The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Wednesday 16 November 2016

Image: Getty Images

Auf wiedersehen

Liberal democracy’s two most powerful politicians meet today in Germany as outgoing US president Barack Obama flies in on his final international visit. Obama and German chancellor Angela Merkel will have much to discuss but the most crucial part of their conversation will be on the issue on which their views diverge most profoundly: economic stimulus and debt relief. In the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis the US and Europe chose different paths: Obama persuaded Congress to pass a large stimulus package, while the EU preached austerity. Obama, were he a less polite politician, might point out that his path has proved more successful. Fresh from a trip to Athens, he is set to suggest that Merkel backs Greece’s demand for debt relief. Despite his considerable skills of persuasion, we don’t suspect he’ll have much joy.

Image: Guilhem Vellut

Something ventured

Montréal has long considered itself the leader among Canada’s nascent start-up hubs and new figures show that its pride is well placed. More venture capital was spent here during the first nine months of 2016 than in any other Canadian city according to Reuters’ Venture Capital Review. The review ranks the amount of VC funding spent in North America’s cities each year. Montréal leapt five places to the 11th spot, surpassing Toronto in the process. Montréal’s city leaders and its rich entrepreneurial base should be buoyed by the findings; technology could and should become one of the city’s central economic pillars and might offer a template for other Canadian cities on how to let new business ideas thrive in a shifting economic environment.

Image: Money Sharma/Getty Images

Token gestures?

Pacific Rim politicians are heading to Lima for the Apec ministerial meeting on Thursday and the media in Hong Kong, China and Taiwan in particular will be carefully watching how their leaders interact for insight into political happenings at home. Taiwan’s delegate James Soong, chairman of the minority People First party, is likely to receive a cold shoulder from Xi Jinping following the Chinese leader’s handshake with his opponent, the Kuomintang leader Hung Hsiu-chu, earlier this month. This will also be the prime occasion for Hong Kong’s chief executive CY Leung to snag a symbolic endorsement from Xi ahead of other candidates for the top-job election in March via a handshake for a photo op. These gestures may seem small but they are often imbued with political significance that could swing the polls.

Image: Fadel Senna/Getty Images

On your bike

Marrakech has become Africa’s first city to introduce a bike-share scheme. The Moroccan city launched the service, called Medina, to coincide with the COP22 climate summit that it is currently hosting. Conceived as a way in which to combat climate change, the programme was spearheaded by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, which deals with environmental issues in developing countries, among other things. The organisation then asked companies to bid to run the bike-share, which French firm Smoove won. The scheme – which features a fleet of 300 bicycles across 10 docking stations – is just one of several measures that Marrakech has adopted to improve the city and battle climate change, including a ban on plastic bags (across Morocco) and the introduction of electric buses.

From Monocle 24

Image: Luke Hayes

London’s new Design Museum

The relocation of London’s Design Museum marks a significant expansion for the institution. It’s moving from a former banana warehouse in Shad Thames to the Grade II-listed former Commonwealth Institute Building in Kensington. John Pawson, the architect who led the design team behind the project, and the museum’s deputy director Alice Black took Monocle’s Henry Rees-Sheridan on a tour to explain the thinking behind the relaunch.

From Monocle Films

The Monocle Travel Guide Series: Istanbul

Beneath its inimitable skyline, Istanbul is a teeming, triumphant metropolis that is constantly being remade and reimagined – as our cinematic portrait shows. Published by Gestalten, The Monocle Travel Guide to Istanbul is available now at The Monocle Shop.

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