March, 2018


Online starlets are refashioning Chinese e-commerce

LIANG TAO shifted 80 pink Givenchy bags in 12 minutes. Becky Fang offloaded 100 turquoise Mini Cooper cars in just five. Both are wanghong, literally “red-hot on the web”. Every day millions of Chinese trawl social media for wanghong posts or tune in to live-streams for opinions on everything from a French fashionista’s essentials to rampant sexism in China. The fans are helping this new breed of Chinese internet star to monetise their popularity—and to shake up the country’s e-commerce industry in the process. Unlike conventional luxury-and-beauty brand ambassadors, manyRead More

Which firms profit most from America’s health-care system

EVERY year America spends about $5,000 more per person on health care than other rich countries do. Yet its people are not any healthier. Where does all the money go? One explanation is waste, with patients wolfing down too many pills and administrators churning out red tape. There is also the cost of services that may be popular and legitimate but do nothing to improve medical outcomes. Manhattan’s hospitals, with their swish reception desks and menus, can seem like hotels compared with London’s bleached Victorian structures. The most controversial sourceRead More

America’s public markets are perking up. Can it last?

FOR years, discussions of America’s public markets have usually featured a lament for their dwindling appeal. According to Jay Ritter of the University of Florida, the number of publicly listed companies peaked in 1997 at 8,491 (see chart). By 2017 it had slumped to 4,496. True, many of the companies that went public in the internet’s early days should never have done so. But the decline worries anyone who sees public markets as the best way for ordinary investors to benefit from the successes of corporate America. Get our dailyRead More

Protectionism may impede Delta’s expansion plans

AS AMERICA’S oldest airline still aloft, Delta makes much of its southern roots. At its biggest hub, Atlanta airport, the company museum recounts how it became the world’s second-biggest carrier. The answer: by buying up domestic rivals. With few takeover targets left at home, Delta’s chief executive, Ed Bastian, is looking abroad. But his plans for more foreign joint ventures (JVs) face regulatory headwinds. Last year Mr Bastian announced a flurry of JVs. In May Delta launched one with Aeromexico and in June another with Korean Air. In July DeltaRead More

All in the family: Consanguineous marriages are declining

CHARLES DARWIN MARRIED his cousin, and may have regretted it. The great scientist’s experiments on plants later convinced him of the “evil effects” of persistent inbreeding. In 1870 he wrote to an MP, suggesting that the upcoming national census ask parents whether they were blood relatives. For, as he noted, consanguineous marriages were commonly said to produce children who suffered from “deafness and dumbness, blindness &c”. Darwin’s request was turned down. Britain did not start keeping records of marriages between first cousins, nor did it ban the practice, as someRead More

Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi has become the world’s biggest carmaker

RENAULT unveiled the EZ-GO, a concept for a robotaxi, at the Geneva motor show, which opened on March 5th. Nissan, in conjunction with DeNA, a Japanese software firm, recently began trials of driverless taxis in Japan. The two companies are pursuing their own paths towards the future of mobility. Yet both are bound together in a close alliance, which celebrates its 20th anniversary next year. In 2016 they were joined by Mitsubishi. Last year the trio sold 10.6m cars between them, one in every nine worldwide. It is a uniqueRead More

America sanctions Russians for election-meddling and cyber-attacks

STEVEN MNUCHIN, the Treasury secretary, enjoys several spectacular powers. One is the right to sign dollar bills.

Unilever picks Rotterdam

PROUDLY overlooking the River Thames, Unilever House looks more royal palace than office building. Built on the site of a Tudor estate, for nine decades it has been the London home to Unilever, one of the world’s largest consumer-goods firms. Since a merger of British soapmakers and Dutch margarine merchants in 1929, Unilever has been a dual-nationality company. It is legally domiciled in Britain and the Netherlands, with headquarters in both the London building and in Rotterdam. The appeal of dual citizenship has faded. After a year-long review, on MarchRead More

The reckoning at Theranos

“THE Next Steve Jobs” is how Inc., an American business magazine, described Elizabeth Holmes when her photograph appeared on its cover in 2015. They may share an affinity for black turtlenecks but the reputations of Ms Holmes and Apple’s celebrated late boss could not be more different. On March 14th Ms Holmes was accused of fraud by America’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). She has agreed to pay a $500,000 fine, not serve as an officer of a public company for ten years and turn over much of her stakeRead More

Students across America walk out over gun violence

ON MARCH 14th, one month after terrified teenagers streamed out of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School during a massacre in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people, thousands of students across America walked out of their schools to stage a peaceful protest against gun violence.