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    Gavekal Research

    The Moment Of Truth For Emerging Markets

    A strong US dollar, rising interest rates and higher oil prices are a toxic mix for emerging markets. A month ago it was only Turkey and Argentina that were looking really sick, punished by investors for their structural imbalances. But in recent weeks nervousness has engulfed the currencies of Indonesia, South Africa, India and—most notably—Brazil. This leaves the emerging markets facing a pivotal moment. Until now, the assets of those emerging...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The 5G Dream Will Not Be Denied

    Now that the US has backed away from putting crippling sanctions on Chinese telecom-equipment firm ZTE, China looks well-placed to achieve its dreams for 5G, the next wave of mobile technology. Huawei and ZTE may be effectively blocked from the US market, but they are well-placed to grab a significant share of the global market for 5G.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: When To Buy US Bonds

    With 10-year US treasury yields having failed so far to climb significantly above the 3% mark, investors are asking whether it is time to buy US long bonds. In this short video interview, Will presents a simple framework for approaching the bond market. With the yield curve flat by historical standards, and yields far below their natural ceiling set by returns on invested capital, investors should steer clear of long bonds.

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    Gavekal Research

    In Sweeps The Monsoon

    The summer monsoon lashed across southwest India yesterday, just a few hours after the central bank announced its first interest-rate hike in more than four years. With oil prices stoking inflation and foreign portfolio flows pouring out of the country, the Reserve Bank of India followed the lead of other emerging markets battling the global US dollar squeeze. Yet the darkest storm clouds are now political, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi...

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    Gavekal Research

    When To Buy US Bonds?

    Since the early 1980s, buying and holding US long bonds has been a solid investment strategy. This macro environment was supported by a favorable demographic tailwind that ensured a bountiful supply of global savings. That situation is now changing, and as interest rates rise investors should not assume that yields will retrace as they did after the 2013 “taper tantrum”. In this piece Will and KX put their Wicksellian framework to work and...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Is A Crisis Brewing Over Taiwan?

    Ominous clouds are gathering over Taiwan, as China steps up displays of military force and its campaign of international isolation. Could this escalate into a replay of the 1995-6 Taiwan Strait crisis, or something even worse? In this piece, Yanmei assesses the rising risks, but argues that military conflict is still a remote possibility.

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    Gavekal Research

    A Revolution In Switzerland?

    This weekend the people of Switzerland vote in a referendum that could upend their country’s monetary system in ways never seen before. If the “Vollgeld” initiative is approved, it will be a major event in world economic history. And even if rejected, the growing groundswell in favor of similar proposals elsewhere in the world means it is worth paying attention to.

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    Gavekal Research

    ‘Peak Politics’: Another Chance To Buy The Dip?

    In recent weeks, investors have been hit with multiple political shocks in the shape of Italian politics, American trade policy and global oil shenanigans. But even as President Donald Trump seems to escalate the American “trade war” and Italy’s new prime minister thumbs his nose at Brussels’ budget parsimony, Anatole asks if political risks have in fact peaked, offering a “buy the dip” opportunity.

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    Gavekal Research

    America First, The Rest Of The World Second

    Bears are stealthy creatures that rarely offer much warning of their arrival. Based on my experience in the financial wilderness, I have rarely recognized the clear manifestation of a bear market until I was caught firmly in its clutches. In the US today, excitement about President Trump’s daily activities means there is a lack of clear thinking about this market’s outlook. Similarly, a meme for many investors, including Gavekal colleagues, has...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Going Underground (And Overground) In Delhi And Beyond

    India is rapidly adding new urban metro systems, with ten already built, five under construction and 17 in the planning stages. Tom argues that it is following in China’s footsteps, but unlike China, foreign equipment suppliers and contractors look likely to be major beneficiaries of the Indian build-out.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    A War On All Fronts

    I have previously argued that Trump Administration trade policy—and specifically policy on China—should be understood as a volatile reaction among four forces: the president, the trade warriors, the national security hawks, and the business community. While all four forces are still hard at work, it’s clear that President Trump has the upper hand—as a result of which the US now seems committed to waging trade war on all fronts.

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    Gavekal Research

    Not Letting A Good Crisis Go To Waste

    At the beginning of 2018, one of Gavekal’s big themes for the coming year was that the liquidity environment was deteriorating. Behind this we saw three causes: 1) the US Federal Reserve’s decision to shrink its balance sheet; 2) the growing toll of rising energy prices, and 3) the coming liquidity drain from runaway US government spending.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Marshals Over Markets: China Tightens Cybersecurity

    Our first DeepChina report takes a close look at Beijing's efforts to exert tighter control over the internet, the flow of commercial data, and the security of its technological infrastructure. China ia nor alone in toughening regulation, but its efforts are far more expansive, and raise more serious concerns for multinational firms.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Hurdles For US Profits

    Corporate America shot the lights out in the first quarter as tax cuts helped S&P 500 earnings soar by 23%, while macro data released this week showed profits rising an aggregate 14% year-on-year, versus 4.8% in 2017. This week also saw good news for banks, as regulatory shackles were loosened. Yet investors who think US firms are headed back to the races must convince themselves that a series of late-cycle hurdles can be overcome.

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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: Dollar + Oil + Political Risk = ?

    So far, 2018 has delivered a lot of volatility, and mediocre returns across almost all asset classes. Will the second half be any different? It's hard to sustain a high level of conviction given the resurgence of political risk. In the latest Strategy Monthly, we offer a way to think through investment decisions based on the direction of oil prices and the dollar.

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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Malaysia's Old Man In A Hurry

    In elections earlier this month, Mahathir Mohamad stunnned Malaysia, defeating the party he led for 20 years to become the country’s new prime minister. In this short video interview, Udith examines Mahathir’s policy platform, and asks whether the resurgent 92-year-old can really rejuvenate Malaysia’s economy.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    China Comes Off The Boil

    Chinese growth surprised on the upside in the early part of the year, but Andrew thinks that a gradual loss of altitude is now unfolding. This is mainly due to slowing property market activity, which increasingly displays late-cycle characteristics. This adjustment should not pose a major risk to other major economies, so long as other global factors do not become disruptive.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Whether To Buy Italy (And The Euro)

    On Wednesday, Louis argued that the Italian president’s rejection of a proposed coalition finance minister was “worse than a crime, a mistake”. Anatole and Cedric are not so sure. In this paper they examine the two conditions—one political, one financial—that will signal a major buying opportunity in Italy.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Worse Than A Crime

    On hearing that Napoleon Bonaparte had ordered the execution of a Bourbon-family duke, the arch realpolitik practitioner Charles Maurice de Talleyrand reputedly exclaimed: “This is worse than a crime. It’s a mistake”. Fast forward a few centuries and it’s not hard to imagine what Talleyrand would make of Italy’s President Sergio Mattarella. In a move that will likely spur fresh elections and put Euroskeptic parties firmly in the ascendancy,...

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    Gavekal Research

    The Incredible Shrinking Krona

    With the US dollar pushing towards its 2017 high, it may be time to scout out value in the currency markets. One option is the Swedish krona, which is down -7.2% against the dollar this year, making it the worst performing G10 currency. Three weeks ago Charles argued that the krona was so cheap that Swedish assets offered a “heads I win, tails I don’t lose” type of trade. I don’t disagree, yet in the intervening period, the krona has...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    What Bothers Me About The Eurozone

    With Italy facing a constitutional crisis and likely fresh elections within months, attention is set to again focus on Europe’s single currency system. One effect of the euro is that it distorts self-correcting price adjustments, which regulate normal market-based economies. Understanding this dynamic is crucial, argues Charles, if equity investors are not to be pulled into value-traps, of the type which are now presenting themselves.

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Property Tightening Is Back

    Chinese government policy for the property market is turning tighter, a shift that will weigh on housing sales and construction activity in the rest of 2018. But Rosealea cautions against overreacting, arguing that the downcycle in property is still likely to be a shallow one, and that policy will loosen again once market conditions weaken.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Europe’s Italian And Turkish Troubles

    On the face of it, the collapse on Sunday evening of attempts in Italy to form a coalition government comprising the populist and Euroskeptic Five Star and Lega parties should be good news for European assets and the euro, at least in the short term. On Friday, fears of a populist government in Rome, coupled with the prospect of a no confidence motion and general election in Spain undermined both the euro and peripheral debt. Also down were...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Does The Dollar's Run-Up Have Legs?

    Being a US dollar bear has been a humbling experience over the last few weeks. The year started well enough for bears, with the DXY dollar index declining -4.2% over the first seven weeks. But since mid-April, the US currency has staged a rebound vigorous enough to leave the DXY up 1.95% year-to-date. This rally confronts investors with a baleful prospect: any further sustained appreciation of the US dollar will have a detrimental effect on...

    4
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Behind The Resilient Renminbi

    The US dollar is rising, so are US interest rates, and China’s current account balance is deteriorating. So the renminbi should be weakening, but it is not. In this piece, Chen Long argues that a recent pickup in capital flows is the cause of this strength, but suspects the central bank will not want to see much more sustained appreciation.

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    Gavekal Research

    My Kind Of Safe Haven

    Long and sometimes bitter experience of financial markets has taught me that when the organically-produced fertilizer hits the rotary ventilation device, a few assets go up in price, while the vast majority go down. The first list is a short one, but on it you will always find the Swiss franc. Historically, the problem with this Swiss-franc-as-safe-haven idea was that the gnomes’ currency usually tends to be something of a collector’s item....

    3
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Urbanization Without Migration

    The story of China’s urbanization has long been the migration of people from the country to the cities. Not anymore: as Ernan explains, rural migration has slowed sharply, and is being replaced by the reclassification of rural areas into urban ones. Policymakers now prefer this “local urbanization,” even though it delivers less income growth.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Structural Change, Or A Return To The Mean?

    Chinese government bond prices have markedly outperformed treasuries for more than a year. This trend could be explained merely by cyclical factors, or that the Chinese fixed income market is going through a structural rerating, driven in part by the internationalization of the renminbi and the inclusion of Chinese government bonds in major benchmarks.

    8
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    Gavekal Research

    A Decision Tree For Emerging Markets

    Over the last five weeks, something unusual has been going on in global financial markets: the US dollar has been strengthening, and at the same time the price of oil has been going up. If prolonged, such a simultaneous rise in two of the world’s most important prices will threaten to inflict a vicious double blow on emerging market economies and asset prices. To be clear: the bigger influence would be the US dollar. But the simultaneous...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Giuseppe Who?

    The leaders of Italy’s Five Star and Lega political parties on Monday nominated little-known law professor Giuseppe Conte to be the country’s next prime minister. Assuming president Sergio Matarella accepts their choice, Conte will be tasked with leading a coalition government whose disparate members have little in common except populism, euroskepticism, and expansionary fiscal plans.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    India Macro Update: Summer Market Blues

    Indian growth is picking up nicely just as the external financing environment gets tougher, with a strengthening US dollar, raising yields and most importantly, a sharply rising oil price. In their regular quarterly review, Udith and Tom argue that India can weather the storm, but global investors would do well to back away from the market.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Resurgence Of Political Risk

    Political risk is now the main driving force of financial markets. In 2017 investors learned—or thought they had learned—that political upheavals just create noise, with no lasting effect on market trends that are set by economic fundamentals. But in 2018 this relationship has been reversed. Wherever we look today—at oil prices, global trade flows or conditions in Europe—politics seems to overwhelm economic fundamentals and set the market trends.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    A UK Consumer Reckoning

    This week saw the release of moderately good news for the Brexit-bound UK economy, as wages rose the most in almost three years. With inflation moderating, real incomes have edged higher, giving hope that consumption can again fire up growth. The problem is that the UK—like the US—increasingly displays late cycle characteristics, as shown by a tight labor market and falling profit growth.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Oil As A Party Spoiler

    I have tended to see oil not so much as an asset in which to build a position as a party spoiler that can wreak havoc on a portfolio. Yesterday saw the price of Brent break above US$80 a barrel for the first time since November 2014 and the pain is visible in a range of emerging markets that run big external deficits. To be sure, most of my colleagues remain sanguine about EM prospects and do not expect a generalized crisis (see The Refuge In...

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    An Attractive But Troublesome Market

    From June 1, China’s domestically-listed A-shares will be included in the MSCI Emerging Markets index, bringing the onshore market to the attention of many global investors for the first time. In this piece, Thomas examines recent developments in the A-share market, and outlines the promises and pitfalls of investing under China’s “regulatory firestorm”.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: The Hong Kong Peg Under Pressure

    The Hong Kong Monetary Authority has again been intervening in the foreign exchange market after it stepped in last month when the Hong Kong dollar fell to its weakest in 35 years. So far the HKMA has bought HKD62bn, selling almost US$8bn to defend the Hong Kong dollar’s peg to the US dollar. In this video interview, Tom Holland explains what’s going on, and why there is zero risk Hong Kong will be forced to devalue its currency.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Beyond Japan’s 1Q GDP Contraction

    Japan’s longest run of growth since the 1980s has come to an end. After eight consecutive quarters of growth, data released on Wednesday morning showed that the Japanese economy contracted in the first quarter. For investors, the question is whether this contraction will prove a short-lived blip, or whether it marks a decisive turn for the worse in both Japan’s macro-environment and equity market.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Next Phase Of Eurozone Reform

    During last year’s French presidential election, Emmanuel Macron opened a debate by asking “what do we want to do with the euro?” His answer was more political integration and burden sharing. Those plans must get traction at the June 28-29 meeting of European Union leaders if they are not to be crowded out by a likely messy end to the Brexit process and next year’s European Parliament elections. Right now, this seems a long shot and attention...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Bond Yields Have Further To Fall

    After a sharp decline in March and April, Chinese onshore bond yields have bounced back over the past three weeks. But based on the latest economic data and policy signals, Chen Long thinks that bond yields have further to fall. Growth is continuing to slow, and the central bank seems comfortable with a slightly more accommodative stance.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Playing A Flatter US Yield Curve

    The US yield curve could invert towards the end of this year or early in 2019, the head of the St. Louis Federal Reserve said on Monday. For investors it’s a troubling thought. Over the last 50 years, whenever the US yield curve has inverted, a recession has typically followed within a year or two. Yet although the current flattening of the curve is set to continue, the process will be gradual, which means inversion and an ensuing recession...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Refuge In Emerging Markets

    The year started in such promising form for emerging markets. Unfortunately, the initial promise failed to outlive January. Since early February’s mini-panic, emerging market assets have taken a beating, hammered by the triple whammy of a stronger US dollar, higher US yields, and rising oil prices—a combination that’s typically adverse for global growth, and so deeply negative for emerging markets. The strain has shown up first among “weak links...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Outcomes In Italy

    Political uncertainty isn’t always bad news. It is now 10 weeks since Italian voters went to the polls in a general election, and still Italy’s bickering political parties have not managed to form a stable coalition government. That hasn’t proved an obstacle for investors. Since the election, Italian equities have gained 9.7% in euro terms, 6.4% in US dollar terms, making Italy the world’s best performing major stock market over the year to date.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Malaysia’s 92-Year-Old Populist

    It is surely the most remarkable political comeback of recent history. At the tender age of 92, former prime minister of Malaysia Mahathir Mohamad won a shock victory in Wednesday’s general election, ousting from power the coalition he himself headed for 22 of the 61 uninterrupted years it ruled the country—ever since independence in 1957.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Hardly A Game Changer For Oil

    While nobody could have been surprised by the full-scale commercial warfare launched against Iran by President Trump yesterday, his announcement raised more questions than answers. The most important question is whether this action will make the world safer or further destabilize Middle Eastern and global geopolitics. The second question is whether the US enforcement of sanctions will really be as tough as Trump’s belligerent rhetoric and the...

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  • Gavekal Dragonomics

    What’s Really At Stake In The US-China Rivalry

    It is still possible that the US and China will strike a deal to avert threatened tariffs. But as Arthur argues in this piece, any deal will be mostly cosmetic. The tension between the two is not mainly about trade, but about China’s challenge to US global dominance. The US will almost certainly keep trying to counter China’s efforts to gain power.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    What—Me Worry?

    What should most worry investors about the state of the US economy today? The answer is: “Total absence of worry”. That was my clear conclusion after a week in Los Angeles hobnobbing with the thousands of CEOs, financiers, technologists and politicians at the Milken Global Conference. An intoxicating cocktail of tax cuts, deregulation and record profits has transformed the post-crisis normalization of business confidence into uncritical euphoria.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Illusion Of Liquidity, And Its Consequences

    A decade ago the US corporate bond market was about half as big as it is today, yet bond dealers held about six times more inventory than they do today. In our latest Loser Report which focuses on assets to avoid, Louis worries that the next big financial accident could happen in this aggressively priced arena.

    8
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    Gavekal Research

    Time To Stop Thinking

    In a long career spent trying to formulate reliable investment rules, here is one I have found to work time and again without fail. If two assets show no historical trend, and if in the past their relative price has always reverted towards its historical mean, then when that relative price reaches two standard deviations away from its mean, it is time to stop thinking and just play the mean reversion. Now is one of those times.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    EMs And The Oil Syndrome

    Having fallen more than -10% from their late January peak, emerging markets are looking shaky. Higher yields, a stronger US dollar and rising oil prices have all contributed to a tough environment. In the face of big current account deficits, Turkey and Argentina look properly imperiled, with some saying that their troubles point to a bigger problem for emerging economies. I disagree. Not all headwinds are created equal, and what matters for EMs...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Next On The US-China Telenovela: Investment Curbs

    An unusually large group of senior American officials has landed in Beijing for two days of talks on the trade and technology dispute embroiling the US and China. There is no reason to think the mission will achieve much. And if it does manage to cobble together a temporary deal to forestall the tariffs the two countries have threatened against one another, it will do nothing to delay the next act in the drama: proposed restrictions on Chinese...

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