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E.g., 22-07-2017
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    Gavekal Research

    Reading Trump’s Trade Signals

    Donald Trump came into office six months ago today promising to rip up the rules of global trade in order to put America’s narrow interests first and cut its trade deficit. So far, though, his administration’s trade policies have been more smoke than substance. Global trade volume has accelerated smartly since the US election. Threats of a trade war with the main target, China, fizzled in the face of US business interests, Beijing’s ability to...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Reasserting Control Over Outbound Investment

    The flow of cross-border M&A from China is reviving as the crackdown on capital flight eases. But as Yanmei argues, the flow of deals is unlikely to repeat the stunning growth surge in 2016, as the government has now reasserted its control over outward direct investment. This environment will likely be friendlier to state firms than private ones.

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    Gavekal Research

    Video: New Investment Opportunities In China

    China’s onshore financial markets are opening up. Admittedly, neither last month’s inclusion of Chinese A-shares in MSCI’s benchmark indexes, nor this month’s opening of the Bond Connect scheme, will change the world immediately. But together they signal that Beijing is serious about opening its capital markets to foreign investors.

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    Gavekal Research

    Signs China’s Tightening Has Peaked

    Official statements following the conclusion of Beijing’s National Financial Work Conference signal that the recent tightening cycle has now peaked and that market interest rates are likely to fall from current levels, argues Chen Long. The story remains that while Chinese reflation has peaked, the ensuing slowdown will be moderate and gradual.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Regional Bottom Line For Growth

    China’s 2016 stimulus likely provided enough momentum to ensure GDP growth in 2017 will meet the 6.5% target. But on closer examination the stimulus looks as much a rescue operation for troubled regions as a shift in national policy. This interpretation implies that the political drivers of Chinese policymaking are different from what most commentators believe.

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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research July Call

    Recent efforts to open up China's stock and bond markets have granted deeper access for foreign investors. In Tuesday's conference call Thomas Gatley outlined what MSCI's decision to include A-shares in its indexes means for investors, while Chen Long argued that the next great bond bull market may happen in China.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Wile E. Coyote Moment

    Sometimes financial markets can look a lot like Wile E. Coyote. So intent was the old Looney Tunes character on chasing the Road Runner, that he somehow never realized when he had shot over the cliff’s edge. For a few moments he would continue in thin air, legs a blur, supported by momentum and incomprehension. Only when he looked down... In much the same way, financial markets often continue their trend after the underlying conditions change,...

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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 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 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 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

    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 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.

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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

    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!

    3
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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

    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

    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

    The East Is Rising … Isn’t It?

    Will the Asia-Pacific region will shape global politics and economics in the 21st Century, as the West’s centuries-long domination of world affairs draws to a close, or will unseen threats in Asia, from economic stagnation to political unrest and growing military tensions, throw a spanner in the works? Tom Miller reviews two books that each present their case.

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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

    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.

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    Gavekal Research

    EMs And A Chill Trade Wind

    The Asian trade cycle, having perked up notably since mid-2016, shows worrying signs of rolling over. Korean export growth in May halved from a month earlier, while Taiwan has seen the same measure steadily slow since February. Today, China reported a reduction in export growth to single digit levels, while import demand growth for May fell to 15% YoY, compared to 38% in February. To an extent, this can all be explained by flattering base...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Figuring Out Where The Ball Will Be

    Rugby players fall into one of two categories: the forwards, who typically go where the ball is (and in the process put their heads in places most sane people wouldn’t put their feet), and the backs, who try to go where the ball will be, which enables them to look good and keep their kit clean, but earns them the scorn of the forwards. Peter FitzSimons, the first Aussie to play for a French club (Brive), once remarked: “Come the revolution, the...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    What Is The Signal In The Renminbi’s Surprising Strength?

    Over the past week and a half, the renminbi has appreciated 1.1% against the US dollar in the onshore market, and 1.5% offshore, where the PBOC has also engineered a spike in short-term interest rates. It seems China wants to send a signal about the renminbi, but markets are having trouble decoding what it is. Andrew outlines three possible strategies the central bank may be following.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Leadership Scenarios For The Party Congress

    The key event in China’s political calendar is now just a few months away. The 19th Party Congress will reveal who will join top leader Xi Jinping in the ruling Politburo Standing Committee, and in the process provide clues to China’s political future. In this piece, Yanmei outlines different possible scenarios and explains their implications.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Decoding The HK Dollar’s Signals

    When Moody’s downgraded China’s credit rating this week, it also downgraded Hong Kong. Although Hong Kong is fiscally autonomous, and has seen no rapid build-up in leverage comparable to the mainland, Moody’s still downgraded the territory from Aa1 to Aa2. In explanation, the agency cited Hong Kong’s “tightening economic, financial and political linkages with the mainland,” which it warned “risk introducing more direct contagion channels”...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Beijing’s Non-Capital Idea

    China wants to build a new satellite city to take over Beijing’s “non-capital functions,” and their associated workers. In this piece, Tom Miller examines the Xiong’an New Area and the government’s grand plans to cap Beijing’s population and spread wealth to surrounding regions. He finds the economic benefits are unlikely to outweigh the costs.

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    Gavekal Research

    Don’t Buy The Smartphone Hype

    As Apple prepares to launch its anniversary iPhone and Samsung unveils models that don’t blow up, technology equities in the US and Asia have soared on hopes for a new smartphone cycle. After 2016 saw high-end smartphone sales fall, investors are betting that consumers respond to gee-whizz gadgetry by replacing their devices more often. We are not so sure.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Corporate Deleveraging Is Ending, Not Beginning

    The recent financial crackdown may give the impression that “China is finally getting serious about corporate deleveraging.” This impression is wrong: while leverage is already declining, this is likely to stop in 2017. Worries about zombie companies have also faded as rising profits and falling rates make it easier to service corporate debt.

    6
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Great Corn Crash

    China’s “supply-side reform” measures have helped drive a recovery in prices of industrial commodities. In agricultural commodities, the name is the same, but the results are very different: the price of corn fell 44% from its peak after the government removed price supports. Now that prices have adjusted, quantities will follow: imports will fall.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Regulatory Stress Is Still Bearable

    The main source of uncertainty in the Chinese economy right now is the financial crackdown launched in March. In this piece, Andrew looks at the April data and finds that the regulatory campaign’s impact has so far been contained. This supports our call that the regulatory stress is a bigger problem for asset markets than for the real economy.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Where The Rubber Meets The (Belt And) Road

    Ahead of next week’s Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, Tom Miller provides an update on the progress of Xi Jinping’s signature foreign policy. More than three years after its launch, China’s Belt and Road Initiative is starting to deliver useful infrastructure, and is clearly boosting construction volumes and stimulating new investment.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    More Dollar Weakness Is Good News For The Renminbi

    The renminbi has had a surprisingly good year, thanks in large part to the weakness of the US dollar. In this piece, Chen Long argues that dollar weakness will likely continue—and with it a benign environment for capital flows and China’s currency policy. Even a rise in the renminbi is a prospect that can no longer be dismissed out of hand.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Upside Of The Commodity Downside

    Once again, commodity prices are taking a beating. Since Wednesday the price of Brent blend crude oil has slumped by 7%. Over the last two months copper has slipped 8%, and iron ore futures traded in China are down a precipitous 30%. Coming on top of data that showed the US economy grew by a meager annualized 0.7% in the first quarter, and the recent tightening in China’s credit conditions, the latest slide in commodity prices has been...

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Cyclically Fine, Structurally, Well...

    Optimism about China’s growth is now higher than it has been for years, after the notable recovery in the last couple of quarters. But in this piece, Andrew argues China still can’t escape a further growth slowdown, because its continued reliance on state-driven investment is sapping productivity growth and undermining the private sector.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    How Long Can The Construction Rebound Last?

    Chinese growth prospects look quite good in 2017, thanks to the recovery in construction, but how long can it last? In this piece, Rosealea unpacks the inventory dynamics behind the rebound. Given the strong start to 2017, it now looks like low inventories can support growth in construction not just in 2017, but also well into 2018.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Riding Out The Regulatory Storm

    Chinese financial officials are stirring up a regulatory storm with their new crackdown on various forms of speculation, arbitrage and risky behavior. Though much is still unclear, the campaign is likely to lead to tighter liquidity and slower credit growth. But the more immediate risk is its impact on the domestic equity and bond markets.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research Call On The French And UK Elections

    In a special Gavekal Research Conference Call following the results of the first round of the French presidential election, Charles Gave and Cedric Gemehl presented their analysis of Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron’s prospects in the second round in two weeks. Anatole Kaletsky presented his view of British politics and the future of the Brexit process following Theresa May calling for a snap election in June.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    China’s Kim Problem

    Last weekend's extreme tension on the Korean peninsula is just the latest episode to severely test Beijing’s patience with North Korea. Yet even as elements of the Chinese leadership tire of Kim Jong Un’s grandstanding, China remains unlikely to make a bold move that threatens the regime. Despite acute US pressure, China will seek to preserve the status quo.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    A Pivot To Regulatory Tightening

    China’s economic data were once again surprisingly good. This solid growth momentum will allow policymakers to pivot more to reducing financial risk and curbing speculative property purchases. But while policy will continue to tighten at the margin, Long argues this will now occur more through regulatory tools than rate hikes.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research April Call

    In the aftermath of the first summit meeting between Xi Jinping and Donald Trump, the critical issues remain the same: a prickly trade and investment relationship which American businesses feel is increasingly skewed against them, and rising danger of confrontation over North Korea. In the background lies the question of how long China’s current economic expansion will keep running. Arthur Kroeber and China policy analyst Yanmei Xie discussed...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    What Is Happening With The Tourism Numbers?

    China’s outbound tourism is clearly a big deal, but statisticians are having problems figuring out just how big: a huge upward revision has just been followed by a huge downward one. In this piece, Ernan cross-checks the numbers, and finds that Chinese foreign travel is growing rapidly, despite confusing revisions and falling travel to Hong Kong.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Reflation Without Inflation

    China’s producer price index slowed slightly year-on-year in March. However, this does not signal a halt to Chinese growth, nor is it likely to cause equities to roll over argues Thomas. The momentum from last year’s big housing stimulus remains, and the level of commodity prices is high enough to keep profit margins decent, supporting corporate investment and wages.

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