The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Friday 24 November 2017

Shopping

Image: Getty Images

A new chapter?

Although Amazon’s arrival in Australia heralds a shake-up for smaller retailers, the high street shouldn’t be overly worried.

It might seem unfathomable to shoppers in Europe and North America but until this week Australia has been living without online retail giant Amazon. The company’s soft launch for Black Friday is expected to see similar levels of success to what it experienced when it hit the UK and the US markets years ago. With the retail climate in Australia particularly slow right now, there is a fear that Amazon’s low prices will be devastating for smaller retailers and tired department stores. Yet Amazon’s delay in moving into the marketplace here also speaks to a long-time Australian affinity for actual shops. Key shopping districts such as Brisbane’s James Street attract huge weekend crowds thanks to smart tenant mixes and sunny Aussie service. And while Amazon will pose a challenge to those retailers that have long rested on their laurels, we think the brands that continue to innovate will have less to worry about than the naysayers suggest.     

Politics

Image: Getty Images

Croc of...

Zimbabwe’s new president is being sworn in on a wave of socialist optimism but will he really be that different to his predecessor?

Today’s the day a great many Zimbabweans have been waiting for: after 37 years under Robert Mugabe’s rule, a new president is finally being sworn in. But despite the celebrations in the streets and the sense of relief shared by many in the country, how much change will Emmerson “the crocodile” Mnangagwa really offer? Harare-based journalist Grace Mutandwa tells Monocle that during a speech given to a crowd of Zanu-PF supporters this week, Mnangagwa offered bombastic rhetoric that is reminiscent of his predecessor. “I don’t think much has changed,” she says, explaining that she is wary of the new president. “I think he has the usual god complex.” Yet Mutandwa also predicts that, should the new leader try to follow in Mugabe’s footsteps, he will be met with fierce resistance. “Now that people have tested the power of their own voices, I don’t think they’re going to stand aside and let themselves be taken for a ride again.”

Commerce

Image: Flickr

From bust to boom

New and established technology companies are bolstering Canada’s economy.

The Royal Bank of Canada has announced that it is launching a facility dedicated to artificial-intelligence research in Montréal. It is the first major Canadian company to join Montréal’s burgeoning AI sector; international firms Facebook, Samsung, Google and Microsoft have already made Québec’s largest city the headquarters for their R&D centres. While the potential of AI in commerce is still relatively untested – and subject to some healthy scepticism – the sector is just one among many technology fields to have made Montréal home. It marks a remarkable upswing in the city’s fortunes following decades of economic decline. The calibre of the companies setting up shop here, as well as recent moves by the Canadian government to speed up visas for foreign high-skilled workers, particularly with expertise in technology sectors, suggests that Montréal will drawing in global talent as well. 

Politics

Image: Shutterstock

Take your positions

As the Big Apple’s mayor kicks off his final term, the next line-up of candidates is getting in training for the race ahead.

New York’s Democratic mayor may have just won easy re-election – but US politics never sleeps. Which is why, with the ticker tape barely cleared up from Bill de Blasio’s victory celebrations, eyes are already on 2021. As De Blasio is barred from running for a third term, Republicans must be hoping that after almost a decade of Brooklyn Bill, voters will want to swing the city red – and they aren’t wasting any time. Neither, it would seem, are De Blasio’s fellow Democrats. Early names in the hat include Bronx borough president Ruben Diaz Junior and Brooklyn borough president Eric Adams – both Democrats – and Republican Queens councilman Eric Ulrich. While the launch of any official campaign won’t take place for years, these politicians are clearly ready to play the long game. 

From Monocle 24

Image: Flickr

That’s rubbish

The Urbanist

Waste management and recycling are essential components of what makes a city work for its citizens. This week we get down and dirty to find out how cities deal with different types of waste.

From Monocle Films

Parc de Belloch: the home of Catalonian design

Show-stopping design firm Santa & Cole takes inspiration from the Catalonian countryside and being just far away enough from bustling Barcelona.

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