The Economist Continental Europe Edition October 24, 2020

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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1 min
coronavirus briefs

Iran again broke its single-day record for covid-19 deaths. Hospitals in Tehran, the capital, ran out of intensive-care beds and suspended all nonemergency treatments. Israel eased a month-long nationwide lockdown, its second since the beginning of the pandemic. It has seen a significant decline in the number of new cases. Health experts cast doubt on the claim by a government panel in India that the virus had reached its peak in the country. Cumulative cases passed 7.7m this week. Ireland was put back into a strict lockdown. The government had resisted implementing the measures, which scientists were calling for. The go ahead was given in Britain for the world’s first “human-challenge clinical trials”, in which volunteers will be dosed with the virus. For our latest coverage of the virus and its consequences please visit…

7 min
the world this week

Politics New Zealand’s Labour Party romped home to secure a fresh term at a general election, winning 49% of the vote and an overall parliamentary majority, the first for any party in the country since proportional representation was adopted in 1996. Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister, has been praised for her handling of the covid-19 outbreak. The centre-right National Party was crushed, taking just 27% of the vote, a defeat it did not envisage when it chose Judith “Crusher” Collins as its leader in July. The authorities in Thailand lifted curbs that had been imposed on protests against the government and the role of the monarchy. The restrictions did not work: they enraged people and spurred them to attend huge rallies calling for the prime minister to resign. The police force in Sindh,…

6 min
who controls the conversation?

IT IS THE biggest antitrust suit in two decades. On October 20th the Department of Justice (DOJ) alleged that Google ties up phone-makers, networks and browsers in deals that make it the default search engine. The department says this harms consumers, who are deprived of alternatives. The arrangement is sustained by Google’s dominance of search which, because of a global market share of roughly 90%, generates the advertising profits that pay for the deals (see Business section). The DOJ has not yet said what remedy it wants, but it could force Google and its parent, Alphabet, to change how they structure their business. Don’t hold your breath, though: Google dismisses the suit as nonsense, so the case could drag on for years. Action against Google may seem far from the storm…

4 min
seal the deal

BRITAIN’S CONSERVATIVES are fond of Australia, an Anglo-sphere place with a flourishing economy, fine weather and fabulous beaches. So when trade talks with the European Union were briefly suspended before resuming this week, and Boris Johnson told Britons they might end up not with the Canada-style free-trade agreement he wanted, but instead leave on “Australian terms”, he made the prospect sound beguilingly sunny. This is typical Johnsonian spin. If the latest face-to-face talks should collapse and Britain end up with no deal, the terms on which it leaves would not be those that apply to Australia, which has many side-deals and is seeking its own free-trade agreement with the EU. They would be closer to those of Afghanistan, Bhutan or Congo: Britain would have no trade deal at all with its…

3 min
blue-sky thinking

THE TERM “big tech” is often used as shorthand to describe the small group of digital firms that tower over the 21st-century economy. Together, they make up over a fifth of America’s stock-market. But behind that phrase a lot is going on. As business lines have become monopolised, it has become commonplace to complain that tech firms are offering consumers a toxic deal. But in a growing number of areas the picture is healthier. The largest tech companies have expanded into a dizzying range of industries. Amazon faces credible e-commerce rivals in the form of Walmart and Shopify. Video-streaming is a fight for supremacy between half a dozen firms. And cloud computing has become a fiercely contested market, too, as our analysis of the adventures of Microsoft shows (see Briefing). Its…

3 min
young, but not dumb

THE URGE of the old to lament the folly of the young is as ancient as civilisation itself. “The beardless youth…does not foresee what is useful, squandering his money,” scowled the poet Horace, in 15BC. This year silver-haired Wall Street pros have tutted at the enthusiasm of youthful stock-pickers, who have taken to punting on markets in the lockdown. Manic millennials tapping screens piled into Hertz—after it declared bankruptcy. They dabbled with derivatives and bid up shares in Nikola, an electric-lorry-maker that later admitted to letting a prototype roll down a hill during a “demonstration” because it could not have powered itself. It may seem as if the only lesson is how not to invest. Yet as we explain this week, young people are changing how finance works (see Finance…