Sir Martin Sorrell leaves the world’s biggest ad company in a sorry state

DURING his spectacular rise from London beancounter to the globe-trotting boss of WPP, the advertising powerhouse he created out of a backstreet wire-basket and trolley company, Sir Martin Sorrell was rarely sentimental. The man...

Sir Martin Sorrell leaves WPP in a sorry state

DURING his spectacular rise from London beancounter to the globe-trotting boss of WPP, the advertising powerhouse he created out of a backstreet wire-basket and trolley company, Sir Martin Sorrell was rarely sentimental. The man...

A potential merger between IAG and Norwegian should worry flyers

WHEN flag carriers such as British Airways (BA) ruled the skies, only the rich could afford to fly across the Atlantic. That was until Freddie Laker, a British entrepreneur, came along. His dream was...

Tax cuts and higher interest rates help boost banks’ earnings

SO THIS is how normality feels. Between April 13th and April 18th America’s biggest banks reported a strong set of first-quarter earnings, with a helping hand from the taxman. Some are more profitable than...

Hong Kong defends its dollar peg in both directions

THE Hong Kong dollar is one of the most and least manipulated monies in the world. For over 34 years the territory’s monetary authority, the HKMA, has kept it pegged to America’s currency at...

America’s Treasury refrains from naming any currency manipulators

MOST governments are happy when foreigners want their bonds, especially when those foreigners are long-term holders, like central banks. But America is different. It worries that some foreign governments buy its debt to keep...

Indicators that signal financial-market trouble are flashing

WATCHING financial markets can be like watching a horror film. A character walks into the darkness alone. A floorboard creaks. The latest spooky sign is the spread between the three-month dollar London interbank offered...

Economists still lack a proper understanding of business cycles

THE aftermath of the 2007-08 financial crisis ought to have been a moment of triumph for economics. Lessons learned from the 1930s prevented the collapse of global finance and trade, and resulted in a...

Coco bonds have not lived up to their promise

DURING the financial crisis, Western governments poured hundreds of billions of dollars into their banks to avert collapse. The search for ways to avoid future bail-outs started before the turmoil ended. One of the...

A Victorian survivor in fund management

WHEN the Foreign & Colonial Government Trust was launched in 1868, The Economist had its doubts. “The shape is very peculiar,” we worried, adding that “the exact idea upon which it starts has never...

After a good run of growth, China’s economy braces for bumps

JUST a few years ago Wuhan, a sprawling metropolis in the middle reaches of the Yangtze River, exemplified China’s economic woes. Municipal debt had soared. The most senior local official was known as “Mr...

Deutsche Bank gets a new chief executive

THE supervisory board at Deutsche Bank, Germany’s biggest lender, has been sounding out replacements for its chief executive for weeks. On April 8th it made its choice: Christian Sewing, an experienced insider. He starts...

The departure of the VW boss heralds a big shake-up

From dieselgate to Diess?MOST chief executives relish a jump in their company’s share price. But spare a thought for Volkswagen’s Matthias Müller as he watched the gauge of value leap by 4.5% on April...

American sanctions, and fears over Syria, roil Russian markets

ON APRIL 6th America imposed harsh new sanctions on Russia in response to its “malign activity” abroad. Rattled investors sent stocks tumbling when the Moscow exchange reopened on April 9th. The principal stockmarket index...

How developing countries weave social safety nets

SOUP kitchens serve the needy for free; restaurants serve the hungry for money. In parts of South Asia, eateries near mosques sometimes fall into a third category. They feed the poor sitting patiently outside,...

America’s gripes with China make a deal hard to imagine

Trade warriors at workAFTER weeks spent threatening tariffs on an ever-greater share of Chinese imports, President Donald Trump seems to be in a more conciliatory mood. On April 10th a speech by the Chinese...

Indian states squabble over how to share out federal cash

THE population of Uttar Pradesh is over 220m, enough to make the northern Indian state the world’s fifth-most populous country. But statistics still used by bureaucrats in New Delhi put it at less than...

Catching the bitcoin bug – Buttonwood

SINCE the heady days of late 2017 and January of this year, crypto-currencies have gone into retreat. Bitcoin, the best-known example, is now worth just a third of its value at its peak (see...

America’s once-moribund chemicals industry is booming. But politics threatens to get in its way

“THIS is what $3bn looks like.” So beams a manager at Chevron Phillips Chemical (CPC), a petrochemical company jointly owned by Chevron and Phillips 66, both American oil firms. She throws open her arms...

Kinder Morgan’s attempt to build a pipeline reflects badly on Canada

ALMOST all Canada’s oil and gas is landlocked, so getting it to market requires pipelines—lots of them. But building them requires skills more suited to circus artists than engineers. They must walk the financial...

The shipping industry attempts to cap carbon emissions

ACROSS the river from the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) headquarters in London protesters have pressure-hosed “IMO DON’T SINK PARIS” into the muck lining the walls of the Thames. The river bank is not the...

America’s chemicals industry is booming. But politics may get in its way

“THIS is what $3bn looks like.” So beams a manager at Chevron Phillips Chemical (CPC), a petrochemical company jointly owned by Chevron and Phillips 66, both American oil firms. She throws open her arms...

British law firms seek similar across the pond

MOST of London’s “magic-circle” law firms are intrepid creatures. Over the past 20 years they have busily expanded abroad, opening offices everywhere from Antwerp to Yangon. But despite having hundreds of lawyers on the...

Kinder Morgan’s frustrated attempt to build an oil pipeline reflects badly on Canada

ALMOST all Canada’s oil and gas is landlocked, so getting it to market requires pipelines—lots of them. But building them requires skills more suited to circus artists than engineers. They must walk the financial...

Upstart meal-kit companies may need a new recipe for growth

FOR all the allure of televised fare like “MasterChef” and “Chef’s Table”, the reality is that many people are loth to rustle up anything more taxing than a bacon sandwich. Cue the recent emergence...

The next Japan is not China but Thailand

TWENTY years ago Thailand was the most torrid of emerging markets. After a spell of overheated growth and wide current-account deficits, it had exhausted its foreign-exchange reserves and lost its currency’s peg to the...

Germany’s biggest lender is in the doldrums

JOHN CRYAN has spent almost three years on the thankless task of revitalising Germany’s biggest bank. Deutsche Bank’s shares fetch around €11 ($13.50) each. That is less than half their price when he became...

A trade war between America and China takes shape

TALK of tariffs is in danger of developing into cries of trade war. On April 3rd America published a list of some 1,300 Chinese products it proposes to hit with tariffs of 25%. Just...

Chinese carriers are the new disrupters in air travel

ANYONE who doubts the ambitions of China’s airlines need only look over the plans for Daxing International Airport, which will serve Beijing after it opens in late 2019. It will be the world’s biggest...

Tesla is heading for a cash crunch

“WE ARE sad to report that Tesla has gone completely and totally bankrupt.” So tweeted Elon Musk, boss of the electric-car company, on April 1st. He even posted a picture of himself supposedly drunk...

TSMC is about to become the world’s most advanced chipmaker

MORRIS CHANG is preparing for retirement. After 30 years in the role, the founder of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the island’s largest firm, will step down as chairman in June. He will hand...

Spotify makes its stockmarket debut

WHEN Spotify, a music-streaming service, went public on April 3rd, its founder, Daniel Ek, rang no bells on the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Rather than the “pomp and circumstance” of...

Wakandanomics

“THIS will require a quick lesson in global economics…bear with me,” says Erik Killmonger, the muscular villain in “Black Panther”, a long-running Marvel Comics series. In that saga and the recent film it inspired,...

Technology has upended the world’s advertising giants

IN BUILDING the world’s largest advertising company over the past 30 years, Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of WPP, has weathered two recessions and survived a global financial crisis. His firm nearly went bankrupt...

Mexico switches on its government-run wholesale mobile network

G-whizzJAWS dropped when earlier this year a White House memo argued that the American government should build and run its own 5G mobile network. The reason given was national security. The memo cited Huawei,...

America’s trade strategy has many risks and few upsides

AMERICA’S president claims to view China as a friend. But the friendship is going through a rocky patch, to say the least. America’s trade deficit with China, “the largest deficit in the history of...

Uber makes a tactical retreat from South-East Asia

BEING a commuter in much of South-East Asia requires reserves of patience. In city after city, bar Singapore, jams confine people in taxis for hours, or force them onto the back of motorbikes that...

Insurers and undertakers profit as people prepay their last bill

With all the trimmings“WHEN are you thinking of dying?” asks John Cleese, a British comedian, in a recent television ad. Dressed as the Grim Reaper, he addresses the viewer as he prepares a cup...

China wants to reshape the global oil market

TRADITIONALLY, to count as an oil power a country had to be a big producer of the black stuff. China is the world’s biggest importer but still wants to break into that exclusive club....

Asia’s small open economies may suffer in America’s trade war

CHINA is the stated adversary in Donald Trump’s incipient trade war. But 30% of the value of the goods China exports to America is added elsewhere. If the row escalates, countries entwined in Chinese...

The average American is much better off now than four decades ago

JUST how bad have the past four decades been for ordinary Americans? One much-cited figure suggests they have been pretty bad. The Census Bureau estimates that for the median household, halfway along the distribution,...

Getting a handle on a scandal

A POPULAR riff doing the rounds in tech circles is that, if data are the new oil, then Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica fiasco is the equivalent of Deepwater Horizon. That was the name of an...

India’s economy is back on track. Can it pick up speed?

IT IS easy to be awed by the Indian railway network. The 23m passengers it carries daily travel, in total, over ten times the distance to the sun and back. It is just as...

More market volatility seems likely

“FASTEN your seat belts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.” Those famous lines of Bette Davis in “All About Eve” may turn out to be the motto for the markets in 2018. After...

Japan Inc and the government are trying to tackle overwork

Dreaming of lifestyle changeSANAE ABUTA is a manager at Panasonic, a giant electronics manufacturer, in Osaka. One day she may work from 9am to 5.45pm. On another she may take a break in the...

The world’s three biggest engine-makers hit a snag

It never walks. But does it run?IT USED to be the world’s two biggest makers of airliners that would invariably deliver new designs late and over budget. A decade ago the cost of Airbus’s...

FDA wants to help unproductive drugmakers

SCOTT GOTTLIEB, the thoughtful head of America’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has had a busy first year. He has launched the process of lowering nicotine levels in cigarettes, approved self-testing kits for breast-cancer...

The EU wants to make finance more environmentally friendly

TO GAUGE an issue’s importance, a guest list is a good place to start. The one for a conference in Brussels on March 22nd to discuss the European Union’s “action plan” on sustainable finance...

Indian drugmakers need a new prescription

A SINGLE pill of Abilify, a drug used to treat manic depression, costs $30 or so in America. Or you could try gAbilify (the g stands for “generic”), better known to chemists as Aripiprazole....

Li Ka-shing cedes a sprawling empire to his son

“TOO long” was how Li Ka-shing, known fondly by locals as chiu yan (Superman) for his business nous, described his working life when he announced on March 16th that he would be retiring in...
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