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E.g., 20-09-2017
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    Gavekal Research

    Reviewing My Calls

    Over the years my research has focused on broad concepts which have been applied in many situations and lots of reports. These include ideas such as the disruptive power of platform companies, assets whose value comes from scarcity rather than efficiency, or the effect of firms running on Schumpeterian, Malthusian or Ricardian principles. Once in a while, however, I do get specific and make investment calls. Having had a little time this week, I...

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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research September Call

    In yesterday’s monthly call Louis Gave presented his view on the global investment outlook for the rest of the year. He argued that the key story so far in 2017 has been the strong performance of Asian equities, which has added a second leg to a bull market led by US technology and consumer stocks. The question is whether this can last.

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    Gavekal Research

    A New World Order In The Making

    It’s all too easy to laugh at the BRICS group, a motley crew of five developing nations with little in common other than the fact that they’re (mostly) big and not yet rich. The term has been mocked as a “Bloody Ridiculous Investment Concept”. So why do the BRICS themselves take it so seriously?

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    Gavekal Research

    Algo Trading: A Great Opportunity For The Human Brain

    The rise and rise in money management of computerized trading systems which seek out and exploit correlations among assets and markets can have some curious side effects. One of them is that the rise of the machines, far from rendering the human brain obsolete, can throw up some wonderful investment opportunities for those surviving managers who prefer to rely on solid economic principles and good old fashioned common sense.

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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: A Two-Legged Equity Bull Market

    For the past several years, the brightest spot in global equity markets has been the US, and in particular tech and consumer stocks. This is changing, and we now have a "two-legged" equity bull market led both by US tech stocks and by a resurgent Asia. In our review of global investment conditions Louis explains why this is so, and argues none of the obvious land mines is likely to go off at any time soon.

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    Gavekal Research

    Tremors On The North Korean Border

    Yanmei Xie reports from China’s border with North Korea, where local residents and officials were left largely unshaken yesterday by the earth tremors from Kim Jong Un’s latest and biggest test of a nuclear bomb. Despite imposing some trade sanctions on its troublesome neighbor, Beijing has no desire to back the North Korean regime into a corner.

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    Gavekal Research

    Deteriorating Market Signals?

    We have a rule of thumb at Gavekal that when the S&P 500 equal-weighted outperforms the “S&P 500 index”, our equity clients are cheery since beating the benchmark is fairly easy. At such times, clients will typically take more risk. The reverse is, of course, true: outperformance by the S&P 500 makes for grumpy clients, tougher meetings, and less appetite for risk-taking. In the latter case, there is a tendency for investors to rush...

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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Feeling Insecure — Japan’s Food Problem

    Japan’s late conversion to the cause of free trade owes a lot to the recognition that continued trade protection is no longer sustainable in what historically has been one of Japan’s most rigorously defended domestic sectors: agriculture. Demographics and changing diets mean Japan’s food self-sufficiency rate has fallen to 38%, the lowest among developed economies.

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    Gavekal Research

    Behind Japan’s Free Trade Drive

    When in January Donald Trump’s administration announced that the US was withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, pundits around the world lost no time in declaring Barack Obama’s flagship trade agreement dead in the water. They were premature. In a 180 degree policy U-turn, Japan stepped forward to provide leadership by stressing the attractiveness of access to its own home market.

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    Gavekal Research

    Good Governance, Poor Performance

    Japan has embraced the idea that better corporate governance leads to superior stock price performance. In 2014 the stock exchange launched the JPX-Nikkei 400 good governance index in an attempt to get Japan Inc. to raise its governance game. There’s just one problem: the index has consistently underperformed the broader market.

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    Gavekal Research

    Irving Fisher And Japan

    Few papers written by defunct economists have had as much influence on my way of looking at markets as Irving Fisher’s seminal 1933 article The Debt-Deflation Theory Of Great Depressions. In it, Fisher hypothesized the patterns that great depressions go through. In a nutshell, great depressions go through four phases.

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    Gavekal Research

    It Is Not Slack Weighing On Wages

    How can a labor market be very tight, yet have barely any wage growth? In today’s daily Nick tackled this for the UK and found a mix of universal and idiosyncratic causes. For the US and Japan a frequent refrain is that official data hugely understates the potential size of the workforce and so a ready source of “slack”. Will and Udith beg to differ.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Limits Of Magical Thinking

    A persistent American fantasy of hardliners is that threats of force will magically cause other countries to abandon their interests and cave in to US demands. The current occupant of the White House is taking this magical thinking to new heights in his approach to Asia. But thankfully, despite the dire headlines, the real-world impact is small.

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    Gavekal Research

    Finding Outperformance In Japan

    On Monday, the cabinet office in Tokyo is expected to announce that Japan’s economy grew at an annualized rate of around 2.5% in the second quarter. If it does, it will mark Japan’s sixth consecutive quarter of economic expansion, the longest period of uninterrupted growth since the mid-2000s, when prime minister Junichiro Koizumi was in power.

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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research August Call

    In this week's call Tom Miller and Udith Sikand presented their view on India's macroeconomic situation and opportunities for foreign investors. Tom outlined the broad macro fundamentals and assessed the Modi government's progress in reforming the economy. Udith presented the investment consequences, expecting a capex revival to begin as soon as next year.

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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: India — Poised For A Pickup

    India clearly offers one of the best long-term growth stories in the world today. In 2016 for the first time it added more to global nominal GDP growth than China. Demographics are favorable, opportunities for infrastructure- and housing-driven growth are abundant, and despite some hiccups the Modi government has done a good job of taming inflation and setting the country on a structurally sounder path. For investors, the problem is that Indian...

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    Gavekal Research

    Big Tech Is Not Standard Oil

    Back in May, Louis warned that the regulatory knives were coming out for Big Tech. In the worst case scenario for the dominant technology giants that have done so much to drive the stock market to new highs, Louis argued that they could even face the same treatment that Standard Oil received at the hands of the US government in 1911. Investors were forcibly reminded of this tightening regulatory squeeze yesterday when Google parent Alphabet...

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    Gavekal Research

    Life’s Certainties And The Euro

    There are very few certainties in life. Death, taxes, US consumers living beyond their means, and Italian central bankers talking down their currency are pretty much the only things I have learnt in my career to be inevitable. Sure enough, Mario Draghi came out yesterday doing his best to sound as dovish as he possibly could. That did not stop the euro from surging past its ceiling of US$1.15 to reach US$1.1620.

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    Gavekal Research

    EM Asia’s Most Sensible Market

    The “safety first” stance of Indonesian fiscal and monetary policies has contained the country’s budget deficit, restored its investment grade credit rating and capped inflation. Granted, these policies have come at the cost of lackluster growth. However, with the rupiah undervalued and plentiful carry available, Udith still sees opportunities in local currency bonds.

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    Gavekal Research

    End Of The Line For EM Dollar Debt?

    As if alarmed by the realignment in global financial markets over the last few weeks, Janet Yellen struck a slightly more dovish note in her Congressional testimony yesterday. Yet the Federal Reserve chair’s more nuanced words are unlikely to temper by much the developing skepticism among investors towards the US dollar bonds of emerging markets.

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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 Research

    Into My Indian Arms

    Last week Louis argued that the most likely growth area for richly valued defense contractors was Western-aligned powers in East Asia. The problem was that despite rising regional tensions, India and Japan were playing hard to get (see Should Investors Chase Defense Stocks?). Last week’s events on the Korean peninsula should give the merchants of death a fresh calling card in Tokyo, Seoul and Taipei. Yet while garnering fewer headlines, the...

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    Gavekal Research

    The North Korea Conundrum

    In this brief video interview Yanmei Xie outlines the ever-shrinking list of options the US has for solving the problem of a nuclear-armed North Korea. The risk of military action remains slim, but with North Korea's recent test of an intercontinental ballistic missile it is no longer unthinkable.

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    Gavekal Research

    The North Korean Tail Risk Just Got A Whole Lot Fatter

    Despite the protestations of some of the less temperate US news media, North Korea did not cross a US “red line” yesterday. However, with the successful test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile that could, in theory, drop a nuclear warhead on the US state of Alaska, Kim Jong Un’s rogue state has brought North Asia a big step closer to the critical point at which investors can no longer rule out military action. A shooting war on the...

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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

    The Indian Summer

    Tomorrow India will roll out its most important economic reform since the early 1990s. The Goods and Services Tax will transform the country’s 29 states, which run semi-autonomous fiscal systems, into a single market. Backed by strong fundamentals, Modi’s reform agenda is playing well with investors: MSCI India is up 19% this year, foreigners are piling into Indian bonds, and FDI is at record levels. Yet, look closer and a weaker economy emerges...

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    Gavekal Research

    When Central Bankers Attempt To Change Direction

    In recent days , central bankers in the US and Europe have been signaling how much they want to end unconventional monetary policies and revert to a more normal monetary model that does not put asset prices at the heart of the system. It is a laudable aim. But, warns Charles in this piece, central bankers have seldom managed to transition from one monetary regime to another without causing convulsions in the financial markets. This time, the...

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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 Research

    Video: Breaking The Yen-Equity Link

    Japanese equities recently touched a 17-year high in US dollar terms and perhaps more significantly, they appear to have decoupled from their usually tight inverse relationship with the yen. In this video interview Neil considers both cyclical and structural reasons for the apparent breakout and concludes that investors should not underweight a market that has plenty of tailwinds.

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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...

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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...

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    Gavekal Research

    Stimulus Gets More Direct In Japan

    Fresh reflation ideas are back on the agenda in Japan as inflation shows no sign of rising despite record stimulus and a tight labor market. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is focused on hard-pressed 30-somethings who continue to save furiously in part as they must fund their children's higher education. His idea is to ease the burden and hopefully spur a step change in consumption spending.

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    Gavekal Research

    India Macro Update: Navigating The Fog

    In this regular quarterly update, Udith and Tom survey the key developments in India’s macro-economy and markets, which have been clouded by the demonetization episode and yet more changes to national economic statistics. The fog may not be about to clear as the government prepares to rollout a new national goods and sales tax with the potential for significant economic disruption.

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    Gavekal Research

    Video: India's Economic Fog

    In this interview Udith discusses the key developments in India’s macro economy and markets, which have been clouded by the demonetization episode and yet more changes to national economic statistics. The fog may not be about to clear as the government prepares to roll out a new national goods and sales tax with the potential for significant economic disruption.

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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.

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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Japan's Next Baby Boom

    In this interview Neil explains why the oft repeated line about Japanese couples not wanting to have many kids is a huge exaggeration. The problem is bizarre government regulations and a drastic shortage of childcare facilities. Such inhibitors to tiny feet pattering are about to get a major government-induced overhaul, and a Japanese baby boom may be around the corner. If correct, this shift in Japan’s demographic curve could have profound...

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    Gavekal Research

    In Bed With The Japanese

    The international media have been full of headlines recently about how the Japanese are failing to make enough babies. But the reason for Japan’s failing fertility is not some lack of libido. Instead, as Neil explains, the government's antiquated policies towards women and families have proved a remarkably effective—if inadvertent—form of contraception.

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    Gavekal Research

    A Clearer Picture In Seoul

    South Koreans went to the polls yesterday and elected a special forces soldier turned human rights lawyer as president. Moon Jae-in will need both skillsets in dealing with a belligerent North Korea, distrustful China and saber-rattling US. Yet an even tougher ask may prove delivering on his promises to shake up collusive ties between big business and the government, and so unleash animal spirits. I would argue, however, that for once the...

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Calling Time On Indian Outperformance

    Indian equities have been on a tear this year with their 22% currency-adjusted gain only bested among emerging markets by Poland. This is not surprising given that India has strong fundamentals and a reform-minded government that still enjoys popular support. Yet, while long term positive drivers for the Indian market remain intact, equities have run ahead of themselves by pricing in a swift return to robust earnings growth.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The End Of Yen Outperformance

    Year-to-date, the yen is the best-performing of the G10 currencies. Over the last four months it has appreciated 5.2% against the US dollar, lifted by abating enthusiasm for the Trump trade and safe haven flows into Japan. Given the tight inverse correlation between the yen and Japanese equities, it is therefore no surprise that the Japanese stock market has underperformed its developed market peers so far this year.

    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 Research

    Whether Or Not To Underweight The US

    Charles has been shifting his asset allocation recommendations in recent weeks away from US assets in favor of foreign alternatives. This was squarely valuation-based as his models show the US dollar, corporate bonds and equities to be overvalued. Here, he road tests this view by incorporating non-valuation-based macroeconomic factors into the analysis.

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    Gavekal Research

    London Seminar — March 2017

    In Gavekal’s seminar in London last week Will Denyer, Charles Gave, Tom Miller and Anatole Kaletsky presented their macroeconomic outlooks and offered investors asset allocation advice.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    India Gets Serious About Its Banks

    Indian equities delivered the best returns of any emerging market in 1Q17, as the economy rebounded from November’s demonetization debacle. With manufacturing expanding for three straight months, consumer demand returning to normal levels, and the BJP’s decisive victory in state elections boosting sentiment, MSCI India surged by 17%. Growth in the fiscal year to March 31 likely topped 7%, enabling India to retain its crown as the world’s fastest...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: Europe Braces For The French Election

    The macroeconomic stars are aligning for the eurozone. The region’s cyclical recovery is extending itself across economies and sectors alike. Inflation remains modest, reducing the chances of an early monetary tightening. Eurozone equities are relatively cheap in an expensive world. And the euro is fundamentally undervalued against the US dollar. However, the big risk for investors remains the possibility that nationalist euroskeptic Marine Le...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Hong Kong Seminar — March 2017

    In Gavekal’s Asia focused seminar in Hong Kong last week Arthur Kroeber, Udith Sikand and Tom Holland presented their outlooks for the rest of the year.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Sanctions With Chinese Characteristics

    Since South Korea decided to host a US missile-defense system, China has restricted tourism and closed local operations of Korean firms. The dispute will mean some economic pain for Korea, but no lasting damage. But China is ever more willing to use such “sanctions with Chinese characteristics” to disrupt trade with countries that displease it.

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    Gavekal Research

    Why This Time May Be Different For EMs

    Going into 2017, the logic of Donald Trump’s “America First” program suggested that investors should be long US equities and the dollar, and short longer-dated treasuries. Such an outcome would have been horrible for emerging markets. And yet EMs have rallied 13% year-to-date. The swing factor has been the sideways move of the US dollar in the intervening period, which persuaded investors to cover short-bets on EMs. In this chartbook Joyce...

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    Gavekal Research

    The Risk Picture Diminishes

    Yesterday’s 25bp rate rise from the US Federal Reserve was universally expected. The relative dovishness of Fed officials was not. With headline CPI inflation in the US running at a brisk 2.7% in February, ahead of the meeting at least some market participants had been pricing in four rate hikes this year. But after the latest dot plot signaled that policymakers continue to see only three hikes—including yesterday’s—in 2017, those expectations...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Like Japan, Love Korea

    Ignore for the moment the drumbeat to hostilities on the 38th parallel; it has still been a head-spinning few weeks in the normally staid world of South Korean governance. First, the head of Samsung, the country’s biggest company, was arrested on bribery charges, and then last Friday saw President Park Geun-hye ousted by impeachment. It is our view that a political upheaval is afoot in Seoul that threatens the collusive ties between officials...

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