THE POST-PANDEMIC business world is dramatically different from what you might have expected two decades ago. Tech firms make up a quarter of the global stockmarket and the geographic mix has become strikingly lopsided. America and, increasingly, China are ascendant, accounting for 76 of the world’s 100 most valuable companies. Europe used to pack a punch. But its share of that elite group has fallen from 41 in 2000 to 15 today. In 2000 Europe’s slice of corporate wealth was commensurate with its roughly one-third of the world economy. That is no longer true. This decline will bring consequences. Big firms invest in innovation, which boosts economic growth. Left to regulate only foreign groups, Europe’s ability to shape global business norms—on privacy, say, or the uses of artificial intelligence—will look weak.
The Amazon region is Brazil’s richest in biodiversity and natural resources, but among its poorest and least developed. It covers 60% of the country’s territory and is home to 13% of its people but accounts for just 8% of GDP. The problem is that, ever since the rubber boom in the late 1800s, wealth and employment in the region have come from extraction: logging, mining, farming. The rate of deforestation in the Amazon has soared by over 40% since President Jair Bolsonaro took office in 2019.
Last month President Joe Biden told Americans that hunger rates in the country had dropped by 43%. The statistic is broadly correct. There are several possible reasons why hunger has fallen. First, the steadily improving economy. The unemployment rate has fallen from its peak of 14.8% in April 2020 to 6.1%. Second, the reopening of schools, which may have given more children access to subsidised food. And a third possible cause is the stimulus cheques worth $600 that were delivered in December 2020 to every American adult, under legislation signed by the outgoing president, Donald Trump.
On May 31st China’s Politburo announced that families may now have up to three children. This is a big change from the draconian measures of 1979-2016. Back then, the enforcement of a one-child policy led to widespread abuses. The aim of allowing three children is to encourage couples to have more of them. China’s fertility rate is among the world’s lowest. The share of the population aged 60 has been rising fast. In 2000 it was one-tenth. By the end of this decade it is expected to rise to one-quarter.
Britain’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, wants to build a more muscular state, which not only intervenes in the market, but also tells judges and museum curators what’s what. He wants it to be harder, too: less permeable to hostile states and readier for emergencies. Successive governments have trimmed fat from public services, and chased foreign investment. Mr Johnson is twisting the dials back, from openness to guardedness, and from efficiency to resilience. Parliamentary rhetoric (in the chamber or online) has shifted accordingly.