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Tim Culpan

How Covid Arbitrage Became the Trade of the Year

Those with money and means were able to choose the most convenient places to wait out the pandemic.

That’s one way to wait out Covid.

That’s one way to wait out Covid.

Photographer: Allison Joyce/Getty Images AsiaPac

It was a warm spring evening in Taipei and more than a hundred celebrities, founders, venture capitalists and tech executives gathered for cocktails and hors d'oeuvres. The headline event, a fireside chat, was just an excuse for Taiwan’s best-connected people to socialize, enjoying the kinds of freedoms the rest of the world lacked amid another wave of Covid shutdowns. 

Notable was that many in the crowd weren’t long-term Taiwan residents. While quite a few were born there, or had family connections, most had spent little time in their ancestral homeland while building their lives in Silicon Valley’s tech hub, the academic institutions of New England, or on Wall Street. But as Covid spread around the world, these same people grabbed their Taiwan passports or scrambled for an exclusive Gold Card visa and headed to that one sanctuary where life remained normal.