Business & Finance
The Economist Asia Edition

The Economist Asia Edition December 21, 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.

United Kingdom
The Economist Newspaper Limited - Asia Pacific
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51 Issues

in this issue

3 min.
maxed out

IN MARCH A Boeing 737 MAX aircraft crashed in Ethiopia, just six months after a similar accident in Indonesia. Nearly 350 people were killed in the two disasters, which revealed a flaw in the MAX’s flight-control system and put into question a vast industrial enterprise. Airlines are relying on the delivery of thousands of MAX planes over the next decade or so. Boeing was expected to make up a large share of its future profits from the MAX. The firm is one of America’s biggest exporters and at least a million people work for it or for its suppliers. Since March Boeing’s response has been an ugly mixture of remorse, evasion and swagger, as it has gambled that it can get the MAX, and its business, rapidly back in the air.…

4 min.
boris johnson’s northern strategy

HAVING WON scores of former Labour strongholds across the north of England in 2019’s general election, Boris Johnson is determined to offer his new voters something in return. “We will repay your trust,” he promised on a triumphant visit to his new turf on December 14th. Northerners have heard this kind of talk before. David Cameron’s government promised a “northern powerhouse” economy—only for the idea to fall by the wayside under Theresa May. After the Brexit referendum of 2016 there was much talk of the need to look after “left-behind” places that had voted Leave—instead the government spent three years focusing on its battles in Westminster. Yet with his newly remade Conservative Party, Mr Johnson relies on the north like no recent Tory leader (see Britain section). If he is…

3 min.
mean streets

“I HAVE SLEPT on the Embankment,” wrote George Orwell in 1933, adding that, despite the noise and the wet and the cold, it was “much better than not sleeping at all”. Under the nearby Charing Cross bridge, Orwell reported that “50 men were waiting, mirrored in the shivering puddles.” Nine decades on and Charing Cross and the Embankment are once again full of rough sleepers, even during the coldest days of December. Across London their numbers have more than tripled since 2010. It is a pattern found in much of the rich world. Almost every European country is seeing a rise in the number of homeless people, including those who live in temporary accommodation, as well as the smaller number who live on the streets. Homelessness across America is in decline,…

15 min.
setting type

A FEW YEARS ago Russell Maret, a New York artist, found himself puzzling over a question. In the 1920s and 1930s some preindustrial fonts were revived by Stanley Morison, a great British typographer. They transformed the quality of book-printing. But in the process of reviving them, Morison changed them. When he created the Poliphilus font from the great printer Aldus Manutius’s edition of “The Dream of Poliphilus” (1499), for instance, he corrected the alignment. Mr Maret is critical of these corrections. “Aldus’s types weren’t misaligned because he was some old-timey printer. He was getting exactly what he wanted.” Was it, Mr Maret wondered, the inherent technological limitations of the early 20th century that led the revivalists to want to standardise old typefaces? Or some broader mechanical mindset? The only way for him…

7 min.
the pivot

ACCOMPANIED ONLY by the night-time striddling of cicadas and the squeaky pedal on your borrowed bicycle, you head west through cabbage and sugarcane towards red neon signage on the horizon. By the time you reach the fields’ end, the hum of air-filtration systems drowns out the insects. Five factory buildings loom in the darkness behind steel fences. Stray dogs roam between parked cars; sprinklers water the sumac trees planted at the edge of the facility. High-tension wires dive down into a substation from steel pylons, bringing with them enough megawatts to power a small city. Some of the water evaporates from warm concrete walkways, wafting an artificial petrichor scent over entrance D2, the gate in the north-west corner of the compound which leads to a sixth factory as yet only half…

10 min.
the middle-c kingdom

ONE LOVE story began in the 1930s, on a road of magnificent Western-style villas on the tiny Chinese island of Gulangyu. Cai Pijie, a lad in his 20s, walked daily past the open window of a young lady he had admired from afar. She regularly practised the piano, an instrument then unheard of in much of China, and the notes floated out in the warm southern air. Entranced, Cai wrote her a letter. “Please play Ignace Leybach’s ‘Fifth Nocturne’ if you love me.” Weeks passed before one day her piano answered, and their courtship began. They married. As Cai grew old in the 1980s, his son, Cai Wanghuai, played the nocturne to comfort him. It was the last piece of music he heard before he died. The younger Cai had by…