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E.g., 15-10-2018
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    Gavekal Research

    On Getting It Wrong

    Louis went into 2018 with a set of assumptions about how growth and markets around the world would play out. It hasn’t exactly worked out as expected and in this mea culpa he seeks to understand how he got it wrong and what comes next. He concludes that a key driver of the changed investment environment was not so much the strength of the US dollar but China’s decision to allow a renminbi devaluation.

    10
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    Gavekal Research

    The Korean Advantage

    Yesterday was another bad day for weak-link emerging markets battling a rising US dollar. Still, my contention during this year’s EM sell-off has been that investors should sort the wheat from the chaff. With a current account surplus of 5% of GDP and forex reserves of US$400bn, exhibit-A is South Korea.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Choosing The Trajectory For Household Debt

    Regulators and investors are getting more concerned about China’s household debt after its sharp rise in recent years. In this piece, Chen Long breaks down the rise in leverage and explores the policy options. It would be plausible and prudent for China to now slow the buildup of household debt—but this may not mesh with the easing of policy.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: A Simple Guide To US Asset Allocation

    We synthesize four years of work on asset allocation and present a model portfolio built around analysis of the cost of and return on capital; the real rate of return on equities, bonds and cash; and the ideal duration of fixed-income holdings. Today we recommend that US portfolios hold 75% in equities, 25% in cash, and shun bonds.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Italy’s Chaotic Tendency To Stabilize

    Italian debt holders have been spooked by a leading figure in the country’s populist government threatening a fiscal blowout. The spread between 10-year BTPs and bunds has widened to 282bp, exceeding the May 30 level when the latest coalition was formed in chaotic circumstances. Such rhetoric threatens the relatively benign scenario that I advocated in July and has investors fretting about another eurozone crisis. While Italian politics will...

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    An Overdue Tax Cut For Households

    Facing trade conflict with the US and a slowdown in credit growth, China is under pressure to use fiscal policy more aggressively to support the economy. On Friday, the National People’s Congress delivered on at least part of the solution, passing a large cut in personal income taxes. In this piece, Ernan explains the impact of this tax cut.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: An Unexpected Investment Environment

    With the exception of US equities, about the only other way most investors could have achieved a positive return this year was to have held US dollar cash. That has made for a very strange investment environment that few people saw coming. In this video interview, Louis reviews the experience of the last eight months and outlines potential scenarios for the remainder of 2018.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Europe’s Whimpering Economic Cycle

    As with most of the developed world, the eurozone has seen a breakdown of the Phillips Curve link between inflation and unemployment. The 2008 crisis and ensuing double-dip recession created a sclerotic environment where labor market dynamics had little impact on general prices. This is another way of saying that Europe’s economy has remained stuck a in low-growth funk. Last year that seemed to have finally changed, with cyclical forces driving...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Disentangling The EM Mess

    It has been tough reconciling weak emerging market performance this year with their generally decent macro fundamentals. Charles pins the blame on a US dollar squeeze and will publish an update later today. By contrast, Anatole reckons that markets have made a mistake in assuming that EMs are especially vulnerable to a strong US dollar. I see merit in both positions, but do not buy the fact that there is a catch-all explanation for what is going...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    An Update On The Dollar Liquidity Crisis

    Yesterday saw a worsening of the US dollar squeeze faced by weak links such as Argentina and Turkey. For much of this year, Charles has been on the lookout for market dislocations due to vulnerable economies having too few readily available dollars. One of his key tools has been the “world monetary base” and that is now sending worrying signals.

    15
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The True Value Of SOE Interest Rate Subsidies

    There is a widespread belief that implicit government guarantees allow Chinese state-owned enterprises to command preferential access to credit at below-market interest rates. In this paper, Thomas digs deeply into the corporate data to determine the true magnitude of this interest rate subsidy, and its importance to SOE profitability.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Tail Risks That Worry Me

    Yesterday I made the case that emerging markets should be superior performers in a global bull market, which I characterized as the most hated in history. What that analysis left out was the relative prospects of the other big blocks in the global equity universe; namely, Europe and Japan. My core point yesterday was that trade wars do more harm to economies that close their markets than those countries which supply them, and on this score...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    India Macro Update: A Mixed Masala

    As public spending is cranked up ahead of an election that is expected to be held next spring, India should be able to sustain its current level of economic growth for a while yet. However, the rate of expansion has likely passed the high water mark for this cycle, argue Udith and Tom in this quarterly update.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Misunderstanding Today’s EMs

    Suppose that, like me, you think the global equity bull market has a few more years to run and hence the sell-off which culminated with Turkish debt being downgraded two weeks ago was a merely a correction. Where are the best opportunities to “buy the dip”? The answer depends on whether you also share my view about the underlying causes of this year’s market setbacks.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    The State Of The US Consumer

    Despite cyclical headwinds and the threat of a welfare-sapping trade war, the US consumer has stayed fairly upbeat. The worry has been that rising tariffs change that situation and hit growth. Hence, news of a trade deal between the US and Mexico is to be welcomed (Justin Trudeau may feel differently). Still, at the end of the day the effect will still be to push up costs that someone must cover. For this reason, as the economic cycle matures...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Consumer Soldiers On

    Consumer spending has been the ballast of China's economy over the past six years. But this year its resilience has been questioned, thanks to a sharp fall-off in automobile sales and reported growth rates in retail sales that appeared to bear no relationship to the underlying data. Ernan finds that household spending is actually holding up well.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Retail Sales Data Enigma, Explained

    This technical note explains why the retail sales growth numbers reported by the National Bureau of Statistics are so much higher than the growth rates one can calculate by comparing this year's sales values with last year's. This is not an effort to cover up bad economic performance by fudging statistics, but the opposite.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Last Place In The FX Beauty Contest

    In mid-August, the US dollar hit a 12-month high against developed country currencies, and a multi-year high against emerging market currencies. Two weeks on, the burning question for investors is whether those highs represent a turning point, whether the dollar strength that prevailed from mid-April to mid-August has now played out, and whether the US currency is about to resume the softening trend that predominated through 2017. As always,...

    8
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    Gavekal Research

    Misery Loves Company

    These days you are about as likely to encounter a happy active manager as a flying unicorn. Between the massive outperformance of a few, highly priced, stocks (Amazon, Netflix, Microsoft etc.), the continued compression of fees, the increased burden of regulations, front-running by algos and dark-pools, the fact that fewer and fewer marketmakers actually make markets... pick any topic, and the chances are it will be a sore point.

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Winter Air Pollution War (Part 2)

    North China is gearing up for big cuts in heavy industry output this winter, in a repeat effort to clean up the skies over Beijing. This campaign will, by constraining supply and raising costs, exert steady upward pressure on metals prices. In the long run, it will encourage producers to move to other regions, redrawing China’s industrial map.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Teflon Don Or Teflon Dow?

    US equities have undeniably been the place to be in the post-2008 decade. As that divergence has gone into hyper-drive in the last three months, one might have expected events roiling the Trump presidency this week to spark a correction. Yet yesterday saw US equities end broadly flat for the day. So is this a case of Teflon Don or Teflon Dow?

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    The Most Hated Bull Market In History

    Anatole reviews the state of the US bull market and concludes that it still has legs. He does, however, warn that portfolio strategies which worked well during the disinflationary era since the mid-1980s are unlikely to play well in this bull market’s later stage.

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Clogging China’s Cash Pipeline To Silicon Valley

    In the past years, billions of dollars of Chinese venture capital have poured into US tech firms. This is alarming to the US Defense Department, which believes these investments could lead to a flow of critical technology back to China, eroding the American advantage in fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics, and autonomous vehicles.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Sound, Fury, Fear And Markets

    Regardless of political affiliation, there seems to be a consensus that yesterday was a bad day for the Trump administration. It is almost impossible to predict the chain of events that will unfold in the coming days and weeks, but the political fallout from Paul Manafort’s fraud conviction and Michael Cohen’s guilty plea will be unabashedly ugly. Whether this latest twist in the drama gripping Washington has broader ramifications for markets is...

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    Trouble With Monopsonies II: Joan Robinson Versus David Ricardo

    Among the discussion topics at this week’s Jackson Hole meeting of world central bankers will be whether the market power of giant corporations is so great it allows them to hold down workers’ wages at the global level. Charles has no doubt, arguing in this paper that the development of platform companies into labor monopsonies accounts for what has been misunderstood as “secular stagnation”.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    A Step Back From War On All Fronts

    Events of the past few weeks have lowered the risk of the worst-case scenario of a trade-war-on-all-fronts that Arthur laid out earlier this summer. But although officials in both the US and China are eyeing a truce, no bilateral deal can be nailed down until the two countries’ presidents meet in November, after the US midterm elections. That leaves time for the Trump administration’s trade hawks to regain the upper hand.

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    A Benign View Of US Inflation

    With US inflation now running above the Federal Reserve’s long term target rate, and the US labor market almost as tight as at any time since the turn of the century, the question for investors is not whether inflation will continue to push higher, but how fast it will rise. The distinction is important. Headline CPI inflation came in at a six-and-a-half-year high of 2.9% in July. And in June the overall and core PCE measures that the Fed...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Meaning Of A Flat Yield Curve

    Every US recession since the mid-1950s has been preceded by a flat or inverted yield curve. The fact that the curve is now fairly pancake-like in form and the Federal Reserve is ratcheting up interest rates has investors on edge. On balance, I conclude that the time is right to get out of US banks, but not to be rushing the exits of the US equity market.

    4
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    A Military Embrace Brings Risks For Technology

    China’s government is making a determined effort to co-opt private technology companies to help modernize its military. The pressure to support this drive, known as “military-civil fusion,” creates new political risks for tech companies and their investors: they could face more Chinese government interference and a political backlash from abroad.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    How To Assess The Stresses On EMs

    Emerging market equities are officially in a bear market, with the MSCI EM index down -20% from its January peak. EM-related commodities are also hurting, notably copper which has fallen -18% since June. The central question now is whether one should steer clear of all EM assets, because the rout is general and likely to get worse; or if one should keep an eye out for buying opportunities here and there. With some trepidation, we advise the...

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Why Indian Tourists Are The New Chinese

    Some 25mn Indians traveled abroad last year, making sub-continent tourists increasingly important for a range of major destinations. They may not yet rival Chinese travellers who are by far the biggest group of globe-trotters, but in this piece Tom argues that is only a matter of time. Already, it is cheaper for Indians to travel to a range of overseas destinations than within India itself and the middle class increasingly has the travel bug.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    More Than Collateral Damage

    Among the collateral casualties of Turkey’s lira crisis have been European bank shares. Over the last week, as the lira plunged, the SX7E index—the EuroSTOXX banking index—slumped -7% on fears about banks’ exposure to Turkish borrowers. But Turkey is not the only concern weighing on European bank stocks. The sell-off over the last week is just the latest in a series of downlegs that together have seen the SX7E fall -19.7% over the last six...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Show Me The Stimulus

    China's data releases for July showed that the easing measures of the last few months have yet to have an impact on the real economy, with industrial value-added, fixed-asset investment and retail sales all slowing. Further monetary easing measures will follow. But as Long argues, they are unlikely to lead to a major increase in credit growth. Instead any stimulus efforts are likely to be financed by an increase in local government bond...

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Is Italy The Whale?

    Markets have an end-of-an era feeling to them as the US’s exit from easy money causes the dollar to rise, emerging markets to crater and strongmen to cry blue murder . Louis yesterday concluded that we are not yet seeing the kind of event that marks a cycle’s denouement. I agree but wonder if we did just glimpse a big beast breaking the surface in the shape of Italy, which judging by yesterday’s 12bp rise in BTP yields may already be in play.

    16
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    Gavekal Research

    Turkey Is A Big Fish, But No Whale

    The meltdown unfolding in Turkey is not a surprise (see A Turkish Vortex). However, it does raise the question of where we go from here, and whether the Turkish crisis is a symptom of a change in the investment environment.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    I Didn’t See It Coming

    As a rules-based investor, I got jumpy late last year when key indicators like my velocity indicator began to flash red. In January, I advised investors to reduce portfolio volatility by holding yen cash, short-dated treasuries and even Chinese bonds. Through to about April, this positioning worked fine as markets had a rocky period. Since April, however, the picture has changed in ways I did not expect.

    7
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Softening Up On SOE Deleveraging

    China this year ordered central SOEs to bring down their asset-liability ratio down by 2pp by 2020. That might sound like a modest change, but it means doing much more deleveraging in the next two years than in the last two. With policymakers now starting to ease policy, this aggressive hard target for deleveraging will likely become a soft one.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    India’s Illusory Rally

    Which is the best-performing stock market in Asia so far this year? If you look at the headline equity indexes, the answer is India. On Thursday morning, the Bombay Stock Exchange’s Sensex 30 index hit yet another record high, up 11.6% year to date in local currency terms, and up 4% in US dollar terms. At first glance this outperformance might suggest that India, with its low dependence on foreign trade and manageable level of external debt, is...

    4
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Assets And Albatrosses On The Maritime Silk Road

    China is going port-crazy in Southeast Asia. Chinese firms are now engaged in building 15 port projects in the region, at a total cost of more than US$50bn. Will these bricks in the Maritime Silk Road prove to be valuable assets, or financial black holes? In our new DeepChina report, Lance Noble and Tom Miller find the answer is: some of both.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    More Underperformance Ahead For US Bank Shares

    It’s been a tough few months for investors in US bank shares. Since late February banks have underperformed the broader S&P 500 index, in large part on fears that the flattening trend in the US yield curve will compress bank net interest margins and depress earnings. Yet viewed on a longer time horizon, things look different. From the fourth quarter of 2015 until the first quarter of this year (the latest data point), bank net interest...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Fire Testing Of Asian Junk

    The strong US dollar, rising oil prices and a gathering trade war have sent capital fleeing from emerging markets. Asian high-yield debt has taken a hit with the benchmark (JP Morgan) index down -3% this year, sparking worries of a self-feeding cycle that ends with a debt crisis. We have taken a fairly constructive view on emerging economies due to their generally non-threatening macro-fundamentals. Hence, with EM asset prices stabilizing it is...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Biggest Question Of The Day

    Should we take Donald Trump literally when he says he wants to eliminate the US trade deficit? In this paper, Louis examines the different ways the US might hope to cut its trade deficit, including its bilateral deficit with China, and explores why the outlook for risk assets depends enormously on the US administration's real aims in launching its international trade war.

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    When Non Means Non

    The UK government is on the offensive trying to sell a “Chequers” plan that would leave it with a semi-detached trading and administrative relationship with the European Union. The negotiating position, has won few plaudits at home, and over the last week got a courteous, but non-committal response on the continent. Cedric is doubtful that the intended "divide and conquer" approach will bear fruit.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    No Good Choices For China

    China wants to show that it will stand up to US threats to escalate the trade war. Yet Yanmei argues that it has few attractive policy choices. It can neither back down from the confrontation nor retaliate enough to deter the US. With little prospect of a negotiated solution in the near term, Beijing is focused on stabilizing the domestic economy.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Weighing The Forces Driving The US$

    Where is the US dollar going next? After weakening markedly against other developed economy currencies at the beginning of the year, the US dollar staged a vigorous rebound in April and May. Since then, the DXY US dollar index has essentially tracked sideways. Of course, trying to forecast the US dollar’s moves is frequently a thankless task. Nevertheless, it is important to examine both the bullish and bearish forces at work and to weigh their...

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Will Mergers Become A New Front In The Trade War?

    On July 25, Qualcomm canceled its US$44bn acquisition of NXP Semiconductors after it failed to get approval from Beijing before its self-imposed deadline. In this piece, Matt assesses the big question this failure raises: has China decided to use its merger-review process to punish US companies for the tariffs imposed by the Trump administration?

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Bullish Logic Of Trump’s U-Turns

    The news on Wednesday that Donald Trump’s administration is considering imposing tariffs of 25%—rather than 10%—on an additional US$200bn of Chinese goods might appear to be an aggressive escalation of its trade conflict with China. But there is a high probability the proposed tariffs will never be implemented. Trump has a track record of talking tough, only to back down before it comes to the crunch; a pattern of behavior that may help to...

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    US Housing Gets Vertiginous

    There is a lot to like about US housing. Vacancy rates are low, as are inventories of unsold homes. The labor market is tight and wages are steadily rising. At this point of the cycle there has usually been substantial over-building, but not this time. While supply has increased, housing starts have yet to exceed my estimate of the structural rate of household formation. Yet despite these decent enough fundamentals, valuations look stretched and...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: Towards A Global Liquidity Crisis?

    In our latest outlook for global investment strategy, Charles Gave warns that the world may be heading into a dollar liquidity squeeze. There have been seven such scarce-dollar episodes since 1971, and every one produced some big financial accidents. The basic symptom today is that the US is heading into an inflationary boom, while the rest of the world is seeing slower economic growth and weaker asset prices. Investors must be defensive; but...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    What Will Halt The Renminbi’s Fall?

    The momentum for a weaker renminbi is considerable, with the US ratcheting up its trade war with China and the Chinese government moving to easier fiscal and monetary policies. But Chen Long argues that the renminbi’s downside from current levels may prove limited even though the central bank is unlikely to intervene as much as it did in 2015-16.

    2
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