Business & Finance
The Economist Asia Edition

The Economist Asia Edition February 1, 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.

United Kingdom
The Economist Newspaper Limited - Asia Pacific
Read More
51 Issues

In this issue

8 min.
the world this week

Politics A new coronavirus continued to spread rapidly in China. Several large cities were locked down in Hubei province, whose capital, Wuhan, is where the virus broke out. Streets emptied; people stayed at home. However, Wuhan’s mayor said that 5m people had left the city before the quarantine was imposed: some for their usual Chinese New Year trips, others to escape the virus. Some airlines cancelled flights to and from China. Many countries, including America, Britain and Japan, took steps to evacuate their citizens from China. Some businesses scaled back or closed their operations in the country. Cases of Wuhan virus have been detected outside China. Human-to-human transmissions were reported in Germany, Japan, Vietnam and Taiwan. Stockmarkets shivered when it became clear that the disease is spreading rapidly; the S&P 500 had…

5 min.
how bad will it get?

TWO THINGS explain why a new infectious disease is so alarming. One is that, at first, it spreads exponentially. As tens of cases become hundreds and hundreds become thousands, the mathematics run away with you, conjuring speculation about a health-care collapse, social and economic upheaval and a deadly pandemic. The other is profound uncertainty. Sparse data and conflicting reports mean that scientists cannot rule out the worst case—and that lets bad information thrive. So it is with a new coronavirus, known as 2019-nCoV, which has struck in China. The number of reported cases grew from 282 on January 20th to almost 7,800 just nine days later. In that time four reported cases outside mainland China have multiplied to 105 in 19 territories. Doubt clouds fundamental properties of the disease, including how…

5 min.
into the unknown

NOT MUCH will change at 11pm on January 31st. Some 50p pieces proclaiming “peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations” will go into circulation to mark Britain’s departure from the European Union, but people, goods and services will continue to move freely between Britain and the EU, for the difficult business of making a deal on trade and migration has been left to the transition period that lasts until the end of this year. Yet leaving the EU is a huge moment. Britain will be quitting the institutional structure that governs Europe’s single market, which will necessarily imply more friction in its trade relations with a club that takes almost half its exports. Britons will lose the automatic right they now have to live and work across the EU. Brexit has…

3 min.
dead on arrival

THE PROSPECT of peace between Israel and the Palestinians has grown so dim, it is easy to forget that President Donald Trump’s efforts to end the conflict began with much promise. The dealmaker-in-chief vowed to bring fresh thinking to the decades-old feud. “As with any successful negotiation, both sides will have to make compromises,” he told Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, in 2017. Mr Trump’s meeting with Mahmoud Abbas, a few months later, ended with the Palestinian president gushing: “With you we have hope.” What followed, though, was neither bold thinking nor any demand for sacrifices on both sides. Rather, Mr Trump showered Mr Netanyahu, a fellow populist, with political gifts. He recognised the disputed holy city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. His State Department declared that Israeli settlements in the…

3 min.
how the mighty have fallen

IN ITS PRIME Goldman Sachs was exceptional. Fifteen years ago, just before the global financial crisis, the bank easily outshone its Wall Street rivals—winning the most lucrative deals and making the most profitable trades. It printed money, both for shareholders and employees. Although the crisis imperilled the firm along with the rest of the banking industry, it navigated the chaos relatively well. Success allowed it to be haughty—while other banks engaged in the grubby game of sucking up to investors, Goldman remained secretive and enigmatic. How times have changed. This week the firm held its first investor day, led by David Solomon, who took over as chief executive last year. It comes after a long period of underperformance. A dollar invested in Goldman in 2010 would be worth just $1.60 today.…

3 min.

ARISING NUMBER of girls wish to be boys and boys wish to be girls and a rising number of them are taking drugs to block puberty. In Britain cases of children being treated for gender dysphoria by the National Health Service remain rare, but in the past decade they have climbed at a rate of 50% year on year (see chart). In America the number of gender clinics treating children has increased from just one in 2007 to perhaps 50 today. This has bothered lawmakers. In America several states want to ban giving puberty-blocking drugs to children (see United States section). In Britain the high court is considering the judicial review of a clinic which complainants believe has been handing out puberty blockers too freely (see Britain section). The use of such…