E.g., 28-05-2017
E.g., 28-05-2017
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    Gavekal Research

    Decoding The HK Dollar’s Signals

    When Moody’s downgraded China’s credit rating this week, it also downgraded Hong Kong. Although Hong Kong is fiscally autonomous, and has seen no rapid build-up in leverage comparable to the mainland, Moody’s still downgraded the territory from Aa1 to Aa2. In explanation, the agency cited Hong Kong’s “tightening economic, financial and political linkages with the mainland,” which it warned “risk introducing more direct contagion channels”...

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    What The Fed Really, Really Means

    The Federal Open Market Committee has fired the starting gun on its plan to start shrinking the US central bank’s balance sheet before the year is out. The language was coy, but indicated a consensus that outright contraction will start so long as the trajectory of growth and the key policy interest rate matches the committee’s expectations.

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Return Of Regulated Coal Prices

    Coal was the most volatile commodity price in China last year, but it has been remarkably stable in 2017. In this piece, Rosealea explains how the government has revived a contract system of regulating coal prices, in the place of campaigns to cut or raise coal output. Coal prices are thus likely to stay at their relatively high levels for longer.

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    Video: India's Economic Fog

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    India Macro Update: Navigating The Fog

    In this regular quarterly update, Udith and Tom survey the key developments in India’s macro-economy and markets, which have been clouded by the demonetization episode and yet more changes to national economic statistics. The fog may not be about to clear as the government prepares to rollout a new national goods and sales tax with the potential for significant economic disruption.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Beijing’s Non-Capital Idea

    China wants to build a new satellite city to take over Beijing’s “non-capital functions,” and their associated workers. In this piece, Tom Miller examines the Xiong’an New Area and the government’s grand plans to cap Beijing’s population and spread wealth to surrounding regions. He finds the economic benefits are unlikely to outweigh the costs.

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    Gavekal Research

    German Ordo-liberalism vs French Keynesianism

    So I hear that happy days have returned to Europe’s single currency area as shown by improved purchasing manager readings. With German firms especially upbeat and a reassuring new fellow occupying the Élysée Palace, I understand that Berlin will soon roll over and allow a juicy fiscal expansion in return for France making its job market less rigid. I tend to be skeptical about such road-to-Damascus conversions.

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    Gavekal Research

    Don’t Buy The Smartphone Hype

    As Apple prepares to launch its anniversary iPhone and Samsung unveils models that don’t blow up, technology equities in the US and Asia have soared on hopes for a new smartphone cycle. After 2016 saw high-end smartphone sales fall, investors are betting that consumers respond to gee-whizz gadgetry by replacing their devices more often. We are not so sure.

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    Gavekal Research

    ECB Normalization And Why Not To Worry About It

    The US Federal Reserve will almost certainly announce the second of this year’s rate hikes at its next policy meeting on June 14. The week before, on June 8, the European Central Bank will probably state for the first time in years that the risks to the eurozone are now balanced “symmetrically” instead of tilting unequivocally downwards. If they were brave they might even echo Benoit Coeuré, the French governing board member who in an interview...

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    Gavekal Research

    Brazil: Better Than Last Time Around

    A year after Dilma Rousseff’s ouster, Brazil again faces political tumult. Impeachment calls have come thick and fast following the release last week of an incriminating taped conversation between President Michel Temer and a businessman. The worry is that a fragile coalition of interests that has been inching Brazil toward meaningful economic reform falls apart, sparking renewed market panic. Such fears are overstated as this time, both left...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Corporate Deleveraging Is Ending, Not Beginning

    The recent financial crackdown may give the impression that “China is finally getting serious about corporate deleveraging.” This impression is wrong: while leverage is already declining, this is likely to stop in 2017. Worries about zombie companies have also faded as rising profits and falling rates make it easier to service corporate debt.

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    Gavekal Research

    A Less Flexible Britain

    Yesterday saw the release of robust UK retail sales data for April that reversed a weakening trend and pointed to still strong consumers. So it was notable that on a day that confirmed British economic resilience despite attendant uncertainties, Prime Minister Theresa May effectively renounced free market policies that long have been core tenants of the Conservative Party credo.

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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Japan's Next Baby Boom

    In this interview Neil explains why the oft repeated line about Japanese couples not wanting to have many kids is a huge exaggeration. The problem is bizarre government regulations and a drastic shortage of childcare facilities. Such inhibitors to tiny feet pattering are about to get a major government-induced overhaul, and a Japanese baby boom may be around the corner. If correct, this shift in Japan’s demographic curve could have profound...

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    Gavekal Research

    Longer For A Reason

    Could this be the US economic expansion without end? Almost certainly not, but it is starting to break some serious records for longevity. Yet as the expansion gets longer in the tooth, the obvious question is whether it simply withers due to old age. Like Janet Yellen, KX is suspicious of such a deterministic arguments and in this piece says there are very good reasons for economic cycles to be getting longer.

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    Gavekal Research

    Don’t Sweat An Impeachment

    After weeks of ignoring ever wackier White House shenanigans, investors yesterday focused on US political risk. The revelation of memos that seem to offer prima facie evidence of the president obstructing justice means the chance of an impeachment has jumped from improbable to possible. As the government’s investigative machinery cranked up a notch yesterday, US equities experienced their worst day since last September and treasury yields fell...

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    Gavekal Research

    Video/Audio: Deconstructing The Belt And Road

    Tom Miller was recently interviewed by ABC News Australia and the BBC about China's Belt and Road initiative.

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    Gavekal Research

    What Germany Wants

    What does Germany want? That was a question we asked in January as sabre rattling by the new US president unnerved Europe’s instinctive mercantilist. Our answer was that Germany was at a cross-roads in its modern history and could either double down on a narrow pursuit of surpluses, or instead embrace its European Union members with a fresh push to federalism. Monday’s meeting between Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel confirmed that the latter...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Great Corn Crash

    China’s “supply-side reform” measures have helped drive a recovery in prices of industrial commodities. In agricultural commodities, the name is the same, but the results are very different: the price of corn fell 44% from its peak after the government removed price supports. Now that prices have adjusted, quantities will follow: imports will fall.

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    Gavekal Research

    Back To The Future

    Back in 1947, war was over but a ruined European economy needed full-scale reconstruction: the Marshall Plan. As I look at the way China is wooing its neighbors through its Belt and Road strategy and other economic and financial linkages, the approach looks like a remarkably effective “copy-and-paste” operation.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Regulatory Stress Is Still Bearable

    The main source of uncertainty in the Chinese economy right now is the financial crackdown launched in March. In this piece, Andrew looks at the April data and finds that the regulatory campaign’s impact has so far been contained. This supports our call that the regulatory stress is a bigger problem for asset markets than for the real economy.

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    Gavekal Research

    Why A Brexit Deal May Not Be So Hard

    European Union membership entails four core freedoms—goods, services, capital and people. To keep the first three, but not the last one as the UK wants has been dubbed “having one’s cake and eating it”. The UK also wants to be exempt from the European Court of Justice’s control and to exit the EU customs union, opening the way for free trade agreements to be made elsewhere. The assumption is that these demands will ensure the UK ends up with a “...

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    Gavekal Research

    Video: How Brexit May Work

    The consensus is for a tortuous few years of negotiations between the UK and the European Union over the terms of Brexit and any subsequent free trade agreement. Following up on today’s Daily, Nick argues in this video interview that a deal may be easier than most people think. Moreover, the template for an FTA may already be in place.

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    Gavekal Research

    In Bed With The Japanese

    The international media have been full of headlines recently about how the Japanese are failing to make enough babies. But the reason for Japan’s failing fertility is not some lack of libido. Instead, as Neil explains, the government's antiquated policies towards women and families have proved a remarkably effective—if inadvertent—form of contraception.

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    Gavekal Research

    What Trump Will And Won’t Do

    After President Trump’s shock firing of his top law enforcement official, this week has seen the White House scramble to keep some semblance of control over the news agenda. This means that an administration that was already dialing back the radical parts of its reform agenda will have even less room to drive change.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Headwinds To US Housebuilding

    US home prices are on the up, having climbed 6% over the 12 months to February. Yet housebuilding has failed to keep pace with the rise in prices. Although construction has made a positive contribution to GDP growth over the last couple of quarters, activity has built from a very low base. Housing starts in March were an annualized 1.215mn, with a consensus forecast for April of 1.25mn. Both figures are well below the long term pre-crisis US...

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    Gavekal Research

    A Clearer Picture In Seoul

    South Koreans went to the polls yesterday and elected a special forces soldier turned human rights lawyer as president. Moon Jae-in will need both skillsets in dealing with a belligerent North Korea, distrustful China and saber-rattling US. Yet an even tougher ask may prove delivering on his promises to shake up collusive ties between big business and the government, and so unleash animal spirits. I would argue, however, that for once the...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Where The Rubber Meets The (Belt And) Road

    Ahead of next week’s Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, Tom Miller provides an update on the progress of Xi Jinping’s signature foreign policy. More than three years after its launch, China’s Belt and Road Initiative is starting to deliver useful infrastructure, and is clearly boosting construction volumes and stimulating new investment.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    More Dollar Weakness Is Good News For The Renminbi

    The renminbi has had a surprisingly good year, thanks in large part to the weakness of the US dollar. In this piece, Chen Long argues that dollar weakness will likely continue—and with it a benign environment for capital flows and China’s currency policy. Even a rise in the renminbi is a prospect that can no longer be dismissed out of hand.

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    Gavekal Research

    Calling Time On Indian Outperformance

    Indian equities have been on a tear this year with their 22% currency-adjusted gain only bested among emerging markets by Poland. This is not surprising given that India has strong fundamentals and a reform-minded government that still enjoys popular support. Yet, while long term positive drivers for the Indian market remain intact, equities have run ahead of themselves by pricing in a swift return to robust earnings growth.

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    Gavekal Research

    Behind Weak US Wage Growth

    After seven steady years of decline, the US unemployment rate fell further in April to a 10-year low of 4.4%—the same as in May 2007 immediately before the onset of the credit crunch. At the same time, the number of job openings has exceeded its 2001 high, emphasizing the increasing tightness of the US labor market. Yet despite this tightening, increases in wage growth have been remarkably modest for this late stage of the cycle.

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    Gavekal Research

    So It’s Macron. What Next?

    The French presidential election did not play out as Charles had expected. With Emmanuel Macron having achieved a decisive victory, he concedes that the En Marche! Party is likely to carry the momentum into next month’s parliamentary elections. What this means for investors is that France is likely to be politically stable in the coming few years and will not be the focal point of eurozone ructions.

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    Gavekal Research

    Macron And French Optionality

    For investors, the great benefit of Emmanuel Macron is that even if his big plans for change fizzle a nice cyclical economic recovery will almost certainly play out. If the president-elect defies the stereotypical view of France as being basically unreformable, the kicker is huge optionality built into asset values that have non-challenging valuations. Either way, Cedric argues that France represents a stand-out investment opportunity.

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    Gavekal Research

    Macron And A New Europe

    With the populist, anti-EU tide now clearly reversing, first in Holland, then last night in France and finally in September’s German elections, investors can put to rest their worries about a breakup of the euro or the European Union and focus instead on the continent’s economic and financial fundamentals. These fundamentals have been steadily improving since the European Central Bank began its enormous bond purchase program in March 2015.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Upside Of The Commodity Downside

    Once again, commodity prices are taking a beating. Since Wednesday the price of Brent blend crude oil has slumped by 7%. Over the last two months copper has slipped 8%, and iron ore futures traded in China are down a precipitous 30%. Coming on top of data that showed the US economy grew by a meager annualized 0.7% in the first quarter, and the recent tightening in China’s credit conditions, the latest slide in commodity prices has been...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    A New Franco-German Axis

    For the last decade, pretty much every politician who counted in France has spoken of the European Union in scathing terms. That is likely to change on Sunday if the pro-integrationist Emmanuel Macron confirms poll forecasts and scores a resounding win in the French presidential election. His upbeat belief in federal solutions to Europe’s structural problems will not just change the discourse, but according to Nick could renew the Franco-German...

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    Gavekal Research

    A Positive Cycle For Eurozone Earnings

    For many investors, last night’s televised debate will have removed any lingering fears about French political risk, freeing them to focus on the eurozone earnings picture—which is increasingly rosy. The majority of pundits awarded the debate on points to centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron. Their verdict was that the performance of far-right Euroskeptic Marine Le Pen was insufficiently “presidential” to sway undecided voters. As a result,...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Cyclically Fine, Structurally, Well...

    Optimism about China’s growth is now higher than it has been for years, after the notable recovery in the last couple of quarters. But in this piece, Andrew argues China still can’t escape a further growth slowdown, because its continued reliance on state-driven investment is sapping productivity growth and undermining the private sector.

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    Gavekal Research

    An Alternative Explanation For The French Split

    One of the more interesting thinkers about the current political scene in France is Christophe Guilluy, an urban geographer and author of The Twilight of Elite France. His basic insight about French cities and by extension the structure of the French economy starts with the observation that most urban areas are divided into three concentric circles which contain very different social classes. Charles likes the argument which clearly illuminates...

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    Gavekal Research

    The Flip Side Of A Hard Brexit

    The pound has rallied strongly since Theresa May announced an early UK general election on April 18 and may soon break through US$1.30, opening the way for a rise back to levels not seen since last summer. This move has mostly been driven by politics in France, rather than Britain, but this may be about to change.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Underperformance Of Energy Stocks

    Charles likes to say that good money management often involves taking a few key decisions and sitting on them for a decade. In 1982, for example, the avoidance of energy and material stocks ensured almost 10 years of outperformance. In 1990, avoiding Japan paid off for two decades. In 2000, sidestepping TMT and underweighting the US dollar worked for almost a decade. In 2006, avoiding financials also paid off for a decade, as did underweighting...

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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: Global Goldilocks And The Two Bears

    Markets seem convinced that a Global Goldilocks scenario of “just right” growth and rising corporate earnings is unfolding. This is plausible, but a careful review of the US economy suggests that two far more bearish outcomes are also possible. Will Denyer reviews the case for all three scenarios and recommends reducing risk exposure, especially in the US.

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    Gavekal Research

    Don’t Bet On Another Bond Bubble

    Recent days have not been good for US treasury bears betting on higher yields. First, Donald Trump’s much hyped tax reform plan proved thin on detail and lacking in credibility. Then Friday’s weak US GDP release for 1Q17 showed an economy facing a notable softening in consumption demand. The one factor offering succor to treasury shorts has been reduced political risk in Europe after a centrist made it through to the second round of France’s...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    How Long Can The Construction Rebound Last?

    Chinese growth prospects look quite good in 2017, thanks to the recovery in construction, but how long can it last? In this piece, Rosealea unpacks the inventory dynamics behind the rebound. Given the strong start to 2017, it now looks like low inventories can support growth in construction not just in 2017, but also well into 2018.

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    Gavekal Research

    Video: The French Election And Beyond

    In these video interviews Cedric looks at likely scenarios in the second round of the French presidential election, while Nick considers the potential for a renewed Franco-German axis as the driver of progress in the European Union.

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    Gavekal Research

    The End Of Yen Outperformance

    Year-to-date, the yen is the best-performing of the G10 currencies. Over the last four months it has appreciated 5.2% against the US dollar, lifted by abating enthusiasm for the Trump trade and safe haven flows into Japan. Given the tight inverse correlation between the yen and Japanese equities, it is therefore no surprise that the Japanese stock market has underperformed its developed market peers so far this year.

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    Gavekal Research

    Taxing Times In The US

    The big news this week is the lack of news. Tectonic changes—that inspired both hope and fear—now look less likely to materialize. The first round result in France’s presidential election suggests that the centrist, pro-euro Emmanuel Macron will be the next head of state, rather than the disruptive Marine Le Pen—no révolution in Europe. Then yesterday Donald Trump revealed his much anticipated tax plan. It only served to show how little progress...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Riding Out The Regulatory Storm

    Chinese financial officials are stirring up a regulatory storm with their new crackdown on various forms of speculation, arbitrage and risky behavior. Though much is still unclear, the campaign is likely to lead to tighter liquidity and slower credit growth. But the more immediate risk is its impact on the domestic equity and bond markets.

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    Gavekal Research

    Europe’s Road To Reflation

    With fears of a political upset laid to rest, the European reflation trade is in full swing. The flash eurozone composite PMI hit a six-year high last week, French manufacturing confidence is at its highest since June 2011, and the European Central Bank’s bank lending survey published yesterday showed that banks are continuing to relax credit standards as demand for borrowing grows. With employment growth lifting domestic demand and external...

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    Gavekal Research

    Stop Worrying And Buy Europe

    The market reaction made good sense, assuming that the opinion polls—which turned out to be uncannily accurate in the first round of the French election—prove right again and Emmanuel Macron wins by a landslide on May 7. The polls may, of course, be completely wrong and Marine Le Pen may become the next President of France, but for this to happen the polling error would have to be many times larger than it was in the case of Brexit or Trump.

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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research Call On The French And UK Elections

    In a special Gavekal Research Conference Call following the results of the first round of the French presidential election, Charles Gave and Cedric Gemehl presented their analysis of Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron’s prospects in the second round in two weeks. Anatole Kaletsky presented his view of British politics and the future of the Brexit process following Theresa May calling for a snap election in June.

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