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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...

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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.

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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.

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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 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...

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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...

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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

    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.

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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.

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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 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...

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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...

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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 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...

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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.

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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...

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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...

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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....

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    Gavekal Research

    Heaping Uncertainty On Brexit Doubt

    Markets and media were shocked by yesterday’s High Court judgement that UK prime minister Theresa May must seek parliamentary approval before pursuing her Brexit strategy. But for London’s legal community the decision was not unexpected. Many senior lawyers had predicted that the ruling would go against the government, if only because its case was so poorly presented by the Attorney General, who was forced for political reasons to concede the...

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    Gavekal Research

    The New Frontier In Aerospace

    The highlight of this week’s Zhuhai airshow in Southern China was a fly-past by two of the People’s Liberation Army’s new J-20 warplanes, touted as China’s first stealth aircraft. Western military analysts reserved their judgment, pointing out they had learned nothing new about the aircraft, except that it was very noisy. Nevertheless, the broader message from Zhuhai was clear, echoing a similar message broadcast by the Japan International...

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    Gavekal Research

    A European Head Fake

    Should investors be worried by a German bond market sell-off that has seen 10-year bund yields rise some 30bp over the last month? The last time European yields climbed this quickly, in early 2015, eurozone stocks swooned in the following year, with the benchmark index falling -27% peak-to-trough. Moreover, unlike the US which has seen a long expansion, it is not clear that a still weak eurozone can handle a rise in the cost of money.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Gavekal Monthly: Deflation Ends; What Next?

    The biggest market move of the past month was a significant rise in bond yields across the US and Europe. Much commentary has suggested that this might be a symptom of a sustained rise in inflationary pressures, as wages and rents start to push up prices in the US, and Chinese producer prices end four long years spent in negative territory. We are skeptical. The recent rise in yields has so far reversed only half of the decline in the first half...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Sterling Sellers Look Flushed Out

    Here is a simple question: “Why has the pound fallen so far, so fast?”. My simple answer is that the City of London is the world’s dominant financial center, and so pretty much anyone who deals in global markets has a significant exposure to sterling. As a result, the near term movements of sterling are being dictated less by every twist and turn of the Brexit process, but rather by more prosaic financial transactions.

    9
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    Gavekal Research

    When The Facts Change, I Change My Mind

    After the Brexit vote, Anatole became deeply bearish, fearing that a populist insurgency could unleash a destructive retreat from globalization. With the US electorate seemingly set to reject that pathway on November 8, the likelihood of other nations following Britain by turning in on themselves is greatly diminished.

    17
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    Gavekal Research

    Europe’s Breakout Problem

    The eurozone’s cyclical recovery remains less than stellar, yet at least it lives. The single currency area’s composite flash PMI for October recorded its strongest reading since January 2015, rising to 53.7 against an expected 52.8.The reading was flattered by weakness in the last two months, but confirms that Europe has, for now at least, weathered the Brexit vote shock. What is especially encouraging is the breadth of the improvement, which...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Is The Second Shoe About To Drop?

    Keynesian beliefs are based on two key ideas. Firstly, recessions are caused by an excess of savings among nasty types known as rentiers. Secondly, if there is a shortage of demand, the government should conjure it up out of thin air by borrowing money to spend as needed. In the last few years we’ve seen what happens when the first of these two ideas is put into practice. Policymakers around the world have attempted to euthanize the rentier, and...

    14
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    Gavekal Research

    London Seminar — October 2016

    Charles Gave, Joyce Poon, Tom Miller and Anatole Kaletsky outlined their views on issues ranging from the end of the Pax Americana, global asset allocation in the face of increasingly ineffectual monetary policy, India's growth potential, and the imminent uncertainty for markets in the face of political risk.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    No Change In Frankfurt

    Despite multiple European Central Bank officials protesting a steady-as-she-goes approach to monetary policy, the recent rise in eurozone bond yields reflects market concern about a potential tapering of its bond buying. After all, inflation has ticked higher, European banks continue to grumble about a profit-sapping yield curve and the ECB’s dealing desk in Frankfurt will soon run out of eligible bunds to buy. Despite all that, tomorrow will...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Is Perfidious Albion Undermining The 'Shanghai Agreement'?

    Back in the early 1980s, foreign exchange volatility wreaked havoc on business spending plans and countries’ ability to repay foreign currency debt. To remedy this situation, the world’s key financial policymakers got together to agree on a plan for coordinating monetary policies; the idea was to reduce currency volatility and so limit the scope for financial shocks.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    What Does The Italian Elite Want?

    Should we care about the Italian referendum? Without wanting to sound smug toward what remains Europe’s second prettiest country, I can’t remember ever witnessing an Italian election with consequences beyond its own borders. But the December 4th referendum could be such a first: an Italian election that matters.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Tan Kai Xian & Leonor du Jeu: The US Trade Deficit Conundrum

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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research October Call

    Will Denyer presented a newly minted dynamic asset allocation tool which was developed from an ROIC-based framework that has helped us to better map and predict US economic cycles. He then answered listener questions on these themes.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The British Pound: A Two Year View

    The British pound has been on a roller coaster ride to the point that on a purchasing power parity basis it is undervalued by about 10% against the euro and 17.5% versus the US dollar. As a result, sterling has been left 2% below its lower bound against the euro (in average standard deviation terms) and 9% versus the dollar on the same measure. Put another way, the pound is undervalued by more than one standard deviation against the euro and by...

    10
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    Gavekal Research

    As Goes The Pound, So Go Eurozone Exports

    In European capitals this week schadenfreude will no doubt have been expressed at the diminished status of the UK economy and its currency. This morning’s “flash crash” in the pound most likely had technical causes, but the fact the exchange rate could fall so hard without generating automatic buying responses says much about confidence in the unit. Sterling has been under pressure since Prime Minister Theresa May earlier this week said she will...

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Pierre Gave: Can Sweden Escape The Negative Rate Trap?

    On the surface, Sweden’s two-year experiment with zero, and then negative, interest rates appears to have worked well. Growth is strong by developed world standards, and the economy has escaped deflation. But this success has come at the price of an asset price bubble that looks increasingly dangerous. Pierre Gave assesses the risk, and examines possible exit routes for the Riksbank.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Angela Merkel’s Catch 22

    Back in April, we pondered whether, with their negative interest rate policies, central bankers were showing themselves to be particularly incompetent by condemning commercial banks to years of unprofitability, or whether their greater design was to drive weaker banks to the wall to advance a consolidation of banking industries around the world under the umbrella of nationalization (see NIRP: Machiavellian Design Or Policy Mistake?). In other...

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    The Pain Behind The Agony

    The agony at Deutsche Bank is overshadowing the pain elsewhere in the European banking system—but pain there is. Last week Commerzbank, Germany’s second largest bank and biggest Mittelstand lender, announced 9,600 job cuts and sold its Frankfurt headquarters to Samsung of Korea. Yesterday ING said it would lay off some 20% of its Dutch and Belgian headcount and trim its branch network, while in recent days banks elsewhere in the eurozone have...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Hardening Brexit And Softening Sterling

    The second phase of the post-Brexit sterling devaluation probably started this weekend. Theressca May's announcement of March as the deadline for Britain to launch the “Article 50 process” of formally withdrawing from European Union achieved its immediate objective of averting a battle between the Hard Brexit and Soft Brexit factions at this week’s Conservative Party Conference. Unfortunately, May’s party management success is likely to...

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    The Gavekal Monthly: What Price On A Trump Victory?

    Markets seem sanguine about the prospect of a Donald Trump victory in next month's US presidential election—too sanguine. Expert opinion gives Hillary Clinton a 75% chance of winning. But remember that four months ago in the UK, expert opinion discounted polls showing a strong chance of Brexit, and the experts were proved wrong. And the consequences of a Trump win are so huge and potentially destabilizing that even a 25% chance means...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Eurozone Construction Revival

    The eurozone’s construction sector is on the turn as super low interest rates feed through to improved housing demand and as infrastructure building starts to pick-up. The implication is that a reliable new driver of growth should help sustain a moderate eurozone recovery. Investors are advised to take note as the sector has a decently investable universe, which is generating not too shabby earnings growth.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The German Banking Problem

    These are not happy times for Europe’s commercial bankers. The adoption of negative interest rates may have averted the slide into a deflationary abyss, but the policy has hit lending margins, and with them profits. Exhibit A is Deutsche Bank, the dominant financial institution in Europe’s largest and most dynamic economy. Deutsche, whose market value has shrunk to just US$14bn, has problems of its own making in the US, yet its plight has been...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Why The ECB Will Not Turn Japanese

    European bank stocks have enjoyed a near 5% bounce in the last two trading sessions on hopes that the European Central Bank will follow its Japanese counterpart by explicitly adopting policies that help steepen the yield curve and so lessen the squeeze on bank lending margins. There are reasons to be more cheery about the outlook for European financials, but a Japanese-style rescue mission may not be one of them.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Neil Newman: BoJ Policy Meeting In A Nutshell

    After the Bank of Japan’s announcement earlier today of quantitative easing “with yield curve control”, Neil delivers a quick-fire video assessment of the new policy slant, and what it will mean for markets and the broader Japanese economy.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The EU’s Post-Brexit Paralysis

    It was billed as a show of post-Brexit unity of purpose. Without the fractious Brits to obstruct progress, leaders of the remaining 27 members of the European Union would come together to affirm their unshaken commitment to the goal of “ever-closer union”. Unsurprisingly, the reality of the weekend’s Bratislava gathering failed to live up to its billing. Without the presence of the habitually adversarial British to unite them in antagonism, the...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Will & KX: Soft Growth And Volatile Markets

    Will and KX present the quick view on the US economy and financial markets

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The End Of A Bubble?

    Ask three economists for the definition of a financial bubble, and you will be lucky to get fewer than four different answers. Even in our little shop, we like to make distinctions between bubbles in productive assets (US railroads, the internet, fiber optic cables, shale gas wells...) and bubbles in unproductive assets (gold, tulips, Japanese land, Florida condos…). We also like to make distinctions on how bubbles are financed: equity (good) or...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Real Yields In The Driving Seat

    Notwithstanding yesterday’s bounce, the stock market is a nervous place just now. After riding a post-Brexit rebound that saw both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite scale record highs on minimal volatility, investors are increasingly wondering about the extent of the potential near term downside, not just in the US but around the world

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Prepare For Hurricanes

    After months of contented lethargy, Friday’s big sell-off seemed to confirm the main points that Louis and I made in our conference call two days earlier. Firstly, the faith in “lower forever” bond yields is not a reason for reassurance, but a cause for concern. Secondly, political risks have not been eliminated by the summer’s market rally, merely ignored. Thirdly, what I call the “financial hurricane season” usually starts in early autumn—and...

    8
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    Gavekal Research

    The ECB And BoJ: Brothers Disarmed

    The combination of negative interest rates and quantitative easing is not working as central banks had hoped. Yesterday European Central Bank president Mario Draghi conceded that more than two years after introducing negative rates and 18 months after commencing asset purchases, the ECB is no closer to hitting its 2% inflation target than when it first adopted its unconventional policies. Although headline inflation is set to tick up over the...

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