The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Monday 7 January 2019

Geopolitics

Image: Getty Images

High stakes

China and the US know that money talks, which is why they are following suit.

A delegation from the US, headed by deputy trade representative Jeffrey Gerrish, is in Beijing for two days of talks in the hope of defusing the trade-war bomb that Donald Trump ignited last year. After both China and the US imposed $300bn worth of tariffs on one another’s goods, the world has watched market reactions, fearing a hit on the global economy. While the tariffs have left China smarting, in recent weeks the damage has been felt more sharply in the US: American stocks ended 2018 at their lowest point since the 2008 financial crisis. The meeting in Beijing (Trump and Xi Jinping agreed to a truce of sorts on the sidelines of December’s G20 summit in Argentina) ought to be keenly welcomed by both sides.

Defence

Image: Getty Images

Diverted flight

Canada hasn’t exactly reached for the stars with its new air-defence deal – but at least its plans have got off the ground.

The modernisation of Canada’s military hardware has proved to be a headache for successive Canadian governments over the past 15 years or so. But defence secretary Harjit Sajjan has attempted to break the procurement deadlock: Ottawa has completed a deal to buy 25 secondhand F-18s from the Australian government, 18 of which are expected to be ready for use later this summer (the remaining seven will be used for parts). The deal, which was agreed more than a year ago but only revealed in the past few weeks, amounts to a stopgap while a full revamp of the country’s airborne capabilities rumbles on. Ottawa’s plans were hampered last year when it cancelled an order for a fleet of Boeing Super Hornets that were made in Chicago, in response to the fraying relationship with the US. Secondhand air power will, it seems, have to do for now.

Design

Stylistic similarities

Numerous fashion brands have dressed up with new typefaces for the new year. So why does it look like they’ve all chosen the same outfit?

What do Rimowa, Saint Laurent, Diane von Furstenberg and Burberry have in common? Well, they’re all sporting refreshed sans-serif typefaces to take on 2019, for one. But if luxury fashion is supposed to be about individuality and discernment, why are so many leading names now travelling in the same design direction? “The bolder type works better on screens than delicate type and that’s really important now, especially on small screens,” says columnist and branding expert Rob Walker. “There’s also something about these bolder type treatments that suggests utility: it’s not just that it’s fancy, it’s that it’s solid and good. Brands spend half their time trying to stand out and half their time trying to fit in – to not look dated or left behind.” And the rules for a failsafe 2019 typographic refresh, according to Walker? “All capitals, sharp-edged letters, stark, no serifs and bold.” Very bold indeed.

Politics

Image: Getty Images

Primed for success?

Governmental goings-on in Japan are set to heat up this year – and Shinzo Abe may yet add fuel to that fire.

2019 is set to be a busy political year for Japan. In April, local elections will be followed by the succession of a new emperor; in June, Osaka will host the G20 summit. Then July sees more elections, with half the seats in the Upper House up for grabs. In addition, pundits are already predicting that Shinzo Abe might call a general election, sealing his stint as Japan’s longest-serving postwar prime minister. He has already proven that no matter what level his personal popularity might be at, he is an election winner: his party, the Liberal Democratic party, and its coalition partner have won five national elections since 2012. Such a mandate might bring his dream of revising Japan’s pacifist constitution that little bit closer. He could have a tougher time than usual though, with apparent disquiet within the LDP base about the recent immigration bill and the prospect of a consumption tax rise in October. Luckily for Abe, the opposition is currently too weak to cause him many concerns.

From Monocle 24

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From Monocle Films

The Monocle Travel Guide Series: Honolulu

There is more to Honolulu than aloha shirts and picture-postcard images of hula girls: our new travel guide reveals a dynamic urban centre packed with independent retailers, modernist architecture and a shave-ice stand or two. Published by Gestalten, it is available now at The Monocle Shop.

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