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    Gavekal Research

    Sweden’s Secret Sauce

    Sweden is a high-growth economy with competitive firms in everything from retailing to metal bashing to software. Yet, there is a time to be in Sweden—or at least overweight—and there are times to be out. Sweden and the US had two of the 20th century’s best performing equity markets and I will simplify this decision by measuring their relative attractiveness. Spoiler alert: this report has a positive recommendation.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    My Whole Career In One Chart

    My career in financial markets started in January 1971, half a year before Richard Nixon changed the basis of the post-WWII financial order by ending gold convertibility for US dollars. Hence, I thought that readers may be interested in a chart below that tells a simple story of those years, while also offering an asset allocation tool that for me has proven invaluable. In short, it is the story of running a balanced portfolio.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    German Ordo-liberalism vs French Keynesianism

    So I hear that happy days have returned to Europe’s single currency area as shown by improved purchasing manager readings. With German firms especially upbeat and a reassuring new fellow occupying the Élysée Palace, I understand that Berlin will soon roll over and allow a juicy fiscal expansion in return for France making its job market less rigid. I tend to be skeptical about such road-to-Damascus conversions.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Back To The Future

    Back in 1947, war was over but a ruined European economy needed full-scale reconstruction: the Marshall Plan. As I look at the way China is wooing its neighbors through its Belt and Road strategy and other economic and financial linkages, the approach looks like a remarkably effective “copy-and-paste” operation.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Who The French Will Not Vote For

    All the media commentary on the opinion polls ahead of the French presidential election concentrates on which candidates the electorate intends to vote for. This is the wrong way to analyze the current political situation in France. With just 10 days to go before the April 23 first round, readers should pay no attention whatsoever to the opinion polls. They are almost entirely meaningless: 40% of respondents say that they do not know who they...

    10
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    Gavekal Research

    E Pur Si Muove

    Back in early 2011, I argued that the adoption of abnormally low short-term interest rates (in real terms) always leads to a collapse in productivity, followed by a decline in the economy’s structural growth rate. Since late 2010 marked the transition from the acute phase of the financial crisis to something approaching normality, at least in the United States, it is worth examining the US experience in the ensuing period.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Regulating Complex Systems

    Everyone will surely agree that today’s financial system is sufficiently complicated and interconnected to qualify as a complex system.And regulating a complex system is by definition almost impossible, because it is in complex systems that Frédéric Bastiat’s observation that there is “what is seen and what is not seen” really comes into its own.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Where The French Center May Fail

    Just five weeks after the deciding second round of France’s presidential election, French voters go to the polls yet again. In another two-round ballot, to be held on successive Sundays in June, the French electorate will vote in a new lower house of parliament. The overwhelming consensus is that voters will choose a centrist in the presidential election. But if they do, their choice may well not allay France’s heightened political risk.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Time To Exit US Equities

    Over the last few months Charles has argued that the US stock market rally was running on fumes. In the intervening period, US equities have, of course, powered to new highs. He now says that for the first time since 2007 his valuation model definitively points to US equities being overvalued.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    A Structural Turn In Japan

    For more than a quarter of a century Japan has been a reliable source of disappointment for investors. After a nice little run-up late last year, a familiar pattern has emerged in 2017 as equities edge nervously sideways. Despite some evidence of Asia’s trading economy spluttering into life, Japan yesterday released surprisingly soft industrial production data for January. To top things off, the Wall Street Journal on the same day ran a...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    A Methodology For Playing The Eurozone Bond Markets

    In yesterday’s Daily, I argued that a long position in the French CAC 40 stock index, locally funded, versus a short position in Germany’s Dax offers investors a neat “heads I win, tails I don’t lose” hedge against a possible break-up of the euro driven by French politics (see It’s Time To Buy French Equities).

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    It’s Time To Buy French Equities

    As regular Gavekal readers may remember, I have always maintained that over the long run the returns delivered by two different stock markets— adjusted for exchange rate fluctuations and differences in pay-outs—must be the same. This is just another way of saying that in an open economy the returns on invested capital generated by well diversified stock markets have to be the same.

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    In Dutch With The Electorate

    There is a tendency to divide Europe into the “serious” beer drinkers of the north and the not so serious wine tipplers of the south. Using such a dichotomy reinforces a common assumption that trouble in modern day Europe always arrives from the Mediterranean regions. It explains why there is a cottage industry of politicos watching developments in Italy, Spain, France and Portugal, while precious little energy is expended on political goings on...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Choosing Between Disadvantages

    It was a record that Germany would rather not have announced, at least not this week. Yesterday official data showed that Europe’s über exporter racked up a current account surplus in 2016 of US$281bn versus a mere US$210bn for China. With the US running by far the largest offsetting deficit, such data means that the temperature between Washington and Berlin is likely to get hotter.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    The End Of The European Dream

    Back in 2002 I wrote a book, Lions Led By Donkeys, whose main point was that the euro’s adoption would kill the competitive and heterogeneous Europe that I so loved. It was prefaced by Milton Friedman who predicted that Europe was set to enter a period of rigor mortis. Fifteen years on and it is clear that Europe as a unitary concept is indeed dying.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Golden Rule Says Extend Duration

    Great economists are seldom top flight mathematicians. One exception was Maurice Allais, who won the Nobel Prize in 1988 for his “rigorous mathematical formulations of market equilibrium and the efficiency properties of markets”. Among his findings was his so-called “golden rule”, which states that over the long run, long term government bond yields always converge with the structural growth rate of the economy.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Real Political Risk In France

    There are many areas where Anatole and I agree to disagree. But one in which the two of us see eye to eye is the heightened influence political risk may have on markets this year. Consider France, where the political situation threatens to get complicated. The problem is not so much the presidential election, due to be held in two rounds in April and May, but the legislative elections set to be held a month later.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Dow 20,000 Conundrum

    The Trump trade continues. Yesterday the Dow Jones Industrial Average passed the magical 20,000 mark for the first time, with the S&P 500 closing at a record high just a whisker short of 2,300. I hate to be the one to douse the market’s high spirits with a bucket of cold water (well, I don’t really hate it), but sober analysis suggests that the current Trump-propelled rally is a fad that may soon fade.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Political Fiction

    European economic indicators have turned up in recent months, causing many investors to conclude that the eurozone’s banishment in the desert of economic stagnation is over, and the promised land of a normal recovery beckons. I am not convinced and judging by recent moves in the bond market, I’m wondering if the next eurozone crisis is already upon us.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Long Rates & The Velocity Of Money

    As Gavekal’s readers will be aware, much of my research is driven by a handful of powerful obsessions. Lately these have included my fixation with the euro as a weapon of mass destruction, and my determination to elucidate how the theories of the great 19th century economist Knut Wicksell apply to today’s economies and markets. In recent years these have, to some extent, displaced other pre-occupations, and I have done very little work on one of...

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