Business & Finance
The Economist Asia Edition

The Economist Asia Edition December 14, 2019

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 - Asia Pacific
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51 Issues

in this issue

8 min.
the world this week

Politics The House of Representatives presented two articles of impeachment against Donald Trump: that the president abused his power by pressing Ukraine to dig up dirt on Joe Biden, and that he obstructed Congress by insisting that key witnesses cannot testify. The votes on those charges are expected to be swift and along party lines in the House. Mr Trump could be impeached before Christmas, setting up a trial early next year in the Senate, which will in all likelihood acquit him. Officials in Jersey City, which lies across the Hudson river from Manhattan, said three people murdered in a kosher market may have been targeted for anti-Semitic reasons. The two shooters, linked to a black hate group that considers itself the true Israelites, also killed a policeman before entering the store.…

4 min.
green envy

MOST GOVERNMENTS are criticised for failing to do enough about climate change. Much rarer is the public body that is doing too much. Yet central banks, the institutions whose job it is to control inflation, tame the economic cycle and police the financial system, are in danger of falling into this lonely category. Since the global financial crisis, their power in pursuit of those limited economic goals has grown substantially. Now they face pressure to wield it in order to save the planet. Many are keen to rise to the challenge (see Finance section). A global network of central bankers, led by those in Britain, France and the Netherlands, is working on standardised methods for incorporating climate risks into the stress-tests that banks must pass. Some insurers have already been put…

3 min.
undermining india’s secular constitution

THE IDEA seems anodyne, even laudable. India is amending its laws to make it easier for refugees from neighbouring countries to gain citizenship. The problem is in the fine print. While Hindus, Parsis, Jains, Sikhs, Buddhists and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan will be put on a fast track to naturalisation, Muslims, Jews and atheists will receive no such benefit. That defeats the point of the change, since minority Muslim sects and secularists are among the most persecuted groups in those countries. Worse, it is a calculated insult to India’s 200m Muslims. And most alarming of all, the change undermines the secular foundations of Indian democracy. The Lok Sabha or lower house of the Indian parliament, where the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) enjoys a large majority, approved the relevant…

3 min.
the digital dogs of war

THE ARMS trade is lucrative and controversial. Over $80bnworth of weapons are exported by Western countries each year. The business is governed by a mesh of rules designed to prevent—or at least limit—proliferation and misuse. This system is imperfect, but does have some bite. In Britain court cases have contested the legality of weapons sales to Saudi Arabia because they may have been used against civilians in Yemen. Germany froze exports to the kingdom in 2018. These days, though, physical weapons such as missiles, guns and tanks are only part of the story. A growing, multi-billion-dollar industry exports “intrusion software” designed to snoop on smartphones, desktop computers and servers (see Business section). There is compelling evidence that such software is being used by oppressive regimes to spy on and harass their…

5 min.

The debate on inequality Your briefing on inequality went beyond official statistics to look at some of the latest academic research (“Measuring the 1%”, November 30th). You pitched this new work as a repudiation of the perception that income and wealth inequality have grown over recent decades. We see this latest research, however, as just another step in a lively debate in America and elsewhere. In 2018, for example, 9,000 British taxpayers received £34bn ($45bn) in capital gains, averaging nearly £4m each. Yet this is excluded from official income statistics, which only capture sums covered by income tax. Unlike many other countries, Britain still relies almost exclusively on survey data for wealth, even though we know this underestimates the fortunes of the very rich. In many ways, the current debate in America is…

13 min.
the die is cast

ON JULY 26TH, the day after President Donald Trump called the president of Ukraine to ask him for a favour, America’s ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland, went out to lunch in Kyiv. The ambassador, who secured his position after donating $1m to the Trump Presidential Inaugural Committee, placed a call to the White House while on the terrace outside a restaurant. He held the phone far enough away from his ear that David Holmes, a counsellor for political affairs at the embassy in Kyiv lunching with him, could overhear what was said. “I heard Ambassador Sondland greet the president and explain he was calling from Kyiv,” Mr Holmes testified to the House intelligence committee on November 15th. “I heard President Trump then clarify that Ambassador Sondland was in Ukraine. Ambassador…