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    Gavekal Research

    Seek refuge In The US

    Markets have suffered a significant risk-off move in the last month. US equities have fallen as much as –3.8%; European stocks are down -6% in euro terms and –8% in US dollar terms, and government bonds have been bid up while credit spreads have widened. Readers are surely wondering what to do now: Buy the dip, or sell everything before this turns into a full-on bear market? Hold steady, or adjust portfolios? To answer these questions, we have...

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    The Fed And The Volatility Conundrum

    As investors digested the utterances from yesterday’s FOMC meeting, the broad US dollar index jumped a meaty 1%, gaining against every major currency. At first glance, such a volatile reaction seems odd. After all, the statement was an effective non-event—just another well telegraphed $10bn tapering of asset purchases, that leaves the Federal Reserve on course to end its quantitative easing program next month. If anything, this could have been...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The US Consumer Lives, Really

    Even as US real wage growth has picked up over the last 18 months, consumption spending has been slow to respond. The relatively weak state of the US consumer, once the irresistible force pulling along the global economy, has emboldened those advocating a ‘secular stagnation’ thesis. But is this really a fair analysis? The answer has a particular relevance as central bankers gather for the Federal Reserve’s annual Jackson Hole shindig and...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The US Growth Engine Sparks Into Life

    Second quarter US GDP growth came in encouragingly strong at 4% quarter-on-quarter annualized, much better than the expected 3%. At the same time the 1Q number was revised up to -2.1%. That’s up from -2.9%, but it’s still a contraction; so a strong 2Q reading was crucial to show the previous GDP number was just a blip and not the start of a slide into recession. But looking past the headlines, was this really a strong report?

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Next Phase Of The Rally

    With US equities making new highs and another earnings season now under way, it is a good time to remember that to be sustainable, a bull market should rest on three pillars: liquidity, valuations, and growth. At any given point in time, however, just one of the pillars is likely to be doing most of the load-bearing. Consider the current bull market. At the outset, central bank liquidity played the key role. Then last year was largely about...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Will The Fed Spoil The Party?

    With tapering set to consign quantitative easing to the history books before the end of this year, the burning question now is how long the US Federal Reserve will stick to its zero interest rate policy (ZIRP). The statement following this week’s two-day meeting is unlikely to tell us anything we don’t already know. But we will all listen to tomorrow’s press conference for any guidance on short term interest rate policy. The consensus is that...

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    The End Is In Sight For Zero US Rates

    US inflation is rebounding. Both goods and services prices increased in April, pushing the CPI up to 2% YoY after nearly a year below the Federal Reserve's target. Pressure is coming from housing rents and, lately, from the rebound in commodities. Businesses are also raising prices as wage growth squeezes margins, and better off consumers prove willing to pay more. This could be viewed as just the rebound in real activity and inflation that...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Time To Sell Treasuries

    The benchmark 10-year treasury yield has traded sideways in a range from 2.5% to 3% since the taper tantrum of last summer. Now it is threatening to break out on the downside. If you expect a collapse in yields, you should load up on bonds and sell everything else. We don’t.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Fat Margins, Thin Growth Prospects

    With more than 450 of the S&P 500’s constituents having reported first quarter earnings, investors were sufficiently happy with the outcome of the results season to bid the index up to a new record close of 1,897 on Monday. In aggregate, the story told by first quarter earnings was more of the same—extraordinary margins, but lackluster growth. As a result, the pessimists expecting a collapse in growth or a mean reversion in margins have been...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    What Ails The Dollar

    A curious brew of cheap money, a grinding cyclical recovery and “new economy” verisimilitude has helped drive Wall Street to new highs. And yet even as equity investors have scaled the wall of worry, the dollar has remained uninspired. The unit arguably started a structural upswing in 2008 but the recent performance has been lackluster with the DXY index at the bottom of its trading range.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Buy The Dip, With A 30y UST Hedge

    Imagine that a colleague has just returned from a one-month holiday and asks for an update. You start by telling him two things: 1) US consumer discretionary stocks have fallen -5% MoM; and 2) the yield on the 30-year US treasury bond broke below 3.5% last night, re-crossing that threshold for the first time since yields rose during the ‘taper tantrum’ last summer.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Making Sense Of Fed Talk & Actions

    Is the Federal Open Markets Committee playing games? Should we listen to what it says or watch what it does? Is it easing or tightening, dovish or hawkish? As the Fed moves from “all guns blazing” to a nuanced and gradual exit strategy, these questions are inevitable. We’ll do our best here to make sense of it all and chart the trajectory of US monetary policy.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    The US Consumer Must Lead

    Back in the depths of winter when the polar vortex was causing daily life in the US to grind to a halt, we looked forward to March and April data and mused that the US economy might rebound like a coiled spring. The hope was that pent up demand would allow the US economy finally to achieve escape velocity. The alternative was another false dawn as companies and households remained hunkered down (see The Ides Of March). This week has seen the...

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    Fannie-ing The Flames Of A US Housing Downturn?

    The US housing recovery has had a rough run in the past nine months. First there was the taper tantrum, that drove up mortgage rates. Then the record cold winter interfered with sales and construction, highlighted once again by yesterday’s poor home sales data for February. Between the normalization of housing affordability and the extreme weather in January and February, we can expect housing construction to provide another negative...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    It's All Good In America, And All Bad In China

    “By three methods we may learn wisdom: First by reflection, which is noblest. Second, by imitation, which is easiest. And third by experience, which is the bitterest.” - Confucius.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Future Of Money

    A month ago, Mt Gox was leading the charge as the biggest exchange for bitcoins, a hopeful new digital currency. Now it is the young currency’s biggest threat. The immediate question is, will bitcoin survive this heavy confidence blow? We should know in the coming weeks, but either way, the bigger question will remain: Does bitcoin, or any other digital currency, have what it takes to become a widely adopted money?

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    No Building, No Tapering?

    The main message from the minutes of the January FOMC meeting was summed up yesterday by San Francisco Fed President John Williams, who said in a TV interview that the “hurdle is pretty high on changing the pace of the step-downs in our [asset] purchases.” But if the economic data does not improve soon, we might just find out how high is “pretty high.”

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Continuity-Of Bad Policy

    It was a busy day on Capitol Hill yesterday. In a notable departure from the budget battles of recent years, the Republican-controlled House passed a clean debt ceiling bill to fund the Treasury for the next thirteen months (despite the fact that Paul Ryan voted against funding the budget he himself negotiated). Meanwhile, the House Financial Services Committee gave Janet Yellen her first opportunity as the new chair of the Federal Reserve to...

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    Is The ECB Readying For Stealth QE?

    The European Central Bank has a reputation for holding firepower until the eurozone is at the point of crisis. Although no crisis is apparent now, growing deflationary concerns compounded by volatile money market interest rates make today's ECB meeting worth watching.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Deflation In 2014? Not In The US

    Curse words attract attention, as IMF managing director Christine Lagarde knows after dropping the D-bomb yesterday. Amidst her fairly balanced outlook for the global economy in 2014, it was her comments on deflation that attracted all the media attention:

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