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    Gavekal Research

    Still Bond Bears

    Matching its 2013 peak, the world’s most-watched interest rate—the US 10-year treasury yield—yesterday touched 3%. Concerns are now high that it will soon move higher, perhaps much higher. For perspective, the US 10-year hit 3.75% in 2011, 4% in 2010 and 5% in 2007. In this cycle, we think yields will break above 3% and then march upwards. In short, we remain bond bears and continue to recommend keeping duration short. Today, we want to...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Policy And Productivity In The USA

    If President Trump is to accomplish his stated goal of renewing American economic greatness then an absolute requirement is for productivity growth to be pushed above its current miserable level of 1%. To an extent, the economic cycle is helping him, as a tightening jobs market is pushing up wages and creating incentives for firms to add labor-saving capital investments. I would also point to three structural developments, which, although not...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Emerging Markets And Energy

    We all know, don’t we, what defining characteristics the emerging markets have in common? Of course we do. Emerging markets are developing countries on course to become advanced economies, typically with the assistance of powerful demographic tailwinds. But although they enjoy rapid growth over the long term, their institutional architecture is still under construction. As a result, emerging equity markets are more volatile than those of the...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Message From Credit Markets

    Over the last three weeks US high yield credit spreads have collapsed by 100bp—a tightening that far exceeds the 10bp narrowing in investment grade spreads over the same period. Coming after a marked widening in the Libor-OIS and Ted spreads over February and March, this fall in credit spreads is clearly encouraging. It supports our contention that the widening of Libor spreads was an idiosyncratic anomaly, and nothing investors should be overly...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Learning To Love The Loonie

    There are plenty of reasons to dislike the Canadian dollar: disappointing economic data, a frothy real estate market, over-exposed banks, the fact that the Canadian team failed to get either the men’s or the women’s ice hockey gold at the winter Olympics, and a prime minister who dresses up like the Thompson twins when he travels to foreign countries.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Hong Kong Seminar — April 2018

    At Gavekal’s seminar in Hong Kong this week, Arthur Kroeber, Rosealea Yao and Nick Andrews presented their latest views on the brewing trade war between the US and China, Chinese growth and the property market outlook, and how to capture European growth.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Different Analytical Approach

    I have read with great interest the arguments put forward here by Anatole that equities are in a “structural” bull market. Having listened closely to his presentation at Gavekal’s London seminar, I now understand where our main point of difference lies. Anatole argues that we are in a bull market that began in 2013 when US stocks broke above their long-established trading range and which continues to this day (see This Is (Still) Not Peak: It’s...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Future Of Facebook

    For someone infamous for his social awkwardness, Mark Zuckerberg acquitted himself relatively well in his two days of testimony before US Congressional committees. Certainly investors thought so. After sliding -14.5% over February and March, shares in Facebook rallied 5.3% over two sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday. The short term market reaction notwithstanding, Zuckerberg’s public grilling clearly signals that the user-as-product, advertising-...

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    US Budget Deficits And Long Term Interest Rates

    On Monday the Congressional Budget Office published its latest projections for the US economy and government finances, incorporating for the first time the effects of December’s tax cuts. With government revenues set to fall from 17.3% of GDP last year to less than 17% over the next five years, and spending expected to grow from 20.8% to more than 22%, the CBO projects that the US budget deficit will expand from 3.5% of GDP last year to more...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    After Constructive Engagement

    Separating signal from noise in the ongoing US-China trade dispute continues to be a thankless task. Trade war fears rose late last week thanks to an offhand threat from President Donald Trump to impose tariffs on another US$100bn of imports from China. They ebbed early this week when Trump reversed course and said a deal was likely soon, and Chinese president Xi Jinping delivered a speech promising a reduction in automobile tariffs and market...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The New Source Of Market Risk

    Believe it or not, there was good news, as well as bad, from the US markets last Friday. The bad news was obviously Donald Trump’s threat to escalate the trade war with China and the equally aggressive response from Beijing. The good news was the fall in March’s US payrolls growth to just 103,000 from February’s upwardly-revised 326,000. This slowdown has eliminated, at least until after the summer, the risk of an unexpected Federal Reserve...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Reasons To Buy The Dip

    After spending many years as Gavekal’s equity permabull, I joined Charles and Louis last December in warning of the risks to what was then a roaring, and accelerating, bull market. But my way of thinking about these risks was rooted in a different analytical framework, and so I have come to a different conclusion about how investors should respond to this latest sell-off (for Louis’ take, see Following Yesterday’s Pullback). With the lows of mid...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Video: Making Sense Of China's New Era

    In this lively presentation from our recent London seminar, Tom Miller outlines the dramatic political changes that have been taking place in China. He explains what Xi Jinping’s new status means for economic policy and governance, and how the links between the Communist Party and the state are being strengthened.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    US Auto Sales: No Longer A Growth Driver

    Strong US auto sales in March mask a stagnating longer term trend and rising auto loan delinquencies. Happily, as KX explains, neither has broader implications for overall US consumer demand. Although auto sales may no longer be contributing to US growth, rising bad loans in the sector do not prefigure a wider consumer credit crisis.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Ready For A Further P/E Derating

    I see but through a glass darkly. Sometimes, however there are glimmers of light. Four months ago, in early December, I examined the signals being broadcast by the various investment rules I have long followed and concluded that: “While global markets have been stable for the past 18 months, we may soon be entering a period of greater instability.”

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    Following Yesterday’s Pullback

    Two weeks ago I looked back at Enron’s collapse in 2001 and asked whether a crash-and-burn at Tesla or Uber would be this cycle’s catalyst for a fundamental re-assessment of business models. But perhaps my sights were set too low, as this roll-over was triggered not by a cash-burning profligate flaming out, but by turmoil engulfing the Facebook gorilla, and by extension the likes of Google and Snap, which rely on “the user being the product”.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: Navigating In Choppy Waters

    With its latest sell-off, the S&P 500 capped two months of volatility by moving officially into correction territory: down -10% from its January high, and below its 200-day moving average for the first time in two years. Is this the end of the long US equity bull market? In this edition of our Strategy Monthly, we offer three perspectives on how investors should position themselves in these more volatile times.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Can EMs Survive A Trade War And Keep Thriving?

    A US-China trade war would disrupt trade, likely drive up inflation and potentially spark a general risk-off move in markets. This scenario would be pretty terrible for emerging markets, but Joyce reckons it is a tail risk and the general outlook remains decent. In this chartbook, she reviews EMs' vulnerability to a trade bust and explains why profits should drive a maturing cycle that increasingly favors commodity-focused markets outside...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Don’t Fret About Libor

    A disproportionate increase in Libor relative to other benchmark short term rates over recent months has got many observers flustered. In this concise paper, Will and KX dig down to the cause of the increase, and explain what it does and doesn’t mean for portfolio investors.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    On Protectionism

    As the US toughens up its negotiating stance on trade, it seems that ghosts from the Great Depression haunt the land. The men of Davos can be heard to intone gravely that President Donald Trump is aping Herbert Hoover, and as in the 1930s, the global economy may go into a tailspin. I am struck that our cherished elites have discovered a form of government intervention that they do not like, especially given their support for so many other “...

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Trade Wars: A China Expert Roundtable

    Last week’s sharp equity market sell-off followed the US effectively threatening China with a trade war. In this report, Arthur, Long and Andrew address China’s capacity to strike back and explore what it means for the relationship between the world’s two biggest economies.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    London Seminar — March 2018

    In our seminar in London this week Charles pondered the investment consequences of the US moving back into an inflationary period. Tom discussed Chinese politics in light of Xi Jinping’s elevation. Cedric presented on how investors can best benefit from the diversity of the European economy. Anatole explained why the long-running global bull market is likely to continue, but also where the risks are buried.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A (Slightly) Different Wicksellian Analysis

    In developing “Wicksellian” theory and applying it to portfolio management, readers may have noticed that Charles and Will Denyer have plowed slightly different furrows. The aim of this piece is to clarify points of agreement and highlight differences in their methodology. In so doing, Charles hopes to illuminate both approaches and help readers to navigate a subject that is fairly central to Gavekal research.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Focus On Corporate Yields, Not Policy Rates

    There were no big surprises at yesterday’s Federal Reserve meeting, but in offering a slightly more hawkish tone, policymakers have amped up market anxiety. I must admit to not being in this crowd, for the perhaps heretical observation that the future of this bull market may not be decided at the Fed.

    13
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    Gavekal Research

    Don’t Wade Into Treasuries

    Leading up to today’s Federal Reserve meeting, long-dated treasuries have slipped back into their trading range. There are two reasons to think this offers a good opportunity to “buy the dip”. First, global growth has eased off as shown by our diffusion index of OECD leading indicators, which tends to lead year-on-year changes in 10-year treasury yields by about four months. Second, investors overreacted to January’s spike in US wage growth data...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Giving Up Value Investing For Lent

    A client recently told me that he had wanted to give up “value investing” for Lent. Unfortunately, his priest pointed out that this was like forgoing boiled spinach as Lent commemorates Christ’s 40 days in the desert and requires doing without something that feels good: think of giving up Amazon, Nvidia or Tencent (at least until this week) for energy stocks, Japan and emerging market financials. Our client chose self-flagellation and stuck with...

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    The Ogre Eating His Own Children

    Our regular Loser Reports are based on the premise that good money management can be as much about “avoiding losers” as “picking winners”. This month, Louis looks at the (worrying) direction of US fiscal policy and wonders whether the next shoe to drop could be defense contractors and energy producers in the US, and even municipal bonds.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Fixing The Model

    Earlier this week Will issued a mea culpa report that explained why he was revising his Wicksellian asset allocation model and substantially changing his recommendations for the US market. In this video interview he explains the story behind this revision.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Corporate Bond Play

    With high-yield and investment grade spreads having shrunk to historically low levels, US corporate bonds are hardly cheap. Yet the combination of favorable tax policy and fiscal incontinence recommends them to any US bond portfolio. As the US economy is likely in the dog days of this cycle, the tricky question is what duration investors should focus on.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Turning 90% Bullish

    Over the last three years, Will has developed his own version of Charles's Wicksellian framework to analyze the US economic cycle. His approach has been to gauge the difference between the private sector’s return on invested capital and its cost. In this candid report, he explains why he is overhauling his model and how this has substantially changed his recommendations.

    10
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    Gavekal Research

    The Curiously Weak Dollar

    Since early February, global markets have had a volatile ride. The big exception has been the US dollar, which has stayed stoically range-bound. This is odd considering the Federal Reserve’s fairly hawkish outlook for monetary policy and the fact that imposing tariffs on metal imports should lessen the US trade deficit. Not to pat ourselves on the back, but the general Gavekal view on the US dollar has in recent times been fairly bearish (see...

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Trade Wars: The Phantom Menace?

    In the aftermath of the past week’s to-ing and fro-ing over steel and aluminum tariffs, there is one thing we can be certain of this year: we are going to see a lot more protectionist theatrics coming out of the White House. What is much less certain is how worried we should be.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    What A Trade War Means For Europe

    The departure of free-trader Gary Cohn from the Trump administration has investors rightly concerned that a global trade war may loom. Markets rallied yesterday on reports that the US may carve out exclusions for its steel and aluminum tariffs, but President Donald Trump seems set to announce a punitive package as early as today. The European Union has taken a tough stance against the US threat, and yesterday added orange juice and peanut butter...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Housing And The US Economy

    The last economic cycle in the US was marked by excesses in residential investment and a dearth of business investment, which proved negative for productivity growth. As the current cycle gets a pro-cyclical boost in its mature phase from last year’s tax reforms, that imbalance will be at least partially reversed.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The US Current Account, Trump’s Trade War And Equities

    US president Donald Trump’s announcement last week of tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum are just the first salvo of a trade war aimed at reducing the US$566bn annual US trade deficit. Yet even far more extensive tariffs than those announced on Thursday will do nothing to narrow the US trade gap. As KX argues in this report, more powerful economic forces are working to widen the US trade and current account deficits over the coming...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Surviving China's Regulatory Storm

    Scarcely a week goes by without word of some new regulatory crackdown on China’s financial services industry. After years of financial liberalization, runaway growth in the shadow banking market, and rampant regulatory arbitrage, the authorities are now moving to unify a fragmented regulatory regime and contain the risks posed by excessive leverage and complexity. In this video interview, Chen Long makes sense of the about-face and explains what...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The First Casualty In Trump’s Trade War

    Donald Trump has finally delivered on his long-delayed promise of trade protectionism, and in the worst possible way. By promising to impose tariffs on metals imports (25% on steel, 10% on aluminum) on “national security” grounds, he addresses a problem that doesn’t exist, and creates a host of new ones. All this assumes, of course, that the tariffs are not watered down or more narrowly targeted when they are formally announced next week—a real...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    How Much Risk Of A US-China Economic Cold War?

    Donald Trump’s announcement of tariffs on US imports of steel and aluminum looks like the first salvo in a new trade war. But while Thursday’s measures will mostly affect America’s closest allies, behind the scenes the US administration appears to be preparing a more focused campaign directed against China. In this analysis, Arthur examines the political maneuvering over trade within the Trump team, explains why the hardliners are now in the...

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    The Dollar’s New Crush

    The foreign exchange market, I’ve often said, is a serial monogamist. There are multitudes of potential drivers out there. But the market likes to step out with just one at a time. Its relationships can last anywhere from a few quarters to a couple of years. But sooner or later, it gets bored and switches its affections. So, in 2005-07, the main driver was the growing US current account deficit and the perception that the US was flooding the...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The New Challenge Confronting Investors

    Few in the markets will be sorry to see the back of February. But as a tough month draws to a close, this seems a reasonable time to take stock and draw lessons for the future. It is perturbing that lesson Number One must be that there really was nowhere to hide. Geographical diversification served little purpose, as all markets fell and then rebounded in unison. The same held with sectors, for those that performed worst in 2017 (energy and...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    What Lies Beneath

    As liquidity in the global financial markets tightens, Louis turns to Gavekal’s longstanding dynamite fishing analogy in a speculative exercise that attempts to identify some of the “whales” that might just go belly up in the squeeze.

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    After The Yellen And Bernanke Puts, The Pavlov Put

    Last Monday, I pointed to three reasons why the recent turmoil in global equities would probably prove nothing worse than a counter-trend “buy on dips” correction, rather than the start of a serious bear market. That's not to say that worries about inflation and overheating are unfounded. But investors are still quite relaxed about both growth and inflation, as evidenced by historically modest bond yields.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Bond Market Risks

    Charles is bemused by the cacophony of commentary on the apparent bursting of a US government bond bubble. By his reckoning, treasuries are at about fair value. The same cannot be said for certain other big bond markets, where far bigger risks lurk. In this short piece, he updates his broad view on risks in the global bond market.

    12
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    Gavekal Research

    Gauging The Strength Of The Oil Bid

    It made headlines around the world earlier this month when the US government’s Energy Information Administration announced that US oil production had hit 10.25mn bpd in the last week of January. At that rate, the US was not just pumping more crude than at its previous production peak in 1970, it was very likely pumping more than Saudi Arabia, lifting the US into second place in the global production league table behind Russia.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    How To Play An EM Rebound

    On Thursday, my colleague Joyce Poon argued that strong global growth and favorable financial conditions should allow emerging markets to sustain their outperformance. In the immediate run-up to the recent global sell-off, Latin American markets like Brazil and Mexico had charged hardest on the back of higher commodity prices and an incipient global shift from growth stocks toward value plays. But once the dust settles and EMs get their mojo...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    CSI Wall Street (Part II)

    On Monday, in CSI Wall Street Anatole morphed into Sherlock Holmes to investigate the crime scene following the market correction. He concluded that: “There’s nothing to see here. Please move along.” And the markets promptly did. Over the past week, equities have rallied around the world while volatility has gradually ratcheted down. A few more weeks like the past one, and the market moves of late January and early February will quickly be...

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    EMs And The Global Cycle

    The market correction of the last two weeks has been centered on the US, but also hit emerging markets pretty hard. A year ago, I argued that the sustainability of the EM run-up depended on continued strong global growth, more oil price gains and a further fall in tail risks associated with the financial system. The issue is whether the newly volatile conditions in global markets are a game-changer for the emerging world. That conundrum depends...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Deficits And Bondholders

    Economics 101 says that when there is more of something, then other things being equal its price should go down. That is worrying for US bond investors as US lawmakers last week passed a budget deal that may raise deficits by US$320bn over the next 10 years (any new infrastructure spending will be extra). Interestingly, and perhaps not entirely coincidentally, just as debt-fueled big-government becomes the new normal in Washington, November’s...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Freeze-Thaw Conditions In Korea

    It has been a week of confusing signals from the Korean peninsula. Even as North Korea has paraded its missiles, and the US and its allies have sworn to exert “maximum pressure” against Kim Jong-Un’s rogue regime, both sides have hinted at their readiness to return to the negotiating table. Yanmei cuts through the fog to assess the future trajectory of North Korean event risk.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    CSI Wall Street

    Bear market massacre or harmless buy-the-dip correction? Financial investigators have spent the weekend sifting through, dismantling and reassembling dozens of clues to determine the true nature of the shocking crime committed on Wall Street last week, as stock prices suddenly went down instead of up. But amid the righteous indignation inspired by this offence against morality and natural law, possibly the most important forensic evidence has...

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Behind The Market’s Inability To Rally

    “A week is a long time in politics”, Harold Wilson was said to have once quipped to a young aide. The former British prime minister should have tried working in the US equity market. In recent days, it has sometimes felt as if time stood still. So what should we make of stocks’ inability to mount a rally after they again closed on their lows?

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Nobody Rings A Bell At The Top Of A Market

    Let’s start with a hypothesis. For the purposes of this note, let’s assume that the bull market that started in the second half of 2011 ended in January 2018, and that a bear market is now under way. The obvious follow-on question is what variety of the Ursus genus is emerging from its lair.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Parsing The Market Sell-Off

    One of the first things Charles taught me is that in a bear market you should never do on the Monday what you wish you had done on the Friday. As bad news piles up, investors brood, sleep poorly, snap at their spouses or children, and go in first thing Monday morning and start to liquidate positions. Undeniably the picture for the now rather stretched equity bull market has been deteriorating for a while, with spiking bond yields, creeping...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Good News Is Bad News?

    The US posted a solid employment report on Friday, and the markets didn’t like it one bit. Some 200,000 jobs were added in January, better than the expected 180,000 and prior month gain of 160,000. But what really spooked investors was the faster than expected pickup in wage growth to 2.9% YoY. On the face of it, this is good for economic growth (certainly in nominal terms) and top-line corporate revenues. The worry is that without productivity...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Take Profits On US Homebuilders

    Our view that real growth in the US will remain supported this year at a similar level to 2017’s 2.5% rate is based on three main elements: rising business investment following December’s tax cuts; a moderation in consumption growth as labor market tightness slows job ceation, and a neutral to mildly positive view on residential investment (see The Outlook For US Growth And Prices). The third element—our neutral view on homebuilding—merits...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Playing The US Growth Picture

    Will outlines his view that real growth in the US will remain stable this year and that inflation will pick up, and discusses what this means for asset prices and portfolio construction.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Sustainable Rise In US Inflation

    In her valedictory meeting yesterday, Janet Yellen presided over a slight tightening of language to indicate that the Federal Reserve’s official inflation target of 2% should be hit some time this year. Investors were not surprised as break-even inflation rates have risen to 2% from about 1.8% late last year, while the chance of four rate hikes materializing in 2018 is now priced at 22%. The fly in the ointment is still sluggish wage growth,...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: Portfolio Strategy For An Inflationary World

    Most money managers today have spent their entire careers in the disinflationary environment that has prevailed since the mid-1980s, in which equities prospered and bonds were an ideal hedge. This may soon change. A growing number of signals point to rising inflation and tighter liquidity. If we really do move into an inflationary era, managers will have to rethink their portfolios from the ground up. In the latest Strategy Monthly, Louis and...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Real Yields, The Euro And The Dollar

    The global bear market in bonds growls on. Yesterday the yield on 10-year US treasuries climbed to a new 45-month high at 2.7%. Even more striking, the yield on five-year German bunds rose to zero for the first time since November 2015, marking the beginning of the end of an era for eurozone negative yields as market expectations grow that the ECB will reduce its monetary accommodation sooner rather than later.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    US Budget Deficits, The Falling US$ And Growth Stocks

    In emerging economies, rising yields and a falling currency invariably signals market concern over fiscal policy. The US, of course, is different. Nonetheless, Louis examines how projected increases in the US budget deficit in coming years will weigh on the dollar, and could make investors reconsider holding richly-valued US growth stocks.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The US-China Economic Rivalry Is About To Heat Up

    Economic conflict between the US and China was the dog that didn’t bark in 2017. This year it has begun to bark loudly and will soon bite deeply. The short-term macroeconomic consequences will be modest, beyond putting more downward pressure on the dollar. But the potential long-run impact on trade and investment flows, and on power relations in the Asia-Pacific, could be large.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Mnuchin’s Weak Dollar

    If Robert Rubin were dead, he would be turning in his grave. Speaking in Davos yesterday, US Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin shook markets by declaring: “A weaker dollar is good for us.” His remark broke the precedent set by Rubin in 1995 and adhered to by Treasury secretaries ever since, of insisting: “A strong dollar is in the best interest of the US.”

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    A “Once In A Generation” Shift

    There is a contradiction at the heart of the current bull market in pretty much all assets. On one hand, investors believe that firms can optimize their operations and keep doing more with less. Yet on the other hand, they assume that the global economy will remain awash with excess capacity. Charles and Louis argue that as such cognitive dissonance may get a reality check, investors may need to radically rethink their portfolio architecture.

    10
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    Gavekal Research

    Keep Duration Short

    Washington may have temporarily sorted out its spending plans, but the bigger news for investors is the apparent breakout in 10-year treasury yields. The benchmark-of-benchmarks has risen to 2.65%, exceeding highs recorded in the months right after the Republicans’ election wins in November 2016. This can be ascribed to strong global growth, higher commodity prices, US tax cuts and tighter monetary policy. Hence, with US long-rates now offering...

    13
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    Gavekal Research

    Taxes And Yields

    US equity markets have started 2018 committed to the idea that Goldilocks is alive and well. Although no clear picture has emerged of its impact, the passage of the most significant tax reform since the 1980s has had S&P 500 firms opining publicly that they hope to invest more and treat staff better. The corollary is that this cycle might be getting a second wind. The fear is inflation, as shown by yesterday’s move in treasury yields to...

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    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research Call January 2018

    In Gavekal’s monthly research call yesterday, Louis Gave reviewed evidence that the investment environment is experiencing a once-in-a-generation shift from a deflationary environment to one that is broadly inflationary. Anatole Kaletsky argued that this metamorphosis will likely be an orderly affair. Arthur Kroeber updated his view on China’s likely impact on global commodity markets.

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    Stick With Dollar Depreciation Plays

    The last year has seen a rare outbreak of consensus at Gavekal. Since last January partners and analysts have been almost universally bearish on the US dollar. In that time, the DXY dollar index has slumped some -12% from its heavily overvalued level at the beginning of 2017. Now the first 12 trading days of 2018 have seen the DXY slide -1.9%, breaching September’s support level to sink to its lowest since the end of 2014. This latest...

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    The Yield Curve As A Duration Guide

    With US stock markets scaling new heights, there are multiple reasons why nervous equity investors might want to reduce portfolio risk. The usual way to do this would be by increasing allocations to long-duration treasury debt. But with long-dated yields now rising, what duration of treasuries should investors hold? And when and how should they adjust duration?

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    The Five Big Bond Market Questions

    With 10-year US treasury yields near the point of breaking out above their 2017 high of 2.6%, financial commentators around the world have suddenly become obsessed with a single question: Have bonds finally entered a bear market, after the multi-decade bull trend that started back in October 1981, when the 10-year yield peaked at 15.8%?

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    Sunshine (For China) In Korea

    Sunshine has dispelled the clouds of war on the Korean Peninsula, at least for now. News headlines are cautiously celebrating the de-escalation of tensions leading up to the South Korean Winter Olympics. This amounts to a quiet victory for China's diplomacy, despite its being which was outwardly rejected by both Pyongyang and Washington.

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    Don’t Fear The End Of The Bond Bull Market

    Bond bears have been given succor in the opening days of 2018. First the Bank of Japan trimmed buying of long-dated Japanese government bonds, indirectly causing 10-year treasury yields to surge to 2.6%. Then European Central Bank policymakers were yesterday shown to be bulled up on the state of the eurozone recovery. On the face of it, central banks seem to be whistling a very different tune. In fact, it is investors who have caught up with...

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    US Inflation Expectations: Further To Run To Catch-Up

    Over the last six weeks, market inflation expectations have undergone a signal shift to the upside. The US five-year break-even inflation rate has climbed from below 1.7% in early December to 1.95% this week. In other words, market expectations for US inflation, which had long remained markedly subdued, have now played catch-up with the Federal Reserve’s own projections, which see core PCE inflation rising to 1.9% this year and 2% in 2019....

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    Strategy Monthly: Everything Looks Fine, But…

    The year has opened with growth expectations and risk appetites at their highest levels in years. The consensus is probably right that it will be a good year for economies and stock markets. The main thing to watch out for is a faster-than-expected withdrawal of QE and low-interest rate policies by the ECB and the BOJ, which could send US bond yields sharply higher.

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    Dare To Dabble In US High Yield

    Last week US high yield spreads narrowed to within a whisker of their cycle low, bringing them within striking distance of their 2007 low. When things cannot get much better, they seldom do. However, this may be one of those rare historical occasions when things do indeed go from good to even better. The US tax changes that went into effect last week have the potential to drive credit spreads to record depths.

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    Tax Reform, Capex And Financial Engineering

    The tax bill passed into US law last month is not short of critics. But for all the opprobrium it has attracted, the new law may help to repair some of the damage inflicted on the US economy over recent years by the Federal Reserve’s misguided interest rate policies. By favoring capital investment in the real economy over leveraged financial engineering, the new tax regime may yet prove broadly positive for Main Street—but at a considerable cost...

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    The Drains On Liquidity

    For ease of math, assume that the world consumes 100mn barrels of oil a day. Then further assume an inventory across the system equal to about 100-days’ usage (in pipelines, ships and refineries). Thus, when the price of oil rises by US$10/bbl in three months—as occurred in 4Q17—a “liquidity drain” of about US$100bn is created.

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    The Big Questions For 2018

    Many of the important questions confronting investors at the beginning of 2018 are the same as they were 12 months ago. And in most cases I would suggest the same answers. This may seem boring or stubborn, but it is quite reasonable in the middle of a long term economic expansion and structural bull market.

    1
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    The Most Indebted Country?

    One of the arguments long advanced by die-hard bears is that the US is “the most indebted country in the world”, and therefore heading irreversibly for economic disaster. Often they reach their conclusion by summing US current account deficits over the years, or by looking at how much US government debt is owned by foreigners. Sometimes they even dig a little deeper and unearth something called “the US net international investment position”,...

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    US Tax; Not What You Expect

    With the Senate having voted its approval, Republicans are set to tomorrow finalize the biggest shake up in the US tax code since the 1980s. A common refrain among analysts is that the bill should propel equity prices higher, but do precious little for economic growth. We wonder if the reverse may unfold.

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    Cui Bono?

    Today, with European growth humming along and Beijing having (again) shown an ability to keep China’s economy on a sustained expansion path, no one seems fazed about a possible economic downturn. Apart from the UK (where the obsession is Brexit), concern centers on geopolitical risks. Yet depending on their region, investors are worrying about very different things.

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    The Questions For The Coming Year

    The apparent glide path into year-end suggests that 2018 should offer up more of the same seen in 2017. Louis does not rule out a continuation of this “Goldilocks” scenario, but worries that global inflation could be brewing in unexpected quarters at a time when frenzied trading in speculative assets such as bitcoin produces countervailing responses from policymakers. In this wide-ranging tour across the investment landscape he asks whether, in...

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    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research December Call

    In Gavekal Research’s monthly conference call yesterday Anatole Kaletsky outlined five reasons why investors can be optimistic that the current bull market will continue for years to come. His bullishness is moderated by three broad risks.

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    There Is Now An Alternative

    There were no surprises yesterday, either in the Federal Reserve’s rate hike, or in its forecasts for next year. With the labor market set to “remain strong”, the unemployment rate likely to inch down to 3.9%—full employment—and growth forecast to get a modest boost from tax cuts to 2.5%, the dot plot projects three 25bp hikes in 2018.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ: China 20/20

    In this final issue of China Economic Quarterly, an all-star cast of contributors takes a look back at how the country has changed since 1997, and a look forward at how China, and its global impact, might evolve in the next couple of decades. The basic lesson is that it has never paid to underestimate China’s growth potential and capacity for change.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Pax Americana-Sinica

    China’s rise is making it increasingly costly for the US to uphold Pax Americana in Asia. China wants to replace it, but scant regional enthusiasm means Pax Sinica is some way off. For the next two decades, an uneasy truce should hold in Asia.

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    The Bitcoin Bubble Changes Shape

    All the talk about crypto-currencies, initial coin offerings, distributed ledgers etc. feels a lot like discussions on carnal knowledge in a high school boys’ locker room. Everyone is talking about it. Yet almost everyone’s experience is extremely limited. And it is likely to stay that way for the time being, because for all the talk, very few of those doing the chattering are actually getting any action. So what is there left to say about the...

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    Our 2017 Holiday Reading List

    History, far from being over, looms large in this year’s Gavekal holiday reading list. From failing empires in the Middle East to Europe’s ceaseless struggle for dominance and Asia’s inability to bury ghosts, our writers consider how the past is shaping our future. As befits a research firm, we have lots of economics with a tour of the stagnation debate and an assessment of the threats and benefits offered by artificial intelligence. We consider...

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    Avoiding Equity Duration Risk

    Last week, Louis argued persuasively that investors should shorten portfolio duration in response to the prospect of further central bank monetary tightening, the potential threat of rising inflation in 2018, and the stretched valuations of long-dated assets (see Have We Just Glimpsed Growth Stocks’ Achilles’ Heel?). This goes not just for fixed income investors, but equity investors too.

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    What the US Yield Curve Really Says

    Since 1968, the US economy has suffered seven recessions, each preceded by an inversion of the yield curve. It thus makes sense to ask if such an upending of the link between time and interest is necessary for a recession to occur. A follow-on question might be whether a recession cannot happen so long as the yield curve shape is “normal”. With the US yield curve flattening by the day Charles seeks to answer these questions.

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    Positioning For US Tax Reform

    What’s not to like about tax cuts? Quite a lot as it turns out. Although the final shape of US tax reform has yet to be settled, there are enough common points between the House and Senate bills to allow Will and KX to conclude that the likely tax cuts will prove inflationary, and could prompt a more aggressive stance from the Fed. Despite some undoubtedly positive macro outcomes, the implications for investors are not exactly bullish.

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    Strategy Monthly: The Long Cycle Continues

    As equity markets everywhere continue to trade higher, money managers are getting increasingly nervous about how long the rally can last. In December’s Strategy Monthly, Anatole argues that we are still only half-way through a secular bull market that can last through the end of the decade. With further US rate hikes on the cards, barring any nasty surprises non-US markets are likely to outperform going forward. The only fly in the ointment is...

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    From A Ferrari To A Jeep

    When I turned 70 (I am still struggling with the fact that I now have a “7” handle), the Gavekal partners had the good idea of bringing into the firm some very bright “quants” and giving them a simple mandate: quantify and qualify the various investment rules that I have been using for decades (somewhat sporadically, and often with biases that I myself sometimes struggled to acknowledge).

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    Goldilocks And The Ten Grizzly Bears

    Over the last fortnight, Anatole has written lengthy pieces on why he remains structurally bullish and how investors should play this trend. Today, he takes a realistic look at factors that could disrupt his generally upbeat assessment of the global economy and markets. This piece is a journey into Anatole’s darker side.

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    Have We Just Glimpsed Growth Stocks’ Achilles’ Heel?

    The best scene in HBO’s hit show “Silicon Valley” had brash billionaire Russ Hanneman explain to start-up CEO Richard Hendricks that the first goal of his tech firm should be to avoid booking sales: “If you show revenue, people will ask ‘how much?’ and it will never be enough” (see clip). This scene crystallizes the observation that in recent years investors have been rewarded in spades for loading up on “long-dated assets”. And it has been a...

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    What Retail Apocalypse?

    With so much US retail activity going online, a CNN headline over the weekend asked if this “Black Friday” might be the last. That is good news for the newly-minted US$100bn man at Amazon and bad news for old-style chains like JC Penney, Sears, and Kmart, which face constant downsizing pressure. But what about more broadly for the economy?

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    The Bull Market And The Yield Curve

    Keeping up with a runaway bull is no easy task. Which may explain why so many investors remain unenthusiastic participants: the market is old and increasingly unattractive, but holding back could cost them their careers. Yet, the upward march of global equity markets continues relentlessly (for reasons reviewed in recent articles. Today, some 84% of markets around the world are up over the past 12 months in local currency terms. Historically,...

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    New York Seminar — November 2017

    At Gavekal's November seminar in New York Louis Gave, Arthur Kroeber, Cedric Gemehl and Anatole Kaletsky presented their macro outlooks and investment recommendations.

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    Dodging Late-Cycle Refinancing Risk

    By most generally accepted metrics, the US economy is in the late stages of its cycle and any further overheating raises the chances of a recession. The issue is really one of timing. Will Denyer’s Wicksellian model and my US business cycle indicator are both flashing orange rather than red, suggesting that the US is edging towards the recession frontier, but not yet at it. We have both advised investors to dial back on US risk, but are not much...

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    Asset Allocation For The Global Bull Market

    On Monday Anatole outlined his fundamental reasons to believe that the world is enjoying a global bull market that still has years to run. Today he reviews the investment recommendations that flow from his thesis, and examines how investors can best play the unprecedented divergence of the US business cycle from the cycles in Europe and the emerging markets.

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    Living With A Nuclear North Korea

    A special envoy of Chinese president Xi Jinping will head to North Korea in what is being billed as a gesture of solidarity and friendship between the two countries’ communist parties. Coming just days after Donald Trump’s visit to the region, the move appears to give the lie to Trump’s assertion that he successfully convinced Xi to “use his great economic influence” to press North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.

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