Bloomberg Businessweek-Asia Edition December 6, 2021 (Bloomberg 50 Special)

Each issue of Businessweek features in-depth perspectives on the financial markets, industries, trends, technology and people guiding the economy. Draw upon Businessweek's timely incisive analysis to help you make better decisions about your career, your business, and your personal investments.

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50 Issues

in this issue

2 min
◼ in brief

● Global coronavirus cases have topped 263 million, 5.2m people have died, and almost 8.1 billion vaccine doses have been given. On Dec. 1, the WHO reported that its scientists believe existing shots will likely protect people from the omicron variant, which has begun appearing in Europe after first being identified in southern Africa. ▷ 17 ● Jack Dorsey stepped down as CEO of Twitter on Nov. 29. He says the social network is ready to move on from its founders. Chief Technology Officer Parag Agrawal will take over; at 37, he’ll be the youngest leader of any S&P 500 company. ▷ 27 ● Barbados became the world’s newest republic, ending British rule on Nov. 30. At a ceremony attended by Prince Charles, the Caribbean island removed Queen Elizabeth as head of state…

3 min
u.s. tech companies aren’t monopolies. they’re just thriving

Few issues have generated more misguided legislation in this session of Congress than antitrust reform. The latest addition to this regrettable canon shows exactly what’s at stake. In November, Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) introduced the Platform Competition and Opportunity Act of 2021. It’s a companion bill to one put forth in June in the House of Representatives—along with four like-minded proposals—with a relatively simple goal: effectively ban big tech companies from making acquisitions, on the theory this would stimulate competition and better serve consumers. That theory, offered as though it were self-evident, is in fact dubious. Mergers and acquisitions are typically a spur to efficiency, because they allow companies to create synergies, boost productivity, diversify risk, and gain economies of scale or scope. These benefits are especially pronounced…

1 min
▶ where her father has gone before

▶ A court in Myanmar is set to rule on Dec. 6 on charges of incitement and violating coronavirus restrictions against Aung San Suu Kyi, who was ousted in February when the army seized power. ▶ Olaf Scholz is expected to be elected by parliament as the next German chancellor in early December. He’ll succeed Angela Merkel, who governed the country for 16 years. ▶ Foreign ministers from the G-7 countries meet in Liverpool, England, Dec. 10-12 to discuss issues including the Covid response and relations with Russia, Iran, and Afghanistan. ▶ The Reserve Bank of Australia sets interest rates on Dec. 7. The bank, which has held rates at a record low for 12 months, is likely to maintain an ultraloose policy for several years. ▶ U.S. inflation data on Dec. 10 will…

6 min
the next accounting fiasco

The collapse of Enron, which filed for bankruptcy protection on Dec. 2, 2001, shook the capital markets and led directly to the demise of Arthur Andersen, the auditing firm that approved Enron’s annual statements and accounting acrobatics. The scandals led to new rules and laws for corporations and auditors that were meant to prevent future frauds of such massive scale. Two decades later, no similar blowups have occurred in U.S. markets. But it’s not clear that investors are any safer today than they were before Enron Corp. failed. At the time of the Enron fiasco, Andersen had already been enmeshed in frauds at Waste Management Inc., Sunbeam Products Inc., and the Baptist Foundation of Arizona. Soon an even bigger fraud would emerge at WorldCom, another Andersen client. In the wake of the…

5 min
ready aim omicron!

Big Pharma’s traditional playbook for developing medicines required years of data collection and trials before a treatment began its lifesaving tenure. But drugmakers last year pulled off the once-unthinkable feat of developing a vaccine against Covid-19 in less than a year. Now they’re racing even faster to adapt those shots to protect against the new omicron variant in as little as six weeks. While it may take almost that long to determine if new vaccines are truly needed to deal with the coronavirus’s latest iteration, waiting simply isn’t an option. This is the scramble that Covid has created. The virus is so destructive that drugmakers have started scientific work to adapt vaccines before it’s even clear the changes will be necessary. The pandemic has allowed pharma giants to leverage mRNA and…

4 min
next on your plate: bug burgers

Diners have increasingly warmed to the idea of burgers made from peas and coconut oil, crab cakes crafted from artichokes and kelp, and chicken nuggets formed with gluten and tapioca starch. Big food producers are betting they’ll soon welcome crickets, beetles, mealworms, and maggots to the mix as well. “Everyone is looking at the environmental impact of sourcing food, so there’s a lot of growth potential,” says Tunyawat Kasemsuwan, group director of innovation at canned-tuna producer Thai Union Group Pcl, which is diversifying into insect proteins. “Chicken and tuna made from vegetables, cellular culture, or insects—we know the demand for it will grow much more than what we’re seeing today.” Although vegetarians wouldn’t eat them—insects are, after all, animals—bug evangelists say the 2,000 or so species of edible critters have a…