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The Economist

The Economist January 30, 2021

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United States
The Economist Newspaper Limited
51 Issues

in this issue

5 min.
party of colour

BORIS JOHNSON is such a vivid embodiment of white privilege that it is easy to forget how diverse his cabinet is. In 2005 the Conservatives had only two minority MPs. Today two of the four great offices of state, the Treasury and the Home Office, are run by Asian-Britons, and diversity is so entrenched that black and minority ethnic (BAME) Tories are replacing other BAME Tories in senior positions: Rishi Sunak, the son of Kenyan Asian immigrants, succeeded Sajid Javid, the son of Pakistani immigrants, at the Treasury, while Kwasi Kwarteng, the son of Ghanaian immigrants, succeeded the Indian-born Alok Sharma as secretary of state for business (Mr Sharma remains in the cabinet as president of the forthcoming UN Climate Change Conference). There are plenty of other talented ethnic-minority MPs rising…

8 min.
last of the daredevils

Before covid-19 hit, life in rich countries was safer than ever. So why do some people risk their lives for fun? LAURENT FRAT is standing on top of a ridge line in the French alps, preparing to leap down to the valley below. If something goes wrong, he will die. “If I can’t find the landing area it will find me,” he jokes. He claims not to be nervous, although he admits that he tries not to think about his family before he jumps. After checking that the photographer is ready, he is off, arms outstretched, head forward, leaping into the void. As the air rushes into his nylon suit, it gives him a bit of lift, allowing him to feel as if he is flying (in reality, he is merely falling…

5 min.

All families argue. Some of the most explosive rows happen inside Germany’s powerhouse companies GERMAN FIRMS have, like their country itself, a reputation for being staid. Look closer, though, and many brim with intrigue. Albert Darboven, a coffee tycoon, pushed his own son Arthur out of JJ Darboven and tried to adopt a friend as his heir and successor. The five children from the first marriage of Rudolf-August Oetker, grandson of the eponymous founder of a pudding dynasty, and the three offspring from his third have been at each other’s throats for years. The feud among the billionaire scions of the Tengelmann retail empire led to speculation that Karl-Erivan Haub, the group’s fifth-generation CEO, faked his own death in a skiing accident. This month his brother, Georg Haub, reportedly withdrew the…

3 min.
stockholm syndrome

Corporate Sweden resists its government’s Sino-scepticism COMMERCIAL TIES between Ericsson and China date back to the 1890s, when the Swedish company sold 2,000 telephones to Shanghai. It has been welcome in the Chinese market ever since, most recently selling speedy 5G telecoms gear. Now, fears Borje Ekholm, Ericsson’s boss, those bonds are in jeopardy, as a result of the Swedish government’s anti-Chinese turn. After centuries of cordial relations—from the Swedish East India Company’s ships sailing between Gothenburg and Guangzhou in the 18th century to Sweden’s early recognition of the People’s Republic in 1950 and its blessing in 2010 of the Chinese takeover of Volvo, a much-loved car-maker—the mood has changed. Last October the Swedish telecoms regulator barred Huawei, Ericsson’s Chinese rival, from the country’s speedy 5G mobile networks, citing “theft of technology”…

3 min.
big tech down under

IT WAS QUITE the dust-up. On January 22nd Mel Silva, Google’s managing director in Australia, claimed before the country’s Senate that a set of laws it was pondering were so damaging that, if they came into force, the firm would have “no real choice” but to withdraw its search engine from the country. Lawmakers condemned Ms Silva’s remarks as “blackmail”. Scott Morrison, the prime minister, headed for the nearest flagpole: “Australia makes our rules for things you can do in Australia,” he said. “We don’t respond to threats.” At issue are new rules that would force big tech to pay publishers to display their news alongside search results and social-media posts. The argument has been simmering for years. News publishers, in Australia and elsewhere, have struggled in the past two decades…

4 min.
abrahamic profits

Emirati and Israeli bosses cannot wait to do business ISRAEL AND the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have maintained unofficial relations for a while, despite a half-century boycott in much of the Arab world of the Jewish state in its midst. So, too, with commercial ties. Goods moved between the two economies, but only by passing through intermediaries in third countries first. This made sense for high-margin products like technology, an Israeli forte, or diamonds, where the rigmarole could tack on a week’s delay and a surcharge of 1% for extra bank fees and insurance. Trade was pointless for most other businesses. No longer. On January 24th Israel opened an embassy in Abu Dhabi, the UAE’s capital, as part of the Abraham accords, a diplomatic deal brokered by America and signed in September.…