—longer than most of the world’s population has been alive. America and the insurgents of the Taliban have been battling for close to 19 years, making the conflict the longest America has ever fought. Some 2,500 American soldiers have died. The direct cost to American taxpayers is approaching $1trn. For Afghans, the toll is much higher. Roughly 3,500 civilians die every year, and their ravaged country is the poorest in Asia. It can be only a good thing, therefore, that America and the Taliban plan to sign a peace agreement on Leap Day (February 29th), provided relative calm prevails until then. America will undertake to send home most of its 12,000 troops in Afghanistan. In exchange, the Taliban will promise not to…

3 min.
new partners, old dance

THEY MIGHT not admit it, but Argentina and the IMF have things in common. Both are under new management. President Alberto Fernández took office in December, two months after Kristalina Georgieva became head of the fund. Both leaders want to clean up the mess they inherited. Argentina has failed to prosper after decades of debt-binges. The IMF has repeatedly bailed it out. The most recent, botched, rescue in 2018 was the 21st time it has become entangled in the country. Now talks are under way to sort out Argentina’s finances once again. At stake are the prospects of 45m Argentines, a mountain of money and the credibility of Ms Georgieva’s mission to reinvent the IMF. The IMF is Argentina’s biggest creditor, holding $44bn of the $100bn-odd wad of foreign-law debt that…

3 min.
woking nine to five

CAN YOU really lose your job for posting an opinion on Twitter, or even for clicking “like” on somebody else’s message? Surprising though it may be to employees who expect firms to indulge their odd working hours, their tastes in coffee and their pets, the answer is often yes. Pascal Besselink, an employment lawyer in the Netherlands, reckons that about one in ten abrupt sackings there is connected to behaviour on social media. Controversial opinions were once expressed in bars after work, and went no further. Today Twitter and other social media broadcast employees’ thoughts; they also make it easy for anyone who is offended to put together a mob and retaliate against the poster and their employer. Jittery firms respond by sacking the offender. Some, like General Motors, have introduced…