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    Gavekal Research

    Between A Rock And A Hard Brexit

    Sterling has gained almost 7% against the euro this month, partly because of comments from British ministers hinting at a softer version of Brexit than the sharp and rapid break implied by Theresa May’s early speeches. For example, sterling’s rebound through US$1.25 and from £0.90 to the euro was directly caused by a parliamentary answer from David Davis, the minister in charge of Brexit, suggesting that Britain might continue to make...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    How Not To Control Coal Prices

    The price of coal has been on a wild ride recently—and the volatility is not over yet. China’s government spent much of 2016 trying to push the coal price up, but the ensuing price surge now has them backpedaling and trying to push prices down again. There is a real risk these interventions will cause prices to overshoot on the downside in 2017.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Putting The Lenin Back In Leninism

    When Xi Jinping took power four years ago, the Communist Party was plagued by opposition and factionalism, a loss of control over provincial governments, and an erosion of legitimacy. To solve these problems Xi has centralized power in a single leader—himself. Such a retrograde approach bodes ill for China’s long-run economic and political future.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Can Stability Maintenance Survive Trump?

    To meet the needs of their own political cycle, Chinese leaders will aim to ensure steady economic growth for the next year. Unfortunately, it seems that the political need of US president-elect Donald Trump is to cause as much disruption for China as possible.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Leninism Upgraded: Xi Jinping’s Authoritarian Innovations

    In order to cement Communist Party control and discipline, Xi Jinping has dismantled China’s successful model of ‘explorative governance’ and latitude for local initiative. China’s long-term success depends on whether he is willing to relax the reins after the 2017 Party Congress.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Grand Bargain Or Grand Conflict With The US?

    For more than two centuries, China-US relations have swung back and forth between high expectations and dashed hopes. Today the stakes are higher than ever, as Beijing seeks to carve out a sphere of influence and Washington struggles to craft a response. And where the relationship is headed under a volatile President Trump is anyone’s guess.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Steady As She Goes (Despite Trump)

    China is still on track to maintain GDP growth of 6% or more in the run-up to the 19th Party Congress in late 2017. Despite threats of a trade war with the US, Trump’s election probably hands China some long-run strategic benefits

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Only One Winner In The Global Robot War

    The US and Europe hope that the rise of robotics will bring manufacturing back to advanced economies. But China is well equipped to make the most of the robot revolution, leaving little space for other players.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Boom And Bust In The Electric Vehicle Market

    China has poured immense resources into creating a market for electric vehicles. But it is struggling to create a self-sustaining industry. As with the failed industrial policy for conventional autos in the 1990s, too much intervention might be the problem.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Nearing The End Of The Last Housing Boom?

    In 2016, China had its strongest housing market upturn since the global financial crisis. Driven by policy and debt, this surge is unlikely to continue through next year. Fundamental demand has peaked and the government wants to keep prices in check.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Enigma Of Chinese Power

    Arthur reviews four books that explain why the Communist Party has been so successful, what could bring it down, and Xi Jinping’s strategy for keeping it alive.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ: Xi Jinping’s China

    2017 will be a very political year for China. The short-term priority is a smooth economic run-up to the Communist Party Congress, when Xi Jinping will strengthen his grip on power. In the long term, questions are growing as to whether the Party is flexible enough to govern a dynamic society. This issue of CEQ assesses China’s political future.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Unsustainable Oil Price Spike

    It took a while, but the spike in the oil price expected at the end of November finally occurred this morning in Asia, when front-month Brent crude futures briefly hit US$57.89/bbl, up from US$54.33/bbl on Friday. The jump higher was triggered by news over the weekend that a handful of major non-Opec producers led by Russia have agreed to cut their output by 558,000 barrels per day on top of the 1.2mn b/d reduction announced by Opec at the end...

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    Gavekal Research

    For The ECB, Less Really Is More

    Mario Draghi and his colleagues in the European Central Bank had a difficult line to tread yesterday. On one hand the ECB president faced pressure to wind down his program of quantitative easing. On the other, lingering risks in Europe’s periphery argued for a continuation of ECB asset purchases in order to avoid rocking the financial boat heading into next year’s packed political calendar.

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    Gavekal Research

    An Indian Payoff

    What was it that Kipling said about keeping one’s head, when all around you others are losing theirs? That was the Reserve Bank of India’s approach yesterday when it defied calls for an interest rate cut in response to severe economic disruption caused by the government’s hasty withdrawal of big denomination banknotes. The RBI downgraded its growth forecast for the year ending in March by just 0.5pp, and argued that price pressures remain a...

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    Gavekal Research

    The Japan Reflation Trade

    About a month ago, Japanese investors learnt that a man who wants to rip up their prime minister’s prized free trade deal and potentially jettison Japan’s key security guarantees would soon be US president. After an initial wobble, they spent most of the last four weeks buying equities with such gusto that the Nikkei 225 is up almost 14%.

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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research December Call

    Louis and Anatole outlined their views on the new investment environment. Louis focused on the apparent contradictions in investors’ reaction to Donald Trump’s win in the US presidential election. Anatole argued that the US has almost certainly transitioned to a more inflationary growth path, but said it would be a slow build-up.

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    Gavekal Research

    Cash Repatriation Won’t Trigger A New Buyback Boom

    With the incoming US administration promising big tax breaks on the repatriation of corporate cash piles held overseas, Wall Street is confidently predicting a renewed equity market buyback boom in 2017. On first hearing, this sounds like a reasonable expectation. For one thing, in recent years US companies have consistently chosen to plough their retained earnings—and a sizable amount of debt—into share buybacks, rather than into investment in...

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    Gavekal Research

    Putting The Boot Into Italy

    Matteo Renzi has joined a long line of Italian prime ministers who failed to “reform” their country. This is another way of saying that he could not wave a magic wand and make Italy competitive with Germany. The grim reality is that no Italian leader stood a chance of changing their country once the fateful decision was made to peg its currency to Germany’s. At the time of the euro’s launch in 1999, I argued that the risk profile of Italy would...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Rise Of A New Conglomerate

    If China’s sputtering state enterprise reforms are going to be successful anywhere, it should be in Shandong, with its solid economy and reform-minded governor. But a closer look at Yankuang Group, the province’s poster child for SOE reform, shows that local SOEs are just becoming even larger, more complicated and less transparent conglomerates.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Assessing EMs Vulnerability To The Trump Trade

    Emerging markets have faced selling pressure since Donald Trump’s US presidential election win started to drive treasury yields higher. EM debt funds saw their largest ever outflow the week after the election, while currencies have fallen on fears of trade protectionism and more talk of the US dollar being primed for a 1980s-style super-spike. Given this basket of worries, Joyce revisits her “emerging market relative balance sheet vulnerability...

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    Gavekal Research

    The Cost Of Italy’s “No” Vote

    Europe lurched another step towards the eventual break-up of the eurozone yesterday, when the Italian electorate rejected constitutional reforms that would have broken the country’s legislative logjam, allowing much-needed economic restructuring. For European policymakers, the simultaneous rejection across the Alps of far-right candidate Norbert Hofer in Austria’s presidential election was small consolation. Hofer’s defeat shows that the...

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    Gavekal Research

    How Bad Is The Dollar Squeeze?

    This has not been your regular dollar squeeze. Over the last month, the cost of obtaining US dollars offshore has soared to levels last seen in “crisis” periods, yet bank equities have rallied the most in six years. Rather than a new crisis unfolding, we seem to be transitioning to a macro environment where dollars are structurally scarce. This will be challenging for weak link economies, as shown yesterday by adverse market moves in Brazil and...

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    Gavekal Research

    Only The Start Of The Trumpflation Trade

    Three weeks after the US presidential election, and it looks as though the Trumpflation trade may be running out of puff. Far from it, argues Anatole. With US policy about to swing from monetarist to Keynesian, markets are only at the start of a long term bear market in bonds and a bull market in the US dollar that will have enormous repercussions on asset prices around the world.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Something's Gotta Give

    Louis Gave held a conference call on December 6 where he discussed the state of global markets as the US gets ready for a Trump presidency. The fundamental challenge for investors is that while equities and the US dollar have rallied strongly and bonds have sold off in a “Trump reflation trade,” it is not clear how long that trade can withstand the reality of Trump’s economic program.

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    Gavekal Research

    Making Sense Of The Housing-Commodity Nexus

    Early sales data confirm that China’s property cycle took another step down in November. Yet no one seems to have told the commodity markets: even as property sales have cooled off, prices have heated up, with domestic futures for steel, copper, and coal jumping 20-40% in November. In this piece, Rosealea explains how to read these mixed signals.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Gavekal Monthly: Preparing For The Trumped-Up Economy

    Markets have been on a startling trajectory since Donald Trump upended investors’ assumptions with his win in the US presidential election. In this issue of the Monthly two Gavekal partners ask whether the macro environment really has fundamentally shifted due to the emerging policy platform of the president-elect.

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    Gavekal Research

    Italy Down To The Wire

    In Italy “less is more” when it comes to opinion polling in the final days of an election campaign, hence the last formal snapshot of voting intentions in Sunday’s constitutional referendum was released on November 18. That poll put the “No” camp squarely ahead by 55% to 45%, which if born out would likely spark the resignation of Matteo Renzi, Italy’s pro-reform prime minister. Still, nature hates a vacuum and the ban on formal polling is...

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Don't Blame The Property Speculators

    Is a love of speculation sapping firms’ appetite for real investment? As Chinese companies slow spending on fixed assets, they are buying more investment properties—sparking concern about a “hollowing out” of the economy. Thomas says the blame is misplaced; property speculation is an effect not a cause of firms slowing capex as the economy cools.

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    Gavekal Research

    A Wicksellian Spread Update

    US economic growth and corporate profits both rebounded in the third quarter. Yesterday the Bureau of Economic Analysis revised its number for 3Q16 growth in gross domestic product up from 2.9% to 3.2% year-on-year. At the same time the BEA also released its first estimate of 3Q corporate profits, which at first glance also looked positive. For example, profits in the domestic non-financial sector jumped by an annualized 24% in 3Q, after falling...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Why Oil Production Cuts Won’t Work

    In January 1991, in a last-ditch effort to avoid all-out war, United Nations secretary general Javier Perez de Cuellar flew to Baghdad in an attempt to persuade Saddam Hussein to withdraw his forces from Kuwait. On his return to Paris, the secretary general spoke to the press in an address that was carried live on television. Nowhere was the broadcast watched more keenly than on the floor of the International Petroleum Exchange in London....

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Debt Restructuring Toolbox

    Debt restructuring transactions are finally starting to happen in China, after years of warnings about the dangers of rising corporate debt. Yet there is no sign of a repeat of the huge state-led bailouts of the late 1990s. There will be many smaller deals to help individual firms cut debt, but these won’t add up to an overall deleveraging.

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    Gavekal Research

    Riding The US Monetary Cycle

    In market conditions that abound with conflicting signals, KX argues that investors should keep a close eye on an adjusted measure of real US money supply growth as an early warning signal of recession, and suggests how a tool based on this measure could make a useful allocation tool for equity managers.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Risk-On And The Rising US Dollar

    Inflation is when the haircut that used to cost you US$20 back when you had hair now costs you US$30. Looking at recent market moves, it seems that investors are increasingly pricing in, and even welcoming, a higher rate of US inflation. In a world in which deflation is a problem, currency depreciations such as those we have just witnessed (whether of the yen, the euro, the renminbi etc.) are bad news, for they accentuate deflationary pressures...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Polls, Big Data And The French Primary

    It’s been said that big data is like carnal knowledge in teenage boys’ locker rooms: everyone talks about it, but noone really knows much about it. A slew of election results in the last few years supports such a viewpoint, for in an age when everything can supposedly be measured, political forecasts have been proven hugely flawed—the UK general election in 2015, the Brexit vote, the Colombian peace-process referendum, Donald Trump winning the...

    8
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    Gavekal Research

    The Rally In European Banks

    More than four months after it bottomed out one and a half standard deviations below its 200-day moving average, the Euro STOXX banks index has rallied 34% and is once again trading at the levels it was at immediately before the summer’s steep post-Brexit losses. Yet despite the rebound the index remains down -18% year to date, and with a clutch of the factors that precipitated the initial sell-off—notably negative interest rates, shaky capital...

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    Gavekal Research

    The Lady Is Not For Turning

    As she kicked off her general election campaign this week, Angela Merkel declared that Germany “had never had it so good”. The economy is humming so nicely that Germany’s council of economic advisors recently warned about overheating. This would seem to rule out a fiscal stimulus, which conflicts with Brussels’ policy of engineering a more expansionary fiscal environment.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Austerity Lingers In Britain

    Rumors of the death of fiscal austerity are greatly exaggerated, at least in Europe. That is the most important lesson for global markets from the UK Treasury’s long-awaited budgetary response to the Brexit vote. Many investors believed in the immediate aftermath of the British referendum that this shock might be the catalyst for more expansionary fiscal policies all over the world. In the past two weeks, the prospect of a Trump fiscal stimulus...

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Chinese Consumer: Outlook & Trends 2016

    In our latest annual review of the Chinese consumer, Ernan covers the most important cyclical and structural trends. This chartbook summarizes the macro drivers of household income, saving and spending; explains what’s booming and what’s not within various consumer markets; and unpacks the fundamentals of the internet economy.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Italian Domino Teeters

    My thesis has for a while been that we are living in an era characterized by the “little man” revolting against the global elite. I explained this idea in May using the perhaps apocryphal tale of a South Pacific island made up of home-loving tree dwellers and more adventurous boat travellers (see Trump And The Tree People). The point was that the normally laid back people of the trees were stirring from their torpor as shown by the Brexit vote...

    8
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: European Political Dominos

    In the aftermath of the Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s win in the US presidential election, attention has shifted to the eurozone with the assumption that more dominos must topple under the gathering populist political wave. In this video interview Nick considers the good, the bad and the ugly of the European political scene and offers pointers for navigating these risks.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Stagnation or Bust? A Wicksellian Chart Dashboard

    For users’ convenience, we provide below the complete set of charts published in Charles Gave’s November 2016 book Stagnation or Bust? A Wicksellian View of the Natural Interest Rate, the Market Rate and Asset Allocation, with interactive graphics available for Macrobond subscribers.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Investing By The (Wicksellian) Book

    As regular readers will know, I have spent much of the last 10 years studying, and attempting to enlarge upon, the work of the great 19th century Swedish economist Knut Wicksell. My mission has been two-fold: firstly to understand how Wicksell’s writings explain what we see happening in the global economy today, and secondly to translate his theories into practical tools to help investors make asset allocation decisions in the real world.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    A New Tech Cycle?

    Weak Japanese exports for October were not a big surprise given that the yen has been strong and global trade remains lackluster. Yet buried within recent (dreary) trade releases is evidence pointing to a new semiconductor investment cycle. The first signal, from official data at least, came in Japan’s 3Q16 GDP report which showed growth at 0.5%, versus an expected 0.2%, with the difference explained by exports of electronic components and...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    A Permanent Surplus Of Power

    China’s excess supply of coal-fired electricity is now more extreme than ever—and is only getting worse. This huge misallocation of resources was caused by policies that tried to restrain demand for power, but ended up encouraging its supply. As a result, electricity rates are falling, but not quickly or substantially enough to fix the problem.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    A Cautionary Note On US Housing

    After months of anemic activity, US homebuilding picked up in October. This is a welcome development, given that residential construction is a key leading indicator for the overall economy, and that lately it has been close to sending a recession signal (see On The Brink Of Recession). However, the magnitude of the improvement should not be overstated. While housing starts did post the biggest monthly increase since 1982, this is a volatile...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Hong Kong Seminar — November 2016

    Arthur Kroeber presented his thoughts on the outcome of the US election, as well as an analysis of China's leadership politics. Will Denyer presented his thoughts on the US economy. Tom Miller gave an optimistic take on reforms in India under Modi's government.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Why So Calm In Emerging Markets?

    Historically, a strengthening US dollar has been bad news for emerging markets; just think of the Asian crisis of 1997. And rising US long rates do not exactly help; consider the taper tantrum of 2013. Put them together then, and throw the prospect of greater trade protectionism into the mix, and the current global environment should be absolutely toxic for emerging market assets. Yet despite considerable local pain, notably in Mexico, the...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Making America Great Again

    Markets have been sending contradictory signals since the US political equation changed radically 10 days ago. In this piece, Louis seeks to unscramble the mixed messages as he tries to feel his way into the new investment environment.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Better Late Than Never

    When Brussels officials admitted in May that there was scope to loosen Europe’s fiscal straitjacket, this seemed like an expedient measure so that counties could breach their deficit limits without being penalized (see Fiscal Rules Are There To Be Broken). It is now clear that this shift was more than a one-off accommodation and the policymaking ground has moved. Yesterday the European Commission updated its view on state spending with a...

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