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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    AMCs Are Back: More, Smaller, Shadier

    As the bad loans of China’s banks mount, many wonder how the government will deal with the problem. In the 1990s, four big asset management companies led the bank cleanup, and recently a new crop of smaller local AMCs has emerged. Yet these AMCs do not seem to be helping banks resolve bad loans, but instead are helping them hide problem debts.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Making Sense Of The Rally In Cyclicals

    By all accounts, 2016 has so far proved to be a challenging year for “market neutral” funds, and “smart beta” strategies, along with various quant funds. Before we have even reached the seasonally-challenging part of the year—sell in May and go away, and all that—a quick glance at year-to-date returns for “low volatility” hedge funds illustrates that the pain is pretty widespread. In a sense, this is surprising; after all, spreads are tighter...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Gavekal Monthly: Glass Half Full Or Glass Half Empty?

    The past month has seen the US dollar seemingly top out, the oil price settle into a trading range and China’s economic outlook stabilize. Emerging markets in particular have bolted higher despite weak global trade, an oversupplied commodity complex and worries about high levels of leverage. In this edition of The Gavekal Monthly we ask a pressing question for EM investors: is the glass now half full, or half empty?

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Future Of China’s Oil Demand (II)

    Stockpiling has become a key driver of China’s crude oil imports, as Beijing builds up its strategic petroleum reserve and as state-owned oil companies add to their own inventories. But constraints on the capacity to store these stockpiles mean that this boost to oil imports will likely stall within the next two to three years.

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    Gavekal Research

    Asian Plowshares Into Swords

    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe invested time and prestige in a failed bid to supply Australia with 12 new attack submarines and service them for the next 50 years. It was announced yesterday that the approximate US$38bn contract was scooped by a rival French bidder due to its technical competence, but also after a strong lobbying effort by China which does not want to see a resurgent Japanese defense sector. Canberra’s decision represents a...

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  • Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Future Of China’s Oil Demand (I)

    While China’s demand for coal and other basic commodities has gone into decline, its consumption of crude oil has continued to climb. Rosealea projects the GDP intensity of different oil products to conclude that China’s demand for crude oil is set to continue rising over the next five years, despite the slowdown in many sectors of the economy.

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    Gavekal Research

    The End Of Asian Equity Market Underperformance?

    With Asian equities having underperformed their global equivalents by almost 40% since 2011, the past five years have not been much fun for regional investors. Encouragingly, however, just as the panic over a possible China currency crisis and economic implosion reached its apex last summer, Asia’s underperformance seems to have abated. Over the following eight month period or so, Asian equities have held their own with a number posting decent...

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    How Long Can This Keep Going On?

    Has China salvaged growth only by inflating a housing bubble? How much tolerance the government has for a surge in housing prices and mortgage debt is a crucial question for judging how long the new construction cycle can last. History suggests the price gains are now strong enough for the government to start cooling things down at the margin.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Sum Of All Fears

    As “China implosion” and renminbi devaluation fears have faded, risk assets around the world have enjoyed a sustained a rally led by “China sensitive” assets such as commodities, Asian equities and emerging market high-yield debt. In short, all the assets that were priced for a scenario just short of Armageddon. But following this rebound, what next? The most obvious point is that, with the pick-up in fiscal stimulus, the rebound in construction...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    A Regional Guide To The Property Recovery

    The rebound in real-estate investment is behind China’s growth stabilization, but flies in the face of still-high inventories of unsold housing. The regional pattern is very mixed: some genuine improvement, and a lot of government stimulus. Construction in 2016 will be better than expected, but the lack of destocking will drag on future growth.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Jaws Begin To Close

    China’s growth divergence in 2015 was dramatic. But that divergence is narrowing in 2016, with industry picking up as services slow. While markets have welcomed the stabilization, it’s largely the result of short-term stimulus—and it’s also becoming harder to tell a positive story about the “good” growth drivers of services and consumption.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Oil’s Busted Flush

    Buoyant expectations that the world’s major oil producers could agree a production freeze when they meet in Doha on Sunday have helped push the price of crude to a four-month high this week. The international Brent blend benchmark reached just shy of US$45/bbl, up 66% from its late January low of US$27, with at least some brokerage houses predicting the price could breach US$50 in the event of a deal. Maybe—but forecasts that the crude price...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The End Of Deflation Is Nigh

    China’s growth slowdown has been much worse in nominal terms than in real terms—and often, nominal matters more. So it is good news that both consumer and producer price indexes are picking up in early 2016. And even if commodity prices do no rally further, China’s GDP deflator is likely to turn positive by the second half of this year.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    From Black Hole To Muddling-Through

    Over the past few months, sentiment towards China has shifted dramatically. Fears that China was a black hole at the heart of the global financial system have morphed into mild optimism, as growth indicators have stabilized. There remain plenty of longer-term problems, but muddling through rather than collapse is the likely scenario for 2016.

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    Gavekal Research

    Debt Swaps Are No Panacea For China

    To help troubled borrowers, China’s government is embracing debt-for-equity swaps. But while such swaps will reduce the burden on indebted companies and avoid an abrupt deleveraging, they will also load more stress onto bank balance sheets. Beijing will still eventually have to come up with a workable plan to recapitalize banks; this is not it.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ Q1 2016 - Powerhouse, Menace, Or The Next Japan?

    Two popular narratives about China are that it will either reform its economy and become the next superpower, or fall victim to a dramatic financial crisis. There is a third and perhaps more likely scenario: gradual stagnation, along the lines of 1990s Japan.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ Q1 2016 - China's Impending Minsky Moment

    The Chinese authorities have given up even trying to geta handle on the country’s spiralling debt problem.This means that a financial crisis and severe growth downturn are likely by 2020.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ Q1 2016 - The Fall Of Productivity And The Rise Of Debt

    Productivity of capital is falling, and debt is rising. Does this mean China is headed for low-growth, high-debt stagnation? Not necessarily. Economy-wide returns on capital remain solid; the biggest problems are an inefficient state enterprise sector, and excessive infrastructure debt. Strong state enterprise reforms could enable growth to stabilize at a high level.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ Q1 2016 - Excess Capacity, Zombie Companies, And Debt Deflation

    The story goes that excess capacity and debt-ridden ‘zombie companies’ will drag down China’s economy. But the problems are mainly confined to steel, coal, and other construction-related industries—and are less dire than in the 1990s. A long, slow restructuring is possible, though perhaps not ideal.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ Q1 2016 - What We Learned From The Stock Market Crash

    The mess that are China’s stock markets cost securities regulator Xiao Gang his job in early 2016. Sacking him was the easy task. The real work remains to be done if the country’s financial markets are ever to fulfil a real role as an allocator of capital.

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