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E.g., 24-08-2017
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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...

    2
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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...

    4
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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.

    0
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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.

    0
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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.

    0
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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.

    8
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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.

    5
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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.

    0
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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.

    0
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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...

    2
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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,...

    0
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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.

    1
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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.

    0
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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...

    1
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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...

    0
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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.

    0
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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...

    0
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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.

    0
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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.

    0
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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.

    0
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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...

    0
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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...

    0
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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.

    0
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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.

    0
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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.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Takeaways From France’s First Round

    For once the opinion pollsters got things right. Although the candidates of France’s traditionally dominant left and right wing parties were both eliminated in yesterday’s first round presidential election, the political center held. Independent Europhile centrist Emmanuel Macron emerged with the largest share—23.9%—of the vote, for a second round face-off against nationalist Euroskeptic Marine Le Pen, who captured 21.4%.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Equity Is The New Debt

    China’s free-spending local governments have a new way to get money. Raising equity, not just debt, is how many localities are financing the current wave of infrastructure and industrial projects. In this piece, we explain how a new model of government-led funds began as a replacement for local borrowing, but ending up only adding to liabilities.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    French Political Trouble Just Started

    Investors cheer the win of centrist Emmanuel Macron in the first round of the French presidential election, presuming a victory in the second round would mark the end of Euroskeptic populism. Charles is not so sure about this benign interpretation and argues that France may in fact be on the cusp of a new era of political instability.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Final Thoughts On The French First Round

    Going into Sunday’s first round vote in France’s presidential election, it is widely assumed that yesterday’s tragic events on the Champs Élysées will boost nationalist-populist candidate Marine Le Pen. What is clear is that the race has tightened: centrist outsider Emmanuel Macron is polling at 24%, Le Pen at 22.5%, Republican François Fillon at 19% and firebrand socialist Jean-Luc Mélenchon at 18.5%. Here are some final thoughts for navigating...

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    China’s Kim Problem

    Last weekend's extreme tension on the Korean peninsula is just the latest episode to severely test Beijing’s patience with North Korea. Yet even as elements of the Chinese leadership tire of Kim Jong Un’s grandstanding, China remains unlikely to make a bold move that threatens the regime. Despite acute US pressure, China will seek to preserve the status quo.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Target2 Fears Are Wide Of The Mark

    With Euroskeptic candidates showing strongly in the opinion polls ahead of France’s presidential election, Italy’s debt trap as inescapable as ever, and negotiations over the next round of Greece’s bail-out making little headway, talk about a possible break-up of the eurozone is once again doing the rounds. And as it does so, fears are rising about the growing magnitude of the European Central Bank’s Target2 balances, and the financial havoc...

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Pound’s Rally Based On Flawed Assumptions

    The spring sun was shining on UK prime minister Theresa May yesterday when she stood in Downing Street to announce a cut-and-run general election for June 8. The sun was shining too on sterling, which rallied 2% against the US dollar and 1.3% against the euro on the news. The market clearly expects that a greatly increased parliamentary majority for May’s Conservative government following the vote will boost the chances of a softer Brexit deal...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Whether Or Not To Underweight The US

    Charles has been shifting his asset allocation recommendations in recent weeks away from US assets in favor of foreign alternatives. This was squarely valuation-based as his models show the US dollar, corporate bonds and equities to be overvalued. Here, he road tests this view by incorporating non-valuation-based macroeconomic factors into the analysis.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Beyond The Election Risk: Upturn Still Favors Eurozone Stocks

    For the next three weeks at least, the upcoming two-round French presidential election will continue to dictate short term sentiment among investors in the eurozone. Following a late surge in the opinion polls from far left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, two of the four leading contenders are now professed Euroskeptics. That knowledge has colored investor attitudes, keeping the spreads between French and German sovereigns elevated—the 10-year...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    A Pivot To Regulatory Tightening

    China’s economic data were once again surprisingly good. This solid growth momentum will allow policymakers to pivot more to reducing financial risk and curbing speculative property purchases. But while policy will continue to tighten at the margin, Long argues this will now occur more through regulatory tools than rate hikes.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research April Call

    In the aftermath of the first summit meeting between Xi Jinping and Donald Trump, the critical issues remain the same: a prickly trade and investment relationship which American businesses feel is increasingly skewed against them, and rising danger of confrontation over North Korea. In the background lies the question of how long China’s current economic expansion will keep running. Arthur Kroeber and China policy analyst Yanmei Xie discussed...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Who The French Will Not Vote For

    All the media commentary on the opinion polls ahead of the French presidential election concentrates on which candidates the electorate intends to vote for. This is the wrong way to analyze the current political situation in France. With just 10 days to go before the April 23 first round, readers should pay no attention whatsoever to the opinion polls. They are almost entirely meaningless: 40% of respondents say that they do not know who they...

    10
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    What Is Happening With The Tourism Numbers?

    China’s outbound tourism is clearly a big deal, but statisticians are having problems figuring out just how big: a huge upward revision has just been followed by a huge downward one. In this piece, Ernan cross-checks the numbers, and finds that Chinese foreign travel is growing rapidly, despite confusing revisions and falling travel to Hong Kong.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The New EM Intervention Playbook

    In recent years emerging market central banks have taken to intervening to support their currencies against depreciation pressure using non-deliverable forward contracts settled in local currency, a technique that helps preserve the headline value of their foreign exchange reserves. Although the strategy bought time in Brazil and Mexico for more fundamental policy changes to take effect, non-deliverables are no magic bullet.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Consequences Of Trump’s Syrian Strike

    In his 1992 book Give War a Chance, P.J. O’Rourke remarked that “wherever there’s injustice, oppression and suffering, America will show up six months late and bomb the country next to where it’s happening”. Now, in fairness to Donald Trump, the bombing of assorted Middle Eastern countries by the US armed forces did not just start this past weekend. Nonetheless, by launching his cruise missiles at a Syrian airbase, Trump has now waded into the...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: How To Play A Le Pen Victory

    In this follow-up to yesterday’s interview Charles outlines how investors can position themselves to hedge against a European Union breakup scenario that would likely follow from a Le Pen victory in the French presidential election.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Reflation Without Inflation

    China’s producer price index slowed slightly year-on-year in March. However, this does not signal a halt to Chinese growth, nor is it likely to cause equities to roll over argues Thomas. The momentum from last year’s big housing stimulus remains, and the level of commodity prices is high enough to keep profit margins decent, supporting corporate investment and wages.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Downfall Of A Regulator

    The chief of China’s insurance regulator has become the latest “crocodile” to be snared by the Communist Party’s anti-corruption agency—the first leading financial regulator to face such scrutiny. Chen Long outlines two important implications for the insurance sector and for China’s financial markets.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: The French Election

    In this interview Charles assesses the political situation ahead of France’s two-round presidential election, which kicks off later this month. Topping everyone’s list of questions is whether National Front leader Marine Le Pen will defy the opinion polls to win a surprise victory, and what a Le Pen presidency would mean for France and the European Union.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Beyond The March Payrolls ‘Soft Patch’

    With the world busy going mad, have financial markets unexpectedly come to their senses? Friday delivered an enormous “miss” on US payrolls, with the March number printing at only 98,000, compared with expectations of 180,000. Yet the markets failed to react. The S&P 500 closed almost unchanged, while US treasury yields actually ticked up marginally. This absence of any selling in equities or buying in bonds was a crucial clue, like the dog...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Squeezings From The Citrus Summit

    Last week’s Citrus Summit between Xi Jinping and Donald Trump came in with a gale of empty punditry and drifted away on a warm breeze of genial platitudes. Arthur argues that the risk of a damaging trade war between the two countries has now evaporated, and that the directionless White House has yet to sort out its economic priorities on China.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    E Pur Si Muove

    Back in early 2011, I argued that the adoption of abnormally low short-term interest rates (in real terms) always leads to a collapse in productivity, followed by a decline in the economy’s structural growth rate. Since late 2010 marked the transition from the acute phase of the financial crisis to something approaching normality, at least in the United States, it is worth examining the US experience in the ensuing period.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Watch US Money Supply Growth

    Every US recession in the last 50 years has been preceded by a steep fall in true money supply growth, or an outright contraction. So it is worrying that true money supply growth has recently slumped to its lowest since 2008. In this paper KX investigates whether we could be witnessing a false signal, and finds few reasons to be cheerful.

    13
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    Gavekal Research

    Threats To The US Bull Market

    I have spent the last few weeks traveling around Europe telling clients to reduce risk exposure—at least to US equities, if not globally. I see four potential threats to the US bull market, and while none is certain, the odds are high that at least one of them spoils the party. Let’s review:

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