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    Gavekal Research

    GaveKal Daily - The Impressive Contraction in Volatility

    One of the more amazing features of the performance in equity markets this year has been the continued lack of volatility. Investors who had placed bets on the VIX as a hedge against potential ‘black swan’ events must by now be wondering why they bothered. After all, we have recently witnessed: a) a tragedy in the world’s third-largest economy with consequent disruptions on global supply chains (e.g., the -2.2% contraction in March Japanese...

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    The Outlook for US Structural Growth

    The US economy is at a crossroads. On the one hand, conditions are ripe for a new, capex-led leg-up to the recovery, thanks to strong corporate profitability and robust balance sheets. Yet uncertainties still cloud the outlook for entrepreneurs, particularly concerning government crowd-out and risky monetary policy.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Magic Mountain: China's Public Debt

    One of the persistent concerns about China’s recent boom is that it has been financed by excessive debt, and that this debt burden will trigger a fiscal or financial crisis. The concern is heightened because the complex and opaque structure of China’s government borrowing makes it very hard to figure out the true scale of the state’s liabilities. These are certainly far larger than the official figure for central government treasury debt, which...

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    GaveKal Daily - The Reserve Currency and the S&P Warning

    Back in May 2009, S&P placed its AAA rating for the UK on negative watch for a possible downgrade, in effect putting the UK government on notice that its proposed policy path was unsustainable. Then in October 2010, after the UK took aggressive deficit-slashing measures, S&P revised the UK outlook from negative to stable and maintained the country’s AAA rating.

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    An Aging Dividend for Korean Stocks?

    Like many other Asian countries, South Korea faces the demographic challenge of a rising dependency ratio and the peaking of its working-aged population (see chart). The country’s so-called “1958 Year of The Dog Generation”— equivalent to Japan’s “Dankai Generation”, but about 10 years younger as Korean baby boomers were born after the Korean War—will gradually start retiring in the next 10 years. It seems reasonable to expect the Korean economy...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    DragonWeek - Q1 2011 Data

    DragonWeek: An opinionated weekly guide to China's economic news

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    Gavekal Research

    Marshallian K & Hong Kong Property

    Back in the days before the big TMT bull market, many investors focused on central bank liquidity to get an idea of where asset markets would be heading. Basically, the idea was to follow broad monetary aggregates—if the M2 was rising, then asset markets would move up 12-18 months later, and vice-versa.

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    Gavekal Research

    An Aging Dividend for Korean Stocks?

    Like many other Asian countries, South Korea faces the demographic challenge of a rising dependency ratio and the peaking of its working-aged population (see chart). The country’s so-called “1958 Year of The Dog Generation”— equivalent to Japan’s “Dankai Generation”, but about 10 years younger as Korean baby boomers were born after the Korean War—will gradually start retiring in the next 10 years. It seems reasonable to expect the Korean economy...

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    Gavekal Research

    China Equities: Why We Don’t Expect A Rally Buying The Rally

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    More to Come for China Tightening

    High inflation and continued rapid GDP growth in the first quarter have cleared the way for further monetary tightening in China, through interest rate hikes, increases in reserve requirements (RRR) and continued currency appreciation. Premier Wen Jiabao himself said as much before the 1Q11 data was even published late last week, telling the State Council that the government needs to “continue to implement a stable monetary policy and not...

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    Gavekal Research

    Central Banks Pass the Parcel

    Despite successive rounds of tightening by many countries in the region, Asian central banks largely remain way behind the curve, with robust monetary aggregates and, in many cases, negative real interest rates. But given that the Fed has failed to lead by example in tightening, countries that should be reining in capital further have become hesitant and reluctant to tighten too fast, on fears of inviting destabilizing inflows and driving their...

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    GaveKal Daily - A Rising Political Backlash Against EMU Bailouts?

    Since Mrs. Merkel’s promise of ‘unconditional support’ made at Davos earlier this year, systemic risk across Europe appeared to be on the decline (see A Fragmentation of the PIIGS). However, as every investor knows by now, peace in financial Europe has lately been as stable as Middle-Eastern politics—and so, just when the market starts to price in the likelihood of a solution to the European fiscal mess, local politics usually rears its head to...

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    GaveKal Daily - Is There a Way Around the Malthusian Roadblock?

    Viewed from a global perspective, one could characterize the Fed’s aggressively dovish monetary policy as a ‘Game of Chicken’ with the emerging market surplus countries. In this game, the US$ continues to decline, and commodities continue to rise, and the loser is the first country to give. The US would throw in the towel by raising interest rates to spare its economy the pain of rising energy prices; the surplus countries would cry uncle by...

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    GaveKal Daily - Banks, Rates and Policy Risks in Korea

    There are many reasons the Bank of Korea chose to keep interest rates on hold yesterday, including, of course, fears of further currency appreciation after a +7.2% jump in the KRW/USD since December, plus a +7.1% jump against the currency of its arch-competitor Japan. However, yesterday’s news that Sambu Construction went into court receivership reminds us another reason for the BoK’s dovishness—namely, stress in the Korean financial system....

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    China And Indonesia: Together At The Coal Face

    China’s ravenous demand for natural resources, prompted initially by post-financial crisis stimulus spending and now by the knock-on effects of high economic growth, has helped forge stronger economic integration between China and its neighbors in southeast Asia. One of the most striking examples is the relationship with Indonesia, where a complex set of trade and investment ties are now emerging, led by China’s need for high-quality Indonesian...

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    GaveKal Daily - What if Dollar Weakness Isn't Just About the Fed?

    We witnessed an interesting duel of sorts yesterday between two powerful central bankers—the ECB’s Jurgen Stark and the Fed’s William Dudley. Speaking at a dinner event in Hong Kong, Stark dominated the evening by delivering a series of well-aimed blows to the Fed’s monetary philosophy. He pointed out, for example, that “certain developed-world central banks” seem to have failed to abide by lessons learned in the 1970s—namely, that price...

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    GaveKal Daily - It's Time for the Banking Subsidy to End

    There has been a lot of talk about when the period of extreme profitability for US companies will inevitably come to an end, as all good things apparently must. Indeed, some in the industry have unofficially named 2011 as the Year When Margins Will Get Clipped. Unfortunately, there are signs that this trend is already underway. A close look at broad-based 4Q10 earnings shows that, with the exception of financial companies, profits have already...

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    Gavekal Research

    Revisiting the Rumors of Tech-Sector Fizz

    Only months ago we commented on the bubble alarm bells tripped by Goldman’s investment in Facebook which valued the company at US$50bn (over 12x 2011’s projected US$4bn in ad revenue)—that valuation is now reportedly hovering somewhere north of US$85bn, based on private secondary market transactions. And with private enterprise firms Bessemer (Skype), IDG and Accel (Baidu, Tencent) having just recently raised a combined US$2.9bn to funnel into...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    DragonWeek - Industrial Profits & Inflation

    DragonWeek: An opinionated weekly guide to China's economic news

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    Gavekal Research

    Where the Fed Stands on its Mandates

    When Bernanke took the job as Chairman of the Fed, he took on the legal mandate "to promote effectively the goals of maximum employment, stable prices, and moderate long-term interest rates." While the desirability of these multiple mandates is debatable, one can see why, in 2008-09, the Fed Chairman felt compelled to aggressively cut rates and buy long-term MBS and UST. Bank loans were contracting, unemployment soaring, CPIs and price...

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