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E.g., 20-11-2018
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Is Construction Preparing An Upside Surprise?

    Since markets reopened after the Chinese New Year holiday, the prices of commodities tied to China’s construction cycle have been picking up. This optimism could be justified: construction fundamentals are solid and policy interventions are mostly positive. In this piece, Rosealea explains the upside risks for construction activity in early 2018.

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    Gavekal Research

    The New Challenge Confronting Investors

    Few in the markets will be sorry to see the back of February. But as a tough month draws to a close, this seems a reasonable time to take stock and draw lessons for the future. It is perturbing that lesson Number One must be that there really was nowhere to hide. Geographical diversification served little purpose, as all markets fell and then rebounded in unison. The same held with sectors, for those that performed worst in 2017 (energy and...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Emperor Xi Is Not So Far Away

    By removing term limits from his office of president, Xi Jinping has shown there are no constraints left on his political power. As he strengthens his grasp on the top of China’s political pyramid, he is also enforcing his will more effectively at the bottom. For better or for worse, he is moving China to a more centralized and top-down system.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Taming The Inflation Risk From Pork

    What are the odds that China has a surprise jump in inflation this year? In China, surges in the CPI are usually driven by food—particularly highly cyclical pork prices. But while food inflation is likely to turn positive this year, Ernan argues that the odds of an inflation spike are low, as farm consolidation has tamed the pork price cycle.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Local Infrastructure Feels The Chill

    China’s financial crackdown is now extending to the funding tricks that local governments use to pay for infrastructure projects, which have long been tolerated in the name of economic growth. This report explains why this crackdown will put more of a chill on infrastructure spending—but also why public-works investment is unlikely to collapse.

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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research Call February 2018

    In last week’s Research Conference Call Andrew Batson outlined the risks—both downside and upside—to the Chinese economy in 2018. Yanmei Xie focused on the risk of overzealous implementation of policy. This is especially the case for environmental regulations, which gave Beijing an uncharacteristically smog-free winter, but at the cost of a natural gas shortage.

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    Gavekal Research

    EMs And The Global Cycle

    The market correction of the last two weeks has been centered on the US, but also hit emerging markets pretty hard. A year ago, I argued that the sustainability of the EM run-up depended on continued strong global growth, more oil price gains and a further fall in tail risks associated with the financial system. The issue is whether the newly volatile conditions in global markets are a game-changer for the emerging world. That conundrum depends...

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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Freeze-Thaw Conditions In Korea

    It has been a week of confusing signals from the Korean peninsula. Even as North Korea has paraded its missiles, and the US and its allies have sworn to exert “maximum pressure” against Kim Jong-Un’s rogue regime, both sides have hinted at their readiness to return to the negotiating table. Yanmei cuts through the fog to assess the future trajectory of North Korean event risk.

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    Gavekal Research

    Chinese Equities: Marching To A Different Drum

    Though onshore Chinese stocks did not escape the rout of global markets in recent weeks, the real trigger for the meltdown onshore was heightened investor anxiety over Beijing’s financial regulations. Thomas and Ernan reckon that after the dust settles, benign fundamentals and attractive valuations should set the market back on its upward track.

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    Gavekal Research

    Behind The Market’s Inability To Rally

    “A week is a long time in politics”, Harold Wilson was said to have once quipped to a young aide. The former British prime minister should have tried working in the US equity market. In recent days, it has sometimes felt as if time stood still. So what should we make of stocks’ inability to mount a rally after they again closed on their lows?

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    A Reversal In The Renminbi?

    The renminbi’s 0.8% fall against the US dollar on Thursday was an unusual move for a managed exchange rate. But what was even more unusual was the preceding run-up: before that drop, the renminbi was up 2.8% YTD in trade-weighted terms. This overshooting the official goal of trade-weighted stability was what set the stage for the correction.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Secret Ingredient For Financial Stability

    China’s regulators have done a remarkable job of de-leveraging the financial sector without hurting economic growth or disrupting markets. But was this smooth trajectory due to luck or skill, and can it continue? In this piece, Chen Long explains how the central bank used its monetary policy tools to defuse the risks from tighter regulation.

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    Gavekal Research

    Parsing The Market Sell-Off

    One of the first things Charles taught me is that in a bear market you should never do on the Monday what you wish you had done on the Friday. As bad news piles up, investors brood, sleep poorly, snap at their spouses or children, and go in first thing Monday morning and start to liquidate positions. Undeniably the picture for the now rather stretched equity bull market has been deteriorating for a while, with spiking bond yields, creeping...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Tightening The Grip On Urbanization

    The populations of Shanghai and Beijing, China’s two largest cities, declined in 2017, in a clear sign that urbanization policies are being enforced more strictly under Xi Jinping. In this piece, Ernan explains how planners have gotten more effective in restricting growth of the largest cities, how controls on almost all cities have tightened.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Mixed Consequences From The Profit Boom

    2017 was a great year for China’s industrial sector, with profits up 21%, but the gains were highly concentrated in mining, metals and materials. This pattern has a mix of important consequences, as Thomas explains in this piece: it’s good news for financial risk, less good news for households, and bad news for corporate investment.

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    Gavekal Research

    The US-China Economic Rivalry Is About To Heat Up

    Economic conflict between the US and China was the dog that didn’t bark in 2017. This year it has begun to bark loudly and will soon bite deeply. The short-term macroeconomic consequences will be modest, beyond putting more downward pressure on the dollar. But the potential long-run impact on trade and investment flows, and on power relations in the Asia-Pacific, could be large.

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    Gavekal Research

    Overbought But Still Undervalued

    Chinese stock markets are on a tear, with large cap A-shares up 8.9% and Hong Kong-listed H-shares up a thumping 16.3% year-to-date. After such a rapid rise, the markets are vulnerable to a near-term pull-back. But Chen Long explains that economic fundamentals, valuations and flows all suggest the bull market still has further to run.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Fewer Surprises From Supply-Side Reform

    China’s “supply-side reform” in coal, steel, and other products been a major swing factor for markets over the past two years. And Chinese officials started off 2018 by doubling down on their rhetoric about supply-side reform. But as Rosealea explains, there are good reasons to think the upside risk to commodities prices will be low this year.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Reviewing The Risks For 2018

    After a solid performance in 2017, worries about China have broadly receded, and our view is that 2018 should see continuity in economic policy and only a moderate slowdown in growth. In this piece, Andrew assesses the state of four major risks to this sanguine outlook, based on the latest economic data and a flurry of recent policy statements.

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    Gavekal Research

    Securing The Indo-Pacific

    Forty years after the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization was dissolved, Tom argues that an expanded version of that “Asian NATO” concept may be developing, but this time the potential theater of operations stretches across the Indo-Pacific and includes the full panoply of great powers. What has not changed is that China remains the protagonists’ key bogeyman.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Regulatory Storm Continues

    China’s financial-regulatory storm is far from over: in recent weeks, the banking regulator has issued a half-dozen new or proposed rules, and launched another campaign to uncover financial malpractice. While this means credit growth will slow further, Chen Long argues regulators can still avoid shocks to the economy and market sentiment.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    After The Bounce In Coal Demand

    After three straight years of decline, China’s consumption of coal rose 1% in 2017, and prices are rallying. But in this piece, Rosealea argues that this bounce in demand is unlikely to persist. With the property market cooling and official efforts to switch away from coal continuing, coal use should resume its decline in 2018.

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    Gavekal Research

    One More Cheerful Year In China

    A key driver of the synchronized global economic pickup and attendant rally in risk assets has been China’s shift from deflation to reflation. In 2018, a key question is whether China can sustain growth while containing financial risk. Arthur thinks it can easily do so, and in this paper outlines the reasons why.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    China In 2018: Continuity And Centralization

    China is set for another year of decent growth in 2018. The latest set of policy conclaves have re-affirmed the broad policy direction: more emphasis on the quality of growth than its speed, and continued efforts in the "three key battles" against financial risk, poverty and pollution. The main financial goals are to cut corporate debt/equity ratios rather than to reduce overall national leverage.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Drains On Liquidity

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

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    Gavekal Research

    The Big Questions For 2018

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

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Macro Update: A Safe Landing In 2018

    In our quarterly chartbook, Chen Long reviews the economy’s direction since the Party Congress and explains the outlook for 2018. Financial regulation is tightening, and the tradeoff between growth and the environment is shifting. But with construction holding up and inflation surprisingly strong, the base case is still for a moderate slowdown.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Cui Bono?

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

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Questions For The Coming Year

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

    3
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Is Beijing Winning The Battle For Blue Skies?

    An unprecedented campaign to reduce air pollution has shuttered factories across north China, with a success that has upended the consensus view that local-government officials always favor economic growth over the environment. In this piece, Yanmei examines whether this change in environmental enforcement is going to be temporary or permanent.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ: China 20/20

    In this final issue of China Economic Quarterly, an all-star cast of contributors takes a look back at how the country has changed since 1997, and a look forward at how China, and its global impact, might evolve in the next couple of decades. The basic lesson is that it has never paid to underestimate China’s growth potential and capacity for change.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Understanding China, In 20 Books (And One Movie)

    An annotated reading and viewing list for those who just can’t get enough of China.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    A Good Few Decades, But Not A ‘Chinese Century’

    The China Economic Quarterly will cease publication with this issue, which also marks its 20th anniversary. CEQ started life as a newsletter for a small coterie of executives and observers interested in what was then a peripheral bit of the world economy. As China became more important and information about it in more demand, we built the Dragonomics research service around it. Today China is crucial in any discussion of global affairs, and the...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Waiting For Their Generation

    Young Chinese who came of age during “Reform and Opening” have more liberal notions than their elders for China’s future. The tectonic plates of government and society are moving in opposite directions, but we will have to wait at least 20 years for a decisive shift to occur.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Never A Brother In Arms

    Over the past 20 years, China failed to follow the path Western powers had scripted for it. Instead, it is emerging as a different type of global leader, defying conventional wisdom and generating new challenges for the supporters of the old order.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Environmental Horizon: Still Murky

    At long last, Beijing is getting serious about tackling the huge environmental problems caused by breakneck growth. Much more improvement is needed to clean up China’s environmental record both at home and abroad.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Handicapping The Global Power Shift

    China still oscillates between a desire to promote consensus and collaboration on the international stage, and powerful hegemonic and self-interested urges. More concerted international efforts will be needed to make sure the former prevails.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Misreading The Past, Misjudging The Future

    Smart observers have repeatedly got China wrong over the past three decades, selling short its growth potential and exaggerating its fragility. Chances are that many of today’s dark forecasts will prove wrong as well.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    A Tarnished Triumph

    China’s economy has grown faster than even the biggest optimists imagined two decades ago. Yet social and political change has lagged behind, while policy has become less reformist and more statist. As Beijing pours ever more resources into low-productivity prestige projects, the economic future is unlikely to be as bright as the past.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Pax Americana-Sinica

    China’s rise is making it increasingly costly for the US to uphold Pax Americana in Asia. China wants to replace it, but scant regional enthusiasm means Pax Sinica is some way off. For the next two decades, an uneasy truce should hold in Asia.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Lessons From History

    Confessions of an analyst who got China wrong in 1997, but created a successful business and career anyway.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Why India Will Never Be China

    Drawing a comparison between Asia’s two giants is tempting, but differences outnumber similarities. Despite the appeal of China’s economic model, there is little chance that Asia’s oldest democracy will follow in Beijing’s footsteps.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Twenty Years Of Gain, And Much Pain

    The China that foreign businesses operate in today is immensely different from the one they ventured into 20 years ago. Challenges have multiplied for MNCs along with China’s economic and political rise.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Our 2017 Holiday Reading List

    History, far from being over, looms large in this year’s Gavekal holiday reading list. From failing empires in the Middle East to Europe’s ceaseless struggle for dominance and Asia’s inability to bury ghosts, our writers consider how the past is shaping our future. As befits a research firm, we have lots of economics with a tour of the stagnation debate and an assessment of the threats and benefits offered by artificial intelligence. We consider...

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The End Of The Preschool Boom

    China’s busy and ambitious parents have driven a huge boom in private preschools, with the number of students roughly tripling over the past decade. But the sector is now clouded by allegations of child abuse, which will only strengthen a shift to tougher regulation and public provision of preschools. For now, the private preschool boom is over.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Asia’s Triple Merit Scenario Lives

    Last week, the Bank of Korea raised its benchmark interest rate for the first time in six years and other Asian central banks seem likely to follow suit. This is not especially surprising given the ongoing global expansion and tightening moves by the Federal Reserve, which have narrowed short-rate differentials for Asian currencies. The worry, as elucidated by Anatole last week, is that such an expansionary scenario threatens the delicate “not...

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Deleveraging Progress Report

    Can China manage corporate deleveraging without a credit crunch? Leverage ratios improved in 2015 and 2016, but progress has been more mixed in 2017, as companies borrowed more but raised less new equity. In 2018, Thomas expects stable or modestly deteriorating leverage ratios, with slowing growth somewhat offset by recovering equity issuance.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    From A Ferrari To A Jeep

    When I turned 70 (I am still struggling with the fact that I now have a “7” handle), the Gavekal partners had the good idea of bringing into the firm some very bright “quants” and giving them a simple mandate: quantify and qualify the various investment rules that I have been using for decades (somewhat sporadically, and often with biases that I myself sometimes struggled to acknowledge).

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Rental Housing Solution

    China’s government has a new priority for the housing market: boost the quantity and quality of rental housing. As more middle-class Chinese are priced out of top-tier cities, promoting rentals is a new attempt to address housing affordability. In this piece, Rosealea explains the latest policy push and how it will affect property developers.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Chinese Consumer: Outlook & Trends 2017

    In our annual review of the Chinese consumer, Ernan outlines the short-term outlook and longer-term trends in household spending. This chartbook explains why consumption growth has been a bit disappointing in 2017, why the outlook for 2018 is better, what are the drivers of consumption upgrading, and how the transition to online is playing out.

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