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Business & Finance
The Economist

The Economist February 8, 2020

Get The Economist digital magazine subscription today and explore domestic and international issues, business, finance, current affairs, science, technology and the arts.

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

In this issue

8 min.
the world this week

Politics The American Senate acquitted Donald Trump of the impeachment charges laid against him, bringing a swift end to the trial of the president after the Republican leadership decided that no witnesses should be called. Mitt Romney was the only Republican to vote for conviction, denouncing Mr Trump for “an appalling abuse of public trust”. The day before the verdict Mr Trump used his state-of-the-union speech to laud a “great American comeback” under his administration. Congress was in a poisonous mood. Mr Trump refused to shake the hand of Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker. She ripped up a copy of his speech after he finished speaking. The Iowa caucuses, the first stage in the race to nominate presidential candidates, were a mess. The state’s Democrats cast their votes for a champion to take…

5 min.
state of the democrats

IT WAS A devastating contrast. As the Iowa caucus turned into a fiasco (Democrats blamed the software), President Donald Trump hailed an “American comeback” in the state-of-the-union message and basked in his acquittal by the Senate over impeachment. With the economy roaring and his approval ratings ticking up, Mr Trump looks likelier than ever to triumph in November. Compare that with the Democrats after Iowa, in which no candidate won the backing of much more than a quarter of caucusers. Democrats agree that ending Mr Trump’s bombastic tenure is their priority. But their champions, now trudging round New Hampshire eking out votes before next week’s primary (see United States section), are starkly divided over what to offer Americans in his place. The left argues that America has stopped working for most…

5 min.
meet the new boss

ON PAPER THIS is a golden age for bosses. Chief executives have vast power. The 500 people who run America’s largest listed firms hold sway over 26m staff. Profits are high and the economy is purring. The pay is fantastic: the median of those CEOs pockets $13m a year. Sundar Pichai at Alphabet has just got a deal worth up to $246m by 2023. The risks are tolerable: your chances of being fired or retiring in any year are about 10%. CEOs often get away with a dreadful performance. In April Ginni Rometty will stand down from IBM after eight years in which Big Blue’s shares have trailed the stockmarket by 202%. Adam Neumann got high in private jets and lost $4bn before being ousted from WeWork last year. The…

3 min.
three strikes

AS THEY REPAY their debt to society, many Hong Kong prisoners are put to work making useful items like road signs, uniforms, furniture—and the surgical masks that now obscure the faces of almost everyone on the city’s subdued streets. To help stop the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus, which has infected over 28,000 people worldwide, prisoners will now be employed round the clock, boosting mask production by as much as 60%. That, sadly, is one of the few economic ventures that is still expanding in this thrice-struck city. Its GDP shrank last year for the first time in a decade, thanks to the trade war and anti-government protests. The coronavirus now poses a third threat. Some economists have slashed their growth forecasts for Hong Kong by more than for the mainland…

3 min.
a tale of two elections

IN THE PAST 13 months Congo and Malawi have both held rotten elections. In Malawi tally sheets arrived at a central vote-counting station having been altered with Tipp-Ex, a correction fluid. The incumbent president, Peter Mutharika, narrowly “won”. In the Democratic Republic of Congo an independent tally organised by Catholic bishops has suggested that an opposition leader, Martin Fayulu, won about 60% of the vote, three times as many as Félix Tshisekedi. But Mr Tshisekedi was declared the winner and sworn in as president in January 2019. What happened after these two pilfered polls was very different, however (see Middle East & Africa section). In Malawi this week the constitutional court overturned the result and ordered a new vote to be held within 150 days. This is only the second time…

3 min.
high speed ahead

FOR THE country that invented railways, Britain has shown remarkably little interest in them lately. New networks have been built around Europe in the past few decades, but the only significant stretch of track laid in Britain in a century is the 67-mile (107km) HS1 railway that links London to the Channel Tunnel. Indeed, the country has half as much track as it had in 1963. Yet while Britain has an almost American reluctance to invest in railways, its commuting patterns are European: 10% of journeys are by rail, compared with 9% in Germany and less than 1% in America. The result is a lot of angry commuters. Britain’s big problem is that, because it has built no new high-speed lines, it runs fast intercity trains on the same track as…