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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research Call December 2018

    In the final Gavekal Research Conference call of the year, Louis-Vincent Gave, Anatole Kaletsky and Charles Gave shared their perspectives on a year which has been challenging for all asset classes, and offered their thoughts on what could be in store for investors in 2019.

    0
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    Understanding The Next Bear Market

    My career in financial markets began in January 1971, which means I’ve seen a few bull and bear markets. A common trait of bear markets is that as the big decline starts, most investors have no idea why asset prices are falling. At some point, perhaps much later, the root cause of the marauding bear becomes clear and this revelation triggers the final phase of the sell-off. Hence, in light of the recent pull-backs, readers may like to consider...

    0
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    Opportunities Beyond The Death Cross

    November’s payroll report gave investors in US equities reason to cheer on Friday as it suggested reduced inflationary pressure, yet they chose to focus on an escalating row over the fate of a top Chinese telecom executive that is intensifying trade tensions with China. A -2.3% fall in the S&P 500 had the technically-inclined scrambling to glean meaning from a “death cross” as the 50-day moving average fell below the 200-day level. We remain...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    What Huawei To Go

    The arrest last Saturday in Vancouver airport of the CFO of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei at the request of US prosecutors will have major consequences for investors beyond the short term market volatility it contributed to this week. Reaching a permanent US-China agreement is now much more complicated, and the arrest shows the US can use more than tariffs against China.

    0
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    Strategy Monthly: Three Questions For The Year Ahead

    This has been a miserable year across most asset classes, with markets roiled by tighter US dollar liquidity. Looking into 2019, Louis sees the investment environment being dictated by whether the US dollar liquidity situation really is easing, the overall US policy and the possibility for the “Chimerica” relationship to rupture.

    0
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    The Evolving Trade War

    There is little doubt that the US president is surrounded by advisers who see China as a genuine threat to the long term economic health and geopolitical strength of the United States. But, it is likely that Donald Trump’s most immediate concerns are more down to earth. Specifically, in order to be re-elected in 2020, Trump needs once again to carry states such as Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin. And it is unlikely that he will be able to win the...

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Don’t Sweat About The Yield Curve

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

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    The Next Target Of Trump’s Firepower

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

    0
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    The Durability Of The Trump-Xi Rally

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

    0
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    Christmas Comes Early

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    What If Oil Stays At US$50?

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Positioning Ahead Of The G20

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

    1
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    The Failure Of The Bond Cushion

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

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    The Conflict Between Liquidity And Growth

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

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    Don't Bet On Détente

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

    2
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    The Drag Of US Housing

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

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    Gavekal Research

    Reasons To Believe In Détente

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

    0
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    Countering The Belt And Road

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

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    The Uphill Struggle For Equities

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

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    GE Is More Fish Than Fowl

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

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Credit Availability As An Asset Allocation Tool

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

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: The Battle For Chinese Tech

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

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

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

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    Gavekal Research

    London Seminar — October 2018

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Hong Kong Seminar — November 2018

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A More Timely Wicksellian Tool

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

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    What's Changed In The Oil Market

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Gridlock is Good

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Handicapping The Trump-Xi Summit

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

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Hot, But Not Too Hot

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

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

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Has Oil Set Its High For This Cycle?

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

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    First Blood In The Long Tech War

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

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Beijing Seminar — October 2018

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

    0
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    US Macro And The Market

    Coming after another bruising week in the market, which saw the S&P 500 flirting with correction territory, down -9% from its late-September high, Friday’s third quarter US GDP report is heartening. Although 3Q’s quarter-on-quarter annualized growth rate of 3.5% was slower than the 4.2% rate recorded in 2Q, it was still strong relative to the expected 3.3% and compared with the US economy’s structural growth rate. While US growth will...

    0
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    Buy The Dip

    “Things are fine now, but they are going to get worse.” This is what I hear from commentators on US growth, from corporate managers talking about profit margins, and from Chinese exporters discussing the impact of the trade war. The same could be said of US financial conditions—they are fine now, but as interest rates rise they will deteriorate.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Bolsonaro’s Brazil

    Barring an extraordinary twist, Brazilians will on Sunday elect as president a right-wing tough guy who hints at being a closet economic liberal. He will inherit an economy that is enjoying a cyclical upturn and a reform initiative to social security that is far enough advanced that it can’t reasonably be reversed. For this reason, expect a near term upside for asset values.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    World Trade And A Troubling Signal

    As Donald Trump has ramped up tariffs on US imports from China, investors have understandably grown anxious about the impact on world trade. Few significant effects have shown up in the data so far. Nevertheless the outlook is alarming—although not necessarily in the way many might think.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    The Odd Behavior Of Gold

    Barbarous relic it may be, but I have long looked on gold as a proxy for emerging markets. The logic is that when the emerging market consumer—whether in India, China, Indonesia, Africa or the Middle East—finds himself at the end of the month with extra money in his pocket, he often tends to put that money into gold coins or jewelry. This makes sense if you live in a country with capital controls, or an untrustworthy financial system, under-...

    0
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    Video: Why China Is Unlikely To Fold

    To many outside observers, China’s economy looks like a house of cards that is vulnerable to collapse should the US push a little harder in its trade actions. Louis is not convinced that this market-focused analysis of China’s situation properly reflects its vulnerability. He thinks the leadership is dug in for a long struggle against Washington.

    0
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    The Consequences Of Khashoggi

    In 1939, Franklin Roosevelt famously dismissed reservations about Nicaragua’s brutal dictator Anastazio Somoza with the comment “he may be a sonofabitch, but he’s our sonofabitch.” In the world of foreign policy realpolitik, to a large degree FDR’s doctrine still holds true. Witness, for example, the verbal contortions that US president Donald Trump and secretary of state Mike Pompeo have been forced to pull off in recent days in order to...

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    Equities In The Late Cycle (Revisited)

    The stock market volatility of the last week, triggered by fears over rising bond yields, emphasizes how participants now accept that the US economy is in the late phase of its cycle. KX argues this is not a reason to flee US equities, but it does demand a more discerning approach.

    0
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    Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast

    Louis investigates six of the most incongruous sets of relationships that have held sway this year and offers alternative explanations. In particular, he focuses on the strange case of China’s response to US trade hostility and argues that understanding Beijing’s game plan may hold the key to whether the long US bull market in equities can stay the course.

    4
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    Time To Rebalance Into Equities

    The S&P 500 is down almost -7% in six days, the biggest drawdown since the -10% decline in the first quarter. It is now below its 200-day moving average, for the first time since April 2nd. Will it bounce back, or is a US equity bear market now upon us? I would bet on the former, but not too aggressively.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Bonds' Failure To Rally

    Given all the bad news for markets this year, one would be forgiven for thinking that US treasuries and German bunds would have been a good investment. But even as emerging markets have sold off and the US dollar has risen against almost every emerging market currency out there, US treasuries (and to a lesser extent bunds) have been an absolute dog of an investment.

    4
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    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research Call October 2018

    In this month’s Research Conference Call Louis-Vincent Gave examined the present bad tidings from markets and asked whether the global bull market faces a denouement. Anatole Kaletsky argued that this sell-off will likely prove to be a temporary setback for emerging markets and that the global bull market may have further to run. However, he warned that the outcome will depend heavily on where the oil price goes from here.

    0
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    Still Not Interested In US Bonds

    Wednesday saw the second biggest sell-off in US bonds since November 10, 2016, immediately after the US presidential election. The 10-year treasury yield jumped 11bp to 3.16%, its highest since 2011. However, investors should be wary of treating this as a buying opportunity, for a number of reasons.

    4
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    Strategy Monthly: Are We Still In A Bull Market?

    At the start of the year, markets seemed poised for a rotation out of US equities into non-US assets. In fact, US equities and cash are the only assets to have delivered positive returns this year. Louis examines the reasons why and concludes that portfolio managers should stay defensive, while looking for buying opportunities in oversold emerging markets, and in European assets in non-euro countries such as the UK, Sweden and Switzerland.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    New Nafta Clears The Way For A China Fight

    The good news is that after months of posturing, President Donald Trump’s administration has cut a deal for a new Nafta, following July's hasty agreement with the EU to defer car tariffs. Trade war on all fronts may now be off the agenda, but conflict with China over trade, investment, technology and geopolitical dominance will only escalate.

    2
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    The Big Lesson From Argentina

    One of the reasons this summer’s sell-off in Argentinian debt was so vicious was that few international banks these days are willing to make markets in such “exotic” bonds, and even fewer are prepared to hold a substantial inventory. As a result, when foreign investors rushed for the exit, there was no market. But as Louis explains in this paper, the problem is hardly unique to Argentina. Markets a lot closer to home could face similar trouble.

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