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The EconomistThe Economist

The Economist September 7, 2019

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Country:
United States
Language:
English
Publisher:
The Economist Newspaper Limited
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51 Issues

IN THIS ISSUE

access_time8 min.
the world this week

Politics The squabble over Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union intensified in Parliament. MPs in the House of Commons defied the government by passing a bill that seeks a delay to Brexit until January 31st if a deal has not been passed in the chamber by October 19th. Boris Johnson purged the 21 MPs who rebelled against him from the Conservative Party, leaving the prime minister in charge of a government 43 short of a working majority. Mr Johnson now wants to hold an election. He has a lead in the polls—but so did Theresa May before a setback at an election in 2017. In what many considered to be a pre-election giveaway, the government outlined plans to increase spending, which for the first time in 11 years would enlarge the size…

access_time5 min.
assad’s hollow victory

“ASSAD OR WE burn the country.” For years Bashar al-Assad’s troops have daubed that phrase onto walls in the towns they recapture. The insurgents pushed the dictator to the brink. But Mr Assad shrugged off the empty threats of Western leaders, and enlisted the help of Iran and Russia. True to his slogan, he destroyed whole cities and gassed and starved his own people. What rebels remain are holed up in Idlib province. It, too, will soon fall. Against all the odds, the monster has won. Yet it is a hollow victory. Far from bringing order to the country, as the Russians and Iranians claim, Mr Assad has displaced half the population. Eight years of civil war have destroyed the economy and cost 500,000 lives. Mr Assad has nothing good to…

access_time3 min.
the unconservative party

BORIS JOHNSON has been Conservative leader for little more than a month, and until this week had appeared in Parliament as prime minister only once. But that did not stop him carrying out the biggest purge in the party’s history on September 3rd. After a backbench rebellion led to a resounding defeat of his uncompromising Brexit policy, 21 moderate Conservative MPs, including seven former cabinet members and a grandson of Winston Churchill, had the whip withdrawn and were told they would not be allowed to stand as Tories at the next election. It was the most dramatic step in a long process: the transformation of Britain’s ruling party from conservatives into radical populists (see Britain section). The capture of the Tories by fanatics determined to pursue a no-deal Brexit has caused…

access_time4 min.
parting gifts

IF MARIO DRAGHI had been hoping for a quiet few months before he retires from the European Central Bank (ECB) at the end of October, he has been disappointed. He has been in charge for eight high-wire years. In 2012 he quelled panic about the break-up of the euro zone by pledging to do “whatever it takes” to save the single currency. In 2015 he introduced quantitative easing (QE, creating money to buy bonds) in the face of fierce opposition from northern member states. Now the euro zone is flirting with recession and governments are not helping by being slow to loosen fiscal policy. At the central bank’s meeting on September 12th, Mr Draghi must dust himself down one last time. Investors’ jitters about a recession and the impact of the…

access_time3 min.
a superclassic crisis

BEFORE HE BECAME president of Argentina in 2015, Mauricio Macri was president of a Buenos Aires football club, Boca Juniors. On September 1st the team faced its crosstown adversary, River Plate, in the superclásico, as contests between the sides are called. The two armies of fans at last had something to agree about. As they made their way to the stadium, Mr Macri’s government announced an emergency reimposition of currency controls. Almost everyone believes that the new policy marks the end, in effect, of his time in office. It also confirms the horrible reality that Argentina has once again become a financial outcast. The controls limit the amount of dollars that Argentines can buy and force exporters to repatriate their earnings. They come shortly after the government said it would delay…

access_time3 min.
mind control

THE CONTEST between China and America, the world’s two superpowers, has many dimensions, from skirmishes over steel quotas to squabbles over student visas. One of the most alarming and least understood is the race towards artificial-intelligence-enabled warfare. Both countries are investing large sums in militarised artificial intelligence (AI), from autonomous robots to software that gives generals rapid tactical advice in the heat of battle. China frets that America has an edge thanks to the breakthroughs of Western companies, such as their successes in sophisticated strategy games. America fears that China’s autocrats have free access to copious data and can enlist local tech firms on national service. Neither side wants to fall behind. As Jack Shanahan, a general who is the Pentagon’s point man for AI, put it last month, “What…

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