The Economist Continental Europe Edition August 21, 2021

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 мин.
coronavirus briefs

The director of America’s National Institutes of Health described people who have not been vaccinated as “sitting ducks”, and warned that the number of daily cases in America could soon reach 200,000. Greg Abbott, the governor of Texas, who has refused to introduce mask and vaccine mandates, tested positive for covid-19. The authorities in Iran said the country was undergoing a fifth wave of infections. Curbs on travel were imposed, and shops, restaurants and cinemas ordered to close. A controversial vaccinepassport scheme in France, which has led to mass protests, was extended to around 120 department stores and shopping centres. New Zealand went into lockdown after a single case was detected. The government has faced criticism for its strict “zero-covid” approach to the pandemic. → For our latest coverage of the virus please visit…

7 мин.
the world this week

Politics Ashraf Ghani, Afghanistan’s president, fled to the United Arab Emirates as Kabul, the Afghan capital, was captured by the insurgents of the Taliban. A chaotic evacuation of Western personnel and some of their Afghan associates followed from Kabul airport, where at least seven people died in the tumult. President Joe Biden defended the decision to withdraw American security forces from the country and blamed the Afghan government for lacking “the will to fight”. Muhyiddin Yassin, Malaysia’s embattled prime minister, resigned after months of political instability and the loss of his parliamentary majority. He remains in office while Malaysia’s king chooses his successor after consulting MPs. Sultan Abdullah said holding a new election during the pandemic would be dangerous. Tropical Storm Grace drenched Haiti, slowing efforts to rescue survivors of a 7.2-magnitude earthquake…

5 мин.
biden’s debacle

IF THE PROPAGANDISTS of the Taliban had scripted the collapse of America’s 20-year mission to reshape Afghanistan, they could not have come up with more harrowing images. As insurgents swept into Kabul, desperate Afghans, terrified about what the victorious zealots might do, chased departing American cargo planes down the runway, trying to clamber into the landing gear and inevitably falling to their deaths. The American-backed government had surrendered without a fight—something that American officials were insisting would not happen only days before. Afghans were left in such a horrifying bind that clinging to the wheels of a hurtling aircraft seemed their best option. America has spent $2trn in Afghanistan; more than 2,000 American lives have been lost, not to mention countless Afghan ones. And yet, even if Afghans are more prosperous…

3 мин.
no more leaks

TO PREVENT THE next pandemic, it would help to know how this one started. However, the answer to that question might embarrass China’s rulers. So they have obstructed investigations into how the virus emerged, and promoted far-fetched theories about it having originated somewhere else. The world thus has only a shaky understanding of what happened in Hubei province in the second half of 2019 (see International section). American spooks are about to finish a 90-day review of covid-19’s possible origins, on President Joe Biden’s orders. It is unlikely to reach a firm conclusion. Yet it is clear that the answer China least wants to hear—that the virus could have leaked from a lab in Wuhan, or been picked up by a researcher collecting samples in the field—is plausible. And it would…

4 мин.
bringing clarity to qe

ON AUGUST 26TH central bankers will gather for their annual Jackson Hole jamboree with the shine having come off their record. A year ago they had forestalled a financial crisis during the pandemic’s first wave. Today an inflation surge has made a mockery of the Federal Reserve’s forecasts; a parliamentary committee has said that the Bank of England has a “dangerous addiction” to buying bonds; and everybody expects the European Central Bank (ECB) to undershoot, over a period of years, its shiny new “symmetric” inflation target of 2%, unveiled in July. The disquieting sense of monetary powerlessness is compounded by the spread of the Delta variant of coronavirus, which threatens to raise prices and depress global growth. Monetary policy cannot do much about port terminals closing because of outbreaks—as China’s Ningbo-Zhoushan…

4 мин.
retail revival

AFTER REELING from the shock of the pandemic, America’s consumers came roaring back early this year, fuelled by vaccines, stimulus cheques and their instinctive bullishness. Now their enthusiasm is starting to ebb. Retail sales in July were 1.1% lower than a month earlier and a consumer-confidence survey by the University of Michigan suggests that shoppers lost more of their swagger in early August. The Delta variant has played on their nerves while price spikes and supply-chain glitches have dulled enthusiasm for buying some products such as cars—sales of which dropped by 3.9% last month, compared with June. There is now a sense that the rate of growth in consumer spending is returning to a more pedestrian pace after 18 giddy months of wild shrinkages and splurges. Yet even as normality beckons…