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The Economist

October 23, 2021

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Country:
United States
Language:
English
Publisher:
The Economist Newspaper Limited
Frequency:
Weekly
$7.99
$189
51 Issues

in this issue

8 min
the world this week

Politics Police investigating the murder of a Conservative MP in Britain were treating the incident as an act of terrorism. Sir David Amess, who represented the town of Southend, to the east of London, was stabbed to death while holding one of his weekly consultations with constituents. The suspect is a 25-year-old man born in Britain to a Somali family. He had reportedly once been referred to a programme that tries to turn youngsters away from radicalisation. Time for Plan B? Health-service leaders in Britain called for the immediate reimposition of pandemic measures, such as masks in public places and work-fromhome orders. Deaths from covid-19 are at their highest level since March, though still less than 10% of the peak in January. The government said infections could reach 100,000 a day over the…

econusa211023_article_010_01_01
5 min
instant economics

DOES ANYONE really understand what is going on in the world economy? The pandemic has made plenty of observers look clueless. Few predicted $80 oil, let alone fleets of container ships waiting outside Californian and Chinese ports. As covid-19 let rip in 2020, forecasters overestimated how high unemployment would be by the end of the year. Today prices are rising faster than expected and nobody is sure if inflation and wages will spiral upward. For all their equations and theories, economists are often fumbling in the dark, with too little information to pick the policies that would maximise jobs and growth. Yet, as we report this week, the age of bewilderment is starting to give way to greater enlightenment (see Briefing). The world is on the brink of a real-time revolution…

econusa211023_article_013_01_01
5 min
the crime scene at the heart of africa

LITTLE MORE than six decades ago, as Nigeria was nearing independence, even those who were soon to govern Africa’s largest country had their doubts about whether it would hold together. British colonists had drawn a border around land that was home to more than 250 ethnic groups. Obafemi Awolowo, a politician of that era, evoked Metternich, fretting that “Nigeria is not a nation. It is a mere geographical expression.” The early years of independence seemed to prove him right. Coup followed coup. Ethnic pogroms helped spark a civil war that cost 1m lives, as the south-eastern region calling itself Biafra tried to break away and was ruthlessly crushed. Military rule was the norm until 1999. Despite this inauspicious start, Nigeria is now a powerhouse. Home to one in six sub-Saharan Africans,…

econusa211023_article_014_01_01
3 min
don’t jump the gun

BRITAIN IS UNIQUELY exposed to the malign forces troubling the world economy. It gets two-fifths of its energy from natural gas, which is in short supply. Trade flows are worth more than half of its GDP, making bunged-up supply chains particularly painful. Brexit has exacerbated its labour shortage and disrupted trade further. It even has a high rate of covid-19 infections, posing a lingering threat to consumer confidence, though more than 90% of the population has antibodies against the disease. Could a central-bank mistake soon be added to the list of problems? The Bank of England has encouraged markets to expect interest-rate rises sooner than in other big rich countries. In mid-September investors began betting that interest rates would start rising in December. This week comments by Andrew Bailey, the bank’s…

econusa211023_article_016_01_01
3 min
an october revolution

CORRUPTION, AUTOCRACY, overbearing government—these were the perils many hoped eastern Europe was escaping when its fledgling democracies joined the European Union in the early 2000s. Instead, the rest of Europe now worries, the eastern members have simply smuggled these vices into the EU. One of the biggest offenders is Poland. First the government in Warsaw stacked its constitutional court with pliant judges and then got them to rule that the Polish constitution can override the European treaties—an assault on a basic principle of EU membership. Viktor Orban, Hungary’s long-serving prime minister, has bullied political opponents, critical media outlets and gay Hungarians, among others. Sleaze, meanwhile, is smothering economies across much of the former Soviet empire. The most motivated citizens vote with their feet and seek a better future in the West, hollowing…

3 min
be swift, be bold

IN THE PAST few years the Western-led infrastructure behind globalisation has fallen into disrepair even as China has been building credible alternatives. The World Trade Organisation is in tatters, the IMF and World Bank are struggling for relevance and tarnished by scandal, and no one can agree on global rules to govern technology. There is an exception to this dismal picture: the global payments system that underpins the dominance of Western currencies, particularly the dollar. Over the past year one of its main networks, SWIFT, carried $140trn of transactions, a record level and the equivalent of about 150% of global GDP. It is an impressive sum but more must be done to modernise the payments architecture if its pre-eminence is to last. giving countries an incentive to develop alternatives. In addition,…

econusa211023_article_017_01_01