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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Is Beijing Winning The Battle For Blue Skies?

    An unprecedented campaign to reduce air pollution has shuttered factories across north China, with a success that has upended the consensus view that local-government officials always favor economic growth over the environment. In this piece, Yanmei examines whether this change in environmental enforcement is going to be temporary or permanent.

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    An Original Sinner Repents

    Two weeks ago, state-backed toll road operator Jasa Marga became the first Indonesian corporate to issue a “komodo” bond—a rupiah-denominated global bond. Seen in isolation, the three-year IDR4tn (US$295mn) issue yielding 7.5% might appear little more than a novelty. However, Udith thinks it could hold more significance.

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ: China 20/20

    In this final issue of China Economic Quarterly, an all-star cast of contributors takes a look back at how the country has changed since 1997, and a look forward at how China, and its global impact, might evolve in the next couple of decades. The basic lesson is that it has never paid to underestimate China’s growth potential and capacity for change.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Understanding China, In 20 Books (And One Movie)

    An annotated reading and viewing list for those who just can’t get enough of China.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    A Good Few Decades, But Not A ‘Chinese Century’

    The China Economic Quarterly will cease publication with this issue, which also marks its 20th anniversary. CEQ started life as a newsletter for a small coterie of executives and observers interested in what was then a peripheral bit of the world economy. As China became more important and information about it in more demand, we built the Dragonomics research service around it. Today China is crucial in any discussion of global affairs, and the...

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Waiting For Their Generation

    Young Chinese who came of age during “Reform and Opening” have more liberal notions than their elders for China’s future. The tectonic plates of government and society are moving in opposite directions, but we will have to wait at least 20 years for a decisive shift to occur.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Never A Brother In Arms

    Over the past 20 years, China failed to follow the path Western powers had scripted for it. Instead, it is emerging as a different type of global leader, defying conventional wisdom and generating new challenges for the supporters of the old order.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Environmental Horizon: Still Murky

    At long last, Beijing is getting serious about tackling the huge environmental problems caused by breakneck growth. Much more improvement is needed to clean up China’s environmental record both at home and abroad.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Handicapping The Global Power Shift

    China still oscillates between a desire to promote consensus and collaboration on the international stage, and powerful hegemonic and self-interested urges. More concerted international efforts will be needed to make sure the former prevails.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Misreading The Past, Misjudging The Future

    Smart observers have repeatedly got China wrong over the past three decades, selling short its growth potential and exaggerating its fragility. Chances are that many of today’s dark forecasts will prove wrong as well.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    A Tarnished Triumph

    China’s economy has grown faster than even the biggest optimists imagined two decades ago. Yet social and political change has lagged behind, while policy has become less reformist and more statist. As Beijing pours ever more resources into low-productivity prestige projects, the economic future is unlikely to be as bright as the past.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Pax Americana-Sinica

    China’s rise is making it increasingly costly for the US to uphold Pax Americana in Asia. China wants to replace it, but scant regional enthusiasm means Pax Sinica is some way off. For the next two decades, an uneasy truce should hold in Asia.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    From The Archives: The Internet Master Plan

    Don’t say we couldn’t have seen it coming. In this condensed reprint from the March 1999 CEQ, we explain Beijing’s strategy for building an internet that would promote growth, spur technological development—and vastly increase the state’s ability to exercise centralized coordination and control of the economy, and everything else.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Lessons From History

    Confessions of an analyst who got China wrong in 1997, but created a successful business and career anyway.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Why India Will Never Be China

    Drawing a comparison between Asia’s two giants is tempting, but differences outnumber similarities. Despite the appeal of China’s economic model, there is little chance that Asia’s oldest democracy will follow in Beijing’s footsteps.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Twenty Years Of Gain, And Much Pain

    The China that foreign businesses operate in today is immensely different from the one they ventured into 20 years ago. Challenges have multiplied for MNCs along with China’s economic and political rise.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Bitcoin: Money Or Bust

    The definitive characteristic of money is that it is a common medium of exchange. A good becomes money when people within a community begin to accept it, not for consumption nor to produce other goods, but for its expected use in indirect exchange. The chosen money may have non-monetary uses, as gold does, but this is not a requirement for its acceptance. This brings me to bitcoin. Crypto-currencies such as Bitcoin have no non-monetary use. That...

    18
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    Gavekal Research

    The Bitcoin Bubble Changes Shape

    All the talk about crypto-currencies, initial coin offerings, distributed ledgers etc. feels a lot like discussions on carnal knowledge in a high school boys’ locker room. Everyone is talking about it. Yet almost everyone’s experience is extremely limited. And it is likely to stay that way for the time being, because for all the talk, very few of those doing the chattering are actually getting any action. So what is there left to say about the...

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    Towards ECB Stealth Tightening?

    As the eurozone’s economy picks up, the European Central Bank finds itself facing a dilemma. In order not to freak out financial markets and push long-dated yields sharply higher, which could threaten to trigger a new financial crisis, it has promised to continue its quantitative easing program of asset purchases until at least September 2018, and not to raise policy rates until well after the end of those purchases. Yet as inflationary...

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Our 2017 Holiday Reading List

    History, far from being over, looms large in this year’s Gavekal holiday reading list. From failing empires in the Middle East to Europe’s ceaseless struggle for dominance and Asia’s inability to bury ghosts, our writers consider how the past is shaping our future. As befits a research firm, we have lots of economics with a tour of the stagnation debate and an assessment of the threats and benefits offered by artificial intelligence. We consider...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Avoiding Equity Duration Risk

    Last week, Louis argued persuasively that investors should shorten portfolio duration in response to the prospect of further central bank monetary tightening, the potential threat of rising inflation in 2018, and the stretched valuations of long-dated assets (see Have We Just Glimpsed Growth Stocks’ Achilles’ Heel?). This goes not just for fixed income investors, but equity investors too.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The End Of The Preschool Boom

    China’s busy and ambitious parents have driven a huge boom in private preschools, with the number of students roughly tripling over the past decade. But the sector is now clouded by allegations of child abuse, which will only strengthen a shift to tougher regulation and public provision of preschools. For now, the private preschool boom is over.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    What the US Yield Curve Really Says

    Since 1968, the US economy has suffered seven recessions, each preceded by an inversion of the yield curve. It thus makes sense to ask if such an upending of the link between time and interest is necessary for a recession to occur. A follow-on question might be whether a recession cannot happen so long as the yield curve shape is “normal”. With the US yield curve flattening by the day Charles seeks to answer these questions.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Asia’s Triple Merit Scenario Lives

    Last week, the Bank of Korea raised its benchmark interest rate for the first time in six years and other Asian central banks seem likely to follow suit. This is not especially surprising given the ongoing global expansion and tightening moves by the Federal Reserve, which have narrowed short-rate differentials for Asian currencies. The worry, as elucidated by Anatole last week, is that such an expansionary scenario threatens the delicate “not...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Turning The Page On The Eurocrisis

    You can be forgiven for having missed yesterday’s not so momentous news that Portugal’s finance minister Mario Centeno is taking over the presidency of the Eurogroup of finance ministers. Yet, look a little closer and this switch may, in fact, signify the end of the eurocrisis and a move onto the next phase of eurozone development.

    3
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Deleveraging Progress Report

    Can China manage corporate deleveraging without a credit crunch? Leverage ratios improved in 2015 and 2016, but progress has been more mixed in 2017, as companies borrowed more but raised less new equity. In 2018, Thomas expects stable or modestly deteriorating leverage ratios, with slowing growth somewhat offset by recovering equity issuance.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Positioning For US Tax Reform

    What’s not to like about tax cuts? Quite a lot as it turns out. Although the final shape of US tax reform has yet to be settled, there are enough common points between the House and Senate bills to allow Will and KX to conclude that the likely tax cuts will prove inflationary, and could prompt a more aggressive stance from the Fed. Despite some undoubtedly positive macro outcomes, the implications for investors are not exactly bullish.

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: The Long Cycle Continues

    As equity markets everywhere continue to trade higher, money managers are getting increasingly nervous about how long the rally can last. In December’s Strategy Monthly, Anatole argues that we are still only half-way through a secular bull market that can last through the end of the decade. With further US rate hikes on the cards, barring any nasty surprises non-US markets are likely to outperform going forward. The only fly in the ointment is...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    From A Ferrari To A Jeep

    When I turned 70 (I am still struggling with the fact that I now have a “7” handle), the Gavekal partners had the good idea of bringing into the firm some very bright “quants” and giving them a simple mandate: quantify and qualify the various investment rules that I have been using for decades (somewhat sporadically, and often with biases that I myself sometimes struggled to acknowledge).

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Equities, The Yen And The BoJ’s Exit

    Last month Bank of Japan governor Haruhiko Kuroda participated in an ECB panel on the importance of communications as a tool of monetary policy. He seems to have taken the message to heart. In the couple of weeks since, scarcely a day has gone by without Kuroda or one of his colleagues on the BoJ’s policy board talking publicly about the “reversal rate”, hinting heavily that the central bank is looking to dial back its ultra-accommodative stance.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Goldilocks And The Ten Grizzly Bears

    Over the last fortnight, Anatole has written lengthy pieces on why he remains structurally bullish and how investors should play this trend. Today, he takes a realistic look at factors that could disrupt his generally upbeat assessment of the global economy and markets. This piece is a journey into Anatole’s darker side.

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Rental Housing Solution

    China’s government has a new priority for the housing market: boost the quantity and quality of rental housing. As more middle-class Chinese are priced out of top-tier cities, promoting rentals is a new attempt to address housing affordability. In this piece, Rosealea explains the latest policy push and how it will affect property developers.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Have We Just Glimpsed Growth Stocks’ Achilles’ Heel?

    The best scene in HBO’s hit show “Silicon Valley” had brash billionaire Russ Hanneman explain to start-up CEO Richard Hendricks that the first goal of his tech firm should be to avoid booking sales: “If you show revenue, people will ask ‘how much?’ and it will never be enough” (see clip). This scene crystallizes the observation that in recent years investors have been rewarded in spades for loading up on “long-dated assets”. And it has been a...

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Behind Eurozone Credit Growth

    The eurozone credit cycle is accelerating. Data released yesterday showed loans to non-financial companies grew at 2.9% YoY in October, the fastest rate since June 2009, while loans to households were up 2.7% YoY for the third month running. The pick-up in lending to private businesses bodes well for eurozone growth and markets next year, with respondents to the European Central Bank’s bank lending survey indicating that investment and...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    India Macro Update: The Pain Before The Gain

    India reports its third quarter GDP tomorrow and in this chartbook Udith and Tom offer their assessment of the economy. They expect the official numbers to show a pick-up in growth due to firms restocking after the rollout of the new Goods & Services Tax and think this trajectory will continue through to next year. They advise investors to stick with richly-valued equities, treat bonds cautiously and not worry too much about a currency...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: The Pain Before The Gain

    India reports its third quarter GDP tomorrow and Udith offers an assessment of the economy. He expect the official numbers to show a pick-up in growth due to firms restocking after the rollout of the new Goods & Services Tax and thinks this trajectory will continue through to next year. He advise investors to stick with richly-valued equities, treat bonds cautiously and not worry too much about a currency correction.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    What Retail Apocalypse?

    With so much US retail activity going online, a CNN headline over the weekend asked if this “Black Friday” might be the last. That is good news for the newly-minted US$100bn man at Amazon and bad news for old-style chains like JC Penney, Sears, and Kmart, which face constant downsizing pressure. But what about more broadly for the economy?

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Regime Change For Oil?

    Every US or global recession in the past 50 years has been preceded by a doubling or more of oil prices, but not every doubling of oil prices has been followed by recession. While even US$70/bbl probably does not pose a serious risk to the world economy, any rise above US$70 could spark a combination of inflationary pressure and reduced demand that proves lethal to global financial conditions and growth.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Chinese Consumer: Outlook & Trends 2017

    In our annual review of the Chinese consumer, Ernan outlines the short-term outlook and longer-term trends in household spending. This chartbook explains why consumption growth has been a bit disappointing in 2017, why the outlook for 2018 is better, what are the drivers of consumption upgrading, and how the transition to online is playing out.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Bull Market And The Yield Curve

    Keeping up with a runaway bull is no easy task. Which may explain why so many investors remain unenthusiastic participants: the market is old and increasingly unattractive, but holding back could cost them their careers. Yet, the upward march of global equity markets continues relentlessly (for reasons reviewed in recent articles. Today, some 84% of markets around the world are up over the past 12 months in local currency terms. Historically,...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Not All Bank Recaps Are Created Equal

    A month ago, India outlined a US$32bn plan to fix its publicly-controlled banks’ bad debt problem, sparking a more than 30% rally in their share prices. The plan remains under wraps, but the “round tripping” approach will see deposits lent to the government as recapitalization bonds and then injected back into banks as fresh capital. The question is whether India’s effort is credible enough for banks to both write off debt and have enough...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Don’t Panic Over Chinese Equities

    The A-share equity market suffered its biggest one-day sell-off this year yesterday. But Chen Long argues that conditions in fact still remain benign for Chinese equity investors. The earnings outlook is favorable, the market is cheap by global standards, and international investors are beginning to trim their longstanding underweight.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Fake Brexit? Or No Brexit?

    The British economy since the Brexit referendum is often likened to the suicide jumper who leaps off a 20-storey building, shouting “so far, so good” as he falls past the 10th floor. This comparison is unfair to suicides. The real message about economic performance from the government’s annual budget statement yesterday was “so far, so bad”. While a minority of economists and investors—plus a large majority of Conservative politicians—share...

    10
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    Gavekal Research

    New York Seminar — November 2017

    At Gavekal's November seminar in New York Louis Gave, Arthur Kroeber, Cedric Gemehl and Anatole Kaletsky presented their macro outlooks and investment recommendations.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Investing For Constrained Insurers

    At Gavekal we have a sizable number of European Union insurance companies among our clients. Over the last three months, I have visited more than a few of them to outline my current investment recommendations, for example that investors should buy the Japanese stock market. Typically in these meetings, the investors have listened carefully and then regretfully shaken their heads, saying: “I’m afraid we can’t do it—for regulatory reasons”.

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    A Mixed Report From Steel Country

    This winter's anti-pollution campaign in north China is for real, but will have a mixed impact on the steel industry. The campaign also involves a suspension of many construction projects, which will reduce demand. Rosealea's recent field trip to the steel hub of Tangshan suggests both the supply and demand cuts are beginning to bite.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Towards A Single Asset Management Regime

    For the first time, China is to bring its highly heterogeneous RMB100trn asset management industry under a single regulatory umbrella. New rules published last week promise to increase transparency, curtail leverage and reduce complexity and hidden risks, especially in the booming business in so-called “wealth management products”. However, writes Chen Long, the draft regulations contain a number of omissions, ambiguities and loopholes which, if...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Dodging Late-Cycle Refinancing Risk

    By most generally accepted metrics, the US economy is in the late stages of its cycle and any further overheating raises the chances of a recession. The issue is really one of timing. Will Denyer’s Wicksellian model and my US business cycle indicator are both flashing orange rather than red, suggesting that the US is edging towards the recession frontier, but not yet at it. We have both advised investors to dial back on US risk, but are not much...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Who Needs A Government?

    What would it take to make you put more risk on the table in the final month of a year that has generally produced decent investment returns? It helps to have a synchronized global economic recovery that relies on multiple engines of growth and a US-tested monetary policy framework that seems to work as advertised. Yet the potential for disappointment, starting with US tax reform, appears to be growing. Add to that list an outbreak of political...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    How Much Slack In The Eurozone?

    It is a core contention of the bullish view on Europe espoused by Anatole and Cedric that the eurozone’s recovery is running four or five years behind the US economic cycle and that there is still plenty of slack left in the eurozone economy. But is there really as much as the bulls believe?

    2
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