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    Gavekal Research

    Don’t Sweat About The Yield Curve

    At least as interesting as the 1.1% rise in US equities on Monday, following the weekend’s news of a three-month US-China tariff truce, was the day’s decline in long-dated US treasury yields and the concomitant flattening of the US yield curve. But was this bond market action good news or bad for investors?

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    The Next Target Of Trump’s Firepower

    In today’s Daily, Arthur Kroeber offered his analysis of the weekend’s Trump-Xi summit in Buenos Aires. In this short report, Louis takes a slightly different tack, reviewing the series of tumultuous events in recent weeks. His conclusion is that few investors’ portfolios are well positioned for the probable outcome.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Durability Of The Trump-Xi Rally

    The Trump-Xi showdown at the G-20 has produced a truce, and Asian equity markets rallied in response. But Arthur is skeptical of the durability of the rally, as the structural nature of the US-China rivalry was not addressed by the deal, and hardliners in Washington are likely to keep ratcheting up the pressure on Beijing.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Winter For Eurozone Credit Growth

    A depressing autumn is turning into a dismal winter in the eurozone, as November’s deteriorating PMIs follow weak third quarter growth—and even a quarter-on-quarter contraction in Germany. Much of the softness can be attributed to poor external demand, especially from China and the emerging markets, and to the ongoing disruption to car sales caused by the introduction of new emissions tests. Together these have hammered European manufacturing,...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Christmas Comes Early

    The most cherished gifts often come in small packets, and investors duly cheered just two small words yesterday by the Federal Reserve chairman. In a speech, Jerome Powell said policy rates were “just below” the neutral level. That was a big change from a month earlier when he said they were “a long way from” the not-too-hot-not-too-cold level. This suggests that the pace of interest rate hikes may lessen, while on the same day data was released...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Germany Is Rethinking But Not Rejecting China

    As the US-China trade conflict drags on, both sides are looking to Europe, particularly Germany, for support. Germany does share US concerns about China’s protectionism and expansionism. But it still sees China as an economic boon and is committed to engagement. Berlin is therefore unlikely to fully take the side of either Beijing or Washington.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    What If Oil Stays At US$50?

    Since early October, oil prices have plunged more than -30%, while the US equity benchmark is down -8%. You don’t have to be Inspector Clouseau to wonder if these moves are related. Since this oil sell-off has unfolded at a time when US economic growth is slowing, my bet is for a negative short-term effect, but a medium term outlook that is fairly cheery.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    India Macro Update: Post-Rout Uncertainty

    India is beset with economic problems that range from a deepening credit crunch, a worrying stand-off between the government and central bank and a capital spending cycle that has never really gotten going. Yet despite these challenges, the economy keeps chugging along and should hit 7.5% growth in the current fiscal year. In this quarterly macro update, Udith and Tom consider the outlook in light of political uncertainty ahead of next year’s...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    EMs Need More Than A Bear Hug

    Having fallen -25% since late January, emerging market equities have been this year’s train crash of an investment. The good news is that EM equity valuations are at multi-year lows in both absolute and relative terms, begging the question: what could catalyze a rebound in oversold EM assets?

    3
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Chinese Consumer In 2018

    In our annual review of the economic performance of the Chinese consumer, Ernan examines the key issues affecting households. This chartbook covers the reasons for the decline in car sales, the rising burden of household debt, the effects of the income-tax cut, the prospects for consumption upgrading—and where all these trends are headed in 2019.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Positioning Ahead Of The G20

    Over the summer, the US administration’s aggressive trade stance towards China helped trigger sell-offs in most non-US equity markets, even as the US market continued to make new highs. But, in the past six weeks, the massive outperformance of US equities has stalled. Louis asks where it makes sense for investors to hide until the outcome of the G20 meeting is clear.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    The Failure Of The Bond Cushion

    If you had been told on September 20, when the US stock market made its high, that two months later the MSCI US would be entering correction territory, down almost -10%, and that oil would be in a full-blown bear market, with Brent down almost -30%, you would probably have concluded that long-dated US bonds would be the place to be. The US dollar delivered; the DXY is up 2.7%. But long bonds did not; over the two-month period, the TLT ETF has...

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Salvini, Part Deux?

    This weekend saw protests in France that united demonstrators from all parts of the political spectrum against President Emmanuel Macron. Louis wonders if this represents the beginning of a populist wave that rejects the president’s mushy centrism and joins political bed fellows who have never laid down before. After all, it happened in Italy.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    The Conflict Between Liquidity And Growth

    In recent days my colleagues Anatole Kaletsky and Arthur Kroeber have debated the strained relationship between China and the US, and what it may mean for emerging markets. I agree that this standoff matters greatly for the world, but I’m not convinced it’s the main issue driving markets and therefore a resolution—or not—at the G20 next weekend may end up as a damp squib for investors. A range of issues have me concerned, from widening credit...

    6
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Chinese Internet Ventures Abroad

    Chinese internet companies are now the only credible challengers to the global hegemony of US internet companies. In this piece, Dan explains that, although they may not directly challenge Google or Facebook, the Chinese firms are pushing abroad and are well on their way to becoming a formidable presence in developing countries.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Don't Bet On Détente

    Yesterday my colleague Anatole Kaletsky explained his optimism ahead of the meeting between presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping in Buenos Aires later this month. He thinks the chances of at least a tariff cease-fire are pretty good, and investors should buy Chinese and emerging-market assets. I remain skeptical.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Drag Of US Housing

    Despite the overall US growth outlook remaining decent, markets have taken on an ugly tone, with US equities having given back their 2018 gains and credit spreads gapping wider. Adding to grim tidings, yesterday saw weak housing data released, which is a worry as the sector often leads the broader US economy.

    16
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    Gavekal Research

    Reasons To Believe In Détente

    Should we take seriously President Donald Trump’s prediction of “a deal” at his summit with President Xi Jinping on November 30? Nobody can be sure—not even Trump himself—since the outcome may depend on whether Peter Navarro or Steven Mnuchin manages to catch his attention before Air Force One lands in Buenos Aires next week. There are, however, four reasons which I have discussed here before to justify continuing to increase long positions in...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Countering The Belt And Road

    In its escalating rivalry with China, the US has a new target: the Belt and Road Initiative. But both the US and Europe are struggling to redefine the way they win friends and influence people with development finance. Tom argues that the somewhat quieter middle way being pursued by Japan is delivering it both influence and profits.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    The Uphill Struggle For Equities

    Last week saw the MSCI World turn in its sixth negative week in eight, while the only sector to record gains over the last two months has been utilities; cyclical sectors like materials, industrials, IT, energy and consumer discretionary have mostly entered correction territory. That begs the question: Is this a dip to buy, or will the environment remain harsh?

    5
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Housing & Construction Review 2018

    China’s property market has had a record-breaking run, but where is it headed next? In this concise chartbook, Rosealea delivers her annual overview of the key drivers of housing sales and construction activity and explains the outlook for 2019. An overdue correction in sales is coming, but construction should hold up relatively well.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    GE Is More Fish Than Fowl

    There is suddenly a flood of commentary speculating that General Electric is a canary in the proverbial coal mine for the US corporate credit market. With investors focused on the troubled conglomerate’s underfunded pension scheme and ailing power business, GE has seen its credit rating downgraded and become a focal point for broader fears that US corporates have taken on too much debt and bought back too much equity. Without taking a view on GE...

    5
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Solving The Private Sector's Liquidity Crisis

    China’s leaders are now falling over themselves to show love for the private sector. This political rhetoric has a practical purpose: easing the financial stress on private firms that is freezing up the corporate bond market and driving down stock prices. In this piece, Thomas examines the tools for solving the private sector’s liquidity crisis.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Winding Road To Vassalage

    No one much likes Theresa May’s compromise deal that would leave Britain as a rule-taking, semi-detached appendage to the European Union. That, however, is the most likely outcome after the UK cabinet yesterday approved an exit deal that sets up a November 25 summit, where EU leaders will be asked for their assent. Shortly afterwards, the UK parliament will have its say, and despite challenging math in the House of Commons a “national interest”...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Credit Availability As An Asset Allocation Tool

    US analyst KX bases his equity calls largely on a Wicksellian model that compares the cost of capital with the returns earned by the corporate sector. We remain comfortable that this “spread” remains favorable for US firms, and so recommend a roughly 70% allocation to equities. Yet even if credit is reasonably priced, there is the question of its availability. For this reason, we watch lending standard measures closely, and just got a benign...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: The Battle For Chinese Tech

    China imports more semiconductors than it does crude oil, highlighting its dependence on foreign technology and know-how. The US recognizes this weakness and is intent on squeezing China’s tech sector before it is able to produce the most advanced chips at home and in scale. For this reason, tech sits at the heart of the US-China tensions.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    China's Data Will Get Worse Before It Gets Better

    The latest round of data releases painted a mixed picture of Chinese economic activity in October. Most notably, credit growth was weak. Given that without an acceleration in credit growth there will be no broad pick-up in overall economic growth, this indicates that Beijing will loosen policy further over the coming months. But how far and how fast?

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Next Wave Of SOE Consolidation

    Chinese officials are making another call to renew reform of state-owned enterprises. But a return to privatization is far away: the most concrete aspect of SOE reform is the guided restructuring of central-government-controlled firms. In this piece, Yanmei explains how big SOEs are using M&A in different ways to achieve consolidation.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Doom Loop Tightens

    The stand-off between Rome and Brussels over Italy’s 2019 budget claimed its first casualty on Monday. Italy’s major banks were forced to club together to support an emergency bond issue by Banca Carige, after the rise in Italian government bond yields triggered by the budget battle eroded the mid-sized lender’s capital base, pushing it to the brink of collapse.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    This Really May Be The Start Of A Year-End Rally

    Although this week started with a violent sell-off, Anatole argues that the stars are aligned for a year-end equity rally, especially in emerging markets. This is because EMs have sold off not on US interest rate worries but a combination of rising oil prices and heightened political risk. Those headwinds now seem to be abating and beaten up markets could surprise before year-end.

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    The True Story Of Eurozone Equities

    Since the financial crisis, European equities have proven serial duds compared to their transatlantic cousins. Cedric argues this divergence is simple reflection of the higher earnings-per-share achieved by US firms. Looking forward, however, he says it will be almost impossible for US firms to maintain this profits gap.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Germany, And Europe, After Merkel

    All political careers end in failure. Doubtless Angela Merkel is already feeling the sting. Even as the long-serving German chancellor stands up on Tuesday to address the European parliament in Strasbourg, political observers and investors are looking beyond Merkel’s term in office to the identity of her successor. That is likely to be decided on December 7, when Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union is set to elect a new party chairman, so...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    London Seminar — October 2018

    At Gavekal’s seminar in London last month Charles Gave and Anatole Kaletsky presented on whether the world is breaking up into three different monetary zones, and whether this is a correction to, or an end to, the long-running global bull market. Micahel Clendenin of Gavekal RedTech explained how they conduct research on the Chinese technology and internet sector.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Hong Kong Seminar — November 2018

    At Gavekal’s seminar in Hong Kong this week, Yanmei Xie, Arthur Kroeber and Will Denyer presented their latest views on China's economy, trade war, and how to approach asset allocation in the US.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A More Timely Wicksellian Tool

    According to my Wicksellian analysis of the US, when the market rate of interest moves above the natural rate (essentially the structural growth rate of corporate profits), then a recession is coming, and investors should exit US equities and load up on treasuries. I now propose an updated and more timely proxy for the "Wicksellian market rate".

    3
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Many Misjudgments Of Supply-Side Reform

    Supply-side reform, Xi Jinping’s signature policy of cutting excess capacity in steel, coal and other industries, is widely considered a success. Yet Rosealea’s extensive review finds that this campaign was marred by repeated misjudgments that caused undesired spikes in prices. The justifications for continuing the policy are now wearing thin.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    What's Changed In The Oil Market

    “Sanctions are coming,” proclaimed Donald Trump in a tweet last week, three days before the imposition of the latest US embargo on Iranian oil exports. The oil market was not impressed. Since late September, when crude hit four-year highs, the Brent price has slumped -16.7% from US$86.29 to US$71.91, with WTI falling -19.1%.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Gridlock is Good

    The Democrats have wrested back control of the US House of Representatives, while Republicans have expanded their Senate majority. Hence, the US’s bicameral legislature is set for two years of gridlock. This was the most benign result possible from this midterm election. While largely expected, confirmation is probably positive for risk assets.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Handicapping The Trump-Xi Summit

    As the US prepares to wrap up its Congressional election season, Donald Trump’s administration is sending mixed signals on its China policy. The outcome of the upcoming G-20 meeting between Donald Trump and Xi Jinping is now basically a coin-flip. Either way, argues Arthur, US pressure on China’s technology sector is likely to intensify.

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Pledged Shares Put Private Firms In Peril

    China’s bear market has created a crisis for hundreds of listed companies whose shareholders had pledged shares as collateral for bank loans, and now face the threat of margin calls. In this piece, Thomas explains the share-pledging crisis and how it is reshuffling corporate ownership, as state entities and others move to rescue distressed firms.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Hot, But Not Too Hot

    It remains unclear if the US is moderating its approach to trade war, but there are other factors to keep equity investors on edge. Friday’s US payroll report showed average hourly earnings rising to a cycle-high of 3.1%, confirming the picture of a tight labor market. Hence, with 10-year treasury yields just below their recent peak of 3.23%, the question is whether the US economy can weather a higher cost of capital. For now, I think the answer...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    It's Finally Safe To Buy Sterling

    The pound rose 2% yesterday after a statement from the British government that a Brexit deal could be expected by late this month. That has since been rowed back. Nevertheless, the UK is moving into an endgame where the most plausible outcomes are either a "soft Brexit", or a new referendum which results in the UK remaining in the EU. Both would be good news for sterling.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    No Renminbi Line In The Sand

    The renminbi has jumped over the last two days after the central bank signaled it would squeeze offshore liquidity. However, argue Long and Tom, it would be wrong to interpret this as a sign the PBOC will defend a line in the sand at 7. Embracing flexibility makes more sense as an exchange rate policy. The PBOC is just aiming to smooth volatility.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: Yes, We're Still In A Bull Market

    Anatole and Will believe that continued exposure to US equities makes sense, since underlying corporate profitability remains strong. So long as one avoids the most rate-sensitive sectors, US portfolios should be 70-75% in stocks, with the rest mainly in cash. Moreover, they argue that the period of EM underperformance is now done, and emerging markets are poised for a significant rally.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    India's Soft Approach To Hard Money

    A key reason to hold Indian risk assets in recent years has been the presence of a strong government willing to incur short-term political pain in return for longer-term economic gain. Yet, with the Reserve Bank of India fighting the finance ministry over bank regulation policies that may crimp growth ahead of a national election, this premise looks shaky. The partially independent central bank has faced political attack before, but this is...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Has Oil Set Its High For This Cycle?

    With the price of WTI crude oil now back below its 200-day moving average, Louis puts himself in the shoes of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and imagines what sort of leverage he could exert over Donald Trump, what this means for the enforcement of sanctions against Iran, and what that implies for the oil price going forward.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    First Blood In The Long Tech War

    Washington has opened a new front in the US-China economic cold war by slapping controls on exports of all “commodities, software and technology” to Chinese chipmaker Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit. The breath of the national security justification cited for this action escalates the US-China confrontation over technology to a new level.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Another Weight On The Euro

    The bear flattening of the US yield curve while European short rates remain anchored in negative territory means that it no longer makes sense for euro-based investors to hedge the currency risk of US bond purchases. Their hedging costs have risen to a level that wipes out the yield they would get on a 10-year US treasury. For US dollar investors, the opposite is true.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Beijing Seminar — October 2018

    At Gavekal’s seminar in Beijing last week, Louis-Vincent Gave, Udith Sikand and Chen Long presented their latest views on the turn in global markets, the prospects for emerging markets in the quarters ahead, and on China's policy priorities as it faces down the US in a prolonged rivalry.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Policy Constraint From Property

    The hot property market is one of the major constraints on Chinese policymakers’ freedom to stimulate: surging prices and construction do not need more juice. In this piece, Rosealea explains why more decisive stimulus is very unlikely before the property market weakens significantly, and even then will not be as large as in previous cycles.

    1
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