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    Gavekal Research

    The QT Endgame

    A voting member of the FOMC said yesterday that the Federal Reserve should quit shrinking its balance sheet later this year. This was the clearest indication yet that the US central bank will end quantitative tightening one or two years sooner than the 2020-2021 estimate put forward by Chairman Jay Powell last July. I suspect Brainard will get her wish.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Containing China's Tech Ambitions

    More constructive rhetoric suggests the US and China may be about to strike a truce on tariffs and market access. However, that does not mean they are about to bury the hatchet. Powerful groups in Washington want to contain China’s rise as a technological power, and the US has many tools at its disposal even if it drops tariffs.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Fear Not The ‘Earnings Recession’

    US earnings growth is clearly slowing. As global growth ebbs and the effect of last year’s US tax cut wears off, 1Q19 will be worse according to US analysts who in aggregate are predicting EPS to fall -1.4%. Some commentators are even declaring an “earnings recession.” Time to take profits for the year and run to the hills? I’d say “no”.

    5
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Long Arm Of US Export Controls

    While investors eye the progress of US-China talks to avert tariff hikes, the US is mobilizing on another front. In this piece, Dan explains how the US is preparing for more aggressive use of export controls to disentangle the US and Chinese tech sectors. This can certainly hurt Chinese firms, but will also affect US and other tech companies.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Three Separate Battlefronts In The Unfolding Cold War

    As the clash between China and the US intensifies, Louis notes the primacy that Mao Zedong’s guerrilla tactics would have had in forming the current Chinese leadership’s political consciousness and setting a template for the way they handle conflict. As such, he sees the struggle between the two superpowers playing out on three distinct fronts.

    19
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    Gavekal Research

    The Global Car Industry Catches Chinese Flu

    If the auto industry is a bellwether of global economic health, then much of the world is looking sick. The second half of 2018 was painful for carmakers in all the major auto markets, and 2019 is shaping up to be as bad. Is this just a passing malady that carmakers will soon shrug off, or a chronic condition they will have to manage for years to come?

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    A Looser Fed And Tighter Banks

    News flow from the US and beyond over recent months has pointed to an easing of financial conditions. A notable exception has, however, emerged: US commercial banks have stopped loosening lending standards and have started to tighten them—just a touch. I remain constructive, but have gotten more cautious about US risk assets.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Conflicting Signals From The US Labor Market

    The US labor market is sending apparently contradictory signals. On one hand the unemployment rate ticked higher in January. On the other, job creation was much stronger than expected. Will looks behind the latest data points to examine the labor market’s underlying trends, and concludes they spell relatively bullish news for the US economy and risk assets over the coming months.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Vital Portfolio Construction Lesson

    I am a rules-based investor, and over the years few financial relationships have been more useful to me in reading the economic cycle than the yield spread between long-dated US corporate bonds and 30-year US treasuries. Going back to the late 1970s, no US bear market has unfolded with key spread being below 200bp. It is now 210bp.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Fed To The Rescue

    It was no surprise on Wednesday that the US Federal Reserve promised to be “patient” about further interest hikes and flexible on the pace and extent of its balance sheet reduction. The Fed’s more dovish stance had been clearly signaled in a series of speeches ahead of yesterday’s policy meeting. As Fed chairman Jay Powell explained, with US inflation data subdued and other major economies slowing, it makes good sense for the Fed to take a “wait...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Recession Of 2019: Revisited

    Six months ago Charles posited the idea of a global recession starting in and around March 2019. He revisits that idea in this piece and concludes that there is clear evidence of the global system suffering a marked slowdown. Here, he seeks to identify the source of the problem by a process of elimination (spoiler alert, the problem isn’t China).

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Don't Fear Corporate Leverage (Yet)

    With Brexit, the US-China trade war and a synchronous global slowdown, these are anxious times for investors. But apparently, all these concerns pale in comparison with worries about US corporate leverage. According to a BofAML survey this month, corporate indebtedness is the biggest single worry among fund managers. We beg to differ.

    17
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    Gavekal Research

    A Huawei-Scale Problem

    The charges that US prosecutors have now filed against telecom equipment supplier Huawei are similar to those thrown at two other Chinese tech firms last year. The eventual outcome is likely to be similar: the imposition of export controls that will threaten Huawei’s survival and force it to accede to a restrictive deal with the US government.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Favor Local Bonds Over EM Equities

    After a dismal year for emerging market assets in 2018, emerging markets have started 2019 on a positive note, with equities rising 6.5% and local currency bonds up 3% year-to-date. On Friday, Louis looked at shifts in the US dollar, long term US interest rates, credit spreads and the oil price, and concluded they favor emerging market assets through the rest of 2019. Broadly I agree, but I would take a slightly more nuanced stance. The shifts...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Four Prices That Matter

    It is Gavekal’s longstanding mission to develop simple principles that investors can use to navigate complicated financial markets. In this vein, one of our core tenets is that four prices matter more than all others, and together these determine the level of global economic activity and of investor risk appetite. Let us see where they stand as we head deeper into 2019.

    12
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    Gavekal Research

    The Bull Case For US Housing

    As the US government shutdown drags on, US-China tariff talks stutter, the Chinese growth engine slows, global trade slumps and GDP forecasts get cut, the stream of macro-misery in recent days has seemed relentless. On Tuesday, the US National Association of Realtors added its voice to the dirge, reporting that sales volumes for existing homes fell -10% year-on-year to a three year low in December. With new home sales and construction equally...

    10
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    Gavekal Research

    Mexico 1, Brazil 0

    When Brazil met Mexico in last year’s football world cup, the Brazilian team walked away the victors by two goals to nil. In financial markets too, Brazil has lately been beating Mexico. In recent weeks each country has installed as its president a fiery populist—although they hail from different ends of the ideological spectrum. In Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro is an unabashed right-winger, while his Mexican counterpart Andrés Manuel López Obrador, or...

    8
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Beyond The Government Shutdown

    As the US government shutdown threatens to enter its fifth week, Will looks back at previous shutdowns to weigh the likely impact on America’s economy and financial markets, against the backdrop of an aging economic cycle, flattening yield curve and tighter financial conditions.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Trump's Next Trade Target

    Just when the risk from trade politics seemed to be dying down, it’s getting complicated again. Trade talks between the United States and China are in full swing, but just as important are imminent negotiations between the US and the European Union, which are clouded by the US threat to impose tariffs on cars and car parts.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Good News Story From The US

    As the record government shutdown denies Americans vital services and federal workers paychecks, the US has hardly been putting its best foot forward. While we don't expect this political impasse to change the growth trajectory, it does weigh on the market mood. Against such a dour backdrop, we think a good news story from the US economy can be easily missed.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Big Questions For 2019

    The last quarter of 2018 proved to be something of a horror show for most investors and despite this year starting with a firmer tone, the investment landscape looks to have changed in a fairly profound way. In this report, Louis considers the major shifts in the investment environment and asks whether these conditions will persist through 2019.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: The Hope-Vs-Despair Smackdown Of 2019

    The massive sell-off in December left global equities on the precipice of a real bear market. Hope and despair are finely poised, but we find a bit more reason for hope. The US and China will both slow, but the US should avoid recession and Chinese growth should stay above 6%. Political and trade-war risk is lower, and liquidity pressures will ease. US equities and EM assets, especially local-currency bonds, both promise positive returns.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    This Century's Suez Crisis

    China’s “Belt and Road” initiative is a clear bid by Beijing to challenge the incumbent imperial power: the US. And in an age when the highest-value commodities are not physical goods, but the binary digits zipping around the world at the speed of light, the battleground of this struggle for dominance will be telecommunication networks.

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    Rollover In The US, Not Recession

    This week’s revenue forecast downgrades from Apple and Delta Air Lines and Thursday’s steep dive in the ISM manufacturing PMI only appeared to confirm what market participants already knew: US growth is rolling over. Yet despite the recent sell-off in equities and the further flattening of the US yield curve, we see no recession on the horizon.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    China And The US Still Hold The Keys To Markets' Fate

    In 2018 liquidity tightening in the US and China combined with trade war fears to make a miserable year for markets. In 2019 the same forces will be at work but the outcomes may differ. The key questions are: can the US and China work out a trade deal? How bad is the Chinese slowdown and how will Beijing respond? And how much will the Fed tighten?

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    The Market Weighing-Machine

    If there is one useful conclusion for investors from the crazy year that has just ended, maybe it is this: as they say in Hollywood, “Nobody knows anything.” The equity market predicted a boom while the bond market predicted recession, and then reversed positions. The consolation for investors should be that the market is a voting machine in the short term, but a weighing machine in the long term.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    A Future For Value Investing

    Financial theory teaches that, in order to determine the price of an asset, we should take its foreseeable future cash-flows, discount them by a risk-free rate to which we can add a risk premium, and then beyond these cash-flows ascribe a “residual value” to the business. So it’s an easy game—we only need to determine four things: the future cash-flows, the direction of the risk-free rate, the level of the risk premium, and the residual value....

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    A Sober End To The Year

    For investors around the world, 2018 proved to be “challenging”. Yet to Gavekal’s clients, hopefully the year’s difficulties did not come as a surprise. Just over 12 months ago, early in December 2017, I published a paper entitled From A Ferrari To A Jeep advising investors to reduce the volatility of their portfolios.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    More Half Full Than Half Empty

    Despite dovish comments from the Federal Reserve about the future trajectory of interest rates, US equities fell further on Wednesday. The S&P 500 has now fallen -14% since early October. Meanwhile, 10-year treasury prices have risen almost 5%. Momentum traders will therefore find good reason to shun equities and add exposure to long-dated treasuries. We suggest doing the opposite.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Getting Out Of The Liquidity Squeeze

    With the Trump-Xi summit, compromise between Rome and Brussels, and the oil price down, all the ingredients should have been in the mix for a Santa Claus rally. Instead it's been an ugly few weeks in the markets, which strongly suggests no let up yet in this year's liquidity squeeze. In this detailed report, Louis looks back at recent history to determine what forces might bring the squeeze to an end next year, and therefore what asset...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A New Risk-Reward Equation In EMs

    US markets have come back to earth with a bump on a reassessment of risk and growth prospects. As a result, investors are betting on a less hawkish Federal Reserve and a weaker US dollar, both of which are a boon to hard-pressed emerging markets. The question is: do investors gain more from a more favorable US dollar liquidity environment than they lose from a growth picture clouded by a slowing China and unresolved trade tensions?

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Our 2018 Holiday Reading List

    “Books,” wrote Anthony Powell, “do furnish a room.” As author of the million-word, 12-volume A Dance To The Music of Time, Powell was something of an authority on the subject. But it is unlikely even his library was as eclectically furnished as Gavekal’s. If anything, our 2018 holiday reading list is even more varied than those of recent years. Sure, we’ve read and reviewed the economic and financial heavyweights: Barry Eichengreen on currencies...

    1
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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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    Gavekal Research

    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...

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    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.

    16
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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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    Gavekal Research

    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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