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E.g., 23-01-2018
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    Gavekal Research

    Taxes And Yields

    US equity markets have started 2018 committed to the idea that Goldilocks is alive and well. Although no clear picture has emerged of its impact, the passage of the most significant tax reform since the 1980s has had S&P 500 firms opining publicly that they hope to invest more and treat staff better. The corollary is that this cycle might be getting a second wind. The fear is inflation, as shown by yesterday’s move in treasury yields to...

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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research Call January 2018

    In Gavekal’s monthly research call yesterday, Louis Gave reviewed evidence that the investment environment is experiencing a once-in-a-generation shift from a deflationary environment to one that is broadly inflationary. Anatole Kaletsky argued that this metamorphosis will likely be an orderly affair. Arthur Kroeber updated his view on China’s likely impact on global commodity markets.

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    Gavekal Research

    Stick With Dollar Depreciation Plays

    The last year has seen a rare outbreak of consensus at Gavekal. Since last January partners and analysts have been almost universally bearish on the US dollar. In that time, the DXY dollar index has slumped some -12% from its heavily overvalued level at the beginning of 2017. Now the first 12 trading days of 2018 have seen the DXY slide -1.9%, breaching September’s support level to sink to its lowest since the end of 2014. This latest...

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    Gavekal Research

    The Yield Curve As A Duration Guide

    With US stock markets scaling new heights, there are multiple reasons why nervous equity investors might want to reduce portfolio risk. The usual way to do this would be by increasing allocations to long-duration treasury debt. But with long-dated yields now rising, what duration of treasuries should investors hold? And when and how should they adjust duration?

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    Gavekal Research

    The Five Big Bond Market Questions

    With 10-year US treasury yields near the point of breaking out above their 2017 high of 2.6%, financial commentators around the world have suddenly become obsessed with a single question: Have bonds finally entered a bear market, after the multi-decade bull trend that started back in October 1981, when the 10-year yield peaked at 15.8%?

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    Gavekal Research

    Sunshine (For China) In Korea

    Sunshine has dispelled the clouds of war on the Korean Peninsula, at least for now. News headlines are cautiously celebrating the de-escalation of tensions leading up to the South Korean Winter Olympics. Behind the scenes, it appears that China's freeze-for-freeze diplomacy which was outwardly rejected by both Pyongyang and Washington, is in fact taking shape.

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    Gavekal Research

    Don’t Fear The End Of The Bond Bull Market

    Bond bears have been given succor in the opening days of 2018. First the Bank of Japan trimmed buying of long-dated Japanese government bonds, indirectly causing 10-year treasury yields to surge to 2.6%. Then European Central Bank policymakers were yesterday shown to be bulled up on the state of the eurozone recovery. On the face of it, central banks seem to be whistling a very different tune. In fact, it is investors who have caught up with...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    US Inflation Expectations: Further To Run To Catch-Up

    Over the last six weeks, market inflation expectations have undergone a signal shift to the upside. The US five-year break-even inflation rate has climbed from below 1.7% in early December to 1.95% this week. In other words, market expectations for US inflation, which had long remained markedly subdued, have now played catch-up with the Federal Reserve’s own projections, which see core PCE inflation rising to 1.9% this year and 2% in 2019....

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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: Everything Looks Fine, But…

    The year has opened with growth expectations and risk appetites at their highest levels in years. The consensus is probably right that it will be a good year for economies and stock markets. The main thing to watch out for is a faster-than-expected withdrawal of QE and low-interest rate policies by the ECB and the BOJ, which could send US bond yields sharply higher.

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    Gavekal Research

    Dare To Dabble In US High Yield

    Last week US high yield spreads narrowed to within a whisker of their cycle low, bringing them within striking distance of their 2007 low. When things cannot get much better, they seldom do. However, this may be one of those rare historical occasions when things do indeed go from good to even better. The US tax changes that went into effect last week have the potential to drive credit spreads to record depths.

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    Gavekal Research

    Tax Reform, Capex And Financial Engineering

    The tax bill passed into US law last month is not short of critics. But for all the opprobrium it has attracted, the new law may help to repair some of the damage inflicted on the US economy over recent years by the Federal Reserve’s misguided interest rate policies. By favoring capital investment in the real economy over leveraged financial engineering, the new tax regime may yet prove broadly positive for Main Street—but at a considerable cost...

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    Gavekal Research

    The Drains On Liquidity

    For ease of math, assume that the world consumes 100mn barrels of oil a day. Then further assume an inventory across the system equal to about 100-days’ usage (in pipelines, ships and refineries). Thus, when the price of oil rises by US$10/bbl in three months—as occurred in 4Q17—a “liquidity drain” of about US$100bn is created.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Big Questions For 2018

    Many of the important questions confronting investors at the beginning of 2018 are the same as they were 12 months ago. And in most cases I would suggest the same answers. This may seem boring or stubborn, but it is quite reasonable in the middle of a long term economic expansion and structural bull market.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    The Most Indebted Country?

    One of the arguments long advanced by die-hard bears is that the US is “the most indebted country in the world”, and therefore heading irreversibly for economic disaster. Often they reach their conclusion by summing US current account deficits over the years, or by looking at how much US government debt is owned by foreigners. Sometimes they even dig a little deeper and unearth something called “the US net international investment position”,...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    US Tax; Not What You Expect

    With the Senate having voted its approval, Republicans are set to tomorrow finalize the biggest shake up in the US tax code since the 1980s. A common refrain among analysts is that the bill should propel equity prices higher, but do precious little for economic growth. We wonder if the reverse may unfold.

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    Gavekal Research

    Cui Bono?

    Today, with European growth humming along and Beijing having (again) shown an ability to keep China’s economy on a sustained expansion path, no one seems fazed about a possible economic downturn. Apart from the UK (where the obsession is Brexit), concern centers on geopolitical risks. Yet depending on their region, investors are worrying about very different things.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Questions For The Coming Year

    The apparent glide path into year-end suggests that 2018 should offer up more of the same seen in 2017. Louis does not rule out a continuation of this “Goldilocks” scenario, but worries that global inflation could be brewing in unexpected quarters at a time when frenzied trading in speculative assets such as bitcoin produces countervailing responses from policymakers. In this wide-ranging tour across the investment landscape he asks whether, in...

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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research December Call

    In Gavekal Research’s monthly conference call yesterday Anatole Kaletsky outlined five reasons why investors can be optimistic that the current bull market will continue for years to come. His bullishness is moderated by three broad risks.

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    Gavekal Research

    There Is Now An Alternative

    There were no surprises yesterday, either in the Federal Reserve’s rate hike, or in its forecasts for next year. With the labor market set to “remain strong”, the unemployment rate likely to inch down to 3.9%—full employment—and growth forecast to get a modest boost from tax cuts to 2.5%, the dot plot projects three 25bp hikes in 2018.

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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.

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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.

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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

    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 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

    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.

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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

    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 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

    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?

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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

    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

    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

    Asset Allocation For The Global Bull Market

    On Monday Anatole outlined his fundamental reasons to believe that the world is enjoying a global bull market that still has years to run. Today he reviews the investment recommendations that flow from his thesis, and examines how investors can best play the unprecedented divergence of the US business cycle from the cycles in Europe and the emerging markets.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Living With A Nuclear North Korea

    A special envoy of Chinese president Xi Jinping will head to North Korea in what is being billed as a gesture of solidarity and friendship between the two countries’ communist parties. Coming just days after Donald Trump’s visit to the region, the move appears to give the lie to Trump’s assertion that he successfully convinced Xi to “use his great economic influence” to press North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    This Is (Still) Not A Peak: It’s A Global Bull Market

    It was almost five years ago that Anatole started to shout loudly that the US equity market had achieved a clear breakout from its more than decade long bear market trading range. His advice has been to stick with the trend. In light of this year’s near across-the-board upward moves in risk assets globally, it would be tempting to back away from this positioning. However, in this piece he argues that the bull market is now going global and so it...

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research November Call

    In our monthly research conference call yesterday, Will Denyer outlined his case that demographic factors explain much of the decline in interest rates over the last 30 or so years. His point is that we are nearing a turning point in the global demand-supply relationship for loanable funds and the overall direction of interest rates should be higher.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Contradictory Signals On US Corporate Credit Risk

    US high-yield spreads have widened by 39bp over the last three weeks. Nevertheless, by long term historical standards, they remain exceptionally tight, indicating that the bond market is pricing in remarkably little US corporate credit risk. That message is at odds with the tale being told by the US equity market, which is signaling that corporate credit risk is on the rise. Only one of them can be correct. There are good reasons to think it may...

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    The Truth About Euro-Dollar

    At the time of writing, a five-year zero coupon treasury bond is priced at about 90 while a comparable German zero sells for 101.9. This absurdity reflects the fact that for all the talk of incipient European inflation, German five-year yields are still negative. Hence a fellow buying-to-hold such a German bond today is guaranteed to lose money, at least in euro terms.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    A Brave New, New World?

    The traffic has been one-way. Since mid-August, the Philly semiconductors index is up 23%, the Nikkei 225 by 18%, the S&P energy index by 14% and the S&P materials index by 10%. In other words, all “deep-cyclicals” and “price monetizers” are ripping higher. So what to make of this?

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    All Pomp, No Circumstance

    President Trump’s 12-day trek through Asia promises much pomp and little circumstance. Since his administration has no strategic vision for the region and has chosen to abandon many of the tools of diplomacy in favor of overblown rhetoric and empty threats, there is little chance of material progress on any important economic or security issues.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The US Investment Environment

    House Republicans put forward their tax reform bill and Jerome Powell was put up to replace Janet Yellen at the Federal Reserve. On the face of it, this all seems like good news for markets. US firms may soon get a permanent tax cut on domestic earnings and mostly keep Uncle Sam away from their foreign earnings, while the prospect of a Taylor-rule adjustment to interest rates has been dodged as Powell seems set to maintain a path of gradual...

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    A Different Order Of Political Risk

    Investors in big technology companies, both US and Chinese, are waking up to political risk. In Washington yesterday, senators hauled lawyers for Facebook, Google and Twitter over the coals for carrying foreign-funded political advertisements during the 2016 presidential election campaign in contravention of US law. Meanwhile in China, the government is demanding representation on the boards of big internet companies, including Tencent, Alibaba...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: How Much Longer For Low Rates?

    For decades fixed income and equity markets have enjoyed a secular bull market, propelled higher by low real long term interest rates, depressed by a glut of global savings. In this Strategy Monthly, Will Denyer updates his Capital Provider Ratio, a powerful demographic tool which indicates that the growth of global excess savings has peaked, and that the glut will soon begin to dry up, with far-reaching consequences for global asset markets.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    False Dawn For The Dollar — And Oil

    Last week the US dollar broke out of its summer trading range and hit its strongest level against the euro and the yen since July. The Brent oil price broke through US$60/bbl to a two-year high. And even sterling seemed to be on the verge of strengthening beyond its post-French election trading range against the euro. How should investors respond to all these breakouts?

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    The Unconvincing Pick-Up In US GDP

    US third quarter GDP growth came in on Friday at 3% QoQ annualized, much higher than the expected 2.6% rate. The strength of the headline number sparked optimism that the US economy had successfully shrugged off any negative impact from hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and certainly did nothing to discourage equity investors, as both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite rode buoyant earnings to new highs.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    US Equity Exposure For The Late Cycle

    The US equity bull run continues even as the US economy issues an increasing number of late cycle indicators. For investors who want to maintain exposure to the stock market but are getting nervous that the economy may soon turn down, KX examines the characteristics that allow stocks to outperform in the late stages of the cycle.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Bitcoin And Money

    Philosophically, I have often argued that an asset’s value can derive from just two sources. It can be scarce like a jewel, or useful like a tool. It is customary to measure these values using “money”, which offers a unit of account, a medium of exchange and a store of value. When “national money” forms the backbone of a banking system, it is usually guaranteed by a central authority. Yet, the real question about money has always been whether it...

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    Back Away From Buyback Plays

    From a cyclical peak of US$161bn in 1Q16, US corporate share buybacks fell to US$120bn in 2Q17. But although buyback activity is down, it is not out. In the past few weeks companies including Walmart, HP and Allergan have announced new share repurchase programs. The question for investors is whether they should chase these buyback plays.

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