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    Gavekal Research

    Firing On Three Cylinders

    The upturn in the eurozone continues to gain momentum. The recovery in France which long has been among the European economy's laggards, coupled with brisk activity in Germany and Spain, suggests that the eurozone is now firing on three of its four main cylinders in a cyclical upswing that promises to become self-sustaining.

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Half-Hearted Battle Against Air Pollution

    The return of severe smog to northern China since December has frightened families and raised more doubts about the government’s declared “war” on air pollution. So is the government losing the war? Or are they not even fighting it in the first place? In this piece, Rosealea explains the political and economic realities of air pollution in China.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Japanese Equities: More Where That Came From

    Japan is the top performer among developed world equity markets over the last six months, with the Nikkei 225 up 28% in local currency terms. Even in US dollar terms, the Japanese market has gained a robust 14%, enough to outperform an S&P 500 lent wings by the Trump trade. That strength is set to continue into 2017, with the Tokyo market remaining well bid on the back of a monetary policy stance that the Bank of Japan will find it hard—even...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Alchemist’s Apprentice

    If done right urbanization can be considered development alchemy as it transforms surplus rural labor and simple building materials into the “gold” of economic growth. India has lagged China’s embrace of city life over the last 30 years, but that is now changing and the result could be transformative for the Indian economy’s growth outlook.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    What You Need To Know About The Party Congress

    In 2017, the Communist Party will hold its 19th Congress, an event that will set the political framework for Xi Jinping’s second term as China’s leader, and beyond. The big question for the Congress is how much Xi will be able to change the rules of elite politics to strengthen his own power. This piece offers a guide to those rules of the game.

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    Gavekal Research

    Long Rates & The Velocity Of Money

    As Gavekal’s readers will be aware, much of my research is driven by a handful of powerful obsessions. Lately these have included my fixation with the euro as a weapon of mass destruction, and my determination to elucidate how the theories of the great 19th century economist Knut Wicksell apply to today’s economies and markets. In recent years these have, to some extent, displaced other pre-occupations, and I have done very little work on one of...

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    Gavekal Research

    The Gavekal Monthly: Our Top 12 Questions For 2017

    For our first Monthly of the year, we depart from our normal format to offer our thoughts on the dozen most important questions investors must face this year. Not surprisingly, the issues that rose to the top were the impact of the new Trump administration's policies on the dollar and US bond yields, and whether the eurozone will spend the year tearing itself apart. Also,oil prices, the risk of financial implosion in China, and where to...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The RMB: Steady As She Goes

    In the first three trading days of 2017, the renminbi jumped more than 1% against the US dollar. But this bullish start to the year does not signal a change of tack for China's policymakers. Here, Chen Long explains why Beijing’s strategy of managing the renminbi against a trade-weighted basket of currencies will not change in 2017.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Higher Headline CPI Does Not Spell ECB Tapering

    According to the financial media, eurozone inflation is “soaring”. The initial estimate released yesterday showed that consumer price index inflation picked up to 1.1% year-on-year in December, from 0.6% the previous month. That is the fastest rate since 2013. What’s more the rise occurred against a background of generally accelerating economic activity. In December, the eurozone composite PMI ticked up to 54.4, its highest reading since May...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The US Equity Dilemma

    On the first trading day of the year, we learnt that the Trump trade remains very much alive. The S&P 500 rose 0.8%, 10-year treasury yields inched up 1.3bp and the DXY US dollar index climbed 0.4%. While investors seem focused on the positive ramifications of a Donald Trump presidency, the year ahead is full of uncertainty—with changes in store for fiscal, monetary, regulatory and trade policies, all of which will occur in the context of a...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Five Macro Questions For 2017

    For our first China research piece of the new year, we offer a guide to the economic outlook in the form of short answers to some big questions: Will China be as boring as consensus forecast imply? Will the central bank hike interest rates? Will the housing market correct sharply? Will it be a good year for Chinese equities? Will the labor market hold up?

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    Gavekal Research

    The Big US Dollar Risk

    The US dollar enters 2017 up by 25% against a broad basket of currencies over the last two-and-half years. The single biggest question for investors in the new year must be whether the dollar continues its bull run.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    The Crisis Of Market Fundamentalism

    After 2008, the prevailing market fundamentalism forbade political interventions that could have shared the benefits of capitalism while mitigating its costs to specific people. The result was a post-crisis confusion and disillusionment whose political effects we witnessed last year—and which has not yet ended.

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    Gavekal TrackMacro

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    Gavekal Research

    A €20bn Start In Italy

    Yesterday the Italian government said it would seek the permission of parliament to raise €20bn in new debt to fund the recapitalization of the country’s weakest banks. Although Italy’s politicians had been earnestly hoping to avoid overt state involvement in bank restructuring, this could well turn out to be a positive development. Coupled with encouraging progress towards the private sector clean-up of Italy’s biggest bank, a well managed...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Is The US Equity Market Overvalued?

    After the S&P 500 index set a new record closing high last Wednesday, up some 6% since the US presidential election, I am left once again scratching my head over the age-old question: is the US equity market expensive or cheap?

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    The Dollar Surge Continues, For Now

    Louis likes to say that the foreign exchange market is a serial monogamist. At any one time, the market is faithful to a single idea. The trouble is that at any moment it is liable to switch the object of its affections. Right now the foreign exchange market is clearly still smitten by the Trumpflation trade. Following the US Federal Reserve’s decision earlier this week to raise interest rates, yesterday the US currency’s DXY index climbed to...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Post-Fed Risk Of Sector Rotation

    As expected, the US Federal Reserve went ahead and raised its benchmark interest rate by 25bp yesterday. Less widely expected was the positive tone of the Fed’s comments on the economic outlook, and its slightly more hawkish view on the trajectory of rates, with policymakers now projecting three rate increases next year rather than two. Fed chair Janet Yellen described the changes as “tiny”. But the market reaction—10-year treasury yields rose...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Macro Update: Reflation Continues Into 2017

    In our latest quarterly chartbook, Chen Long assesses the outlook for China next year. Growth driven by industrial reflation should continue into early 2017, as private investment and consumption both improve. With inflation up and growth stable, monetary policy is tighter on the margin, which will likely lead to a downturn in housing sales.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Call Me An Old Curmudgeon

    Call me an old curmudgeon, but financial markets are currently experiencing an outbreak of optimism that could well prove to be dangerous. At the moment we have a situation where both the US stock market and long rates are rising on expectations of faster nominal growth. Readers who have followed my Wicksellian research are no doubt scratching their heads over this concurrent move, because they will appreciate that there is no prospect of...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Our 2016 Holiday Reading List

    “All books are divisible into two classes,” said John Ruskin, “the books of the hour, and the books of all time.” This year’s list of works enjoyed by Gavekal staff in 2016 includes books from both categories; among them are an account of Russian nationalism, an examination of the sharing economy, and a look at the future of Japan. Happy reading.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Between A Rock And A Hard Brexit

    Sterling has gained almost 7% against the euro this month, partly because of comments from British ministers hinting at a softer version of Brexit than the sharp and rapid break implied by Theresa May’s early speeches. For example, sterling’s rebound through US$1.25 and from £0.90 to the euro was directly caused by a parliamentary answer from David Davis, the minister in charge of Brexit, suggesting that Britain might continue to make...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    How Not To Control Coal Prices

    The price of coal has been on a wild ride recently—and the volatility is not over yet. China’s government spent much of 2016 trying to push the coal price up, but the ensuing price surge now has them backpedaling and trying to push prices down again. There is a real risk these interventions will cause prices to overshoot on the downside in 2017.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Putting The Lenin Back In Leninism

    When Xi Jinping took power four years ago, the Communist Party was plagued by opposition and factionalism, a loss of control over provincial governments, and an erosion of legitimacy. To solve these problems Xi has centralized power in a single leader—himself. Such a retrograde approach bodes ill for China’s long-run economic and political future.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Can Stability Maintenance Survive Trump?

    To meet the needs of their own political cycle, Chinese leaders will aim to ensure steady economic growth for the next year. Unfortunately, it seems that the political need of US president-elect Donald Trump is to cause as much disruption for China as possible.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Leninism Upgraded: Xi Jinping’s Authoritarian Innovations

    In order to cement Communist Party control and discipline, Xi Jinping has dismantled China’s successful model of ‘explorative governance’ and latitude for local initiative. China’s long-term success depends on whether he is willing to relax the reins after the 2017 Party Congress.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Grand Bargain Or Grand Conflict With The US?

    For more than two centuries, China-US relations have swung back and forth between high expectations and dashed hopes. Today the stakes are higher than ever, as Beijing seeks to carve out a sphere of influence and Washington struggles to craft a response. And where the relationship is headed under a volatile President Trump is anyone’s guess.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Steady As She Goes (Despite Trump)

    China is still on track to maintain GDP growth of 6% or more in the run-up to the 19th Party Congress in late 2017. Despite threats of a trade war with the US, Trump’s election probably hands China some long-run strategic benefits

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Only One Winner In The Global Robot War

    The US and Europe hope that the rise of robotics will bring manufacturing back to advanced economies. But China is well equipped to make the most of the robot revolution, leaving little space for other players.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Boom And Bust In The Electric Vehicle Market

    China has poured immense resources into creating a market for electric vehicles. But it is struggling to create a self-sustaining industry. As with the failed industrial policy for conventional autos in the 1990s, too much intervention might be the problem.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Nearing The End Of The Last Housing Boom?

    In 2016, China had its strongest housing market upturn since the global financial crisis. Driven by policy and debt, this surge is unlikely to continue through next year. Fundamental demand has peaked and the government wants to keep prices in check.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Enigma Of Chinese Power

    Arthur reviews four books that explain why the Communist Party has been so successful, what could bring it down, and Xi Jinping’s strategy for keeping it alive.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ: Xi Jinping’s China

    2017 will be a very political year for China. The short-term priority is a smooth economic run-up to the Communist Party Congress, when Xi Jinping will strengthen his grip on power. In the long term, questions are growing as to whether the Party is flexible enough to govern a dynamic society. This issue of CEQ assesses China’s political future.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Unsustainable Oil Price Spike

    It took a while, but the spike in the oil price expected at the end of November finally occurred this morning in Asia, when front-month Brent crude futures briefly hit US$57.89/bbl, up from US$54.33/bbl on Friday. The jump higher was triggered by news over the weekend that a handful of major non-Opec producers led by Russia have agreed to cut their output by 558,000 barrels per day on top of the 1.2mn b/d reduction announced by Opec at the end...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    For The ECB, Less Really Is More

    Mario Draghi and his colleagues in the European Central Bank had a difficult line to tread yesterday. On one hand the ECB president faced pressure to wind down his program of quantitative easing. On the other, lingering risks in Europe’s periphery argued for a continuation of ECB asset purchases in order to avoid rocking the financial boat heading into next year’s packed political calendar.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    An Indian Payoff

    What was it that Kipling said about keeping one’s head, when all around you others are losing theirs? That was the Reserve Bank of India’s approach yesterday when it defied calls for an interest rate cut in response to severe economic disruption caused by the government’s hasty withdrawal of big denomination banknotes. The RBI downgraded its growth forecast for the year ending in March by just 0.5pp, and argued that price pressures remain a...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Japan Reflation Trade

    About a month ago, Japanese investors learnt that a man who wants to rip up their prime minister’s prized free trade deal and potentially jettison Japan’s key security guarantees would soon be US president. After an initial wobble, they spent most of the last four weeks buying equities with such gusto that the Nikkei 225 is up almost 14%.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research December Call

    Louis and Anatole outlined their views on the new investment environment. Louis focused on the apparent contradictions in investors’ reaction to Donald Trump’s win in the US presidential election. Anatole argued that the US has almost certainly transitioned to a more inflationary growth path, but said it would be a slow build-up.

    0
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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

    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

    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

    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.

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