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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Can The New Silk Road Revive China’s Exports?

    The various New Silk Road initiatives add up to one of the biggest and most elaborate export-promotion plans in history. Yet even this new brand of checkbook diplomacy may struggle to reverse the global economic forces that have been weighing on Chinese exports.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Five Corners (11 February): The Earnings Squeeze

    Overview: Charles contrasts US companies' strong accounting profits with the less impressive numbers reported in the national accounts and asks some hard questions. United States: The latest earnings season revealed a tale of two markets with multinationals and energy firms lagging while domestics surge ahead. Will and KX ask whether this can last. Europe: François argues that if eurozone GDP growth picks up to the degree that the...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    5C Asia: Look For Real Growth To Boost Earnings In Asia

    A strong US dollar has rarely been a tailwind for emerging market equities. Set against the backdrop of anemic global demand and the concomitant fall in commodity prices—a severe weight on export revenues for many EMs—the outlook for EM corporate earnings is not exactly benign. However, Discrimination Pays In The Emerging Markets. The rapidly changing global environment is likely to throw up a new set of winners and losers in the EM universe.

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    Gavekal Research

    Turning Cautious on US Equities

    Given their remarkable performance over the last four years, can US equities really continue to outperform global peers? Recent developments give cause for concern as market technicals look weak and earnings announcements for bellwether stocks have come in lackluster. Earlier this week Louis asked some basic questions about US equity market leadership (see Does It Still Make Sense To Overweight US Equities?). We share his concern not because we...

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Asia’s Encouraging Currency Stability

    Three months ago to the day, the US Federal Reserve ended its outright purchases of treasuries. Three months before that, the ECB instituted negative interest rates. And whether by coincidence or causation, most commodity prices chose the past six months to unravel. The combination of these events has led to some sharp exchange rate moves. Over the past three months, commodity currencies have been taken to the woodshed: the Russian ruble is down...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Does It Still Make Sense To Overweight US Equities?

    Investment decisions are typically driven by the costs of five factors: land, labor, capital, energy and government. One of the key theses of Too Different for Comfort, the book I wrote a couple of years ago (available for free download here), was that in the years following the Asian Crisis of the late 1990s, Asia boasted one massive comparative advantage: a much cheaper cost of labor than anyone else. So for ten years, any new factory,...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Five Corners (28 January): In Central Banks We Trust

    Overview: When central banks led a war on inflation in the late 1970s and 80s they kept on fighting long after the enemy was beaten into submission. They are likely to take the same approach of using overwhelming force in today’s fight against deflation, says Anatole. United States: The Swiss may have given forward guidance a bad name, but the Fed should be taken at its word, argues Will Denyer. Unlike Anatole, he thinks that interest rate...

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    The Case For A Real Chinese Bull Market

    This report makes the case for a secular improvement in returns from Chinese equities. It does so by a political economy analysis of long-run equity market performance in the three East Asian developmental success stories most akin to China: Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. The basic argument is that when a high-growth economy shifts from policies of “financial repression” to a more liberalized financial system, a sustained period of improved...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    5C Asia: Will The BoJ Follow Suit?

    Governor Haruhiko Kuroda’s comments at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week set off speculation that the Bank of Japan may soon expand its program of quantitative easing. Our base case is that the BoJ is unlikely to oblige QE enthusiasts in the next 6-12 months as Japan is currently in a ‘honeymoon’ period where lower inflation is likely tolerable.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Australia, The Next Shoe To Drop

    Central bankers are ditching managerial gradualism in their monetary policy communication and are getting serious. Switzerland, Denmark, India and now Canada have all made surprise interest rate moves in recent days—okay, the European Central Bank continues to drip-feed its every thought to friendly journalists, but the sheer scale of the adjustment taking place in relative global prices means that policymakers must respond swiftly to events....

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    Gavekal Research

    The Essential Emerging Market

    These are challenging times for emerging markets and investors could be forgiven for writing them off as being more trouble than they are worth in terms of risk-adjusted returns. The macro environment is harsh given the continued cratering of commodity prices and a potential reversal of US dollar flows on the back of a likely Federal Reserve tightening. Still, we think this would be a terribly short sighted formulation as the coming year is...

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    5C Asia: Oil's Bane Is Asia's Boon

    The oil price plunge is likely to create dislocations in the global economy for years to come, especially if consensus predictions of ‘lower for longer’ play out. Asia, as a net oil importer, almost certainly stands to gain, although the path to prosperity will vary depending on where a particular economy is in the economic cycle. Japan and India offer prime examples of this divergence.

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    Gavekal Research

    Discrimination Pays In The Emerging Markets

    Viewed as a single asset class, the emerging markets had a tough time of it in 2014. A world characterized by weak global demand, soft commodity prices and a stronger US currency left US dollar-reliant emerging economies exposed and vulnerable. Today, as we roll into 2015, emerging markets are still facing the same headwinds. The US will struggle to support global growth single-handedly and the oil price is unlikely to stage a meaningful...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Stay Long The Renminbi

    With the Federal Reserve expected to raise interest rates, Europe seemingly about to embrace quantitative easing, and Japan’s economy still in the doldrums, the US dollar’s rise looks unstoppable. But for investors seeking a longer term store of value, the Chinese renminbi is a surer bet.

    4
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Beijing Will Call The Shots In Resource Sector Battle Royal

    In October the world’s fourth largest mining company, Glencore, launched an audacious merger bid for the world’s second biggest miner, Rio Tinto. The approach was rebuffed, and United Kingdom takeover rules—both companies have London listings—forbid Glencore from making any further overtures for the following six months. Yet few in the mining business believe that is the end of the story. Glencore’s chief executive officer Ivan Glasenberg has...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Europe Not EMs At The Vortex

    In the summer of 1998, Russia’s financial crisis stemmed from the oil price plunge that followed the Asian financial crisis. Today the worry is that Russia’s fall is causing a cycle of contagion which could pull down even decently managed emerging economies. Unusually, this collapse is happening just as the world’s biggest asset allocators prepare to effectively shut up shop. It is rare to get a full blown crisis over year-end simply because...

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    The Scene Is Set For Abenomics Act II

    On Sunday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe got what he wanted: a resounding victory in Japan’s snap general election; a general election he had painted as a referendum on his ‘Abenomics’ economic policy program. Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito, its junior partner in the ruling coalition, won 325 of the 475 seats up for grabs in the House of Representatives, maintaining their two-thirds majority in the lower house of Japan’s parliament,...

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    Gavekal Research

    China And North Asia’s Deflation Syndrome

    Northeast Asian economies are “fated” to experience a structural deflation as they mature due to the nature of their industrialization model. Such economic determinism means that China faces an imminent risk of structural deflation similar to that experienced by Taiwan 20 years ago. In this piece Joyce argues that the way Northeast Asian economies protect their financial systems helps them avoid acute financial crises, but ensures a date with...

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    Gavekal Research

    Five Corners (10 December): Contrarian Ideas For 2015

    Overview: Anatole Kaletsky looks at the struggle between the Middle-East sheiks and US oil producers and concludes that oil is about to finally conform to standard economic theory. One unintended consequence may be the effective liquidation of western oil majors. United States: Will Denyer considers the dramatic scaling back of the US shale oil sector but argues that US capital spending should do just fine next year. Europe: Francois Chauchat...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Dream Of Asian Empire

    After years of passive diplomacy, China is now making it clear that it wants to play a substantive role on the global stage. In foreign policy, Xi Jinping’s “Chinese dream” means restoring China’s historical dominance in Asia. China is serious about winning friends and helping its neighbors to benefit from its rise, but its own interests come first: it wants to generate new trade networks, open up transit routes for its exports, and develop its...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    5C Asia: When To Bet On A Reversal Of The Yen?

    “Abenomics” has become a confidence game in that the government must do whatever it takes to stop the public losing faith in the Bank of Japan’s ability to spur reflation—even if this means printing ever larger sums of money (see Gold For Japan’s Confidence Game). A breakdown in confidence is unthinkable as it will kill both risk appetite and consumer demand. So unless Shinzo Abe can pull a rabbit from the hat, Japan appears to be heading for...

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    Gavekal Research

    The Burning Questions For 2015

    With two reports a day, and often more, readers sometimes complain that keeping tabs on the thoughts of the various Gavekal analysts can be a challenge. So as the year draws to a close, it may be helpful if we recap the main questions confronting investors and the themes we strongly believe in, region by region.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Growth & Markets Monthly (December 2014)

    This month saw our main growth indicator drop into negative territory for the first time in more than a year. The key drags were the commodity-related components and the underperformance of growth-sensitive stock markets such as South Korea and Sweden. The chief concern for markets is whether lower oil prices and the new monetary activism of the Bank of Japan and promises of action from the European Central bank can help reignite market momentum...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Commodity Bust: Not The Obvious Winners & Losers

    The huge moves in oil over the last four trading sessions together with the ongoing cratering of prices across the commodity complex have added to deflationary pressures weighing on developed and developing economies alike. But the greatest pressures are inevitably being seen in emerging markets as they tend to be (i) the biggest commodity exporters, and (ii) are more likely to subsidize fuels (developed economies prefer to tax most fuels like...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Better Class Of Bubble

    We never tire of pointing out that, when it comes to bubbles, no two bubbles are ever the same. Firstly, bubbles can bid up asset values because of their perceived ‘scarcity’ (typically land and real estate, but also tulips, or gold…) or because of their productivity (canals, railroads, telecom lines, energy…). This distinction matters because, in the first case, an economy is left with no more land (or gold, or tulips…) than at the outset. In...

    13
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    Gavekal Research

    Quarterly Strategy Chartbook - Avoiding The Pitfalls Ahead

    Forces of creative destruction are building up in the world economy as never before. Several of Gavekal’s key indicators are signalling that we are moving into a mild deflationary boom, in which cheaper resources, lower technology costs—especially for robotics—and accelerating disintermediation—notably in the financial sector—all promise to act as game-changers over the coming years. Reliably picking winners in such disruptive times is difficult...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Great Policy Convergence

    Yesterday’s announcement that the European Central Bank is preparing to buy government bonds from the first quarter of next year is an event of historic importance. As the logical follow-up to Mario Draghi’s commitment to expand the ECB’s balance sheet by €1trn, yesterday’s statement by ECB vice-president Vitor Constâncio confirms beyond reasonable doubt that Europe is ready, at last, to implement full-blown quantitative easing, over-riding the...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Five Corners (26 November): Capital Spending In 2015

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    5C Asia: India’s Investment Boom Is Almost Here

    Against a backdrop of weakening global growth, India stands out as a rare bright spot. Much of the optimism is predicated on hopes of a recovery in the capital spending cycle, especially in infrastructure.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Global Central Banks Are Driving Appetite For US Cyclicals

    The rebound in US equities since their mid-October trough has been impressive. After giving up almost all its year to date gains in just four weeks, the S&P 500 snapped back even more quickly, ending October at a new record high. Since then, it has extended its advance to notch up a YTD gain of 12%. Yet, until just a few days ago, the relative performance of sectors within the index indicated a degree of caution on the part of investors....

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Japan's Election And The Yen

    With Japan in the middle of a triple-dip recession, and Japanese households suffering a significant contraction in real disposable income, it might seem at first that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has chosen an odd time to call a snap election. But that conclusion would ignore the two iron-clad rules of investing in Japan that we never tire of repeating:

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    What If The Yen Falls Another 20%?

    Japan’s woeful third quarter performance—the economy contracted at an annualized 1.6% rate, pushing the economy into a technical recession—has killed any remaining expectations that the government of Shinzo Abe will proceed with its original plan to raise the country’s sales tax for a second time next year to 10%. In the absence of further fiscal consolidation, this will leave the prime minister’s ‘Abenomics’ policy to revitalize Japan’s economy...

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    Here Comes The Melt-Up

    Back in mid-October as stock markets around the world plunged faster than at any time since 2011, many investors and economists feared a meltdown. But with the US economy steadily expanding, monetary and fiscal policy becoming more stimulative in other parts of the world and the autumn season for financial crises now over, a melt-up seems more likely than a melt-down.

    0
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    Gavekal Japanese

    Japan's Genki Grandparents!

    Aged 94, Susumu Yamamoto thought about a career change, but he didn’t want to rush the decision. Two years later, he is still mulling it over. Meanwhile, his daughters are on his case for doing too much. Recently an argument broke out with his youngest daughter (aged 72). She took the duvet to the cleaners. He said he could have washed it himself. On top of all that, his eldest daughter (76) is nagging him to eat more vegetables. But Yamamoto-...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Bank Shares And Deflation Risks

    Over the years, I have learnt the hard way to pay a good deal of attention to the behavior of bank shares. Simply put, when interest rates and bank shares fall in tandem the market is offering a clear signal that very bad news is on the way.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Five Corners (12 November): The Commodity Fallout

    Overview: Louis Gave Considers the poor performance of gold mining stocks and wonders if energy companies are set to go the same way.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    China's Geostrategic Ambition

    Xi Jinping is making good on his promise to restore China’s position on the world stage. On Monday, China agreed to slash tariffs on high-tech imports, breaking almost 18 months of deadlock with the US over how to update the WTO’s Information Technology Agreement. In coming to terms, China showed it is willing to work with the US in support of multilateral trade frameworks. But China’s President Xi also used his chairmanship of this year’s Asia-...

    1
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    Gavekal Japanese

    Japan’s Hydrogen game Changer

    Japan is often described as lacking domestic energy sources, but this is not quite fair. In addition to geothermic energy galore (108 volcanoes) it has untapped natural gas encased in sheets of ‘fire ice’ buried beneath the sea bed. Japan has spent years working on test production sites with the aim of moving to mass production. Such a commercial operation looks increasingly tenable in what could be an energy game-changer for Japan, just as...

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    5C Asia: Soft Commodity Prices Provide A Profit Cushion

    Are weak commodity prices good or bad news for Asia? Most Asian countries are net commodity importers, so common sense dictates that they will benefit from lower input costs. What’s more, just as rising prices represented a transfer of wealth towards commodity producers, so weaker prices will support consumer demand by lifting real incomes.

    0
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    Gavekal Japanese

    When Beta Fades

    A week ago Haruhiko Kuroda surprised the market with a new and aggressive quantitative easing plan. In response most brokers surprised absolutely no-one with calls to ‘buy exporters, buy banks and buy real estate plays’. Of course, such trades might work for the macro tourists looking to give their capital a two-week sightseeing trip in Tokyo. Which brings to mind Charlie Munger’s words of wisdom of: ‘show me the incentives and I will show you...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    The Two Things That Matter In India

    Indian equities yesterday registered a new peak even as emerging markets remain almost 10% off their early September high. Resurgent optimism toward India’s prospects has been ramped up by a belief that Prime Minister Narendra Modi can return the economy to its high growth path of the mid-2000s. Udith is not convinced of this simple story line, but his contention is that global investors do not need to fret over each twist and turn in India’s...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Growth & Markets Monthly (November 2014)

    In this edition of our monthly report we note that economic activity continues to register weaker momentum while deflationary pressures remain stubbornly present. On the primary liquidity side, the Fed has ended its quantitative easing program, while the Bank of Japan has committed to a more aggressive policy, which may yet inspire the European Central Bank into similar action. Private sector credit multiplication, or the velocity of money, has...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Japan Is More Than Just A Macro Trade

    The market’s reaction shows that most investors were taken by surprise by Friday’s announcement from the Bank of Japan. They should not have been. BoJ governor Haruhiko Kuroda has declared time and again that he watches growth numbers closely, and would act on any signs of a deterioration. Those signs were officially acknowledged on Friday when the central bank published its three-year growth forecasts, halving the outlook for this year.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    The True Meaning Of The September October Sell-Off

    The World MSCI stands marginally higher than its position on August 1st. So someone who went on holiday for three months might conclude that not much has happened. Yet, in doing so, our Frenchman (for who else takes three month holidays?) would have overlooked an important question that is highly relevant to the here and now. Specifically, why did markets unravel so aggressively in a six week period from early September to mid-October? To this...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    London Seminar October 2014 - Anatole, Francois, Tom, Will & Charles

    We held our autumn seminar in London on October 28 with Anatole, Francois, Tom, Will and Charles offering their take on the state of the world economy and the outlook for financial markets.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    In Japan The Era Of QE Continues

    Just two days after the US Federal Reserve ended its program of quantitative easing, and with the world still waiting to see if the European Central Bank will ever launch effective action, the Bank of Japan stepped up to the plate, stunning markets by announcing a major expansion of its own balance sheet. The acceleration of the BoJ’s “quantitative and qualitative easing” will markedly widen the divergence of monetary policy between Japan and...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Five Corners (October 29): The Fiscal Imperative

    Overview: Anatole Kaletsky explains why monetary policy has become an effective irrelevance and fiscal policy is really the only game in town.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    5C Asia: Japan's Fiscal Debate

    Japan’s fiscal policy has been the exception among developed economies this year. While others sought to avoid austerity, Japan hiked its sales tax rate from 5% to 8% in April, sending the economy into contraction. The weaker-than-expected recovery from this slump has prompted a series of growth downgrades, with the International Monetary Fund cutting Japan’s forecast growth rate for 2014 in half to just 0.9% and predicting a 25% chance of...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Travels Along The New Silk Road: The Economics Of Power

    China’s economic expansion overseas is one of the defining geopolitical shifts of our time. Chinese firms have already invested in excess of US$500bn abroad, and the annual flow of overseas investment is set to overtake the flow of foreign direct investment this year (see More Deals, More Players). The push into Africa has captured most attention, but China’s economic tentacles are spreading across developing Asia, too—not least in Central Asia...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Buying The Dip? Choose Asia

    Markets remain jittery, but the last week has at least seen a break in the downward momentum. Hence it may be worth taking stock of relative performance by the big regions. Looking across the MSCI benchmarks, the All Country World index is down –4.7% since its peak in early September, while the US, Eurozone, Emerging Markets (ex-Asia) and Emerging Asia declined respectively by –3.9%, -5.2%, -8.4% and –5.4%.

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