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E.g., 20-11-2017
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Peak In Home Appliances

    When you buy a house, you also buy things to go in it—yet the rebound in housing sales over the past 18 months has not done much for sales of major home appliances. As Ernan explains in this piece, Chinese demand for washing machines, refrigerators and televisions has now more or less peaked. The main exception is the humble air conditioner.

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    Gavekal Research

    Don’t Give Up On Eurozone Equities

    When a market fails to rally further on successive rounds of good news, investors can be forgiven for feeling a tad nervous about the outlook. It is little surprise, therefore, that many portfolio managers are expressing skepticism about the near-term sustainability of the bull market in eurozone equities. Since the election of Emmanuel Macron as French president two months ago, the macro headlines from the single currency area have been...

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    Gavekal Research

    Video: A Cure For The Italian Malaise

    Italy’s economy is enjoying a cyclical upswing, and a long-delayed banking clean-up is finally under way. But while both these developments are welcome, they are not sufficient to change the underlying picture. Nick argues there is little chance that the general election due to be held by May 2018 will produce a government strong enough to press ahead with reform.

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    Gavekal Research

    What Could Turn Around The US Business Cycle? Hint: Not Much

    As often happens, US data is sending mixed messages. Yesterday’s ADP report showed weak job growth in June, despite the latest ISM service sector PMI being decidedly perky. Investing according to the latest high-frequency growth data is a good way to get whiplash. Instead, let’s take a step back and review the US economy’s overall positioning.

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    Gavekal Research

    Italy: Stuck At The Back Of The Peloton

    In the Tour de France, the cyclists at the back of the peloton benefit enormously by riding in the slipstream of stronger competitors at the front of the pack. That’s fine for most of the time, but when the leaders stage a breakaway, the weaker riders can struggle to maintain the pace.

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    Gavekal Research

    Sweden’s Secret Sauce

    Sweden is a high-growth economy with competitive firms in everything from retailing to metal bashing to software. Yet, there is a time to be in Sweden—or at least overweight—and there are times to be out. Sweden and the US had two of the 20th century’s best performing equity markets and I will simplify this decision by measuring their relative attractiveness. Spoiler alert: this report has a positive recommendation.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Real Macron

    On Monday Emmanuel Macron launched what is being dubbed an imperial presidency. He offered a neo-Gaullist vision of a strong leader nurturing a troubled nation’s recovery. Yet he also unfurled an electoral reform program aiming to break the old political duopoly. The worry is that Macron uses up his political capital and economic reform stalls.

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    Gavekal Research

    Video: The North Korea Conundrum

    In this brief video interview Yanmei Xie outlines the ever-shrinking list of options the US has for solving the problem of a nuclear-armed North Korea. The risk of military action remains slim, but with North Korea's recent test of an intercontinental ballistic missile it is no longer unthinkable.

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    Gavekal Research

    The North Korean Tail Risk Just Got A Whole Lot Fatter

    Despite the protestations of some of the less temperate US news media, North Korea did not cross a US “red line” yesterday. However, with the successful test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile that could, in theory, drop a nuclear warhead on the US state of Alaska, Kim Jong Un’s rogue state has brought North Asia a big step closer to the critical point at which investors can no longer rule out military action. A shooting war on the...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Government Becomes A Home Buyer

    It’s no secret that managing the housing market is a core part of China’s economic policy. But as Rosealea explains in this piece, government’s role in supporting housing sales is now even greater than most realize. The government is buying millions of unsold housing units directly from developers, and the scale of the program is only increasing.

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    Gavekal Research

    Should Investors Chase Defense Stocks?

    Aside from health care, the other “Trump trade” that has worked wonders since November 9 has been defense stocks. After all, with the Dow Jones sector index up some 22% in the period, what’s not to like? On taking office, Donald Trump cranked up military spending, and during his state visit to Saudi Arabia in May secured weapon sales worth US$110bn. On Friday—just hours before Xi Jinping took the stage in Hong Kong to celebrate the 20th...

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    Gavekal Research

    Trump And Xi: The End Of The Bromance?

    Last week Washington soured its relationship with China by imposing sanctions on some Chinese companies and individuals that do business with North Korea and announcing a big arms sale package for Taiwan. Rumors also continue to percolate that Trump is preparing for more aggressive trade action. Arthur discusses whether it is time to worry.

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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: The China Markets Opportunity

    The doors to China’s capital markets are opening wider, with MSCI adding A-shares to its indexes, and the Bond Connect program launching in Hong Kong. In this Strategy Monthly, Thomas Gatley and Chen Long explain how foreign investors should position themselves in Chinese bonds and equities in light of these new market-opening measures.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Macro Update: Surviving The Financial Crackdown

    In our latest quarterly chartbook, Chen Long assesses the effects of Chinese regulators’ surprising crackdown on the financial sector. Interbank rates and bond yields have jumped, but credit growth has slowed only modestly. While growth has clearly peaked and will slow further in the rest of 2017, a gradual slowdown still looks quite achievable.

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    Gavekal Research

    A Late-Cycle Signal From US Factories

    Determining the exact extent of the US output gap at any point in time is immensely difficult, if not impossible. Earlier this month, KX suggested monitoring four indicators: the gap between actual unemployment and the “natural” rate; real corporate profits; profit margins, and the change of US CPI inflation. Today he adds another indicator to that list: the ratio of factory order backlogs to new orders. By this measure too, the US is running...

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    Gavekal Research

    The Indian Summer

    Tomorrow India will roll out its most important economic reform since the early 1990s. The Goods and Services Tax will transform the country’s 29 states, which run semi-autonomous fiscal systems, into a single market. Backed by strong fundamentals, Modi’s reform agenda is playing well with investors: MSCI India is up 19% this year, foreigners are piling into Indian bonds, and FDI is at record levels. Yet, look closer and a weaker economy emerges...

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    Gavekal Research

    Draghi’s Two Ps And The Euro

    When choosing three adjectives to describe the ECB’s evolving monetary policy stance, Mario Draghi this week alighted on confidence, persistence and prudence. Yet judging by the big reaction in currency and bond markets, traders ignored the two Ps and heard only about Draghi’s confidence in Europe’s strengthening recovery. Markets treated the speech as a unambiguous signal that the ECB is turning more hawkish.

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    Gavekal Research

    When Central Bankers Attempt To Change Direction

    In recent days , central bankers in the US and Europe have been signaling how much they want to end unconventional monetary policies and revert to a more normal monetary model that does not put asset prices at the heart of the system. It is a laudable aim. But, warns Charles in this piece, central bankers have seldom managed to transition from one monetary regime to another without causing convulsions in the financial markets. This time, the...

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    Gavekal Research

    A Change In The Investment Environment?

    A couple of weeks ago, Louis asked if the downside breakout in bond yields (touching 2.10%) could foster a stable investment environment. At the time he foresaw three possible scenarios. After yesterday's hawkish pronouncements by multiple central banks, he is not so sure and is focusing on a narrower range of possibilities which may herald a new investment environment.

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    Gavekal Research

    Not Getting Paid To Take Credit Risk

    When things cannot get any better, they rarely do. Credit spreads for both high-yield and investment-grade corporate bonds are back near lows last seen just before the onset of previous financial busts. Will the calm soon give way to another perfect storm? Worryingly, corporate fundamentals are already deteriorating.

    3
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Empty Promises Of SOE Reform

    At the close of 2016, Xi Jinping’s government vowed to speed up economic reform, and declared “breakthroughs” would be made in overhauling state-owned enterprises. Half a year on, these bold claims have not been matched by actions. The numerous reform trials can give the impression of activity, but real change remains a distant prospect.

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    Gavekal Research

    Common Sense Prevails In Italy

    The European Union authorities bowed to the inevitable yesterday. They agreed to let Rome spend as much as €17bn in Italian taxpayers’ cash to prevent losses among the senior bondholders and depositors in two Italian regional banks that the European Central Bank declared on Friday to be failing.

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    Gavekal Research

    Calm Sailing For A Reason

    Those with a constructive view of quiescent asset markets say low volatility is justified by the stable economic situation. Others mutter of a looming “Minsky moment”. KX does not rule out a sharp rise in near-term volatility, but says the secular trend is down.

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    Gavekal Research

    Should Investors Chase Health Care Stocks?

    Years ago, when Charles attempted to retire, my mother promptly decided that retirement was the “worst of both worlds”: more husband and less money. She quickly put the kibosh on the idea. The US government is a little more complicated to run than the Gave household, yet health care policy also offers a “worst of both worlds” outcome—profligate spending and rising bureaucracy (from government interference) and eye-watering prices (from the...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Saudi, The Oil Price & Capital Markets

    It says a lot about the dynamics currently at work in the oil market that the king of Saudi Arabia yesterday promoted his firebrand young son to crown prince, yet the price of oil still fell -2.7%. The question now is whether Saudi will double down on its current policies in a fresh attempt to goose up the oil price, whether Riyadh will be forced by its rapidly eroding finances to change direction entirely and devalue the riyal, much as Russia...

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    Gavekal Research

    A Hard Road Ahead For Italy’s Banks

    The eurozone’s rising tide is floating Italy’s boat. Earlier this month, the national statistics agency revised the country’s first quarter growth up from 0.2% on the previous quarter to 0.4%, marking nine consecutive quarters of economic expansion. This equals the longest stretch of continuous growth since the mid-1990s. What’s more, with unemployment down steeply to a five-year low of 11.1% in April and the composite PMI at a buoyant 55.2, the...

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    Gavekal Research

    A Slow Motion Game Changer

    After three years of teasing, MSCI has agreed to include Chinese domestically-listed stocks, or A-shares, in its main equity indexes. Yet, hopes that MSCI inclusion will quickly spur huge capital inflows and a sustained domestic bull market, are almost certainly wide of the mark.

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    Gavekal Research

    A British Rebalancing?

    Last week the Bank of England left interest rates unchanged, but three out of eight policymakers voted for a hike. In the past any weakness in UK consumption has been met with a soothing monetary response. The fact that the consumer looks increasingly forlorn, yet the BoE is hanging tough suggests the game has changed.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Central Pillar For Housing Sales

    China’s housing market is proving quite resilient this year, with sales growth perking up in May. In this piece, Rosealea argues the current sales recovery is broad-based: growth is strong in both central and coastal provinces. While restrictions on speculative purchases are spreading to some smaller cities, this should have only a moderate impact.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The French Reset

    French voters have handed President Emmanuel Macron a clear parliamentary majority after his La République en Marche party yesterday secured an estimated 360 out of 577 seats. He will also get support from many of the 170 or so Republican and Socialist party deputies who were just elected. After a record low turnout, critics may question his moral authority, but there is no doubting that Macron is now the master of French politics. Hence, he is...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    So We Are In Secular Stagnation...

    Hand-wringing has reached new levels among economists over the somewhat nebulous concept of “secular stagnation”. Charles is not convinced by explanations which range from policymakers hitting practical limits of control, through to a technological dark age being encountered. He thinks there is a simpler answer for why some developed economies such as Germany and Canada have maintained a steady expansion, and others like France and the US have...

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    Keeping It Simple

    Three prices have a disproportionate impact on global financial prices: the oil price, the price of the US dollar, and US interest rates. Often the rest is just noise. In the long term, it is shifts in these three prices that drive economic cycles and determine the performance of almost any investment strategy. Take this year as an example. The investment environment has been dominated by:

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Retreat From Steady Employment

    China’s troubled industrial sector shed 2.3mn jobs in 2016—but these losses were swamped by millions more new jobs created in services. The real issue in the labor market today is not how many jobs are being destroyed, but the quality of the jobs being created. Most new jobs are in small businesses that offer lower wages and less security.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Fed's Balance Sheet Contraction

    As universally expected, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates by another 25bp yesterday. It also published details about its plan to start shrinking its balance sheet before the end of this year. While this too was widely expected, there remain plenty of questions about how the markets will respond. With no precedents for the Fed’s impending move to contract its bloated balance sheet, no one can be entirely confident how the market will...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Small Caps, Big Caps And US Corporate Spreads

    The performance of large-capitalization US stocks relative to small caps is sending an important signal about US corporate yield spreads. In this short piece, Charles decodes the message, and advises corporate bond investors to begin seeking safety in treasuries.

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    Gavekal Research

    Mind The (Output) Gap

    The US economy is offering up conflicting signals. Recent manufacturing survey data has been soft, auto sales have slowed and the rate of job creation has markedly reduced. At the same time, inflation expectations have dipped after their bolt upwards earlier this year. Yet, redirect the gaze and the same US economy shows distinct signs of waddling towards a late cycle denouement with the labor market, in particular, looking tight. Put another...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    May Day For Hard Brexit

    After the Conservative government of UK prime minister Theresa May lost its parliamentary majority in last week's general election, Anatole argues that the "hard Brexit" strategy formerly pursued by May no longer looks politically viable. That means a Norwegian-style soft Brexit is more likely, which makes sterling assets look relatively attractive.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research June Call

    Anatole Kaletsky responded to the British Conservative Party’s shock loss of their electoral majority by arguing that the UK is now likely to end up with a soft Brexit and may even end up rejoining the European Union. Louis Gave looked across recent market moves and argued that the case for emerging markets remains exceptionally strong.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Breaking The Yen-Equity Link

    Japanese equities recently touched a 17-year high in US dollar terms and perhaps more significantly, they appear to have decoupled from their usually tight inverse relationship with the yen. In this video interview Neil considers both cyclical and structural reasons for the apparent breakout and concludes that investors should not underweight a market that has plenty of tailwinds.

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    Gavekal Research

    Goldilocks Beds Down

    Headline attention today is clearly focused on the car-crash general election result for UK prime minister Theresa May. At the time of writing, it was still unclear whether May would be able to form a viable government after the vote. Unsurprisingly, the uncertainty triggered a steep 1.6% sell-off in sterling (see Trading The UK Election).

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Back To Sanity In Japan

    I know, or I believe I know, that over thelong term equity returns follow one thing only: corporate earnings. As an example, look at Japan. If I rebase both the Topix price index and corporate earnings to 100 in 1978, I find that today the market is at at 385, and earnings are at... 385. Spot on!

    4
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ: China In The Asia-Pacific

    China is attempting to become Asia’s new leader. The high costs of confronting it mean that the US’s regional influence is likely to dwindle. But widespread distrust of China means that many countries will continue to prefer investment from the EU, US and Japan. This issue of China Economic Quarterly investigates China’s role in the Asia-Pacific.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    US-China Power Shift: Not So Fast

    Do Donald Trump’s miscues ensure the eclipse of Pax Americana by a rising China? Not yet.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Belt And Road To Leadership

    China’s Belt and Road Initiative elicits widespread skepticism and concern, while the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership is often seen as a poor cousin of the aborted Trans-Pacific Partnership. But they are currently the only credible plans for greater Asian integration.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    After The Pivot, It’s Bye-Bye Asia

    With the costs and risks of confronting China growing by the day, the most likely scenario for the Asia-Pacific is one of steadily dwindling US influence. This is good news for Beijing and its claim to regional leadership.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    High-Speed Rail Blues

    While China’s trade with Southeast Asia flourishes, a lack of experience has left its investment in the region lagging far behind. For now, Southeast Asian countries will continue to work with Japanese, EU and US institutions—regardless of how attractive China’s initial bids are.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Regulatory Storm

    The past few months saw a flurry of regulatory measures to tackle risks in the financial system. Beijing is trying to avoid a credit crunch, but the effect on the economy will depend on how far these measures are implemented.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Export Upgrade Challenge

    Shifting China’s industrial production from low-margin assembly to high-value, technology-intensive goods has long been the Holy Grail for planners. Export data show a lot of progress, but also an enduringly high reliance on foreign components, technology and management.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Still Holding High Mao’s Banner

    Within China’s increasingly restrictive political landscape, neo-Maoists continue to thrive. Tolerated for now as Xi’s ideological allies, they could turn into his fiercest opposition should he surprisingly uphold his Third Plenum pledge to give a “decisive role” to the market.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Whatever Happened To Hong Kong?

    Its return to China was greeted with cautious optimism, but Hong Kong’s past 20 years have disappointed. Tepid growth amplified inequality and bred political dissatisfaction. What happened since 1997? And what can we expect for the future?

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