The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Tuesday 20 March 2018

Politics

Image: Getty Images

Putin power

Following his unsurprising victory, Russia’s president returns for another term. What’s next for the country?

Tomorrow is the deadline for Russian diplomats, expelled by British prime minister Theresa May, to leave the UK. Yet for much of Russia’s top brass, it’s not increasing tension with the West that’s a cause of stress but rather the uncertain political future at home. Following Vladimir Putin’s wholly unsurprising win at the ballot box on Sunday, many expect the Russian strongman to begin making moves that will allow him to stay in power post-2024, which is when the constitution currently dictates he is to step aside. Yet so entwined has the president become with the country he’s headed for the past 18 years, once he does go – whether by choice, by force or due to ill health – the power vacuum created in his wake could cripple Russia’s political system. For now, Russia’s political elite will be jockeying for power behind the scenes, all while trying to appear loyal to their powerful president.

Transport

Image: Getty Images

Streamlined service

Japanese airline ANA is to consolidate two of its budget carriers to better compete in the burgeoning Asian market.

All Nippon Airways (ANA) wants to build a stronger budget-carrier brand in Asia and now it has a plan: merge its two subsidiaries, Vanilla Air and Peach Aviation, by 2020. Details have yet to be worked out but ANA is likely to fold Tokyo-based Vanilla into Osaka-based Peach Aviation, according to reports. With demand in Asia-Pacific expected to grow by nearly 5 per cent a year through to 2036, ANA is hoping to cash in with inexpensive medium-haul international flights and has dropped hints about a new small aircraft that would complement its Airbus A320s. It won’t be easy taking on Jetstar (Australia) and AirAsia (Malaysia) – whose revenues far exceed Vanilla and Peach’s combined ¥75.6bn (€580m) – but after six years in the business ANA has to extend beyond its focus on Taiwan and South Korea if it wants to thrive.

Transport

Driving competition

A German coach company is adding another stop to its route – the US.

Popular German coach operator FlixBus is making the leap across the Atlantic. The company, which has grown popular with routes in 27 European countries, is planning its US debut with routes in California, Arizona, Nevada and Utah. With North American bus services still beholden to old carriers such as Greyhound and budget options, FlixBus’s entrance onto the scene will be sure to shake things up. Last year, start-up Cabin (with only one route from Los Angeles to San Francisco) made quite the splash, showing there was room for a more refined and customer-focused experience in the US. FlixBus, which has yet to reveal what cities it will be servicing, is making a smart move into the territory.

Trade

Image: Getty Images

Talk is cheap

It may have been all smiles before the G20 finance group met but, with US tariffs and Europe’s tech taxes, frowns abound behind the scenes.

In the run-up to the G20 finance meeting, which is currently heading into its second day in Buenos Aires, representatives from Germany and Argentina stood together to voice their commitment to global trade. Yet the outlook is gloomier now than it was the last time the group met in Hamburg last July. Donald Trump’s administration is set to impose tariffs on imports of steel and aluminium, a decision that has angered both rivals and allies. Meanwhile, later this week, the European Commission is due to unveil a plan for taxing big technology companies (mostly US firms) based on their revenues in the bloc – a plan the US has preemptively criticised. The rhetoric in Buenos Aires may be positive but, in reality, global trade relations haven’t been this fraught in years.

From Monocle 24

Jenna Rossi-Camus, Alexis Okeowo and Tom Holkenborg

The Monocle Weekly

Fashion curator Jenna Rossi-Camus discusses her new exhibition ‘T-Shirt: Cult, Culture, Subversion’, journalist and author Alexis Okeowo on the individuals who inspired her celebrated book A Moonless, Starless Sky and film-score composer Tom Holkenborg discusses his soundtracks for Mad Max: Fury Road, Tomb Raider and more.

From Monocle Films

Speciality retail: Barcelona

Offering the best in local produce and rare wines, Vila Viniteca continues the Spanish retail tradition of a no-nonsense ‘colmado’ in the historic neighbourhood of el Born.

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