Friday 31 August 2018 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Friday. 31/8/2018

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images


Fair-weather friend

Yesterday UK prime minister Theresa May wrapped up her charm offensive in Africa with a trip to Kenya. Today she heads back home without many of the diplomatic and economic reassurances that were supposed to come from the trip. Part of the meeting was to discuss stolen funds being returned to Kenya for investment into healthcare and infrastructure. And while the outcome spoke of concurrence on both sides, Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta went on to rightly complain that no British prime minister has visited the country in 30 years. Kenyatta, during the conference, stated that his country would be looking for investment from elsewhere, naming China and the US as likely partners. Some African leaders who had not enjoyed the attention from a UK leader in decades saw her trip for what it was: a cynical attempt to bolster support amid unravelling Brexit talks.

Image: Getty Images


Asking for alms

Argentina’s currency fell to an all-time low this week after President Mauricio Macri pled with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a colossal $50bn bailout. It’s needed to fulfil the country’s 2019 debt obligations and restore confidence in its faltering economy. With one of the world’s highest inflation rates, the country agreed to a financing deal with the IMF earlier this year. While the international lending agency will try to right the economy, experts note that Macri’s move is one of desperation and it remains to be seen if investor confidence will return to the economy. Another question is whether the Argentinian president will be able to weather the storm.

Image: Getty Images


Strong showing

From haiku poetry and traditional Ukiyo-e woodblock printing to the contemporary art of Yayoi Kusama, Japan’s relationship with art, design and culture is well documented. Now museum-attendance figures show just how important Japan is in the global arts world. Tokyo had three of the world’s 10 most popular art exhibitions in 2017: number one was a retrospective of 12th-century Buddhist sculptor Unkei at the Tokyo National Museum, which pulled in 600,000 visitors in just two months. Meanwhile, the Mori Art Museum’s exhibition on Japanese architecture past, present and future has already been seen by 400,000 people and counting. With considerable investment in the arts, Japan will continue to be a leader when it comes to blockbuster exhibitions.

Image: Getty Images

Quality of life

Soak it in

River and lakeside baths are ubiquitous in Switzerland; it’s where lunch breaks and evenings are spent in the summer. Now Munich may get its own along the river Isar, which flows through the heart of the Bavarian capital and past the leafy oasis of the Englischer Garten. It’s here that the new Isarflussbad is destined to open. This week Bavarian minister president Markus Söder pledged millions for the controversial project, which would span the distance between Corneliusbrücke and Boschbrücke – two adjacent bridges on the Isar river – and cost between €10m and €19m. Söder sees Nuremberg’s Wöhrder See, which has become a popular spot for bathers, as a prime example for what could be accomplished here. We’d advise the decision-makers to take a dip in one of Zürich’s many “Badis”; they’ll find that nothing beats the experience. A Badi or two would do wonders in Munich and boost the city’s quality of life.


We assess the importance of business mentors. As anyone who has founded a company will know, having an experienced adviser who can lend advice and an ear during the tough times can be key. But it’s a two-way street: as an older entrepreneur you can learn a lot from having a younger mentee.

Monocle Films / Global

The beauty of stairs

Staircases can trigger conversations, provide a sense of arrival and dazzle with ingenuity, so why are they often overlooked?


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