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    Gavekal Research

    The New Source Of Market Risk

    Believe it or not, there was good news, as well as bad, from the US markets last Friday. The bad news was obviously Donald Trump’s threat to escalate the trade war with China and the equally aggressive response from Beijing. The good news was the fall in March’s US payrolls growth to just 103,000 from February’s upwardly-revised 326,000. This slowdown has eliminated, at least until after the summer, the risk of an unexpected Federal Reserve...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Why To Buy India’s Battered Banks

    India’s central bank surveyed the landscape and yesterday painted an upbeat picture. It argued that the investment cycle may be turning, while inflation, the sub-continent’s constant bugbear, is becalmed. With Indian equities off -6% in 2018, this would seem a decent reentry point. The problem is public sector banks, for even as a US$32bn recapitalization is rolled out and bad debt is cleaned up, investors remain spooked by an outlandish scandal.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Reasons To Buy The Dip

    After spending many years as Gavekal’s equity permabull, I joined Charles and Louis last December in warning of the risks to what was then a roaring, and accelerating, bull market. But my way of thinking about these risks was rooted in a different analytical framework, and so I have come to a different conclusion about how investors should respond to this latest sell-off (for Louis’ take, see Following Yesterday’s Pullback). With the lows of mid...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Video: Making Sense Of China's New Era

    In this lively presentation from our recent London seminar, Tom Miller outlines the dramatic political changes that have been taking place in China. He explains what Xi Jinping’s new status means for economic policy and governance, and how the links between the Communist Party and the state are being strengthened.

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    Gavekal Research

    US Auto Sales: No Longer A Growth Driver

    Strong US auto sales in March mask a stagnating longer term trend and rising auto loan delinquencies. Happily, as KX explains, neither has broader implications for overall US consumer demand. Although auto sales may no longer be contributing to US growth, rising bad loans in the sector do not prefigure a wider consumer credit crisis.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    How Steel Survived The Battle For Blue Skies

    It’s been a wild winter for China’s steel industry, with huge swings in output and prices. The main culprit is the aggressive official campaign to reduce air pollution—and the industry’s creative responses to it. Their back-and-forth has not hurt underlying growth much, but the resulting volatility in steel prices is not going away.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Ready For A Further P/E Derating

    I see but through a glass darkly. Sometimes, however there are glimmers of light. Four months ago, in early December, I examined the signals being broadcast by the various investment rules I have long followed and concluded that: “While global markets have been stable for the past 18 months, we may soon be entering a period of greater instability.”

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    Following Yesterday’s Pullback

    Two weeks ago I looked back at Enron’s collapse in 2001 and asked whether a crash-and-burn at Tesla or Uber would be this cycle’s catalyst for a fundamental re-assessment of business models. But perhaps my sights were set too low, as this roll-over was triggered not by a cash-burning profligate flaming out, but by turmoil engulfing the Facebook gorilla, and by extension the likes of Google and Snap, which rely on “the user being the product”.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: Navigating In Choppy Waters

    With its latest sell-off, the S&P 500 capped two months of volatility by moving officially into correction territory: down -10% from its January high, and below its 200-day moving average for the first time in two years. Is this the end of the long US equity bull market? In this edition of our Strategy Monthly, we offer three perspectives on how investors should position themselves in these more volatile times.

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    Gavekal Research

    Abenomics After Abe

    It’s been a rough few weeks, both for Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe and for the Japanese stock market. Reelected just five months ago, Abe is facing growing demands for his resignation after an influence-peddling scandal that has been bubbling away for the last year boiled over with leaks about an official cover-up. In response, Abe’s approval rating has slumped towards 30%, traditionally a level from which Japanese prime ministers struggle...

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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Can The EM Run Last?

    In this video interview Joyce discusses why profits should drive a maturing cycle in EMs that increasingly favors commodity-focused markets outside of Asia, and the risks to such a benign scenario.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Can EMs Survive A Trade War And Keep Thriving?

    A US-China trade war would disrupt trade, likely drive up inflation and potentially spark a general risk-off move in markets. This scenario would be pretty terrible for emerging markets, but Joyce reckons it is a tail risk and the general outlook remains decent. In this chartbook, she reviews EMs' vulnerability to a trade bust and explains why profits should drive a maturing cycle that increasingly favors commodity-focused markets outside...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Macro Update: Centralization Amid Conflict

    In our latest chartbook, Chen Long outlines a relatively positive cyclical economic picture for China, with steady macro policy, strengthening financial regulation, and further political centralization. The risks to this outlook are tightening property policies, a local government funding squeeze and the looming threat of a US-China trade conflict.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Don’t Fret About Libor

    A disproportionate increase in Libor relative to other benchmark short term rates over recent months has got many observers flustered. In this concise paper, Will and KX dig down to the cause of the increase, and explain what it does and doesn’t mean for portfolio investors.

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    Gavekal Research

    On Protectionism

    As the US toughens up its negotiating stance on trade, it seems that ghosts from the Great Depression haunt the land. The men of Davos can be heard to intone gravely that President Donald Trump is aping Herbert Hoover, and as in the 1930s, the global economy may go into a tailspin. I am struck that our cherished elites have discovered a form of government intervention that they do not like, especially given their support for so many other “...

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Pain Of Power Producers

    The rebound in commodity prices since 2016 has been a boon for much of China’s industrial sector—but coal-burning power plants have been big losers. Coal prices cannot go much higher without causing serious financial distress. This means that policy should now be shifting to favor power producers, by ensuring coal prices do not climb further.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Why Aren’t Bond Investors Panicking?

    Once again, the volatility that rocked global financial markets in recent days was at least as interesting for what it didn’t tell us as what it did. Amid growing protectionism, rising rates and fiscal irresponsibility in the US government, the biggest and most important financial market of all—the US treasury market—isn’t bothered.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Trade Wars: A China Expert Roundtable

    Last week’s sharp equity market sell-off followed the US effectively threatening China with a trade war. In this report, Arthur, Long and Andrew address China’s capacity to strike back and explore what it means for the relationship between the world’s two biggest economies.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Farewell My Lovely Bull Market

    No doubt market pundits will go on discussing the trigger of last week’s sell-off in equity markets and debating its implications ad nauseam. But whatever the proximate cause of the latest risk-off, it is looking increasingly as if the uncomplicated, low volatility bull-market-in-everything that prevailed through much of last year is now no more than a pleasant memory. With markets apparently intent on retesting the lows set in early February,...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Trade Wars: Advantage China

    In the US-China trade war, China is skillfully playing Go while the US is playing tic-tac-toe, badly. Arthur analyses the announcement of US$60bn worth of tariffs by the US on Chinese imports and finds the US flailing without a firm strategy. But behind the news, a dangerous consensus has emerged among America’s elites which holds that China’s rise comes at the US’s expense, and must be checked.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    London Seminar — March 2018

    In our seminar in London this week Charles pondered the investment consequences of the US moving back into an inflationary period. Tom discussed Chinese politics in light of Xi Jinping’s elevation. Cedric presented on how investors can best benefit from the diversity of the European economy. Anatole explained why the long-running global bull market is likely to continue, but also where the risks are buried.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A (Slightly) Different Wicksellian Analysis

    In developing “Wicksellian” theory and applying it to portfolio management, readers may have noticed that Charles and Will Denyer have plowed slightly different furrows. The aim of this piece is to clarify points of agreement and highlight differences in their methodology. In so doing, Charles hopes to illuminate both approaches and help readers to navigate a subject that is fairly central to Gavekal research.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Focus On Corporate Yields, Not Policy Rates

    There were no big surprises at yesterday’s Federal Reserve meeting, but in offering a slightly more hawkish tone, policymakers have amped up market anxiety. I must admit to not being in this crowd, for the perhaps heretical observation that the future of this bull market may not be decided at the Fed.

    13
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    Gavekal Research

    Don’t Wade Into Treasuries

    Leading up to today’s Federal Reserve meeting, long-dated treasuries have slipped back into their trading range. There are two reasons to think this offers a good opportunity to “buy the dip”. First, global growth has eased off as shown by our diffusion index of OECD leading indicators, which tends to lead year-on-year changes in 10-year treasury yields by about four months. Second, investors overreacted to January’s spike in US wage growth data...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Giving Up Value Investing For Lent

    A client recently told me that he had wanted to give up “value investing” for Lent. Unfortunately, his priest pointed out that this was like forgoing boiled spinach as Lent commemorates Christ’s 40 days in the desert and requires doing without something that feels good: think of giving up Amazon, Nvidia or Tencent (at least until this week) for energy stocks, Japan and emerging market financials. Our client chose self-flagellation and stuck with...

    3
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Beyond Anti-Corruption

    China’s legislature has approved the creation of a national “supervision” system, an arm of government equal to the executive, legislative and judicial branches that is charged with overseeing the vast public sector. As Yanmei explains, the new system transforms Xi Jinping’s signature anti-corruption crusade into something even more ambitious.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Ogre Eating His Own Children

    Our regular Loser Reports are based on the premise that good money management can be as much about “avoiding losers” as “picking winners”. This month, Louis looks at the (worrying) direction of US fiscal policy and wonders whether the next shoe to drop could be defense contractors and energy producers in the US, and even municipal bonds.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The New Economic Team

    China’s top economic team for the next five years was released this morning, and the theme seems to be “steady as she goes”, with a vote of confidence for experts in their fields. Chen Long has looked at the list, which includes a new PBOC governor, and offers his take on what this means for financial policy in the years ahead.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Fixing The Model

    Earlier this week Will issued a mea culpa report that explained why he was revising his Wicksellian asset allocation model and substantially changing his recommendations for the US market. In this video interview he explains the story behind this revision.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Corporate Bond Play

    With high-yield and investment grade spreads having shrunk to historically low levels, US corporate bonds are hardly cheap. Yet the combination of favorable tax policy and fiscal incontinence recommends them to any US bond portfolio. As the US economy is likely in the dog days of this cycle, the tricky question is what duration investors should focus on.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Why Does India Have No Clothes?

    Given its size and comparative advantages, India should have more than a hundred million people working in the garment industry. Bad policies and missed opportunities means it has about half that number. The government has big plans to fix this situation and Tom recently spent time meeting with textile entrepreneurs in and around Delhi to see if this is changing. This is his report card.

    3
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Cold Weather, Hot Data

    China’s first data release of 2018 delivered a couple of surprises, with a big jump in industrial value-added and a pickup in real-estate investment. But neither amounts to a convincing signal that the economy is actually re-accelerating. The most likely outcome is still a moderate growth slowdown driven by a shallow downcycle in property.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Legitimacy Versus Legality

    France’s top central banker yesterday called for the nations of the eurozone to cease bickering over ideological questions, and instead get things done. National leaders should stop wasting time on “theoretical debates” that pitted “risk reduction against risk sharing”, said Francois Villeroy de Galhau. They should, instead, tackle real problems like the half-built capital markets union. It was the authentic voice of the European technocracy and...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    A Fork In The Road For European Equities

    In the first half of last year making money in European stocks was easy as benchmarks steamed higher on hopes that less political risk would allow an economic surge into sunlit uplands. It has not exactly worked out that way. Such has been the loss of momentum that both the MSCI EMU and broader MSCI Europe indexes have plunged below their 200-day moving averages (just as worrying for tea leaf readers, the 50-day moving average for the narrower...

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Stuck In The Middle-Income Trap

    Three years ago Malaysian prime minister Najib Tun Razak faced the kind of graft allegations that would ultimately defenestrate heads of government in Brazil and South Africa. His political fortunes were further imperiled by Malaysia’s highly trade-dependent economy staggering trough the 2014-15 commodity bust. Yet, remarkably, Najib survived and now seems set to be reelected at an upcoming general election. His Houdini-like escape is bad for...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    A New Organization Chart

    China yesterday unveiled a sweeping plan to reorganize its central government. In this piece, Yanmei explains how Xi is streamlining administration and empowering new agencies to carry out his distinctive domestic-policy priorities of environmental protection, risk control, and poverty alleviation, as well as his assertive foreign policy.

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    The Curious Case Of The HK Dollar

    One of the longest awaited adjustments in financial markets may finally be about to happen. Last year, betting that Hong Kong dollar interest rates would rise to converge with US dollar rates was reckoned to be among the surest trades in world markets. Yet the convergence never happened. Over the last 12 months, one-month Hong Kong dollar Hibor has consistently traded at a discount to one-month US dollar Libor of more than 30bp. And since the...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Turning 90% Bullish

    Over the last three years, Will has developed his own version of Charles's Wicksellian framework to analyze the US economic cycle. His approach has been to gauge the difference between the private sector’s return on invested capital and its cost. In this candid report, he explains why he is overhauling his model and how this has substantially changed his recommendations.

    10
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    Gavekal Research

    The Curiously Weak Dollar

    Since early February, global markets have had a volatile ride. The big exception has been the US dollar, which has stayed stoically range-bound. This is odd considering the Federal Reserve’s fairly hawkish outlook for monetary policy and the fact that imposing tariffs on metal imports should lessen the US trade deficit. Not to pat ourselves on the back, but the general Gavekal view on the US dollar has in recent times been fairly bearish (see...

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Playing Russia’s Continued Recovery

    The result of this weekend’s Russian presidential election is not in doubt. But investors in Russia face considerable uncertainty. Despite monetary policy and exchange rate liberalization, Russia has made little progress towards the structural reforms needed to boost its potential growth rate above rock-bottom levels. Nevertheless, cyclical tailwinds mean there are still some attractive pockets of opportunity for international investors.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research Call March 2018

    In last week’s Research Conference Call Cedric Gemehl and Nick Andrews presented a thematic approach for playing the European growth story. Cedric explained why the major stock indexes fail to capture the geographical and sectoral potential in Europe, and Nick proposed specific investment themes that should allow investors to benefit from Europe’s continued expansion.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Zhou Xiaochuan’s Legacy

    Zhou Xiaochuan is expected to retire this month after 15 years heading the People’s Bank of China, during which he oversaw both major reforms and an explosion of debt. Chen Long argues that Zhou’s successor faces three main challenges: completing interest and exchange rate reform, managing financial risk, and adapting to a bigger global role.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Trade Wars: The Phantom Menace?

    In the aftermath of the past week’s to-ing and fro-ing over steel and aluminum tariffs, there is one thing we can be certain of this year: we are going to see a lot more protectionist theatrics coming out of the White House. What is much less certain is how worried we should be.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Property Tax Is Back

    A property tax is back on the Chinese government’s agenda: after being postponed in 2017, the long-discussed tax was brought up again at this week’s legislative session. The draft law could come in 2018, with actual taxes being levied by late 2019 at the earliest. But Rosealea expects this to be largely a non-event for the property market.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Making In Delhi

    Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” initiative is supposed to transform India from an industrial laggard into a global manufacturing hub. Tom and Udith recently kicked the tires in the industrial heartlands surrounding Delhi and can confirm that China, for now, does not have serious competition. Yet they found some surprisingly encouraging developments that point to the policy in pockets displaying genuine success.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    What A Trade War Means For Europe

    The departure of free-trader Gary Cohn from the Trump administration has investors rightly concerned that a global trade war may loom. Markets rallied yesterday on reports that the US may carve out exclusions for its steel and aluminum tariffs, but President Donald Trump seems set to announce a punitive package as early as today. The European Union has taken a tough stance against the US threat, and yesterday added orange juice and peanut butter...

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The New Challenger In Memory Chips

    China is making an expensive new push to crack the market for memory chips, now dominated by a South Korean-led oligopoly. In this piece, the first in an occasional series looking at China’s technological ambitions and the Made in China 2025 plan, Dan assesses whether and how China can succeed in this drive to gain semiconductor market share.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Housing And The US Economy

    The last economic cycle in the US was marked by excesses in residential investment and a dearth of business investment, which proved negative for productivity growth. As the current cycle gets a pro-cyclical boost in its mature phase from last year’s tax reforms, that imbalance will be at least partially reversed.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Another Finest Hour

    At Gavekal, we have no house view, but in recent weeks something of a united front has formed among my erudite colleagues on the subject of Europe and her politics. Just to be sure that clients don’t conclude that we have all imbibed the Brussels-dispensed Kool Aid, let me offer my take on the situation and the implication for financial asset values.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Change And Stasis In Italy

    In Italy’s general election on Sunday, the anti-establishment Five Star Movement emerged as the largest single party in each chamber of parliament, and the populist Lega eclipsed Silvio Berlusconi’s Forze Italia to dominate the right of Italian politics. Following these changes, it is hard to see how any plausible combination of parties can secure a stable majority in both houses of parliament. As Cedric and Anatole explain, the most likely...

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