Forward in fearThe reasons behind the current stockmarket turmoilFrom Fed tightening to rising wage costs, investors see gloomy prospects aheadAS STOCK-TRADING screens turned red again on January 25th, one trader was heard to quip that at least some things are falling in price. The day’s fall in share prices took the...
Acquired immunityHow is Omicron affecting the global economic recovery?High-frequency data suggest the effect may be limited—and short-livedLATE NOVEMBER almost began to feel like the early days of the pandemic all over again. Global stockmarkets fell by 5% as news of what would come to be known as the Omicron variant filtered...
Less tea, more toothpasteUnilever’s £50bn health chequePurchasing GSK’s consumer-health division may be hard to swallowWHEN UNILEVER bought Bestfoods for $20.3bn at the turn of the millennium, it was one of the largest cash acquisitions ever. After two failed bids, the British consumer-goods giant dug up an extra $2bn to sweeten the...
Flight trackerWhere next for air travel?New covid variants stall aviation’s upward flight pathWORK AND shopping have, for better or worse, been permanently altered by the pandemic. The airline industry hopes that its own covid-19 disruption proves temporary. Luckily for those deprived of holidays, visits to family and friends, or even the...
Free exchangeEconomists are revising their views on robots and jobsThere is little evidence of a pandemic-induced surge in automationWHEN THE pandemic first struck, unemployment soared. Not since the Depression had American joblessness surpassed 14%, as it did in April 2020. But fears of a prolonged period of high unemployment did not...
ButtonwoodWhy the bias for debt over equity is hard to dislodgeWith the preference for debt deeply rooted in financial markets, wholesale reform is riskyTHE NICETIES of corporate finance rarely attract the attention of activists. It is rarer still that those at either end of the political spectrum agree on the need...
On the fringeAmerica’s labour shortages have done little to boost perks for workersLow-paid workers receive more in benefits than before the pandemic. But the disparity with the highly paid is still vastTHE PANDEMIC has fundamentally transformed the American workplace. More people than ever are working from home. Meetings have moved from...
Mixed messagesWhy bank stocks are tumbling even as interest rates climbHigher rates might crimp investment-bank profitsMUCH AS HIGHER milk prices are typically good news for dairy farmers, higher interest rates are meant to be good news for bankers. Conventional lenders make their money on the difference between the interest they pay...
Chain reactionsJust how gummed up are supply chains?A number of measures suggest that disruptions are historically high—and uncertainty lies aheadTHE GENERAL public learned far more about supply chains last year than it probably cared to. A host of disruptions to production and shipping interacted with soaring demand for goods to produce...
In search of masteryCan China create a world-beating AI industry?Don’t hold your breath“SOUTH OF THE Huai river few geese can be seen through the rain and snow.” In classical Chinese this verse is a breakthrough—not in literature but in computing power. The line, composed by an artificial intelligence (AI) language model...
Going green-ishWhat is ExxonMobil’s new climate strategy worth?Big oil’s most reluctant decarboniser lays out its green planDARREN WOODS made some revealing remarks this week about global warming. His ruminations matter in America’s oil industry for he is the boss of ExxonMobil, the largest Western oil major. His firm has historically been...
BartlebyDrinking in the officeDon’t ban, don’t binge and don’t badgerA RATHER GOOD black comedy called “Another Round” depicts what happens when a bunch of disenchanted Danish school teachers constantly top up the levels of alcohol in their blood. At first the experiment goes well: the students respond enthusiastically to their newly...
High scoreWhy Microsoft is splashing $69bn on video gamesThe tech giant’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard is its biggest-ever dealEVEN FOR Microsoft, which boasts a market capitalisation of around $2.3trn, $69bn is a lot of money. On January 18th the firm said it would pay that sum—all of it in cash—for Activision...
Battle of the blockchainsThe race to power the DeFi ecosystem is onWhy Ethereum is losing market shareTO BELIEVERS, OPEN, public blockchains provide a second chance at building a digital economy. The fact that the applications built on top of such blockchains all work with each other, and that the information they...
Free exchangeWill remote work stick after the pandemic?Speakers at the American Economics Association’s annual pow-wow take a shot at the questionBOSTON IS NOT the most popular of winter travel destinations. But many economists were nonetheless disappointed by the news that their profession’s grand annual meetings, scheduled to take place in the...
Taming tigersA corruption probe is only the latest of Chinese insurers’ woesAbout 30% of salespeople have left the industry since 2019WANG BIN has gained the undesirable distinction of becoming China’s first “tiger” of the year. The term refers to a senior official ensnared in a corruption probe (as opposed to a...
ButtonwoodThe faster metabolism of finance, as seen by a veteran brokerPrices are set at the margin. And the marginal trader is a hedge-fund managerA FEW YEARS ago a stranger sidled up to me at a conference. I had been introduced as an equity salesman with over 30 years of experience. “Success...
Aversion therapyThe new government hopes to cure Germans’ distaste the stockmarketPlans include funding a small part of the public-pension scheme through stock investmentTHE 177-PAGE coalition agreement between Germany’s Social Democrats, Free Democrats (FDP) and the Greens contains grand plans to combat climate change and covid-19, and to speed up digitisation. Tucked...
Atom and abroadThe Kazakh crisis is only one threat hanging over the uranium marketA global crunch in nuclear fuel is no longer impossibleKAZAKHSTAN IS OFTEN called the Saudi Arabia of uranium. In fact its market share, at more than 40% of the world’s nuclear fuel, is not far off the share...
SchumpeterTikTok isn’t silly. It’s seriousIt is disrupting America’s social-media landscape“WHEN YOU gaze into TikTok, TikTok gazes into you,” wrote Eugene Wei, a tech blogger, in 2020, explaining the almost clairvoyant nature of TikTok. What the algorithm sees as it gazes into your columnist, a neophyte user, is anyone’s guess: a random...

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