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    Gavekal Research

    Cash Repatriation Won’t Trigger A New Buyback Boom

    With the incoming US administration promising big tax breaks on the repatriation of corporate cash piles held overseas, Wall Street is confidently predicting a renewed equity market buyback boom in 2017. On first hearing, this sounds like a reasonable expectation. For one thing, in recent years US companies have consistently chosen to plough their retained earnings—and a sizable amount of debt—into share buybacks, rather than into investment in...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Putting The Boot Into Italy

    Matteo Renzi has joined a long line of Italian prime ministers who failed to “reform” their country. This is another way of saying that he could not wave a magic wand and make Italy competitive with Germany. The grim reality is that no Italian leader stood a chance of changing their country once the fateful decision was made to peg its currency to Germany’s. At the time of the euro’s launch in 1999, I argued that the risk profile of Italy would...

    5
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Rise Of A New Conglomerate

    If China’s sputtering state enterprise reforms are going to be successful anywhere, it should be in Shandong, with its solid economy and reform-minded governor. But a closer look at Yankuang Group, the province’s poster child for SOE reform, shows that local SOEs are just becoming even larger, more complicated and less transparent conglomerates.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Assessing EMs Vulnerability To The Trump Trade

    Emerging markets have faced selling pressure since Donald Trump’s US presidential election win started to drive treasury yields higher. EM debt funds saw their largest ever outflow the week after the election, while currencies have fallen on fears of trade protectionism and more talk of the US dollar being primed for a 1980s-style super-spike. Given this basket of worries, Joyce revisits her “emerging market relative balance sheet vulnerability...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Cost Of Italy’s “No” Vote

    Europe lurched another step towards the eventual break-up of the eurozone yesterday, when the Italian electorate rejected constitutional reforms that would have broken the country’s legislative logjam, allowing much-needed economic restructuring. For European policymakers, the simultaneous rejection across the Alps of far-right candidate Norbert Hofer in Austria’s presidential election was small consolation. Hofer’s defeat shows that the...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    How Bad Is The Dollar Squeeze?

    This has not been your regular dollar squeeze. Over the last month, the cost of obtaining US dollars offshore has soared to levels last seen in “crisis” periods, yet bank equities have rallied the most in six years. Rather than a new crisis unfolding, we seem to be transitioning to a macro environment where dollars are structurally scarce. This will be challenging for weak link economies, as shown yesterday by adverse market moves in Brazil and...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Only The Start Of The Trumpflation Trade

    Three weeks after the US presidential election, and it looks as though the Trumpflation trade may be running out of puff. Far from it, argues Anatole. With US policy about to swing from monetarist to Keynesian, markets are only at the start of a long term bear market in bonds and a bull market in the US dollar that will have enormous repercussions on asset prices around the world.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Something's Gotta Give

    Louis Gave held a conference call on December 6 where he discussed the state of global markets as the US gets ready for a Trump presidency. The fundamental challenge for investors is that while equities and the US dollar have rallied strongly and bonds have sold off in a “Trump reflation trade,” it is not clear how long that trade can withstand the reality of Trump’s economic program.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Making Sense Of The Housing-Commodity Nexus

    Early sales data confirm that China’s property cycle took another step down in November. Yet no one seems to have told the commodity markets: even as property sales have cooled off, prices have heated up, with domestic futures for steel, copper, and coal jumping 20-40% in November. In this piece, Rosealea explains how to read these mixed signals.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Gavekal Monthly: Preparing For The Trumped-Up Economy

    Markets have been on a startling trajectory since Donald Trump upended investors’ assumptions with his win in the US presidential election. In this issue of the Monthly two Gavekal partners ask whether the macro environment really has fundamentally shifted due to the emerging policy platform of the president-elect.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Italy Down To The Wire

    In Italy “less is more” when it comes to opinion polling in the final days of an election campaign, hence the last formal snapshot of voting intentions in Sunday’s constitutional referendum was released on November 18. That poll put the “No” camp squarely ahead by 55% to 45%, which if born out would likely spark the resignation of Matteo Renzi, Italy’s pro-reform prime minister. Still, nature hates a vacuum and the ban on formal polling is...

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Don't Blame The Property Speculators

    Is a love of speculation sapping firms’ appetite for real investment? As Chinese companies slow spending on fixed assets, they are buying more investment properties—sparking concern about a “hollowing out” of the economy. Thomas says the blame is misplaced; property speculation is an effect not a cause of firms slowing capex as the economy cools.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Wicksellian Spread Update

    US economic growth and corporate profits both rebounded in the third quarter. Yesterday the Bureau of Economic Analysis revised its number for 3Q16 growth in gross domestic product up from 2.9% to 3.2% year-on-year. At the same time the BEA also released its first estimate of 3Q corporate profits, which at first glance also looked positive. For example, profits in the domestic non-financial sector jumped by an annualized 24% in 3Q, after falling...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Why Oil Production Cuts Won’t Work

    In January 1991, in a last-ditch effort to avoid all-out war, United Nations secretary general Javier Perez de Cuellar flew to Baghdad in an attempt to persuade Saddam Hussein to withdraw his forces from Kuwait. On his return to Paris, the secretary general spoke to the press in an address that was carried live on television. Nowhere was the broadcast watched more keenly than on the floor of the International Petroleum Exchange in London....

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Debt Restructuring Toolbox

    Debt restructuring transactions are finally starting to happen in China, after years of warnings about the dangers of rising corporate debt. Yet there is no sign of a repeat of the huge state-led bailouts of the late 1990s. There will be many smaller deals to help individual firms cut debt, but these won’t add up to an overall deleveraging.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Riding The US Monetary Cycle

    In market conditions that abound with conflicting signals, KX argues that investors should keep a close eye on an adjusted measure of real US money supply growth as an early warning signal of recession, and suggests how a tool based on this measure could make a useful allocation tool for equity managers.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Risk-On And The Rising US Dollar

    Inflation is when the haircut that used to cost you US$20 back when you had hair now costs you US$30. Looking at recent market moves, it seems that investors are increasingly pricing in, and even welcoming, a higher rate of US inflation. In a world in which deflation is a problem, currency depreciations such as those we have just witnessed (whether of the yen, the euro, the renminbi etc.) are bad news, for they accentuate deflationary pressures...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Polls, Big Data And The French Primary

    It’s been said that big data is like carnal knowledge in teenage boys’ locker rooms: everyone talks about it, but noone really knows much about it. A slew of election results in the last few years supports such a viewpoint, for in an age when everything can supposedly be measured, political forecasts have been proven hugely flawed—the UK general election in 2015, the Brexit vote, the Colombian peace-process referendum, Donald Trump winning the...

    8
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    Gavekal Research

    The Rally In European Banks

    More than four months after it bottomed out one and a half standard deviations below its 200-day moving average, the Euro STOXX banks index has rallied 34% and is once again trading at the levels it was at immediately before the summer’s steep post-Brexit losses. Yet despite the rebound the index remains down -18% year to date, and with a clutch of the factors that precipitated the initial sell-off—notably negative interest rates, shaky capital...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Lady Is Not For Turning

    As she kicked off her general election campaign this week, Angela Merkel declared that Germany “had never had it so good”. The economy is humming so nicely that Germany’s council of economic advisors recently warned about overheating. This would seem to rule out a fiscal stimulus, which conflicts with Brussels’ policy of engineering a more expansionary fiscal environment.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Austerity Lingers In Britain

    Rumors of the death of fiscal austerity are greatly exaggerated, at least in Europe. That is the most important lesson for global markets from the UK Treasury’s long-awaited budgetary response to the Brexit vote. Many investors believed in the immediate aftermath of the British referendum that this shock might be the catalyst for more expansionary fiscal policies all over the world. In the past two weeks, the prospect of a Trump fiscal stimulus...

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Chinese Consumer: Outlook & Trends 2016

    In our latest annual review of the Chinese consumer, Ernan covers the most important cyclical and structural trends. This chartbook summarizes the macro drivers of household income, saving and spending; explains what’s booming and what’s not within various consumer markets; and unpacks the fundamentals of the internet economy.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Italian Domino Teeters

    My thesis has for a while been that we are living in an era characterized by the “little man” revolting against the global elite. I explained this idea in May using the perhaps apocryphal tale of a South Pacific island made up of home-loving tree dwellers and more adventurous boat travellers (see Trump And The Tree People). The point was that the normally laid back people of the trees were stirring from their torpor as shown by the Brexit vote...

    8
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: European Political Dominos

    In the aftermath of the Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s win in the US presidential election, attention has shifted to the eurozone with the assumption that more dominos must topple under the gathering populist political wave. In this video interview Nick considers the good, the bad and the ugly of the European political scene and offers pointers for navigating these risks.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Stagnation or Bust? A Wicksellian Chart Dashboard

    For users’ convenience, we provide below the complete set of charts published in Charles Gave’s November 2016 book Stagnation or Bust? A Wicksellian View of the Natural Interest Rate, the Market Rate and Asset Allocation, with interactive graphics available for Macrobond subscribers.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Investing By The (Wicksellian) Book

    As regular readers will know, I have spent much of the last 10 years studying, and attempting to enlarge upon, the work of the great 19th century Swedish economist Knut Wicksell. My mission has been two-fold: firstly to understand how Wicksell’s writings explain what we see happening in the global economy today, and secondly to translate his theories into practical tools to help investors make asset allocation decisions in the real world.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    A New Tech Cycle?

    Weak Japanese exports for October were not a big surprise given that the yen has been strong and global trade remains lackluster. Yet buried within recent (dreary) trade releases is evidence pointing to a new semiconductor investment cycle. The first signal, from official data at least, came in Japan’s 3Q16 GDP report which showed growth at 0.5%, versus an expected 0.2%, with the difference explained by exports of electronic components and...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    A Permanent Surplus Of Power

    China’s excess supply of coal-fired electricity is now more extreme than ever—and is only getting worse. This huge misallocation of resources was caused by policies that tried to restrain demand for power, but ended up encouraging its supply. As a result, electricity rates are falling, but not quickly or substantially enough to fix the problem.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    A Cautionary Note On US Housing

    After months of anemic activity, US homebuilding picked up in October. This is a welcome development, given that residential construction is a key leading indicator for the overall economy, and that lately it has been close to sending a recession signal (see On The Brink Of Recession). However, the magnitude of the improvement should not be overstated. While housing starts did post the biggest monthly increase since 1982, this is a volatile...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Hong Kong Seminar — November 2016

    Arthur Kroeber presented his thoughts on the outcome of the US election, as well as an analysis of China's leadership politics. Will Denyer presented his thoughts on the US economy. Tom Miller gave an optimistic take on reforms in India under Modi's government.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Why So Calm In Emerging Markets?

    Historically, a strengthening US dollar has been bad news for emerging markets; just think of the Asian crisis of 1997. And rising US long rates do not exactly help; consider the taper tantrum of 2013. Put them together then, and throw the prospect of greater trade protectionism into the mix, and the current global environment should be absolutely toxic for emerging market assets. Yet despite considerable local pain, notably in Mexico, the...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Making America Great Again

    Markets have been sending contradictory signals since the US political equation changed radically 10 days ago. In this piece, Louis seeks to unscramble the mixed messages as he tries to feel his way into the new investment environment.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Better Late Than Never

    When Brussels officials admitted in May that there was scope to loosen Europe’s fiscal straitjacket, this seemed like an expedient measure so that counties could breach their deficit limits without being penalized (see Fiscal Rules Are There To Be Broken). It is now clear that this shift was more than a one-off accommodation and the policymaking ground has moved. Yesterday the European Commission updated its view on state spending with a...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Trouble With Monopsonies

    What happens when a company is so successful that it becomes the dominant buyer of labor in its market? It then has an incentive to hold down workers’ incomes, even at the expense of reduced output. As Charles argues, such “monopsonies” are increasingly acting as a drag on economic growth. Yet in an environment of free trade, there is little national governments can do.

    15
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    Gavekal Research

    Arthur Kroeber: A New Era Of Sino-US Relations

    While Donald Trump has threatened to slap huge tariffs on Chinese exports, Arthur thinks this would be an act of self-harm given the economic co-dependence between China and the US. In this video interview, he maps out the likely evolution of relations between the two countries in the years ahead.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Trump’s Tax Plans And The Dollar

    Following last week’s US election result, the US dollar—as represented by the DXY index—has risen to test the upper bound of the range that has prevailed since the first quarter of 2015. At these levels the US currency looks overvalued, both in real effective exchange rate terms against other major currencies, and on a purchasing power parity basis. Yet it would be premature to bet against a break-out to the upside. Although the dollar’s REER is...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    When You Sleep With An Elephant

    It is always comforting to be back in familiar territory. In a long career in investment—45 years and counting—I have seen a few Mexican crises. All these years on, I have fond memories of the 1976 peso devaluation, and of the subsequent 1980 devaluation. I remember the 1982 debt crisis well, and the “década perdida”—the lost decade—which followed. Then came the hyperinflation of the early 1990s which led to the introduction in 1993 of the new...

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Behind The Curtain At "Double Eleven"

    Alibaba has grabbed headlines once again by racking up RMB120.7bn in online purchases during its one-day promotional event on November 11. But these enormous numbers are achieved through elaborate promotional schemes that distort consumer behavior, and no longer provide any real information about the China consumer story.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Trumpian Europe?

    Donald Trump’s win in the US presidential election has emboldened populist movements in continental Europe and raised the specter of a similar anti-establishment electoral wave taking hold. The next 10 months will see national votes that could reshape Europe, with perhaps the most important happening in Italy on December 4. Myself and Nick Andrews have argued all year that the European Union is in the grip of destructive centrifugal forces due...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Decision Tree From Here

    For months, I have argued that the MSCI World’s push to within a couple of percentage points of its all time high was driven by two powerful forces: the extremely low level of global bond yields, and the continued compression of foreign exchange volatility. I went as far as to argue that this environment was reminiscent of 1986-87, and the Louvre Accord, whose breakdown ultimately triggered the 1987 crash (see Forget Central Banks, Watch Foreign...

    6
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Risk Avoidance Strategy

    China’s economy has turned in another slate of decent growth data for October. The three drivers of loose credit, recovering construction, and rising commodity prices that have supported the economy are still holding firm. But Andrew cautions that the government’s objective is not exactly growth at all costs, but rather avoiding downside risks.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Prospects For The US Bond Market

    Back in July, I wrote a paper on the US bond market which came to the conclusion that things were getting complicated. My thesis at the time was that there was no value left in the US long bond—the 30-year treasury—and that it could no longer be used as a hedge against a potential deflationary bust. At the time the long bond yield was around 2.3%. Since then the election of Donald Trump as president of the US has had a severe impact on bond...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research November Call

    Anatole Kaletsky, Arthur Kroeber and Charles Gave presented their views on what a Donald Trump presidency means. Anatole outlined both positive and negative potential outcomes. On the positive side, US growth could see a boost from expansionary fiscal policy, but isolationist trade policies could threaten US firms and equity prices. Arthur warned of the geopolitical risk of a power vacuum should the US pull back from its treaty obligations....

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Arthur Kroeber: What A Trump Presidency Means

    This is an excerpt from Arthur Kroeber's presentation at Gavekal's Hong Kong seminar on November 10. In this video Arthur presents his initial thoughts on the changes in the political situation in the US, and what it means for the rest of the world.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Trump’s Bond Market Correction

    The new US leadership was always likely to inherit a bond market correction. Now, the Republicans’ clean sweep in winning control of the White House and both houses of Congress significantly increases the odds of a deep bond market sell-off. Which in turn will be likely to knock equities down a few notches.

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    India’s Banknote Bombshell

    While the world’s attention was riveted on this week’s US election, India sprang a surprise.On Tuesday Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the immediate demonetization of all existing banknotes with denominations of INR500 and INR1,000—note issues which together accounted for nearly 90% of the total currency in circulation by value.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    What A Trump Presidency Means For Global Investors

    The social and geopolitical implications of the Trump shock are much too complex and too charged with emotion for instant assessments to be worthwhile. Even in the case of ordinary presidential elections, the immediate first-day market reaction usually turns out to be wrong. I will therefore try to avoid moral judgements and confine myself largely to economic observations, dividing them into ten items of good and bad news from a strictly...

    3
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Advantage Shifts To China

    Donald Trump’s victory was also a victory for Xi Jinping. Trump’s more isolationist stance and transactional attitude hands the edge to China in the battle for influence in Asia. Trump’s threats of economic warfare with China are also mostly empty; if anything, Beijing has gained a bit of advantage in its bilateral ties with the US.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Trump, Risk, And The Renminbi

    Will the election of Donald Trump prove to be a major “risk-off” event for the Chinese currency and financial assets? Trump’s policies do make it more likely the US dollar will strengthen, and thus that the renminbi will keep weakening. But the chance of an uncontrolled move in the currency is still low, and the stock market also looks insulated.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    President Trump And The Fall Of Davos Man

    For decades, all around the world but especially in Europe, the notion of the sovereign nation has been under fierce attack. Leading the assault have been the international bureaucrats and a clique of economists in league with those I have dubbed the men of Davos, all of them resolute proponents of crony capitalism (see Dissolving The People).

    8
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