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Opinion / Christopher Cermak
This week marks the first in-person meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank in Washington since the pandemic struck. It’s also the first time that I’ve attended in more than 10 years. I can’t help feeling a sense of déjà vu. A decade ago, the talk was of a full-blown Eurozone collapse and the legacy of the 2008 global financial crisis; this year, conversations have focused on the war in Ukraine and surging inflation. Yet the principle is the same: a world in crisis.
The IMF’s chief economist, Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas (pictured), warned, “The worst is yet to come and, for many people, 2023 will feel like a recession.” Also, if Europe thinks that this year’s winter energy crunch will be bad, just wait for 2023. But there’s good news if you look for it. Tobias Adrian, in charge of monitoring financial stability at the IMF, ranked the current situation just below that of a global financial crisis. In other words, the risk is there but we haven’t succumbed yet. This is in part thanks to lessons learned from previous disasters. Banks today are healthier, while central bankers and regulators are keeping a closer eye on signs of danger.
In 2008 and 2012, the atmosphere at these meetings was rather chaotic. Policymakers were in uncharted territory (former US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, awarded the Nobel economics prize this week, deserves credit for his crisis-fighting actions). This year the challenges feel equally tremendous but there is less panic. The global economy is better prepared and more resilient. As you stare in shock at your heating bill this winter, that’s at least one thing to be thankful for.
Christopher Cermak is Monocle’s Washington correspondent. Listen to Monocle 24 for reports from the IMF/World Bank annual meetings this week.
Conflict / Ethiopia
Next month will mark the two-year point in Ethiopia’s bloody civil war, with government forces still engaged in heavy combat with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. Fighting has intensified since August, following the collapse of a truce first brokered seven months ago. Some analysts have said that the conflict is even bloodier than the war in Ukraine, with desertion being punished by years of imprisonment or even death. Restrictions applied to both travel and communication lines have made it increasingly difficult to report on the Tigray war and the ensuing humanitarian crisis.
Laetitia Bader, the Horn of Africa director at Human Rights Watch, told The Globalist on Monocle 24 that the government’s media blackout is preventing journalists from documenting the war’s abuses. “We’re receiving reports of civilians being killed in airstrikes,” she said. “One of the gravest abuses that an International UN Commission has characterised is starvation as a method of war. The government hasn’t only restricted communication within the region but it has also restricted access for aid throughout the period of the truce.”
For more on the war in Tigray, tune in to Thursday’s edition of ‘The Globalist’ on Monocle 24.
It’s no secret that spaces that are lush with greenery can significantly improve our wellbeing, thanks to the mood-boosting and stress-reducing properties of plants. The “world of plants” for USM Haller, a modular solution that allows greenery to be integrated into the Swiss furniture-maker’s existing systems, makes it easier than ever to reap these benefits, whether at home or at your workplace. USM’s new system is proof that adding a welcome touch of nature to a home or office and enhancing its sustainability credentials can be free from hassle and that solutions can be tailor-made for any space.
Tourism / Taiwan
Taiwan fully opened its borders yesterday, bringing to an end more than two years of pandemic-related restrictions. Travellers will neither have to take a coronavirus test to enter the island nor undergo quarantine on arrival. Just after midnight, the first flight to benefit from the relaxed guidelines arrived from Bangkok. Disembarking in Taoyuan Airport, passengers were greeted by government officials who gave them teddy bears and placed garlands of flowers around their necks. International visitors will be required to self-monitor with rapid tests for seven days after arrival but they are otherwise free to travel around the island.
Prior to the pandemic, Taiwan welcomed almost 12 million visitors annually. Nearly a quarter of those came from mainland China, which is still imposing strict coronavirus rules and does not allow its citizens to travel abroad for tourism. The Taiwanese government hopes that tourism will boost the island’s economy and bolster voters’ confidence in the current administration ahead of the local elections in November, when it faces a strong challenge from the opposition Kuomintang (Chinese Nationalist Party).
F&B / Istanbul
One of the first questions that a Turkish person will ask a visitor to their country is, “Do you like our food?” The answer is almost invariably, “Yes.” Encompassing oil-drenched mezes, unapologetically sweet desserts and, of course, kebabs, Turkey’s cuisine is one of the world’s richest. This week, Michelin endorsed it by launching its first Istanbul guide. Inspectors spent six months crisscrossing the Bosphorus to identify the city’s most sublime flavours.
Fifty-three restaurants have been listed, including a handful of budget spots – among them the lunchtime institution Karakoy Lokantasi. Five restaurants were awarded stars, including Turk Fatih Tutak, which received two. Its eponymous chef (pictured, centre) creates modern takes on classic Turkish dishes, from midye dolma, mussels stuffed with spiced rice, to pide, a boat-shaped flatbread with toppings.
Hospitality / Global
“Authenticity” and “simplicity” were two key words to emerge from The Hive (pictured), a hospitality event that wrapped up yesterday in the town of Arco, northern Italy. The gathering was billed as an “un-conference” by Iain Ainsworth, founder of online resource The Aficionados, which organised the event. Hoteliers from Austria, Germany, Italy and beyond came together to listen to talks on topics ranging from the power of brands to the importance of gyms. Among the trends that Ainsworth identified were minibar adaptogens – foods that help to manage stress – and the return of the walk-in closet. German photographer Kerstin zu Pan took the audience on what she called “a walk on the dark side of photography”, confronting attendees with the kind of dull room shots and stock imagery that still dominate many hotels’ promotional material. “You are not standard and your hotels are not standard,” she said. “So why use standard storytelling?”
Monocle 24 / The Menu
The author of Japanese Home Cooking shares a recipe made with fresh ingredients.
Monocle Films / Global
In our latest film series, we meet and celebrate some of the people behind our iconic photography reportage. In our first episode Istanbul-based photographer Rena Effendi talks about her process, why she shoots on film and her assignment to Libya in 2021. She had never been to Tripoli before but was soon won over and captured a mesmerising mix of full-blown glamour, oddness and a perhaps unexpected order and calmness. Discover more with The Monocle Book of Photography, which is available to buy today.
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