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The benefits of shale oil are bigger than many Americans realise. Policy has yet to catch up

Saudi America: The benefits of shale oil are bigger than many Americans realise. Policy has yet to catch up

Feb 15th 2014 | MIDLAND, TEXAS | From the print edition

DENNIS LITHGOW is an oil man, but sees himself as a manufacturer. His factory is a vast expanse of brushland in west Texas. His assembly line is hundreds of brightly painted oil pumps spaced out like a city grid, interspersed with identical clusters of tanks for storage and separation. Through the windscreen of his truck he points out two massive drilling rigs on the horizon and a third about to be erected. Less than 90 days after they punch through the earth, oil will start to flow. Read more of this post

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The English empire: A growing number of firms worldwide are adopting English as their official language

The English empire: A growing number of firms worldwide are adopting English as their official language

Feb 15th 2014 | From the print edition

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YANG YUANQING, Lenovo’s boss, hardly spoke a word of English until he was about 40: he grew up in rural poverty and read engineering at university. But when Lenovo bought IBM’s personal-computer division in 2005 he decided to immerse himself in English: he moved his family to North Carolina, hired a language tutor and—the ultimate sacrifice—spent hours watching cable-TV news. This week he was in São Paulo, Brazil, for a board meeting and an earnings call: he conducted all his business in English except for a briefing for the Chinese press. Read more of this post

E-commerce in China: No profits, we promise; JD, an e-commerce firm billed as China’s Amazon, prepares an IPO

E-commerce in China: No profits, we promise; JD, an e-commerce firm billed as China’s Amazon, prepares an IPO

Feb 15th 2014 | SHANGHAI | From the print edition

IT IS a rare corporate boss who vows to make no profit for years. But that is precisely the strategy embraced by Richard Liu, the chief executive of JD. A year and a half ago, he declared that his Chinese e-commerce firm would earn no gross profits on electronic goods, which make up most of its sales, for three years. He was even reported to have threatened to sack any salesman making a margin. Read more of this post

The circus business: Sunstroke; Cirque du Soleil may be struggling, but the cluster around it is thriving

The circus business: Sunstroke; Cirque du Soleil may be struggling, but the cluster around it is thriving

Feb 15th 2014 | QUEBEC CITY | From the print edition

IN THE deconsecrated church of Saint-Esprit, jugglers toss fluorescent orange clubs in front of the former altar, trapeze artists soar under the gaze of stone saints and wobbly unicyclists use two lines of repurposed pews as handrails. Declared surplus to requirements after Quebeckers deserted Catholicism in droves, the church is now the École de Cirque de Québec, through which 20,000 aspiring entertainers pass each year. The school’s director, Yves Neveu, says only half-jokingly, “Someone said the archbishop should be jealous because I’m filling my church.” Nearby Montreal boasts an even bigger school for circus performers. Read more of this post

Carmaking in Australia: Toyota’s move to the off-ramp signals the demise of a prized industry

Carmaking in Australia: Toyota’s move to the off-ramp signals the demise of a prized industry

Feb 15th 2014 | SYDNEY | From the print edition

WHEN Australia’s first locally made car, a Holden FX, rolled off the production line in 1948 it was greeted with an excitement that befitted a symbol of a youthful nation taking its place among advanced economies. Such was the enthusiasm for an indigenous car that around 18,000 punters paid deposits to buy one without even seeing it. Read more of this post

Manufacturing in Indonesia: On a wing and a prayer; A state aerospace firm risks forgetting the lessons of the Asian crisis

Manufacturing in Indonesia: On a wing and a prayer; A state aerospace firm risks forgetting the lessons of the Asian crisis

Feb 15th 2014 | BANDUNG | From the print edition

THEY do not look much, but they are largely responsible for saving Indonesia’s aviation industry. The ribs that fit into a section of the wings on the Airbus A380, the world’s largest passenger aircraft, are made in a corner of the sprawling factory of PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI), in the Javanese city of Bandung. Along with another part, they are flown to a second factory, in Britain, where they are incorporated into the A380’s wings, which are then sent to France to be attached to the planes. Read more of this post

Fever rising: There are reasons to hope that the latest biotech boom will not be followed by another bust

Fever rising: There are reasons to hope that the latest biotech boom will not be followed by another bust

Feb 15th 2014 | From the print edition

AS INVESTORS and executives crammed into a New York ballroom for a conference held this week by the Biotechnology Industry Organisation, the mood was jittery. The previous week eight biotech firms had launched initial public offerings in America, together raising more than $500m. In a discussion panel on whether the industry’s latest boom will last, a prominent investor, Oleg Nodelman, joked that he still had suitcases of cash for any firm that wanted it. Read more of this post

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