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    Gavekal Research

    When Cartels Become Impotent

    Opec has become impotent. Despite the 6% overnight rally in oil triggered by news that the exporters’ cartel has struck an agreement in principle to make modest production cuts, the group’s members no longer have the ability, or even the desire, to maintain crude prices substantially above present levels. As a result, even if the proposed production cuts are confirmed, yesterday’s deal will be no game-changer for the international oil market.

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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

    Wicksell's Guide To A Better Portfolio

    With the recent US economic data worryingly soft, and with no convincing drivers of earnings growth to be seen, how should investors position their portfolios? Will and KX set out their methodology for structuring a dynamic Wicksellian portfolio to generate superior returns at reduced levels of volatility, and determine the optimum allocation mix for the current troubled environment.

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    Modi Finds His Mojo

    India, according to its many skeptics, will never change. It is too messy, too unwieldy—perhaps too democratic—to emulate China as an engine of global growth. For all the hoopla that greeted Narendra’s Modi election in 2014, very little changed for the better in Modi’s first two years in charge: his new government failed to pass its “big bang” reforms, banks stopped lending, and investment slumped. Critics accused Modi of being all talk and no...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Is Internet Growth Really Slowing Down?

    Often overlooked in the hype around China’s internet boom is the downturn in some key indicators: growth in internet users and in online retail has slowed. How to reconcile this with an apparently thriving internet economy—can the internet’s growth really be slowing down? The answer is yes, and no; it’s how the internet is growing that’s changing.

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    Gavekal Research

    Singapore Seminar—September 2016

    Audio and video from the latest Gavekal seminar in Singapore is available here. Louis Gave explains why financial markets have recently behaved predictably, and why that is about to change. Andrew Batson explains why Chinese policy making is in a holding pattern until next year's party congress is settled. Udith Sikand explains why this year's emerging market outperformance is likely to continue, as bonds and especially equities have...

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    Gavekal Research

    Will Low Volatility Get Trumped?

    As we enter the final stretch of the exhausting US electoral cycle, the single most important question confronting investors may well be whether the current low volatility environment for equities, bonds, and exchange rates is dependent on politicians or not. Clearly, with the VIX hovering around 12, and with volatility in exchange rates barely noticeable (see Forget Central Banks, Watch Foreign Exchange Volatility), financial market...

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    Gavekal Research

    Debate: A Trump Win And The Dollar

    As the world seriously tunes into the US presidential election, four Gavekal partners debate the outlook for the US dollar should Donald Trump emerge victorious and set about his promised remaking of the international security order and global trading system.

    25
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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.

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    Gavekal Research

    Forget Central Banks, Watch Foreign Exchange Volatility

    While taking some time away from the daily grind of markets over the summer (to deal with my overheating, dehydration and pneumonia), two features of today’s markets kept gnawing away at me as somewhat “unnatural”:

    3
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Holding Pattern

    Market worries about China have gone very quiet lately—and this is no accident. In this presentation, Andrew argues that China is in a holding pattern of steady growth and cautious policy ahead of the 2017 Party Congress. While China probably won’t be forced out of the holding pattern, financial stress and structural problems continue to build.

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    Gavekal Research

    Don’t Count On US Profits Riding To The Rescue

    A funny thing happened to US equities once the dust cleared after the late June sell-off that was sparked by the UK’s Brexit vote. As yields of most income earning assets fell on hopes of yet more central bank easing, equity investors discarded growth concerns and engineered a multiple expansion which drove the market to new vertigo-inducing highs (see Real Yields In The Driving Seat). The big question now is whether a profits boost can keep the...

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    Gavekal Research

    Even Better Than The Real Thing

    This summer’s craze for Pokémon Go underlined how augmented and virtual reality—long more virtual than real—are fast becoming a viable proposition. In this paper, Neil reviews the latest advances in the technology, and assesses the most promising fields for near term growth.

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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.

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    Gavekal Research

    Don’t Misread The BoJ’s Signals

    The monetary policy committees of both the Federal Reserve and the Bank of Japan meet tomorrow. But whereas the Fed faces a simple binary call—either raise rates or don’t—the decision confronting the Bank of Japan is more complex.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Big Fish Eat The Little Fish

    China’s housing sales may have plateaued, but the largest real-estate companies still have plenty of room to grow by consolidating an enormous and fragmented market. A multiyear boom in M&A has strengthened the market position of the largest developers, who are still easily raising huge sums from capital markets that can fund future deals.

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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...

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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

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    Gavekal Research

    Knowing Whether To Buy The Dip

    With all the current focus on the Federal Reserve and markets, it’s easy to overlook the increasingly ugly state of the underlying US economy. Throughout the long post-2009 recovery, when any one driver of US growth showed signs of stalling, the others continued ticking over nicely, which meant overall growth averaged out around 2%. Recent data releases signal that has now changed. Although none of our key indicators has shown a dramatic...

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    Gavekal Research

    The Collapse Of The Left

    Since the onset of the first industrial revolution, human institutions have typically had a lifespan of around 70 years. In the first generation, the elite build the institutional structures needed to meet the economic challenges of their time. The second generation maintain them as best as they can. And the third generation of the elite, which more often than not is corrupt to the bone, merely aims to live as well as it can off the existing...

    11
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    Gavekal Research

    Watch Real Yields On Corporates

    There are increases in real rates, and there are increases in real rates. And by no means are they all equal in impact. In Tuesday’s Daily, Joyce and KX noted that global equity markets have been supported this year primarily by the world-wide decline in real bond yields. After bond markets approached over-bought territory over the summer, the sharp increase in real yields we have seen over the last couple of weeks naturally hit stock prices. If...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ: Techno-nationalism 2.0

    China’s economy may be slowing, but its ability to cause technological anxiety has never been greater. Many are worried China could succeed in its ambition of becoming a global technology hub, at the expense of existing leaders. This issue of the CEQ focuses on how China is moving up the technology ladder, and the risk this triggers a backlash.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    China’s New Mercantilism

    A growth slowdown and financial stress have not dented China’s determination to become one of the world’s technological leaders. The way it is setting about this task threatens to provoke a protectionist backlash.

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Discreet Charm Of Hybrid Companies

    Despite enormous state investments in national champions, China’s technological development has been led by nimble “hybrid” firms combining Chinese entrepreneurship and foreign finance. This model is now under threat from the government’s increasingly techno-nationalist approach.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    A New Grand Strategy For Semiconductors

    Over the past two decades China has poured billions of dollars into its semiconductor industry, with limited results. Now it is trying a new approach that combines top-down government policy with more market-based financing. The odds of success are good enough to worry foreign firms, but global cooperation to integrate China into the semiconductor value chain still makes sense.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Foreign Tech Companies: Alive In The Bitter Sea

    Foreign technology firms face a far more challenging environment in China than they did a decade ago. Confronted by an intensified techno-nationalist agenda and strong competition from domestic players, they need to revise their strategies. Careful localization is the best option.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    How Much Financial Risk?

    Debt is rising fast, as are bad loans and the complexity of the financial system. Yet the financial risks in China are still localized rather than systemic, thanks to the huge supply of bank deposits, and the fact that the government is the ultimate owner of virtually the entire system.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Open Checkbook, Closed Market

    The rich world is growing uneasy over the rapid expansion of China’s investment abroad. A rise in protectionist rules is likely unless China does more to satisfy reciprocity concerns by opening its own market.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Retirement Policy Conundrum

    The working-age population is shrinking and growing older, jeopardizing economic growth prospects. One solution would be to make people work longer: the average retirement age is 54, the lowest in the world. But such a goal conflicts with local governments’ desire to manage layoffs in excess-capacity sectors by offering early retirement.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Actually, China Can Innovate

    Can Chinese firms innovate, and will China produce more branded, globally competitive firms like its Huawei? The answers from the authors of these three books are a unanimous yes on both counts. The verdicts are based on substantial first-hand research and fly in the face of much (less well founded) “China cannot innovate” writing in recent years.

    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

    Post-Impeachment Brazil: Not For Beginners

    When it finally came, Dilma Rousseff’s ouster by impeachment on August 31 was, in the harsh language of markets, all in the price. The question for investors, who may have (profitably) ridden the rumor of her demise since January, is whether they should now sell the fact. A reason to stick with the trade is that after a severe recession, Brazil’s economy is stabilizing. Confidence levels have perked up and 2Q16 saw industrial output and...

    0
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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 Dragonomics

    The August Heat Won't Last

    China’s property-and-commodity complex got pretty hot over the summer: in August housing sales picked up, investment recovered a bit, and commodity prices jumped. Does this mean a new growth rally is beginning as the government renews stimulus? No—the housing market is still cooling. But Beijing is also far from a real tightening of policy.

    0
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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...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The New Ineptocracy

    In times past, capitalist systems were organized on a simple premise. At the centre sat “money” as the medium to express all values. The primary operating dynamic of this system was that surplus money (savings) got channelled into economic activity, with a secondary effect that “unused”, or “left over”, money ended up in financial assets, usually equities, such that at times of great optimism a bull market resulted. After running for a year or...

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    The Financial Hurricane Season

    This slideshow by Anatole Kaletsky was first presented at the Gavekal seminar in Zurich on September 9, 2016

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    What Happens When Growth Disappoints Again?

    The panic over China’s currency in early 2016 feels like ancient history. Since then, worries about the economy have largely receded from market concerns. But China’s business cycle peaked in the first half of the year, is now clearly slowing and will likely fail to reach its growth target in early 2017. How will the world react when this happens?

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Gavekal Research Monthly Conference Call — September 2016

    In the inaugural Gavekal Research monthly conference call, Louis, Anatole and Arthur addressed the global growth environment and offered asset allocation suggestions.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Yes, Those Indian Growth Numbers Are For Real

    China has long been the whipping boy of skeptics who claim its growth numbers can’t be trusted. Data denialists got a fat new target in 2015 when India adopted a new set of national accounts that magically bumped up its GDP growth by 1.5 percentage points to over 7%, vaulting it past China as the world’s fastest growing big economy. This seemed just a bit too good to be true. Is India’s growth for real, or just a mirage conjured up by...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    How Deep Is That Rabbit Hole?

    It is only three months since the European Central Bank crossed its latest “unconventional” threshold with corporate bond purchases, yet when policymakers meet tomorrow, more monetary expansion is in the cards. Eurozone economic growth is not collapsing, but it remains weak as shown by the latest flash PMI reading which slumped to a 19-month low, and consumer inflation running at just 0.2%. With the ECB’s quantitative easing program set to...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Free Hedge In Hong Kong

    Cost effective hedges are getting increasingly hard to find. However, the US dollar-Hong Kong dollar forward market offers a cost-free hedge against global volatility, explains Joyce, with 12-month forwards likely to move from their current discount to a handsome premium over spot in the event of a general risk-off move.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Monthly Conference Call Transcript — September 2016

    This is an unedited transcript provided by the conference call host.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Better G-20 Communiqué

    Another year, another G-20, another yawn. Though the group of the world’s 20 biggest economies was useful in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, it has since degenerated into another global drawing room where leaders explain to one other how the world would be a better place if only it were a better place. This was a missed opportunity.

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Video: Is China At A Crisis Point?

    Fresh off the publication earlier this year of his book on China, Arthur in this video interview explains China’s long-term economic development strategy before zooming in to answer the key questions that currently vex investors, namely, the trajectory of growth and the potential for a severe financial crisis.

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  • Gavekal Research

    Arthur Kroeber: Is China At A Crisis Point?

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    I Must Admit That I’m Confused

    Friday saw the release of US jobs market data for August which had investors convinced of a continued “not too hot, not too cold” outlook for the world’s largest economy. This is at odds with the view that I have held for a while; namely, that the US has been on the brink of recession or may have even entered one. This prognosis was based on a hopefully not insubstantial analytical foundation, which may be worth reviewing.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Who Is Buying Chinese Bank Shares?

    Few segments of global equity markets have been more reviled in recent years than the shares of China’s big state banks. As corporate debt levels in China ballooned, especially among state-owned enterprises, and economic growth slowed, international investors shied away from the H-shares of state banks listed in Hong Kong, fearing an almighty accumulation of unrecognized bad loans on their balance sheets. This caginess was reflected in bank...

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    India’s Quiet Revolution

    Last week India announced a partial liberalization of its debt and currency markets, which should open up the economy to more long term foreign capital. Such money is sorely needed to finance an estimated US$1trn of infrastructure spending over the next five years. While India has a fairly open equity market, debt issuance has been tightly controlled and banks account for some 80% of total financing across the economy. The issue is whether banks...

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