The Monocle Minute

In association with Brand Hong Kong x Monocle logo

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Monday 5 February 2018

Trade

Image: Getty Images

Making friends

The secretary of state cosies up to Colombia but has his eye on the US economy.

Rumour had it that he was about to get the axe earlier this year but that hasn’t stopped former oil man Rex Tillerson going about his work. The secretary of state touches down in Colombia tomorrow on the next stop of his week-long Latin American tour, where Tillerson, ever the man to tidy up after his boss, has already had to confront an unhappy Mexico (his first port of call) due to the administration’s utterances on trade and immigration. When it comes to Colombia, the US has pledged to help support the fledgling peace process there. Tillerson’s tour may seem like an olive branch but there’s a strong economic incentive driving him as well: with China increasing trade relationships across South America, the US is finding itself squeezed out.

Fashion

Image: Alamy

Sliding sales

Famed fashion enterprise Ralph Lauren is finding it difficult to adjust to an ever-changing retail landscape.

Ralph Lauren is having a tough time. Eight months after Patrice Louvet took over as CEO, the label has released disappointing results for the final quarter of last year (which included the all-important holiday period). Its slumping statistics – including a drop of 6 per cent in its own-brand shop sales – are in stark contrast to the success that other fashion houses are currently enjoying. The LVMH group recently announced record profits on the back of impressive results from Louis Vuitton and Celine. This only serves to highlight Ralph Lauren’s major problem: it has been unable to connect with young consumers or to stay relevant and it has lost its upmarket cache. Luxury is back but the preppy label needs to work out how to be perceived as a modern luxury brand.

Infrastructure

Image: Getty Images

Paid in full

The Hong Kong coffers may be bulging but in the past its surplus cash hasn’t been spent wisely. That’s about to change.

Hong Kong has a taxing issue: too much cash. This year’s budget surplus is expected to be 10 times the size of government forecasts, according to PWC, pushing total reserves to more than €114bn – a tidy sum for a city of seven million people. A surging property market has swollen official coffers, alongside a strong retail and tourism rebound, continuing the government’s annual tradition of underestimating its revenue haul. Political tensions in recent years have seen the finance secretary resort to using the surplus to hand out budget sweeteners to restless residents and local businesses rather than make meaningful investments in the city. However, Paul Chan has signalled a different approach since taking over the role last year. When he delivers his budget at the end of this month, expect announcements about major infrastructure projects.

Travel

Image: Getty Images

Flying solo

With many airlines reversing their comfort-pet policies, passengers’ prized pooches (and turkeys) are staying grounded.

You may have a little more trouble bringing your furry friend onboard your next flight in the US. Whereas travellers were once allowed to be accompanied by emotional support animals, some airlines such as United Airlines are now reversing their policy. This follows a rash of onboard incidents involving airborne pets (including biting and allergic reactions). Now those with emotional support animals will have to provide more documentation for the animal’s emotional support capabilities and alert the airline 48 hours prior to flying. United reports that they’ve seen a 75 per cent year-on-year increase in the number of flyers bringing along pets for emotional support. This also comes on the back of Delta changing their policy after a passenger attempted to fly with a typically flightless bird: a comfort turkey.

From Monocle 24

Image: Jennifer Embelton

Cub Sport

The Sessions at Midori House

Tim Nelson and Sam Netterfield from Brisbane four-piece Cub Sport hit the studio to play some tunes and talk to us about their latest album ‘Bats’, which reflects on two of them coming out as gay and announcing their engagement.

From Monocle Films

King’s Cross: urban transformation

Regeneration on a human scale is at the heart of property developer Argent’s vision for London’s King’s Cross. Monocle Films explores the reality of its urban concept.

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