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Five things you should do to prepare your business for 2021

Small businesses around the globe are among the hardest hit as the health crisis continues to cause economic uncertainty in the country. With the country nearing into a year-long lockdown and keeping up with restrictions, small businesses owners have continued to innovate and work through the challenges, venturing their presence onto online platforms. The convenience of learning how to start a business from the confines of your home, and with the help of other business owners willing to lend a helping hand, has created a space for SMEs to flourish during the pandemic. Whether you’re starting out or looking to expand your business, here’s what you need to know to ensure you keep your business afloat:

What They Don’t Tell You about Climate Change

Two years ago the world pledged to keep global warming “well below” 2°C hotter than pre-industrial times. Climate scientists and campaigners purred. Politicians patted themselves on the back. Despite the Paris agreement’s ambiguities and some setbacks, including President Donald Trump’s decision to yank America out of the deal, the air of self-congratulation was still apparent this month among those who gathered in Bonn for a follow-up summit.

TPP Redux: Who Needs America?

Reviving the original Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal between 12 countries around the Pacific Rim, is technically impossible. To put the accord into force, members making up at least 85 percent of their combined GDP had to ratify it. Three days into his administration, President Donald Trump announced that America was out. With 60 percent of members’ GDP gone, that deal was doomed.

The Oil Market Loses Its Head, Again

Only one thing spooks the oil market more than hot-headed despots in the Middle East, and that is hot-headed hedge-fund managers. For the second time this year, record speculative bets on rising oil prices in American and European futures have made the market vulnerable to a sell-off.

Endangered Species: America’s Dwindling Global Influence

A year ago, Donald Trump was elected president. Many people predicted that American foreign policy would take a disastrous turn. Trump had suggested that he would scrap trade deals, ditch allies, put a figurative bomb under the rules-based global order and drop literal ones willy-nilly. Nato was “obsolete,” he had said. Nafta was “the worst trade deal maybe ever.” America was far too nice to foreigners.

The Other Side of Paradise

The week of November 6-10 was uncomfortable for a host of well-heeled figures. In the frame were U2’s Bono, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross of the United States and Queen Elizabeth of Britain, as well as some of the world’s most valuable companies, including Apple and Nike.

Whatever Happened to Inflation?

A few years ago the news about the euro-zone economy was uniformly bad to the point of tedium. These days it is the humdrum diet of benign data that prompts a yawn. This week figures show that GDP rose by 0.6 percent in the three months to the end of September, an annualized rate of 2.4 percent. The European Commission’s economic-sentiment index rose to its highest level in almost 17 years.

Shuffle & Deal: The Future of American Express

He is leaving with the share price rising and the October 18 announcement of earnings that were largely well received. Better still, Kenneth Chenault, American Express’s chief executive for 16 years, accomplished a feat rare in the upper reaches of American finance: to step down without an obvious helping shove. No grandstanding senators hounded him out, unlike at Wells Fargo. No boardroom coup hastened the end, unlike at Citigroup. The financial crisis left him untouched, unlike at…well, take your pick. His successor, Stephen Squeri, promoted from within and apparently groomed for the job, will take over in February.

A Tsar Is Born

Seventeen years after Vladimir Putin first became president of Russia, his grip on the country is stronger than ever. The West, which still sees Russia in post-Soviet terms, sometimes ranks him as his country’s most powerful leader since Stalin. Russians are increasingly looking to an earlier period of history. In Moscow both liberal reformers and conservative traditionalists are talking about Putin as a 21st-century tsar.

Not an Endangered Species: The MBA

The MBA is both revered and reviled. To boosters it has advanced the science of management and helped companies, and countries, to grow. Detractors say that it offers little of practical value and instills in students a sense of infallibility that can sink companies and knock economies sideways.

Land of the Giants: Commerce in the Age of Amazon and Alibaba

Shoppers will spend record sums online in the next few weeks—in China for Singles Day on November 11, in America on Black Friday and around the world in the run-up to Christmas. E-commerce has been growing by 20 percent a year for a decade, shaking up industries from logistics to consumer goods. Nowhere does debate about what this means rage more fiercely than in America, where thousands of stores have shut this year and where retailing accounts for one in every nine jobs.

Helping Globalization’s Losers

POPULISM’S wave has yet to crest. That is the sobering lesson of recent elections in Germany and Austria, where the success of anti-immigrant, anti-globalization parties showed that a message of hostility to elites and outsiders resonates as strongly as ever among those fed up with the status quo.

Big Blue Yonder: Can IBM Bounce Back Again?

TECHNOLOGY giants are a bit like dinosaurs. Most do not adapt successfully to a new age—what is known in the industry as a “platform shift.” A few make it through two and even three such shifts, but only a single company spans them all: IBM, which is more than a century old, having started as a maker of tabulating machines that were fed with punch cards.

The World’s Most Powerful Man

American presidents have a habit of describing their Chinese counterparts in terms of awe. A fawning Richard Nixon said to Mao Zedong that the chairman’s writings had “changed the world.” To Jimmy Carter, Deng Xiaoping was a string of flattering adjectives: “smart, tough, intelligent, frank, courageous, personable, self-assured, friendly.” Bill Clinton described Jiang Zemin as a “visionary” and “a man of extraordinary intellect.”

Beware the app trap

The new app for an upmarket British department store certainly looks the part. Released on Google Play, a shop for Android software, on September 5, it has the right logo, the correct vibrant color and the usual offers of fashionable clothes and accessories. The app is not authorized by the brand, however. It’s littered with pop-up ads and is painfully slow—furious users gave it one-star ratings. Its developer, Style Apps, also has launched apps for other clothing brands that are household names in America.

The Bull Market in Everything

In his classic The Intelligent Investor, first published in 1949, Wall Street sage Benjamin Graham distilled what he called his secret of sound investment into three words: “margin of safety.” The price paid for a stock or a bond should allow for human error, bad luck or, indeed, many things going wrong at once.

Buried Treasure: How Much Is Hidden in Tax Havens?

Switzerland, which developed cross-border wealth-management in the 1920s, once was in a league of its own as a tax haven. Since the 1980s, however, tax-dodgers have had a rich menu to choose from: They can hide assets anywhere from the Bahamas to Hong Kong. The percentage of global wealth held offshore has increased dramatically—but it has been hard to say how much that is, and who owns it.

Investing and Gender: The Power of Daughters

Richard Nesbitt, former chief operating officer at the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, has long been an evangelist for women in business. In Results at the Top: Using Gender Intelligence to Create Breakthrough Growth (Wiley, 2017), cowritten with Barbara Annis, he describes his efforts to convince men to promote women.

Silicon Valley on the Moskva

Arkady Volozh, the bearded cofounder of Yandex, Russia’s largest search engine, bristled at hearing his company branded “the Google of Russia.” Far from emulating the American firm, he pointed out, Yandex launched in 1997, a full year before Google.

Three Tests for Trump on Trade

In 1845 Frédéric Bastiat, a French economist, wrote an open letter to his national parliament, pleading for help on behalf of makers of candles and other forms of lighting. The French market was being flooded with cheap light, he complained. Action was necessary: a law closing all windows, shutters and curtains. Only that would offer protection against the source of this “ruinous competition,” the sun.

America Holds the WTO Hostage

Eight months into Donald Trump’s presidency, the rules-based system of global trade remains intact. Threats to impose broad tariffs have come to nothing. Some ominous investigations into whether imports into America are a national-security threat are on hold. Trump looks less like a hard man than like a boy crying wolf.

Does China Play Fair?

If President Donald Trump had slapped punitive tariffs on all Chinese exports to America, as he had promised during his campaign for office, he would have started a trade war. Fortunately the president hesitated, partly because he wants China’s help in thwarting North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

Rethinking the Teaching of Economics

Economists can be a haughty bunch, but a decade of trauma has had a chastening effect. They are rethinking old ideas, asking new questions and occasionally welcoming heretics back into the fold. Change, however, has been slow to reach the university economics curriculum. Many institutions still pump students through introductory courses untainted by recent economic history or the market shortcomings it illuminates.

Closing in on cancer

The numbers are stark. Cancer claimed the lives of 8.8 million people in 2015, with only heart disease causing more deaths. Around 40% of Americans will be told that they have cancer during their lifetimes. It is now a bigger killer of Africans than malaria.

Seed Capital: The Business of Sperm Banks

Browsing websites that list sperm donors is weirdly similar to online dating. “Sanford is the total package,” one online ad begins, and goes on to describe his strong jawline and piercing blue eyes. With a degree in finance and a “charming demeanor,” he is more than a pretty face. You can listen to a voice recording from Sanford himself. If all that wins you over, you can have his baby without ever having to go on a date. For $635 Seattle Sperm Bank will ship you a vial of his frozen swimmers.

Phone Tag: Apple vs. Samsung Gets Fiercer

Never shy about hype, on September 12 Apple CEO Tim Cook presented the company’s latest iPhones to a packed auditorium in its glitzy new headquarters in Cupertino. He made a grand prediction: Its new, premium phone, the iPhone X (pronounced “ten”), will “set the path of technology for the next decade.”

Hurricane Price Gouging Is Despicable, Right? Not to Some Economists

When a devastating hurricane like Irma or Harvey arrives, stories about price gouging inevitably spread quickly. Recently, a one-way coach flight from Miami to Phoenix jumped in price from $547.50 to $3,258.50, prompting immediate outrage. In Houston, a picture of a case of water being sold for $42.96 at Best Buy did the same. (Best Buy apologized and said it was a “big mistake” by a few employees.)

What Machines Can Tell From Your Face

The human face is a remarkable piece of work. The astonishing variety of facial features helps people recognize each other and is crucial to the formation of complex societies. So is the face’s ability to send emotional signals, whether through an involuntary blush or the artifice of a false smile.

How Government Policy Worsens Hurricanes’ Impact

THE extent of the devastation will become clear only when the floodwater recedes, leaving ruined cars, filthy mud-choked houses and the bloated corpses of the drowned. But as we went to press, with the rain pounding South Texas for the sixth day, Hurricane Harvey had already set records as America’s most severe deluge. In Houston it drenched Harris County in nearly 12 trillion gallons of water in just 100 hours—enough rainfall to cover an 8-year-old child.

The Struggle to Make Accurate Long-Term Market Forecasts

WHAT is the right way to invest for the long term? Too many people rely on past performance, picking fund managers with a “hot” reputation or backing those asset classes that have recently done well. Just as fund managers cannot be relied on to be consistent, returns from asset classes are highly variable. The higher the initial valuation of the asset, the lower the future returns are likely to be.

Co-living Is On the Rise in London and New York

MONDAY is “Game of Thrones” night at The Collective’s Old Oak building. Millennials congregate in TV rooms around the 11-story, 550-person building. Some gather at the movie theater, lounging on bean bags decorated with old graphics from Life magazine. Nothing gets residents out of their rooms like the hit TV show. This is not a student dorm, however. It is home.

Despite SEC Warning, Wave of Initial Coin Offerings Grows

The cautionary words of US regulators have done little to chill a red-hot market for new virtual currencies sold by startups. The Securities and Exchange Commission issued its first warning late last month for the many entrepreneurs who have been raising money by creating and selling their own virtual currencies in what are called initial coin offerings. At that point, hundreds of projects had raised more than $1 billion.

Nautical Nukes

After the events of March 11, 2011, when an earthquake and tsunami led to a meltdown of three nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant in Japan, you might be forgiven for concluding that atomic power and seawater don’t mix.

Soccer Stars, Priced to Move

For professional soccer teams August often is the costliest month, the month when they make vast bids for each other’s players. This year has been particularly lavish. Early this month, Paris Saint-Germain, a French team, signed Neymar da Silva Santos Jr., a Brazilian forward, from Barcelona for $264 million, more than double the previous record price for a soccer star.

How Teachers & Technology Can Revamp Schools

In 1953 B.F. Skinner visited his daughter’s math class. The Harvard psychologist found every pupil learning the same topic in the same way at the same speed. A few days later he built his first “teaching machine,” which let children tackle questions at their own pace. By the mid-1960s similar gizmos were being flogged by door-to-door salesmen. Within a few years, though, enthusiasm for them had fizzled out.

Breaking Uber’s Vicious Cycle

It is said that Travis Kalanick, who resigned as Uber’s boss last month, has been reading Shakespeare’s Henry V. Prince Hal’s transformation, from wastrel prince to sober monarch, is doubtless one he would like to emulate.

Pushing Back Against Populists

With the defeat of Marine Le Pen in her bid for the French presidency, establishment politicians in rich countries breathed a sigh of relief. The fortunes of extremist candidates have faltered since the populist surge that put President Donald Trump into the White House.

The White House Is No Place for the Kids to Play

The hereditary principle is not only un-American but harmful to the children of great men, Benjamin Franklin declared soon after the Revolutionary War, as rumors flew of plots to establish a new aristocracy with George Washington at its head. To honor parents is reasonable, Franklin admitted, but to reward descendants for an accident of birth is “not only groundless and absurd but often hurtful to that posterity.”

Container Kingpin Sold to China

Stonecutters Island in Hong Kong used to be a favored habitat for poisonous snakes and eye-catching birds such as the white-bellied sea eagle. Thanks to Hong Kong’s rapid development, it is no longer so hospitable.

Financing Longevity

In 1965 André-François Raffray, a 47-year-old lawyer in southern France, made the deal of a lifetime. Charmed by an apartment in Arles, he persuaded the widow living there to make a deal: He would pay her 2,500 francs—then about $500—a month until she died, and in return she would leave him the apartment in her will. Since she was already 90, it seemed like a safe bet.

The Next iPhone Might Be…the iPhone

Apple has a new hit device, so popular that it has sold out across most of America and Britain. If you order it online, it takes six weeks to arrive. “Best Apple product in a long time,” one online review sings. Useful and, of course, slickly designed, it enjoys the highest consumer-satisfaction of any Apple product in history, according to a study by two research companies, Creative Strategies and Experian.

Struggling to Help Trade’s Losers

Brian Aunspach thought he had a job for life. After six years at a smelter owned by Alcoa, America’s largest aluminum company, his work was hard but the benefits decent. Warning signs came with crashing aluminum prices in the summer of 2015 and murmurs about unfair Chinese competition. Then reality hit: In January 2016 Alcoa announced the smelter’s closure. Around 600 people lost their jobs.

The New General Motors: Smaller but More Profitable

The headquarters of General Motors towers over the other skyscrapers in Detroit’s city center, a reminder that the carmaker still rules the American market. GM’s domestic might increasingly contrasts with its position elsewhere in the world, however. Although most other carmakers see becoming ever bigger everywhere as the answer to the industry’s multiple challenges, GM is in retreat.

Why Does North Korea Need So Many Missiles?

It is as if North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un wants to be seen to be flinging his explosive toys about with ever more abandon. In recent months his men have fired off missiles in one test after another, often with the young, overfed dictator gleefully looking on.

Europe’s Savior?

Florence Lehericy is a nurse, but she is now starting a new career as a parliamentary deputy for Calvados, in northern France. Jean-Marie Fiévet, a fire fighter, is joining her from a constituency in Deux Sèvres in the west.

The Fed and Mr. Phillips

That central banks cannot endlessly reduce unemployment without sparking inflation is economic gospel. It follows from “a substantial body of theory, informed by considerable historical evidence,” according to Janet Yellen, chairman of the Federal Reserve. Her conviction explains why, on June 14, the Fed raised interest rates by a quarter of a percentage point, to a range of 1 percent to 1.25 percent.

Terror and the Internet

THREE jihadist attacks in Britain in as many months have led to a flood of suggestions about how to fight terrorism, from more police and harsher jail sentences to new legal powers.

The Future of Air Control: Is Privatization the Next Step?

IN June 1956 a TWA Constellation collided with a United Air Lines DC-7 over the Grand Canyon in Arizona, killing all 128 people on both aircraft. At the time it was the worst-ever airline disaster. Struggling with outdated technology and a postwar boom in air travel, overworked air-traffic controllers had failed to spot that the planes were on a collision course.

Four BRICs and a Great Wall

EMERGING markets have been through a great deal in the past four years. The “taper tantrum” in 2013, prompted by fears of a change in American monetary policy, was followed by the oil-price drop of 2014, China’s botched devaluation of its currency in 2015 and India’s botched “demonetization” of much of its own currency in late 2016, in which it abruptly removed high-value banknotes from circulation.

Britain’s Vanishing Political Center

Today Britain finds itself in a different era. The vote for Brexit has committed it to leaving its biggest trading partner and snuggling closer to others, including a less-welcoming America. The economy has held up better than many feared, but growth is slowing and investors are jittery. The union is fraying again. Real wages have stagnated. Public services are stretched.

Virtual Vertigo: What If the Bitcoin Bubble Bursts?

Markets frequently froth and bubble, but the boom in bitcoin, a digital currency, is extraordinary. Although its price is down from an all-time high of $2,420 recently, it has more than doubled in only two months. Anyone clever or lucky enough to have bought $1,000 of bitcoins in July 2010, when the price stood at $0.05, would now have a stash worth $46 million. Other cryptocurrencies have soared, too, giving them a collective market value of about $80 billion.

A U-Turn at Ford

The abrupt departure of Ford chief executive Mark Fields, which the car giant announced on May 22, has two explanations. Investors had become restive at its performance, particularly in the past year, but Fields also was perceived to lack the drive of Alan Mulally, whom he had succeeded. In replacing him with Jim Hackett, who ran an office-furniture company before joining Ford’s board in 2013 and more recently led the company’s mobility unit, Ford hopes to conquer current problems and shore up its future strategy.

Chain Reaction: Why Chemical Companies Are Mixing

These days, the hills of Languedoc in southern France turn green with the leaves of grapevines. This is helped along by chemicals—lots of them, confides a winemaker based near the town of Thuir in the Pyrenees. In their absence vineyards would need natural fertilizers and would have to be weeded by hand, both costly. French farmers use more chemicals than anyone else in Europe: 65,000 tons of pesticides alone each year.

Why Israel Needs a Palestinian State

The victory of Israel over the Arab armies that encircled it in 1967 was so swift and absolute that many Jews thought that a divine hand must have tipped the scales. Before the Six-Day War, Israel had feared another Holocaust. Afterward it ruled an empire of sorts. Awestruck, the Jews took the holy sites of Jerusalem and the places of their biblical stories.

New Kids on the Blockchain

It is hard to predict when bubbles will pop, especially when they are nested within each other. It helps to keep this image in mind when considering one of the biggest surges in asset values of recent years: The market value of all the world’s crypto-currencies has trebled since the beginning of the year, and is now worth more than $60 billion.

The Trump Trilemma

The currents of trade, President Donald Trump accepts, will ebb and flow. “Sometimes they can be up and sometimes we can be up,” he said in an recent interview with The Economist.