The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Tuesday 1 August 2017

Government

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Choose wisely

Abe must pick his new cabinet members carefully – they’ve a difficult task ahead.

As Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe tries to win back the public’s support with a cabinet reshuffle this week, the big question is: who’s in and who’s out? It’s unclear how drastic the makeover will be but pundits expect Abe’s allies in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party – such as foreign minister Fumio Kishida and finance minister Taro Aso – to stay. With the main opposition Democratic Party in disarray after its leader quit last week, Abe has some breathing room despite his administration’s gaffes and influence-peddling scandals, which included a defence ministry cover-up that led to the resignation of its minister, Tomomi Inada. But he’ll need experienced figures who bring fresh ideas to reboot the economy and persuade the public that revising the country’s pacifist constitution would be beneficial – and that won’t be easy.

Economy

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Fortune favours the EU

Growth in the eurozone is ticking along nicely, unlike that in the UK.

In a speech before the EU referendum last year, Boris Johnson, the poster child of the Out campaign (now foreign secretary), said: “Vote Leave and stick up for hundreds of millions of people around Europe who agree that the EU is going in the wrong direction.” Now it seems the EU is going very much in the right direction – and the UK is in reverse. Today analysts expect an official announcement from the eurozone stating that annual GDP growth in the three months to July sped along at nearly 3 per cent; the figure for the UK over the same period was around half that. Meanwhile, British business confidence has hit a six-month low. What adds insult to injury is that the very same Boris Johnson has spent the past two weeks involved in petty infighting with his fellow cabinet ministers rather than trying to help correct the country’s wayward course.

Business

Image: Getty Images

Thin on the ground

While the number of new planes is set to soar in the coming decades, the number of pilots isn’t.

Over the next two decades commercial and freight airlines around the globe are slated to add 41,000 planes to their fleets. But there may be a slight hiccup: a decided lack of pilots. A total of 637,000 new aviators will be needed to meet the surge in demand; which means that every day 87 new pilots will need to join the ranks to ensure no planes are grounded. Add to that the fact that by 2021, 42 per cent of US pilots at major carriers will be heading into retirement, future flight caps and route cuts seem almost certain. Just last month an arm of Alaska Air cancelled 300 scheduled flights citing a lack of pilots. The silver lining? Pilot unions are pushing for higher wages to encourage more people to enter the profession.

Architecture

Image: Europaweg

Walking on air

Switzerland’s latest bridge has opened just in time for its national day celebration; what else would you expect?

Just in time for today’s Swiss National Day, in celebration of the foundation of the Swiss Confederacy in 1291, the mountainous nation grabbed the attention of the world’s media thanks to a new bridge linking Zermatt and Grächen. Spanning a total length of 494 meters, the Europabrücke, located between 1,600m and 2,200m above sea level, has broken records by becoming the world’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge. Its design and construction were overseen by Swissrope’s Theo Lauber, whose award-winning projects have brought about a boom in the suspension bridge business. Completed within a swift 57 days, the Europabrücke is designed to remain steady and safe whatever the weather. The Swiss are known for their precision and such a feat of engineering goes to show that their expertise far exceeds watchmaking.

From Monocle 24

What’s the point of literary prizes?

Culture with Robert Bound

Off the back of last week’s Man Booker long list announcement Sharmaine Lovegrove, publisher at Dialogue Books; Anne Meadows, commissioning editor at Granta and Portobello; and Ted Hodgkinson, senior programmer of literature and the spoken word at London’s Southbank Centre, join Robert Bound to discuss the merits and problems of literary prizes.

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