The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Wednesday 21 October 2015

Image: Getty Images

Don’t cry for me

As Argentina prepares for its presidential elections on Sunday, investors are sighing with relief and commentators are craning their necks to see if there will be an economic change of course. After 12 years of being ruled by the Kirchners – first the now-deceased Néstor who came to power in 2003 and then his wife Cristina – the outcome is wide open. The oficialista candidate Daniel Scioli leads the polls with nearly 40 per cent of voting intentions but he probably won’t do enough to avoid a second-round run-off in November. Regardless, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, defined by her contempt for hedge funds (which she refers to as “vultures”) and a love of long televised speeches, will leave a power vacuum.

Image: Getty Images

Tech talk

“Good evening prime minister, so nice to see you again,” was the rather eerie greeting delivered to Singapore’s PM Lee Hsien Loong this week by a talking robot capable of emulating his voice almost to a tee. It came as Lee officiated Singapore’s newest research hub Fusionopolis Two, built to house more than 1,600 scientists – from private start-ups and government research agency A*Star – who will collaborate on solutions in healthcare, transport and green technology. The pursuit of all things hi-tech may be familiar to Singaporeans but given the ease with which a robot can replicate the PM, it may prove a test to keep pace.

Image: Salva Barbera

Grape expectations

In the neighbourly rivalry between Italy and France, winning the battle over wine production is a score for national pride as well as trade. This year Italy is raising a glass: a fruitful summer has generated a record-breaking harvest of 48.9 million hectolitres, more than two million ahead of France. “In terms of quantity, it was about taking viticulture to the most predisposed and therefore productive areas while also paying attention to wine-making practices that would reward with quality,” says Sandro Boscaini, president of Federvini, the Italian association of wine producers, exporters and importers. The season’s desirable yield bodes well for Italy’s attempts to position its produce in the higher segment of the market, which France has often cornered.

Image: Mojo Baron

Good news

FringeBacker, a bilingual English and Chinese crowdfunding platform, is proving a rich source of funds for independent news outlets in Hong Kong. FactWire exceeded its funding goal to create an investigative-journalism agency, the brainchild of former South China Morning Post journalist Ng Hiu-Tung. Another is the Hong Kong Free Press, an English-language news outlet that is seeking HK$2m (€228,000) from donors four months after launch. The arrival of independent voices is welcomed in Hong Kong: just this week a visiting Malaysian singer was asked to sign a declaration saying that he would not mention the Malaysian or Chinese governments in his performance.

From Monocle 24

Image: Noah Webb

Jim Olson

Jim Olson, founder of Seattle-based architecture practice Olson Kundig, tells us how he goes about creating spaces that can celebrate both art and nature.

From Monocle Films

The Monocle Guide to Good Business

The Monocle Guide to Good Business is a book for would-be business leaders, start-ups and established companies that feel it is time for some new ideas.

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