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Business & Finance
The Economist Asia Edition

The Economist Asia Edition February 15, 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.

Country:
United Kingdom
Language:
English
Publisher:
The Economist Newspaper Limited - Asia Pacific
Frequency:
Weekly
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51 Issues

in this issue

8 min.
the world this week

Politics A general election in Ireland produced a shock win for Sinn Fein, formerly the political wing of the IRA, a terrorist group. The party took the most first-choice votes, but ended up coming second in terms of seats in the Dail (parliament). Ireland now faces weeks or months of negotiations to produce a new government, which might bring Sinn Fein to power for the first time, as part of a coalition. Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer abruptly resigned as leader of Germany’s ruling Christian Democrats, and said she will not be a candidate to succeed Angela Merkel as the country’s chancellor. This followed a damaging row over the party’s conduct in the eastern state of Thuringia, where it in effect ended up working with the xenophobic Alternative for Germany. Boris Johnson, Britain’s prime minister, gave…

5 min.
could it really happen?

FOR MOST of the century since Ireland gained independence from Britain, control of the country has alternated between two parties. On February 8th that duopoly was smashed apart, when Sinn Fein got the largest share of first-preference votes in the republic’s general election. The party, with links to the Irish Republican Army (IRA), which bombed and shot its way through the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, won with a left-wing platform that included promises to spend more on health and housing. Yet it did not hide its desire for something a lot more ambitious. “Our core political objective”, its manifesto read, “is to achieve Irish Unity and the referendum on Unity which is the means to secure this.” Scottish independence has grabbed headlines since Brexit, but it is time to recognise the…

3 min.
bad heir day

IT HOLDS HARSH views about immigrants, worries loudly about racial purity and detests the European Union (EU). For all these reasons, the Alternative for Germany (AfD), a far-right party, is considered toxic in its own country. Any mainstream German politician who dares get too close to it is tainted. Nonetheless, many are tempted, for the AfD is popular, particularly in the disadvantaged east of the country, where in each of three state elections last year it took around a quarter of the vote. To many voters there, the party’s claims that immigrants, liberals and the EU are to blame for Germany’s problems sound plausible. Many centre-right politicians would like to woo the same voters with watered-down versions of the same arguments. Some even think that it would make sense to…

4 min.
viral slowdown

WHEN SHOCKS hit the global economy, Wall Street looks to history to see what will happen next. The outbreak in China of covid-19, a respiratory disease, invites a comparison to the last one, SARS. In that outbreak in 2003 China suffered a sharp hit to its growth, followed by a strong rebound. Although covid-19 has now claimed more lives than SARS, investors remain optimistic that its economic effects will follow a similar path. On February 13th Hubei province, centre of the outbreak, announced 14,840 new confirmed cases, a sharp rise. That was because it suddenly started including CT-scan diagnoses, not just specific tests for the virus. Although the statistical fog is thick, indicators such as the fall in new cases outside Hubei and the total of suspected cases suggest that the…

3 min.
shel-no

FOR MUCH of the past decade the Federal Reserve has operated without all its seven governors. Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump have struggled to find nominees whom the Senate, which must approve appointments to the Fed, finds acceptable. On February 13th, after we went to press, Mr Trump’s latest candidates for the job—Judy Shelton and Christopher Waller—were due to appear before the Senate Banking Committee for a grilling. Mr Waller, head of research at the St Louis Fed, is a perfectly good candidate. Unfortunately Ms Shelton, a former think-tanker, adviser to Mr Trump and official at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, is not fit for the Fed. Whatever she says, the Senate should reject her nomination. The problem with Ms Shelton is not her belief, shared by Mr…

3 min.
the real-estate racket

THE STAKES are high. Along with getting married and choosing a career, buying or selling a home is one of the biggest decisions most people make. In America, especially, the sums are vast. In total the country’s residential property is worth $34trn—as much as the value of all its publicly listed firms—and last year people traded properties worth $1.5trn. Yet compared with other industries and other countries, buying and selling property in America is cumbersome—and extraordinarily expensive. In an industry crying out for technological disruption, the only revolutionary change over the past decade has been the rise of celebrity estate agents who star in reality TV shows including “Million Dollar Listing” and “Flip or Flop”. The scale of the commissions extracted by the real-estate industry in America is jaw-dropping. Fees run…