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E.g., 14-11-2018
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    Gavekal Research

    The Politics (And Economics) Of A Multi-Polar Europe

    This weekend’s election in Bavaria saw voters deal parties in Germany’s ruling coalition a bruising rebuff that further erodes Merkel’s authority and effectively kills off Macron’s plan for the EU to integrate at a faster pace. In light of such a changed environment, Nick and Cedric introduce a new framework to explain how political bargaining will work in an increasingly multi-polar Europe.

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    A UK Consumer Reckoning

    This week saw the release of moderately good news for the Brexit-bound UK economy, as wages rose the most in almost three years. With inflation moderating, real incomes have edged higher, giving hope that consumption can again fire up growth. The problem is that the UK—like the US—increasingly displays late cycle characteristics, as shown by a tight labor market and falling profit growth.

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    The Next Phase Of Eurozone Reform

    During last year’s French presidential election, Emmanuel Macron opened a debate by asking “what do we want to do with the euro?” His answer was more political integration and burden sharing. Those plans must get traction at the June 28-29 meeting of European Union leaders if they are not to be crowded out by a likely messy end to the Brexit process and next year’s European Parliament elections. Right now, this seems a long shot and attention...

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    Five Ways To Play European Equities

    After a traumatic couple of weeks in the equity markets, Nick and Cedric take this opportunity to revisit their longstanding advice that investors should overweight European mid-caps exposed to the eurozone’s cyclical upturn. As they explain in this report, that call still holds, and they suggest three sectors where investors should look to buy the dip, and two that portfolio managers would do well to avoid.

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    When Political Stagnation Is Benign

    Last week, European economic affairs commissioner Pierre Moscovici declared Italy a “political risk” for the European Union. Some of the Euroskeptic campaign rhetoric has certainly been alarming. But in this paper Nick and Cedric delve into Italy’s electoral arithmetic to conclude that no incoming government is likely to have the will or capability to act on such combative promises.

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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...

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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?

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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.

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    A Somewhat Changed Germany

    After recent high-drama elections in the US, France and Britain, Germany’s national democratic exercise has been a relative snooze-fest. On Sunday, Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union grouping should comfortably win the biggest slice of the vote and the coalition building will start. There are, however, reasons to think that Merkel could attempt to strike out on her own.

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    Testing Europe’s Escape Velocity

    The eurozone has exited the emergency room and is looking to sustain a recovery that takes it back to rude health. T Last year’s Chinese stimulus helped spur the latest eurozone pickup and the worry is that recent weakness in both Chinese and German trade data points to an external weakening. So could a stronger euro and slowing China spark another setback?

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    Italy: Stuck At The Back Of The Peloton

    In the Tour de France, the cyclists at the back of the peloton benefit enormously by riding in the slipstream of stronger competitors at the front of the pack. That’s fine for most of the time, but when the leaders stage a breakaway, the weaker riders can struggle to maintain the pace.

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    A Hard Road Ahead For Italy’s Banks

    The eurozone’s rising tide is floating Italy’s boat. Earlier this month, the national statistics agency revised the country’s first quarter growth up from 0.2% on the previous quarter to 0.4%, marking nine consecutive quarters of economic expansion. This equals the longest stretch of continuous growth since the mid-1990s. What’s more, with unemployment down steeply to a five-year low of 11.1% in April and the composite PMI at a buoyant 55.2, the...

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    A New Franco-German Axis

    For the last decade, pretty much every politician who counted in France has spoken of the European Union in scathing terms. That is likely to change on Sunday if the pro-integrationist Emmanuel Macron confirms poll forecasts and scores a resounding win in the French presidential election. His upbeat belief in federal solutions to Europe’s structural problems will not just change the discourse, but according to Nick could renew the Franco-German...

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    Playing The Eurozone Recovery

    For the first time in years you don’t have to be a swivel-eyed loon to think the eurozone has a fairly bright economic future. Growth is broadening, deepening and frankly becoming less newsworthy. The wrinkle is political tail risk, but we think this threat is containable.

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    The Italian Debt Trap Jaws Tighten

    In the middle ages Venice thrived as the economic, artistic and intellectual leader of the Mediterranean. By 1500 it was in retreat, but the roots of that decline dated to a 1286 decision by the city state’s governing council to vest power in the hands of 40 great families which dominated the trading economy. The cycle of innovation that had driven the “Queen of the Adriatic” ebbed as special interests gradually captured the system.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Lady Is Not For Turning

    As she kicked off her general election campaign this week, Angela Merkel declared that Germany “had never had it so good”. The economy is humming so nicely that Germany’s council of economic advisors recently warned about overheating. This would seem to rule out a fiscal stimulus, which conflicts with Brussels’ policy of engineering a more expansionary fiscal environment.

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    Gavekal Research

    Video: European Political Dominos

    In the aftermath of the Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s win in the US presidential election, attention has shifted to the eurozone with the assumption that more dominos must topple under the gathering populist political wave. In this video interview Nick considers the good, the bad and the ugly of the European political scene and offers pointers for navigating these risks.

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    Gavekal Research

    Renzi’s Great Gamble

    Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has bet his premiership on a referendum over constitutional reform. It is a high stakes gamble. Renzi’s promise to step down if there is a “No” vote has turned the referendum into a vote of confidence in the government, its Europhile policies, and Italy’s membership of the eurozone itself.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Way Ahead For Italian Banks

    On Friday, the European Banking Authority will publish the results of its 2016 stress tests. Although 51 banks from across the European Union have been tested, attention will focus most closely on the results of the five Italian banks covered. With Italy’s banking system widely identified as the most likely locus of a new eurozone crisis, bankers, politicians and investors are all hoping for the “best” likely result. This would see all the banks...

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    The German Consumer Lives

    By most measures, the eurozone remains unbalanced, with a competitive north eating the lunch of a productivity-challenged Latin periphery. Germany’s current account surplus stands at 8.6% of GDP and its banks are stuffed with excess deposits, suggesting that thrift remains the Teutonic economic passion of choice. Yet look closer at Germany and it is clear that domestic demand, not exports, is driving growth—household spending accounted for about...

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    Gavekal Research

    Eurozone Reform Update 2016

    Last February we published a detailed score card of the structural reform efforts undertaken by Europe’s battered peripheral economies (see Assessing ‘Thatcherite-Keynesianism’). The last year has seen small improvements, but not enough change to warrant another box-ticking exercise. Our assessment in 2016 mostly focuses on the key relationship between the labor markets and national competitiveness. Inevitably such changes are slow moving and in...

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    European Disunion

    The grand old men who conceived of a united states of Europe knew that a successful single currency demanded a modern federation with integrated monetary, fiscal and political institutions. Such a leap into the unknown was politically impossible in the 1990s, and their assumption (and perhaps hope) was that the less than optimal eurozone would suffer periodic crises, so creating the conditions for reform and a centralization of powers. Since the...

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    The Overlooked Risk In Italy

    What is the biggest threat to European stability this year? The continent’s migrant crisis? The chance that the British will vote in a referendum to leave the European Union? Or the danger of contagion from China’s slowing economy and fragile financial markets? All of these do pose risks, but it is possible that the greatest threat to Europe this year could come from a different quarter altogether: Italy’s banking sector. At first the danger...

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    Gavekal Research

    Drifting In The Mid-Atlantic

    On the one hand the United Kingdom looks to have similar dynamics to recovering European economies, where growth is picking up nicely even though deflationary pressure still looms—Britain’s headline CPI rate stands at -0.1% and real rates have swung positive from a low of -4.7%. Such a cautious view explains why the Bank of England offered a report last week whose dovishness surprised some. Yet, on the other hand mid-Atlantic Britain in many...

    4
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    Good Enough In Turkey

    Investors have welcomed last weekend’s victory of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) founded by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Turkey’s elections, with the lira and equities both rallying strongly. After June’s inconclusive poll failed to produce a workable government, the concern was that a country with huge economic, security and strategic challenges would become ungovernable. In this context, the election result was the best that...

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    Gavekal Research

    Good Enough In Turkey

    Investors have welcomed last weekend’s victory of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) founded by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Turkey’s elections, with the lira and equities both rallying strongly. After June’s inconclusive poll failed to produce a workable government, the concern was that a country with huge economic, security and strategic challenges would become ungovernable. In this context, the election result was the best that...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Italy’s Debt Trap Escape Bid

    Even though Italy has run primary surpluses for all but one of the last 20 years, public debt has ballooned to 133% of GDP, second only to Greece in the eurozone. Italy’s original profligacy dates to the 1980s, but the real issue has been an inability to bite the bullet on reform, which, according to the International Monetary Fund, has reduced potential economic growth to just 0.4%. The good news is that Italy seems to have woken up and smelt...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Gastarbeiter Redux

    The influx of hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers from war torn Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and parts of Africa has laid bare familiar divisions within the European Union. This week’s deal to relocate 120,000 more refugees from Greece and Italy on top of the 40,000 agreed in May starts to address the problem. Many multiples more are making the trip to Europe, but only one country—Germany—is promising to take large numbers. Commentators often...

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    Gavekal Research

    As The Crisis Ebbs, Will Europe Turn Japanese?

    The China-induced crisis of recent weeks was noteworthy for being a major global risk-off event that, for once, was not made in Europe. Indeed as markets crumbled on Monday the euro soared. Europe’s graduation from weak link to quasi safe haven is not so surprising given the patch-up job done on Greece and a gathering cyclical recovery—private sector credit growth in the eurozone for July was a fairly perky 0.7% YoY. The question is whether the...

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    Gavekal Research

    Europe's Democratic Divide

    Voters, it would seem, pose a clear and present danger to the eurozone. Syriza’s success in last weekend’s “Greferendum” shows there is only so much conventional medicine that electorates will take before looking for miracle cures. The party’s rise has mirrored the fall in Greek living standards since the financial crisis and the failure of Troika bailout packages to turn the country around. It has been useful to label Greece as “exceptional”...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Why Germany Is Not Turning Japanese

    Germany has economic problems that most countries would die for—low unemployment and steadily rising real wages mean that policymakers must respond to bottlenecks such as labor shortages (see Germany Normalizes). The longer-term worry is that these “gaps” will become permanent as high-growth Germany must also grapple with Japanese-style demographics. The fear is that its post-2010 expansion could be a swan song before the structural growth...

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    The Rebirth Of CEE Banking - Cedric Gemehl & Nick Andrews

    Who will benefit most from Europe’s extraordinary monetary easing? Will it be struggling giants such as Italy and France, or those lapping up liquidity on the fringes? Our contention is that Central and Eastern Europe is at the early stage of a “deflationary boom” while financial institutions have sufficiently recovered to transmit the European Central Bank’s quantitative easing program into credit expansion.

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    A Turning Point For Eurozone Bank Lending

    Is it too early to celebrate the green shoots of a eurozone recovery? Most recent data has been positive with retail sales expanding at the fastest rate since the early 2000s, PMIs signaling a broadening of growth to the struggling periphery and unemployment in most economies continuing to decline. Green shoots can easily wither in response to shocks or bad policy choices, but there is one good reason to think this recovery may have legs: bank...

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Assessing 'Thatcherite-Keynesianism'

    Talk of ‘Grexit’ again grips the eurozone. At stake is the legitimacy of a model of top-down economic management which uses bailout funds in a carrot-and-stick exercise to force through structural reform. The end game for Northern policymakers is to force the adoption of new practices and structures in the name of improved competitiveness. With the toughest fiscal constraints having been eased over the last year, this seems a good time to...

    0
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    Our Holiday Reading List

    For the third year we are publishing a year-end books round-up. The topics covered by the 17 books in our compendium include hardy Gavekal perennials such as economics, politics and the effect of technological transformation on modern life. In addition Charles considers ancient Rome’s decline due to its apparent embrace of socialism over liberalism. Louis kicks us off with a look at the roots of our most basic human urges.

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    Being Polish

    Having spent 50 years under the yoke of murderous fascists and then control-obsessed communists, Poland re-emerged in 1989 and embraced free market capitalism. It accepted the need for radical reform which had painful short term effects as inflation soared to almost 600% in 1990 while the economy shrank 14%. The payoff has been growth that since 1993 has averaged 4.3%, compared to 2.7% for a neighborhood group that includes Slovakia, Hungary,...

    4
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    Can The ECB's TLTROs Do The Job?

    With its latest round of easing measures unveiled last Thursday, the European Central Bank signalled its determination to intervene aggressively in order to stave off deflation and boost economic growth in the eurozone. The centrepiece of its strategy is its new Targeted Longer Term Refinancing Operations. By extending cheap fixed-rate funds to banks making loans to small and medium size businesses, the hope is that the new initiative will...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Healthy Man Of Europe

    In today’s Daily Louis argued that the eurozone investment environment may be undergoing a significant reversal as investors face up to the reality that southern economies are still mired in debt traps. Such a viewpoint would militate against a continued overweight position in European equities. Our European strategist and economist Francois will take issue with this proposition, but one European economic fact that cannot be disputed is the...

    0
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    Portugal Dashing For The Exit

    Even though Portuguese bonds have returned investors a 45% gain over the last year, this paper argues that they should stay long. The 10-year maturity still offers the second highest yield in the eurozone at about 3.65%. That amounts to a 220bp premium over bunds and 60bp above Spanish bonos. Although the dramatic improvement in European financial conditions stems largely from European Central Bank promises to support the euro system, Lisbon’s...

    0
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    The UK’s Monetary Policy Puzzle

    On Wednesday, the Bank of England announced a series of technical changes to its threshold guidance and with them a potentially significant shift in direction. Contrary to most investors’ take, the BoE’s Monetary Policy Committee looks to have swung back to a dovish position from an apparent tightening-bias adopted at its last inflation report. Moreover Governor Mark Carney has broken away from straightforward inflation targeting and embraced...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Eastern Europe's Convergence

    Investors are still forlornly awaiting a recovery in southern Europe, but in the eastern part of the continent, things are jumping. Well, relatively so anyway, with Eastern Europe’s larger economies seeing a much snappier revival of industrial activity than elsewhere. This discrepancy in economic performance is a reminder of southern Europe’s hopeless bind when it comes to competitiveness. Countries like Greece and Portugal may be in the same...

    0
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    Latam’s Free Marketers

    Outside of peripheral Europe and a handful of city states, Northeast Asia is the only region where rural backwaters have managed to develop into fully industrialized economies. For the most part, this ‘miracle’ was not achieved using the standard Washington prescription of open markets, liberalized financial systems and political pluralism. Indeed, rarely has the development nostrums promoted by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank...

    0
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    The Foothills Of Banking Union

    This month the European Central Bank embarks on what is being billed as a comprehensive stress test of the eurozone’s banking system. The year-long exercise is necessary to rebuild credibility in the banking supervisory regime after past tests were derided for their lack of stress. This is the first phase of a two-step process which should ultimately progress toward some form of banking union. But the immediate worry for investors is whether...

    1
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    Australia's Next Era

    Australia’s doomsayers love to focus on high foreign liabilities and household debt ratios, calling up the ghosts of America’s housing bust and emerging market sudden stops. Such risks are heavily overstated. With the opposition conservative coalition expected to win tomorrow’s national election, the new government’s greatest challenge will be to reverse a 15 year trend of deteriorating productivity growth and position Australia as a prime high-...

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