Economist 7/23/15

  1. American capitalism has a new hub in the west. Wall Street used to be the place to seek fortunes and make deals; now it is increasingly the Valley.Today’s firms are staying private for longer. Tech firms that went public in 2014 were on average 11 years old; back in 1999 they waited only four years before listing their shares.Staying private allows entrepreneurs to avoid the headaches that come from being quoted: the nuisance of activist investors, the drudgery of compliance etc.But staying private has risks, too. One is that firms under no obligation to make public a full set of audited accounts will remain veiled from the scrutiny of analysts and short-sellers and so act irresponsibly.
  2. There is nothing secret about the nativist views of Donald Trump, a dyspeptic business tycoon running for the Republican presidential nomination. His finger-jabbing speeches about Mexican rapists and murderers, flowing across the border “like water”, and American jobs being shipped to China have taken him to the top of most polls.The Trump technique involves confiding in unhappy Americans that they are victims of a plot—and a plot, what is more, that could be easily thwarted. In his telling, scheming foreign governments have outwitted a soft political elite in Washington and preyed on America’s openness and generosity. He is tapping into a political tradition with deep roots.Pundits disagree on what happens next. But Mr Trump’s fall will have to be steep and swift to keep him off the stage at the first Republican TV debate on August 6th, an important showcase reserved for the ten candidates doing best in national polls.
  3. SAN Francisco, Silicon Valley and the strip of land that runs along the shore of the Bay between them have had a tremendous decade as the hub of the global technology industry.It used to be extremely rare to find a startup valued over $1 billion, but today there are 74 such “unicorns” in America’s tech sector, valued at $273 billion in total. And as the fortunes of startups have moved upwards, so too have their physical locations. In the 1990s most of the activity was to the south, in areas like Palo Alto and Mountain View, which is still where the area’s big public companies are mostly based.
  4. Expense-claims have long been a sticky issue for politicians.Booze is another thorny issue. Road warriors have a reputation for propping up hotel bars, but in their defence there is often little else to do once you have flicked through all the news channels in hotel room. Again price is a factor. Claiming for beers that cost less than a dollar in Beijing hutongs seems petty, but expensing a drink costing twenty times as much in pricier locations like Tokyo or Stockholm feels justified.. Nonetheless, some companies object outright to processing a stack of bar receipts, even compared with the pricier alternative of a three-course dinner with wine.Receipts are the final travel-expense pitfall. In theory they are necessary to any claim, but the reality can be different.
  5. There is an inevitability about the march of the smoke-free zone. The mission of those enforcing them has already crept. Originally the ethos for much anti-smoking legislation was that second-hand smoking harmed others. But as the legal antipathy towards e-cigarettes and outdoor smoking shows, now it is rather about trying to stamp out the habit for good. Even countries in which a cough and a drag are an accepted way of life are clamping down. France is adopting some of the most draconian anti-smoking measures in the world, making some locals fume—or, rather, not fume. And new laws in China outlaw smoking not just in workplaces, hotels and public transport, but tourist hotspots too, including the Great Wall and the Forbidden City.
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