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E.g., 21-10-2018
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    Gavekal Research

    The German Coalition And Europe

    Late Sunday, party delegates of Germany’s social democrat SPD voted 362 to 279 to begin formal coalition talks with chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU conservatives. Hurdles still remain, but our base case is that the weekend’s vote paves the way for the formation of a Grand Coalition by April. After months without a stable government, any reduction in uncertainty will naturally be positive for markets. But for investors, the most significant...

    0
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    From Recovery To Expansion

    Perception is a funny thing. Yesterday President Emmanuel Macron pitched up in London and wowed the British by loaning them a 70 meter piece of embroidered propaganda that celebrates their conquest 950 years ago. By contrast, the last French president to visit Britain had a pint of warm beer with David Cameron in a pub and no one noticed. A similarly discombobulated dynamic can be seen in European equity markets, where years of pessimism have...

    0
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    The Five Big Bond Market Questions

    With 10-year US treasury yields near the point of breaking out above their 2017 high of 2.6%, financial commentators around the world have suddenly become obsessed with a single question: Have bonds finally entered a bear market, after the multi-decade bull trend that started back in October 1981, when the 10-year yield peaked at 15.8%?

    0
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    Don’t Fear The End Of The Bond Bull Market

    Bond bears have been given succor in the opening days of 2018. First the Bank of Japan trimmed buying of long-dated Japanese government bonds, indirectly causing 10-year treasury yields to surge to 2.6%. Then European Central Bank policymakers were yesterday shown to be bulled up on the state of the eurozone recovery. On the face of it, central banks seem to be whistling a very different tune. In fact, it is investors who have caught up with...

    1
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    Spending Again In Germany

    Picture the typical German consumer. The image that comes to mind is almost certainly of a deeply conservative individual: cautious, thrifty in his or her spending habits, and with a deep-seated aversion to maxing out the credit card. As with most stereotypes, this one has some foundation in experience. But like many, it also looks increasingly out of date. While Germany’s booming export sector has got most of the attention recently, it is...

    1
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    France: Believe The Hype

    A basic assumption among Anglo-Saxon investors has been that France, for all its nice food, good wine and smart infrastructure, was the unreformable economy. Then Emmanuel Macron came along promising to fix things, duly got elected president, orchestrated a thumping parliamentary majority and actually began to deliver on promises.

    1
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    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.

    4
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    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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    German Overheating? No, Eurozone Rebalancing

    In early November, Germany’s Council of Economic Experts, a panel of five heavyweights that advises the government, declared there were clear signs that Europe’s largest economy was running above potential and at risk of overheating. Three weeks later inflation data showed that consumer prices rose by a faster than expected 1.8% year-on-year in October, up from 1.5% in September, with the core ex-energy and food inflation rate also surprising to...

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    The Persistence Of European Political Risk

    This was supposed to be the year that European political risk was laid to rest by the spring defeats of populist Euro-skeptic parties in the Dutch and French elections. But as 2017 draws to a close, anyone glancing at the headlines from Europe is likely to come away with the impression that reports of the demise of political risk were ludicrously premature. A rundown of this week’s news, from today’s regional election in Catalonia, through...

    2
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    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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    Where Has Eurozone Inflation Gone?

    The eurozone’s recovery continues, but all is not proceeding quite as expected. At its meeting last week, the European Central Bank’s governing council raised its forecasts for eurozone growth over the next two years to reflect the single currency area’s strengthening cyclical upswing. But while growth is accelerating, inflation remains largely missing in action, with the ECB last week revising down its forecasts for core inflation.

    0
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    No Full English Brexit In The EU’s Roach Motel

    Full English Brexit is off the menu. When Theresa May rushed into the Café Berlaymont at 6:00am last Friday, all that was left on the menu was an over-priced double espresso with a side of Irish bacon. When she returned to Brussels yesterday, after losing a crucial parliamentary vote on her Brexit policy, the only new item on the menu was a large slice of humble pie.

    2
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    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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    Towards ECB Stealth Tightening?

    As the eurozone’s economy picks up, the European Central Bank finds itself facing a dilemma. In order not to freak out financial markets and push long-dated yields sharply higher, which could threaten to trigger a new financial crisis, it has promised to continue its quantitative easing program of asset purchases until at least September 2018, and not to raise policy rates until well after the end of those purchases. Yet as inflationary...

    4
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    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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    What the US Yield Curve Really Says

    Since 1968, the US economy has suffered seven recessions, each preceded by an inversion of the yield curve. It thus makes sense to ask if such an upending of the link between time and interest is necessary for a recession to occur. A follow-on question might be whether a recession cannot happen so long as the yield curve shape is “normal”. With the US yield curve flattening by the day Charles seeks to answer these questions.

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    Turning The Page On The Eurocrisis

    You can be forgiven for having missed yesterday’s not so momentous news that Portugal’s finance minister Mario Centeno is taking over the presidency of the Eurogroup of finance ministers. Yet, look a little closer and this switch may, in fact, signify the end of the eurocrisis and a move onto the next phase of eurozone development.

    3
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    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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    Behind Eurozone Credit Growth

    The eurozone credit cycle is accelerating. Data released yesterday showed loans to non-financial companies grew at 2.9% YoY in October, the fastest rate since June 2009, while loans to households were up 2.7% YoY for the third month running. The pick-up in lending to private businesses bodes well for eurozone growth and markets next year, with respondents to the European Central Bank’s bank lending survey indicating that investment and...

    0
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    Fake Brexit? Or No Brexit?

    The British economy since the Brexit referendum is often likened to the suicide jumper who leaps off a 20-storey building, shouting “so far, so good” as he falls past the 10th floor. This comparison is unfair to suicides. The real message about economic performance from the government’s annual budget statement yesterday was “so far, so bad”. While a minority of economists and investors—plus a large majority of Conservative politicians—share...

    10
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    Gavekal Research

    New York Seminar — November 2017

    At Gavekal's November seminar in New York Louis Gave, Arthur Kroeber, Cedric Gemehl and Anatole Kaletsky presented their macro outlooks and investment recommendations.

    0
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    Investing For Constrained Insurers

    At Gavekal we have a sizable number of European Union insurance companies among our clients. Over the last three months, I have visited more than a few of them to outline my current investment recommendations, for example that investors should buy the Japanese stock market. Typically in these meetings, the investors have listened carefully and then regretfully shaken their heads, saying: “I’m afraid we can’t do it—for regulatory reasons”.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Who Needs A Government?

    What would it take to make you put more risk on the table in the final month of a year that has generally produced decent investment returns? It helps to have a synchronized global economic recovery that relies on multiple engines of growth and a US-tested monetary policy framework that seems to work as advertised. Yet the potential for disappointment, starting with US tax reform, appears to be growing. Add to that list an outbreak of political...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    How Much Slack In The Eurozone?

    It is a core contention of the bullish view on Europe espoused by Anatole and Cedric that the eurozone’s recovery is running four or five years behind the US economic cycle and that there is still plenty of slack left in the eurozone economy. But is there really as much as the bulls believe?

    2
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    Asset Allocation For The Global Bull Market

    On Monday Anatole outlined his fundamental reasons to believe that the world is enjoying a global bull market that still has years to run. Today he reviews the investment recommendations that flow from his thesis, and examines how investors can best play the unprecedented divergence of the US business cycle from the cycles in Europe and the emerging markets.

    2
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    Too Much Forward Guidance?

    It should be an ideal environment for equity investors. Europe yesterday published stronger than expected growth figures for the third quarter, with German GDP expanding 2.8% YoY, and even laggard Italy growing 1.8%. That performance raises the possibility of faster earnings growth even as the European Central Bank is proposing to stretch out its stimulative asset purchases through the third quarter of next year and keep interest rates in...

    0
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    Brexit, The Pound And UK Stocks

    When it comes to Brexit, I suspect that one of the few things about which Anatole and I agree is that the negotiations between London and Brussels have so far bordered on the farcical, and that the internal squabbling within the UK’s governing Conservative Party has hardly been conducive to raising the tone. Beyond that we part company. Anatole believes the Brexit talks are approaching a critical juncture for investors in UK assets—a view he...

    3
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    This Is (Still) Not A Peak: It’s A Global Bull Market

    It was almost five years ago that Anatole started to shout loudly that the US equity market had achieved a clear breakout from its more than decade long bear market trading range. His advice has been to stick with the trend. In light of this year’s near across-the-board upward moves in risk assets globally, it would be tempting to back away from this positioning. However, in this piece he argues that the bull market is now going global and so it...

    3
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    Contradictory Signals On US Corporate Credit Risk

    US high-yield spreads have widened by 39bp over the last three weeks. Nevertheless, by long term historical standards, they remain exceptionally tight, indicating that the bond market is pricing in remarkably little US corporate credit risk. That message is at odds with the tale being told by the US equity market, which is signaling that corporate credit risk is on the rise. Only one of them can be correct. There are good reasons to think it may...

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    The Truth About Euro-Dollar

    At the time of writing, a five-year zero coupon treasury bond is priced at about 90 while a comparable German zero sells for 101.9. This absurdity reflects the fact that for all the talk of incipient European inflation, German five-year yields are still negative. Hence a fellow buying-to-hold such a German bond today is guaranteed to lose money, at least in euro terms.

    5
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    A Brave New, New World?

    The traffic has been one-way. Since mid-August, the Philly semiconductors index is up 23%, the Nikkei 225 by 18%, the S&P energy index by 14% and the S&P materials index by 10%. In other words, all “deep-cyclicals” and “price monetizers” are ripping higher. So what to make of this?

    2
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    The Pain In Spain

    To date, the situation in Catalonia reminds that a political imbroglio does not have to morph into an economic crisis. It all depends on the context. Recent data shows that Spain’s economy has broadly shrugged off the secession drama being played out in Barcelona and Madrid.

    0
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    Keep Calm And Suck It Up

    The Bank of England is expected to turn tail today by raising interest rates for the first time in a decade. What follows is a particular worry for homeowners, who since 2008 have seen interest payments on mortgages fall by as much as -95% due to 550bp of rate cuts. After all, the specter of a disorderly Brexit looms, businesses are threatening to move out of the UK and economic growth has slowed to a miserly 1.5%. I am relaxed about this...

    0
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    Debating The Eurozone Recovery

    Over the last two years, Nick and Cedric have held similar views about the eurozone’s economic situation. In recent months, however, they have started to diverge on whether this framework still describes Europe’s situation. The upshot is that while Cedric is bulled up, Nick has begun to think the recovery is running out of road.

    2
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    Tapering Without The Tantrum

    Mario Draghi yesterday confirmed the European Central Bank’s decision to opt for a “slower for longer” approach to winding down its quantitative easing program of asset purchases. His announcement outlined a threefold approach to ECB tapering:

    0
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    The Curious Case Of European Optimism

    This weekend saw Madrid announce emergency measures over Catalonia, upping the chance of a declaration of independence being made in Barcelona. Yet despite the worst Spanish political crisis since the 80s, markets have mostly shrugged. After eight years viewing all glasses as half-empty, investors in eurozone assets have since the Brexit vote seemingly turned into congenital optimists.

    1
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    The (Austrian) Empire Strikes Back

    The weekend’s news hardly bolsters confidence that Europe’s technocrats are in competent command of the continent’s political situation. In Spain, hundreds of thousands took to the street to protest central government rule over Catalonia. Meanwhile in unofficial referendums, millions of citizens in two of Italy’s wealthiest regions voted overwhelmingly in favor of greater political and fiscal autonomy from Rome.

    6
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    Experiences, Not Things

    It is a core Gavekal belief that good money management is more about “avoiding losers” than “picking winners”. Yet sell-side research focuses almost entirely on identifying winners. This leaves an avenue for a small, independent firm like ours to lean the other way and help clients identify “losers”.

    27
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    Why A Jamaican Outcome Is Best

    Electoral math says there is little alternative in Germany to a “Jamaica coalition” and Angela Merkel has made it clear this is her plan. Investors are unimpressed and have pushed the euro lower on worries that a government comprised of Christian Democrats, Liberals and Greens augurs a more nativist Germany that will turn away from its European partners, and in particular a certain eager beaver in Paris. My initial reaction to the election...

    2
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    How To Play A Vertiginous Europe

    Led by Germany, the latest hard European economic data yesterday came in strong pretty much across the board. And with Catalonia’s regional government seemingly stepping back from the brink in its stand-off with Madrid, the euro managed to move higher. So how best to play the European economic recovery—from the inside or the outside?

    1
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    Buying The British Bluff

    You have to admire the British for the hand they are playing with Brussels over Brexit negotiations. Press attention may be focused on infighting within the governing Conservative Party, but the key losers in this game of bluff are European Union negotiators, who face the technocratic horror of not knowing who is calling the shots back in London. Far from leaving the British team emasculated, this stance allows it to effectively duck out of...

    10
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    An Odd Bull Market

    When supermarket checkout clerks lecture their customers on the merits of leveraged ETFs, investors can be forgiven for thinking the bull market has finally passed its “shoeshine boy” moment. But although there is no shortage of late cycle indicators out there, Louis argues that for several reasons, the current run-up may still have further to go.

    12
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    The Trouble With Eurozone ROEs

    Economic sentiment in the eurozone is riding high, probably too high. The European Commission’s industrial and consumer confidence indexes are each close to the peaks they recorded in 2000 and 2007. Such high levels suggest overconfidence rather than rational expectations. Moreover, as far as investors are concerned, there are good reasons to be skeptical about the potential of European equity markets to outperform—largely to do with the...

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    The Rather Lame US Dollar Rally

    The year is far from over but when the time does come to close the books, it seems likely that the sudden weakness of the US dollar this year will count as one of 2017’s biggest surprises. Most investors started the year with a distinct bullish bias on the dollar, and a consequent bearish bias against emerging markets (an outlook we did not share, see for example our January 19 piece Trump’s Declarations On The Dollar). However, instead of...

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    The Catalan Question And The Future Of Europe

    Yesterday the world was treated to the unedifying sight of the national police of a democratic state using violence in an attempt to prevent peaceful crowds of citizens from voting. If any investors still believed that the electoral defeat of the far right earlier this year in the Netherlands and the election of Emmanuel Macron in France had resolved the structural forces working to fragment the European Union, yesterday’s footage from the...

    5
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    The Return Of Alpha?

    This week’s obsession seems to be whether the big reflation trade is back on, heralding a shift in the investment environment. Louis will address this question in a piece to be sent later today, but it is worth noting another important morphing of the investment milieu: that actively managed funds are handily outperforming passive index funds.

    2
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    The German Election And Macron's Speech

    Somewhat incongruously, French President Emmanuel Macron yesterday delivered a grand new vision of a federalist European Union less than 48 hours after German voters had offered two fingers up to such solutions. Louis applauds Macron for focusing on the logic demanded by the single currency system, but wonders if he may be whistling in the wind as Berlin turns its head eastward.

    4
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    Better Than It Looks In Germany

    Headline writers seem unsure whether to laud Angela Merkel for winning a likely fourth term as German chancellor, or dub her a lame duck amid a fractured political landscape. With the Social Democratic Party (SPD) polling just 20%, it is clear that the implosion of center-left continental parties continues apace, while the stellar performance of an avowedly far-right party shows that populism remains a potent force. My bet, however, is that the...

    1
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    May’s Misguided Brexit Speech

    Listening to Theresa May’s speech last week in Florence, Charles thought the British prime minister sounded like an unfaithful wife attempting to achieve an amicable separation from the husband she cuckolded. Her approach is mistaken. May’s interlocutors in Brussels cannot be mollified with promises of continued affection. They are ideologues, and they are out to punish the UK for daring to challenge their ideology.

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