The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Thursday 5 January 2017

Image: Jim Watson/Getty Images

Risky business

Forget economic recessions – is the world heading for a geopolitical recession? That’s the prediction of one political-risk consultancy, the New York-based Eurasia Group. In case you hadn’t guessed, it has a lot to do with president-elect Donald Trump. If he turns his campaign rhetoric about “America first” into a governing reality, the US will end up stepping away from its traditional role of being an international leader and go in search of more independence – repercussions of which will be felt around the globe. Paired with the growing influence of China and Russia and a feebler German chancellor, this could make 2017 the “most volatile” year for political risk since the Second World War.

Image: Ted Aljibe/Getty Images

Sea change

The arrival of two Russian warships in Manila for this week’s “goodwill visit” is a another hint that president Rodrigo Duterte’s foreign policy shift away from its long-time ally, the US, has substance. Russia has announced that it wants to begin naval exercises with the Philippines to tackle terrorism and piracy – suggesting a tightening of bilateral security relations, especially in light of the potential arms deals Manila and Moscow have explored in response to an American blockade in protest of Duterte’s controversial domestic anti-drug campaign. With Duterte also making friends with China, incoming US president Donald Trump may find that his nation’s influence in the Philippines is on the wane. Whether he has the diplomatic nous to improve relations is up for debate.

Image: European Union

No place like home

This month the EU’s brand-new headquarters – the Europa building in Brussels – will come into full operation. The new home of the Council of the European Union and the European Council, situated in the Belgian capital’s European district, marries a historic art deco complex with a modern structure designed by a group of European architects, including local firm Philippe Samyn and Partners, Italy’s Studio Valle Progettazioni and British Buro Happold. The construction, which cost €321m, was given the go-ahead in less-straitened times – 2004, to be precise, when the bloc expanded from 15 to 25 nations. Some 13 years later, and following the deepest financial crisis for the continent since the union began, the EU’s supporters will hope that the expense was worth it.

Robot uprising?

While the rest of us have just begun readjusting to life back at the office, the technology world has been busy preparing for one of its biggest trade shows of the year: the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which opens in Las Vegas today. As always, many of the gadgets being exhibited this year are more gimmicky than marketable (virtual-reality shoes, anyone?) but insiders rightly see the event as a way of gauging the direction of the industry. One major trend to watch following the surprise success of Amazon’s Echo is the rise of voice-controlled smart devices. Robots are also on the rise, with LG having created one that will assist travellers at Seoul’s Incheon Airport; it can tell you what gate to go to – but then so can your boarding pass.

From Monocle 24

Farmstand

Wisconsin entrepreneur Steven Novick is the founder of Farmstand, a new restaurant in London that does one thing: sustainably sourced and delicious food inspired by the roadside stalls of America’s Midwest.

From Monocle Films

Most liveable city: Tokyo

Monocle’s 2015 Quality of Life survey crowned Tokyo the number one city to call home. Rising from second place in 2014, the Japanese capital’s defining paradox – its heart-stopping size and concurrent feeling of peace and quiet – helped it claim the prize.

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