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    Gavekal Research

    The EM Reflation Trade Is Past Its Best

    The emerging market reflation trade has been on fire. This week Dr. Copper broke out of his six-year downward trend, adding fuel to the reflationary flames. As a result, while the relative performance of cyclical stocks has moderated in developed markets during February, EM cyclicals have continued their bullish run. Their strong performance has helped to lift the MSCI EM index by 10% year-to-date in US dollar terms to reach a 19-month high. But...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Mapping China’s Asian Dream

    China’s effort to build a regional sphere of influence is upending Asian geopolitics and through huge infrastructure building, quite literally changing the geography. As such, China’s pursuit of empire is an epochal undertaken which investors need to properly factor into their macro understanding of the region. This is why Gavekal’s Tom Miller wrote a book on the topic and as Louis explains in this piece, it is a tome he really wanted to write...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Containing Capital Outflows

    China’s balance of payments show that 2016 was another big year for capital outflows, which accelerated in the second half. But Chen Long argues this pickup will not continue into 2017. Current outflows are not large enough to stop the central bank from pursuing its exchange-rate policy, which can be sustained for another couple of years.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Brace For US-China Trade Conflict

    Is Donald Trump backing down from his threat to get tough on China trade? It might seem so: after three weeks of rapid policy moves, his promised anti-China trade action is still missing. But it will not stay missing for long. Some US move against China trade looks inevitable in coming months, though the costs will be high and the benefits unclear.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Downside Of Dividends

    Dividends were long an afterthought for Chinese listed companies—but no more: most large firms now pay out more than 30% of their earnings to shareholders. Yet this change has been wrought by heavy-handed regulation, rather than improving governance. The resulting system distorts the signals to investors and the incentives of company managers.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Is It Finally Time For The Property Tax?

    After more than a decade of debate, could China finally be ready to start imposing a property tax? In this piece, Rosealea argues that political will and technical preparations point to progress toward a tax in 2017. While some fear the impact on prices, the gradual rollout of a narrowly focused tax should be mostly a non-event for markets.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Lost Promise Of Urbanization

    China’s government has been ramping up its focus on urbanization and rural land issues, promoting new policies as breakthroughs that will keep driving growth for decades to come. But for all the rhetoric, the new policies are not fundamentally liberalizing. And the incentives they create could slow rather than accelerate rural-urban migration.

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    Gavekal Research

    Drawing Meaning From 2016, And A Roadmap For 2017

    Having experienced a rough 2016, the temptation for most investors is to clean the slate and start again. Unfortunately, life in financial markets does not allow for such neat endings. In one of his biggest reports in years, Louis argues that after such a complex and tumultuous year, it is essential for investors to draw a breath and derive some understanding of what just happened. Only then should they try to sketch out future scenarios.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Investment Backlash Begins

    Xi Jinping’s passionate defense of the globalized economy at Davos last week was, in reality, a sign that Beijing knows the tide is turning against it. The surge of Chinese outward direct investment in recent years has already sparked a backlash, and the political momentum for more restrictions on Chinese investment now looks unstoppable.

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    Gavekal Research

    Is China Ready For A Trade Shock From Trump?

    China reported an acceleration in its economic growth on Friday, just hours before Donald Trump was sworn in as US president. But growth could take a hit if Trump makes radical changes to tax and trade policy. And while China has plenty of weapons to fight a trade war, those measures are unlikely to completely offset a sudden shock to its exports.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Dodging A Bullet In The Interbank Market

    In late December, China’s interbank market experienced its greatest turbulence since 2013. Though it was resolved quickly, the mini-crisis still offers some important lessons. Beijing’s technocrats did show good crisis management skills—but it’s also clear that weak links in the domestic financial system will continue to test those skills.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research January Call

    Charles Gave argued that Donald Trump’s protectionist policy could lead to a breakdown of the post-1971 fiat money system that is based on a US dollar standard. Will Denyer deconstructed the likely workings of a new trade taxation regime in the US and explained what that means for currencies. Arthur Kroeber outlined the likely Chinese response to a US trade broadside and argued that Beijing was decently well placed to weather the attack.

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    Gavekal Research

    Video: A Coming US-China Trade War?

    In this video interview Arthur explains how a US-China trade war may play out and the implication for capital outflows from China

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Trump's China Choice: Trade War Or New Deal?

    Once Donald Trump occupies the White House he is sure to launch salvos at China in the form of new tariffs, anti-dumping actions and the labeling of China as a currency manipulator. It is tough to predict exactly what these actions will entail going forward. What is certain is that the long-running US consensus on how to handle China has broken down.

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    Gavekal Research

    Video: The Dissonance In US-China Relations

    Once Donald Trump occupies the White House he is sure to take aim at China in the form of new tariffs, anti-dumping actions and the labeling of the country as a currency manipulator. What is unclear is whether such actions reflect a tough negotiating stance, or instead a fundamental shift in the strategic equation. In this video interview, Arthur explains why the mixed messages coming out of Washington have the potential to spark a dangerous...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    After Reflation, Profits Still Decent

    The stimulus-driven rebound in housing sales and commodity prices lifted the profits of China’s industrial firms in 2016. With the cycle turning, profit growth is certain to weaken in 2017. But for most manufacturers—outside the volatile commodity complex—the end of reflation should see only a gradual slowdown and still decent profit growth.

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    Gavekal Research

    Emerging Markets Trumped

    In yesterday’s Daily, Louis argued that despite the renewed strengthening of the US dollar over the last couple of months since the US election, there has been no generalized flight out of emerging markets. Sure, Turkey appears to be experiencing a classic emerging market currency crisis. But as Louis noted, the collapse of the lira has been driven by peculiarly Turkish factors. There is little or no risk of contagion spreading to the broader...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Half-Hearted Battle Against Air Pollution

    The return of severe smog to northern China since December has frightened families and raised more doubts about the government’s declared “war” on air pollution. So is the government losing the war? Or are they not even fighting it in the first place? In this piece, Rosealea explains the political and economic realities of air pollution in China.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    What You Need To Know About The Party Congress

    In 2017, the Communist Party will hold its 19th Congress, an event that will set the political framework for Xi Jinping’s second term as China’s leader, and beyond. The big question for the Congress is how much Xi will be able to change the rules of elite politics to strengthen his own power. This piece offers a guide to those rules of the game.

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    Gavekal Research

    The RMB: Steady As She Goes

    In the first three trading days of 2017, the renminbi jumped more than 1% against the US dollar. But this bullish start to the year does not signal a change of tack for China's policymakers. Here, Chen Long explains why Beijing’s strategy of managing the renminbi against a trade-weighted basket of currencies will not change in 2017.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Gavekal Monthly: Our Top 12 Questions For 2017

    For our first Monthly of the year, we depart from our normal format to offer our thoughts on the dozen most important questions investors must face this year. Not surprisingly, the issues that rose to the top were the impact of the new Trump administration's policies on the dollar and US bond yields, and whether the eurozone will spend the year tearing itself apart. Also,oil prices, the risk of financial implosion in China, and where to...

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Five Macro Questions For 2017

    For our first China research piece of the new year, we offer a guide to the economic outlook in the form of short answers to some big questions: Will China be as boring as consensus forecast imply? Will the central bank hike interest rates? Will the housing market correct sharply? Will it be a good year for Chinese equities? Will the labor market hold up?

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Macro Update: Reflation Continues Into 2017

    In our latest quarterly chartbook, Chen Long assesses the outlook for China next year. Growth driven by industrial reflation should continue into early 2017, as private investment and consumption both improve. With inflation up and growth stable, monetary policy is tighter on the margin, which will likely lead to a downturn in housing sales.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Our 2016 Holiday Reading List

    “All books are divisible into two classes,” said John Ruskin, “the books of the hour, and the books of all time.” This year’s list of works enjoyed by Gavekal staff in 2016 includes books from both categories; among them are an account of Russian nationalism, an examination of the sharing economy, and a look at the future of Japan. Happy reading.

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    How Not To Control Coal Prices

    The price of coal has been on a wild ride recently—and the volatility is not over yet. China’s government spent much of 2016 trying to push the coal price up, but the ensuing price surge now has them backpedaling and trying to push prices down again. There is a real risk these interventions will cause prices to overshoot on the downside in 2017.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Putting The Lenin Back In Leninism

    When Xi Jinping took power four years ago, the Communist Party was plagued by opposition and factionalism, a loss of control over provincial governments, and an erosion of legitimacy. To solve these problems Xi has centralized power in a single leader—himself. Such a retrograde approach bodes ill for China’s long-run economic and political future.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Can Stability Maintenance Survive Trump?

    To meet the needs of their own political cycle, Chinese leaders will aim to ensure steady economic growth for the next year. Unfortunately, it seems that the political need of US president-elect Donald Trump is to cause as much disruption for China as possible.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Leninism Upgraded: Xi Jinping’s Authoritarian Innovations

    In order to cement Communist Party control and discipline, Xi Jinping has dismantled China’s successful model of ‘explorative governance’ and latitude for local initiative. China’s long-term success depends on whether he is willing to relax the reins after the 2017 Party Congress.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Grand Bargain Or Grand Conflict With The US?

    For more than two centuries, China-US relations have swung back and forth between high expectations and dashed hopes. Today the stakes are higher than ever, as Beijing seeks to carve out a sphere of influence and Washington struggles to craft a response. And where the relationship is headed under a volatile President Trump is anyone’s guess.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Steady As She Goes (Despite Trump)

    China is still on track to maintain GDP growth of 6% or more in the run-up to the 19th Party Congress in late 2017. Despite threats of a trade war with the US, Trump’s election probably hands China some long-run strategic benefits

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Only One Winner In The Global Robot War

    The US and Europe hope that the rise of robotics will bring manufacturing back to advanced economies. But China is well equipped to make the most of the robot revolution, leaving little space for other players.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Boom And Bust In The Electric Vehicle Market

    China has poured immense resources into creating a market for electric vehicles. But it is struggling to create a self-sustaining industry. As with the failed industrial policy for conventional autos in the 1990s, too much intervention might be the problem.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Nearing The End Of The Last Housing Boom?

    In 2016, China had its strongest housing market upturn since the global financial crisis. Driven by policy and debt, this surge is unlikely to continue through next year. Fundamental demand has peaked and the government wants to keep prices in check.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Enigma Of Chinese Power

    Arthur reviews four books that explain why the Communist Party has been so successful, what could bring it down, and Xi Jinping’s strategy for keeping it alive.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ: Xi Jinping’s China

    2017 will be a very political year for China. The short-term priority is a smooth economic run-up to the Communist Party Congress, when Xi Jinping will strengthen his grip on power. In the long term, questions are growing as to whether the Party is flexible enough to govern a dynamic society. This issue of CEQ assesses China’s political future.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Rise Of A New Conglomerate

    If China’s sputtering state enterprise reforms are going to be successful anywhere, it should be in Shandong, with its solid economy and reform-minded governor. But a closer look at Yankuang Group, the province’s poster child for SOE reform, shows that local SOEs are just becoming even larger, more complicated and less transparent conglomerates.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Assessing EMs Vulnerability To The Trump Trade

    Emerging markets have faced selling pressure since Donald Trump’s US presidential election win started to drive treasury yields higher. EM debt funds saw their largest ever outflow the week after the election, while currencies have fallen on fears of trade protectionism and more talk of the US dollar being primed for a 1980s-style super-spike. Given this basket of worries, Joyce revisits her “emerging market relative balance sheet vulnerability...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Something's Gotta Give

    Louis Gave held a conference call on December 6 where he discussed the state of global markets as the US gets ready for a Trump presidency. The fundamental challenge for investors is that while equities and the US dollar have rallied strongly and bonds have sold off in a “Trump reflation trade,” it is not clear how long that trade can withstand the reality of Trump’s economic program.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Making Sense Of The Housing-Commodity Nexus

    Early sales data confirm that China’s property cycle took another step down in November. Yet no one seems to have told the commodity markets: even as property sales have cooled off, prices have heated up, with domestic futures for steel, copper, and coal jumping 20-40% in November. In this piece, Rosealea explains how to read these mixed signals.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Gavekal Monthly: Preparing For The Trumped-Up Economy

    Markets have been on a startling trajectory since Donald Trump upended investors’ assumptions with his win in the US presidential election. In this issue of the Monthly two Gavekal partners ask whether the macro environment really has fundamentally shifted due to the emerging policy platform of the president-elect.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Don't Blame The Property Speculators

    Is a love of speculation sapping firms’ appetite for real investment? As Chinese companies slow spending on fixed assets, they are buying more investment properties—sparking concern about a “hollowing out” of the economy. Thomas says the blame is misplaced; property speculation is an effect not a cause of firms slowing capex as the economy cools.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Debt Restructuring Toolbox

    Debt restructuring transactions are finally starting to happen in China, after years of warnings about the dangers of rising corporate debt. Yet there is no sign of a repeat of the huge state-led bailouts of the late 1990s. There will be many smaller deals to help individual firms cut debt, but these won’t add up to an overall deleveraging.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Chinese Consumer: Outlook & Trends 2016

    In our latest annual review of the Chinese consumer, Ernan covers the most important cyclical and structural trends. This chartbook summarizes the macro drivers of household income, saving and spending; explains what’s booming and what’s not within various consumer markets; and unpacks the fundamentals of the internet economy.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    A Permanent Surplus Of Power

    China’s excess supply of coal-fired electricity is now more extreme than ever—and is only getting worse. This huge misallocation of resources was caused by policies that tried to restrain demand for power, but ended up encouraging its supply. As a result, electricity rates are falling, but not quickly or substantially enough to fix the problem.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Hong Kong Seminar — November 2016

    Arthur Kroeber presented his thoughts on the outcome of the US election, as well as an analysis of China's leadership politics. Will Denyer presented his thoughts on the US economy. Tom Miller gave an optimistic take on reforms in India under Modi's government.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Arthur Kroeber: A New Era Of Sino-US Relations

    While Donald Trump has threatened to slap huge tariffs on Chinese exports, Arthur thinks this would be an act of self-harm given the economic co-dependence between China and the US. In this video interview, he maps out the likely evolution of relations between the two countries in the years ahead.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Behind The Curtain At "Double Eleven"

    Alibaba has grabbed headlines once again by racking up RMB120.7bn in online purchases during its one-day promotional event on November 11. But these enormous numbers are achieved through elaborate promotional schemes that distort consumer behavior, and no longer provide any real information about the China consumer story.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Risk Avoidance Strategy

    China’s economy has turned in another slate of decent growth data for October. The three drivers of loose credit, recovering construction, and rising commodity prices that have supported the economy are still holding firm. But Andrew cautions that the government’s objective is not exactly growth at all costs, but rather avoiding downside risks.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Advantage Shifts To China

    Donald Trump’s victory was also a victory for Xi Jinping. Trump’s more isolationist stance and transactional attitude hands the edge to China in the battle for influence in Asia. Trump’s threats of economic warfare with China are also mostly empty; if anything, Beijing has gained a bit of advantage in its bilateral ties with the US.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Trump, Risk, And The Renminbi

    Will the election of Donald Trump prove to be a major “risk-off” event for the Chinese currency and financial assets? Trump’s policies do make it more likely the US dollar will strengthen, and thus that the renminbi will keep weakening. But the chance of an uncontrolled move in the currency is still low, and the stock market also looks insulated.

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