Friday 10 February 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Friday. 10/2/2023

The Monocle Minute

Image: Thomas Prior

Opinion / Ed Stocker

Age of reason

There’s a weary saying in Italy: “You’re paying money towards a state pension? Don’t count on seeing much of it.” The Bel Paese might have the oldest population in an old continent but it isn’t the only country that’s contending with the issue of how to manage an ageing citizenry. France is trying to future-proof its own pension system but its attempts aren’t going down well. Emmanuel Macron argues that the nation has no choice but to raise its retirement age from 62 to 64. Many, however, disagree; protesters from across the political spectrum are taking to the streets to defend their right to call it a day.

On paper it might seem like a no-brainer. People are living longer and too few taxpayers are entering the workforce. But it’s not as simple as that: opponents of Macron’s proposed reforms argue that raising the age ceiling disproportionately affects poorer, less-educated people who enter the labour market earlier and often do more physically demanding tasks – and it’s they who will end up working longer. French lawmakers have partially conceded on this point, saying that people who begin employment between the ages of 20 and 21 will be eligible for a pension after 43 years of work.

Macron, who was elected for a second term last year, might be tempted simply to push through this unpopular legislation now that he has less to lose; the issue almost brought him down during his first term. But government attempts to strongarm reform are unlikely to work. Many other European countries will need to clear similar hurdles in the coming years; Macron has a chance to set a precedent by dealing with the issue through negotiation and compromise rather than by enforcing change. The state retirement age must be dealt with maturely if Macron’s mooted reforms stand a chance of growing old gracefully.

Ed Stocker is Monocle’s Europe editor at large, based in Milan.

Image: Getty Images

Diplomacy / Malaysia & Thailand

Common ground

Malaysia’s prime minister, Anwar Ibrahim, arrived in Thailand yesterday for his first trip to its neighbour since he entered office in November. During the two-day visit, Anwar will meet his Thai counterpart, Prayuth Chan-ocha (pictured, on right, with Anwar), to discuss trade, defence and potential collaborative infrastructure projects. At the top of the list, however, will be finding a solution to the conflict in southern Thailand near its border with Malaysia, where Malay Muslim separatists have been staging an insurgency for decades. Peace talks have stalled in recent years but could gain momentum again under Anwar’s administration. The prime minister, a Malay Muslim, has appointed a new chief facilitator for the peace talks. Finding a way forward in the long-standing conflict is crucial for the region’s political stability and economic development.

Image: Shutterstock

Economy / Peru

Not much copper

The ongoing political unrest in Peru is not only affecting the country’s citizens – it’s a threat to the global copper market too. The South American nation is the world’s second-biggest copper producer but road blockades and protests across the nation have forced some mines to halt production. Glencore’s Antapaccay site, for example, closed for 11 days in January following attacks on the grounds but has since managed to resume operations with beefed-up security.

As the protests rumble on and China’s lifting of its coronavirus restrictions increases demand, many predict price surges that will affect industries that use copper in machinery and electrical equipment. “The human cost [of the crisis] is extraordinary and the economic cost is very large too,” Natalia Sobrevilla Perea, professor of Latin American history at the University of Kent, tells The Monocle Minute. “People’s lives are being deeply affected and there seems to be no political solution.”

For the latest updates on the unrest in Peru, listen to Monocle 24’s The Globalist today.

Image: Getty Images

Retail / Canada

Talking shop

Luxury winter-clothing manufacturer Canada Goose has announced its ambitions to double its number of physical retail spaces over the next five years. The Toronto-based company, which currently has 51 shops, also hopes to increase sales to $3bn (€2.6bn) in the same period, after reporting its highest annual revenue to date in 2022 at more than $860m (€798m).

Sticking to its recent strategy of expanding into product areas beyond its traditional parkas, the brand will branch out into new categories, including eyewear, luggage and homeware. Meanwhile, the company plans to shift its focus to women, who currently represent 48 per cent of its customer base, and younger buyers. Canada Goose’s admirable emphasis on bricks-and-mortar investment shows that, even when targeting younger generations, a digital presence is no substitute for testing out products in a real shop.

Image: Alamy

Culture / UK

Going, going…

Bonhams is a go-to auction house when it comes to selling art and design but, if reports are to be believed, it might find itself under the hammer soon. According to Bloomberg, the firm’s owner, Epiris, a London-based private-equity group, has asked JP Morgan to assist in brokering the deal, with an estimated valuation of almost $1bn (€927m).

Many auction houses have grown and posted strong results over the past few years. Bonhams’ recent performance has been boosted by its 2022 purchase of four regional auctioneers: Stockholm’s Bukowski, Boston’s Skinner, Copenhagen’s Bruun Rasmussen and Paris’s Cornette de Saint Cyr. While Christie’s and Sotheby’s are still major rivals, Bonhams seems determined to remain the outfit of choice for mid-market buyers. Its newly formed network of auction houses could give it an edge as stakes rise.

Image: Mandrake The Black / NETFLIX

Monocle 24 / Monocle On Culture

Guillermo del Toro

We speak to Mexican film-maker Guillermo del Toro, who is celebrated for movies that are underpinned by a sense of the mythic. His most recent film, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, is an intricate stop-motion reinvention of Carlo Collodi’s familiar story. We speak to the two-time Academy Award winner and the film’s co-director, Mark Gustafson.

Monocle Films / Denmark

Community spirit in Denmark

Housing co-operatives are numerous in Denmark, providing residents with affordable places to live, keeping community spirit strong and cultivating samfundssind: the Danish concept of putting society’s needs ahead of individual interests. Monocle visited the Jystrup Savværk co-housing community, an hour outside of Copenhagen, to explore the meaning of the word. Discover more stories and ideas from the region with The Monocle Book of the Nordics, which is available now from The Monocle Shop.


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