The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Monday 19 March 2018

Trade

Image: Getty Images

Paying the price

Growing worldwide concern over Trump’s trade fixation is rocking the US’s previously reliable position.

Worries over an impending trade war with the US have now spread across the globe. Donald Trump’s preoccupation with trade deficits has manifested itself not only in the form of tariffs on steel and aluminium but also lies to Justin Trudeau over the US’s (non-existent) deficit with Canada and suggestions he’ll remove US troops from South Korea. It increasingly seems that no one will be left unscathed by his “America First” policies. Germany’s economy ministry has released a report saying that increasing insecurity could cause “tangible damage” to the global economy; a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry last week said the country is prepared to protect its rights if “something happens we don’t want to see”. And though UK trade secretary Liam Fox made a trip to Washington, he wasn’t able to secure a promise of a steel-tariff exemption after Brexit. Even if a trade war is avoided, the US’s reputation as a dependable trade partner is in tatters.

Books

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Comic relief

Healthy sales figures show that French readers still prefer paper, with one small Gaul doing particularly well.

France’s largest book fair, Salon Livre Paris, comes to an end today after a weekend run at Porte de Versailles. The event has been accompanied by a release of the latest figures on the country’s book industry and it’s good news all around. Readers are still opting for print over digital, with 343 million hard copies sold last year compared to 14 million digital versions. Some 68,000 new books and editions were printed in France in 2017; meanwhile book sales came in at €4bn – or €116 per citizen. But one of the most unlikely winners of the year is the comic book: sales were up 2 per cent on 2016 thanks largely to the October release of the latest instalment in the Asterix series. Vive le livre.

Culture

Image: Alamy

Spirit of radio

Vienna goes radio gaga as hundreds flock to the Austrian capital to chart new frontiers in audio.

The ninth annual Radiodays Europe is underway in Vienna with more than 1,500 delegates from more than 60 countries in the Austrian capital to discuss the future of radio. This year’s theme – The World is Listening – has drawn many curious attendees eager to find opportunities in the rising popularity of smart speakers and podcasting. “Audio has taken a more prominent place in people’s lives [thanks to] these new ways of listening,” says Radiodays Europe co-founder Anders Held. “This is a great opportunity for audio, getting back to the main stage of entertainment and information: in homes and in cars.” While Held says that new technology has yet to dramatically shake up the traditional business of radio, he admits that broadcasters, producers and advertisers are still trying to find their place in this new world of on-demand audio. Tune in to Monocle 24 today and tomorrow for more dispatches from the conference.

Society

Image: Getty Images

The price of honesty

Japan’s citizens are an honest bunch: billions of yen are handed into the lost-and-found every year.

What would you do if you came across a wallet stuffed with cash? In Tokyo, plenty of people would turn in the money at the nearest police box. Roughly ¥3.7bn (€28.3m) in cash was found and handed over to police last year and nearly three quarters of the total – ¥2.7bn (€20.7m) – was eventually returned to the people who lost it, according to the Tokyo Metropolitan Police’s latest announcement. That might come as a surprise for residents in other big cities around the globe but it’s standard practice in Tokyo, a city famed for its safe streets. More than ¥510m (€4m) of the lost cash that wasn’t claimed within three months went to the person who picked it up but nearly as much – ¥475m (€3.7m) – ended up in city coffers because not even the finders bothered to retrieve it.

From Monocle 24

A print celebration

The Stack

We meet Susan Goldberg, editor in chief of National Geographic, celebrated author Dave Eggers tells us why the printed word still matters and Jeremy Leslie from MagCulture gives us a lesson on the art of making magazines.

From Monocle Films

Senior style in Japan: living the good life at 80

For many older people in Japan, work isn’t just a way to keep busy but also a source of happiness and wellbeing. From a 71-year-old barber to a 100-year-old café owner, Monocle Films visits Japan’s elderly, who are showing little sign of letting up.

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