Free exchangeCan too many brainy people be a dangerous thing?Some academics argue that unhappy elites lead to political instabilityTEN YEARS ago Peter Turchin, a scientist at the University of Connecticut, made a startling prediction in Nature. “The next decade is likely to be a period of growing instability in the United...
ButtonwoodThe tale of Iran’s stockmarket bubble is familiar—but also strangeThere is more to it than savings having nowhere else to goAROUND FIVE years ago emerging-market investors were greatly excited by the prospects for Iran’s stockmarket. The lifting of sanctions in exchange for limits on its nuclear programme was in sight. Exports...
Dialling downJapan’s cosy telecoms firms are being told to lower pricesRate cuts to bring prices for customers more in line with other developed markets will hurt marginsWHEN SUGA YOSHIHIDE emerged as the likeliest to succeed Abe Shinzo as Japan’s prime minister, telecoms bosses in Tokyo let out a collective groan. As...
BartlebyQuestionable behaviourCompanies are relying more and more on psychometric testsHERE IS A test. Assign a score of 1 to 5, where 1 is “strongly agree” and 5 is “strongly disagree”, to the following statement: “I really care about my work.” If you have answered that kind of question before, you have...
Ant agonistesThe world’s biggest IPO is now the world’s biggest suspended IPORegulators spoil Ant’s party less than 48 hours before it starts tradingJACK MA WAS in a triumphant mood shortly after Ant Group, his Chinese fintech firm, priced its initial public offering—set to be the world’s biggest ever, with almost $40bn...
Visa-free travelAmerican trustbusters force Visa to back off PlaidThe Department of Justice signals a new, pre-emptive approach to antitrustIN EARLY 2019 an executive at Visa, a giant payments firm, sketched a picture of an island volcano. He scribbled the current capabilities of Plaid, a Silicon Valley fintech firm founded in 2012,...
The home straightNgozi Okonjo-Iweala is the favourite to lead the WTOThe leadership race tells you something about thorny trade issuesMEMBERS OF THE World Trade Organisation (WTO) are not known for co-operating with each other. So when in June they began the process of choosing a new director-general, many feared deadlock. But...
A new career in a new townHow Berlin has become a centre for European venture capitalOnce edgy, the tech scene is in danger of going mainstreamFOR BRITS of a certain age and inclination, Berlin is a city that is forever linked with David Bowie. When he lived there in the late...
SchumpeterShould big tech save newspapers?No. They need to save themselvesIN THE EARLY 17th century the best place to gather news in London was the old cathedral of St Paul’s, a place that buzzed with gossip on politics and was described—unusually for a house of worship—as “the ear’s brothel”. Some of the...
From acute to chronicThe IMF predicts that the world economy will suffer from “long covid”Some lost growth will not be recoveredTHE IMF’S latest forecasts, released on October 13th, spell out just how long the economic harm from covid-19 will last. America’s gdp will return to its 2019 level only in 2022;...
The iPhone gets up to snuffRather later than rivals, Apple unveils a first 5G-enabled phoneHAVING more or less invented the smartphone in 2007, Apple has lately lagged behind other gadget-makers. On October 13th it caught up, unveiling its first 5G-enabled iPhones. Expect sales to pick up as users who have put...
Goalless defeatWhy no one wants to broadcast France’s Ligue 1The beautiful game is in an ugly financial situationIF A FOOTBALL match is played but no fans watch it, either in the stands or on television, did it really happen? The quandary might once have amused Albert Camus, a fine goalkeeper who...
Hero to villainHow the GameStop saga threatens RobinhoodThe platform’s users are furious, and regulators and lawmakers are on its caseFROM THE kerb it does not look like much. The low-slung terracotta building is a far cry from the futuristic spaceship-style campuses favoured by tech firms down the road in Palo Alto,...
MetamorphosisHow Ping An, an insurer, became a fintech super-appCould others follow the Chinese firm’s lead?A JOB INTERVIEW at Ping An is a strange experience. To become an agent at the insurance group, the world’s largest by market capitalisation, candidates must take questions from an intelligent machine. As they respond, their voice,...
Free exchangeNew research shows the robots are coming for jobs—but stealthilyLook beneath the aggregate economic numbers, and change is afootTHE YEAR is 2021, and honestly there ought to be more robots. It was a decade ago that two scholars of technology, Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, published “Race Against the Machine”,...
The fiscal questionWhat next for the EU’s fiscal rules?The suspension of its rule book could offer space for a wider rethinkTHE SCHLESWIG-HOLSTEIN question, a 19th-century diplomatic teaser, was said to be so complicated that of the three people who had ever understood it, one had forgotten it all, another was dead...

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