E.g., 18-11-2017
E.g., 18-11-2017
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    Gavekal Research

    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.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    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.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    This Is (Still) Not A Peak: It’s A Global Bull Market

    It was almost five years ago that Anatole started to shout loudly that the US equity market had achieved a clear breakout from its more than decade long bear market trading range. His advice has been to stick with the trend. In light of this year’s near across-the-board upward moves in risk assets globally, it would be tempting to back away from this positioning. However, in this piece he argues that the bull market is now going global and so it...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research November Call

    In our monthly research conference call yesterday, Will Denyer outlined his case that demographic factors explain much of the decline in interest rates over the last 30 or so years. His point is that we are nearing a turning point in the global demand-supply relationship for loanable funds and the overall direction of interest rates should be higher.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Contradictory Signals On US Corporate Credit Risk

    US high-yield spreads have widened by 39bp over the last three weeks. Nevertheless, by long term historical standards, they remain exceptionally tight, indicating that the bond market is pricing in remarkably little US corporate credit risk. That message is at odds with the tale being told by the US equity market, which is signaling that corporate credit risk is on the rise. Only one of them can be correct. There are good reasons to think it may...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Truth About Euro-Dollar

    At the time of writing, a five-year zero coupon treasury bond is priced at about 90 while a comparable German zero sells for 101.9. This absurdity reflects the fact that for all the talk of incipient European inflation, German five-year yields are still negative. Hence a fellow buying-to-hold such a German bond today is guaranteed to lose money, at least in euro terms.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    A Brave New, New World?

    The traffic has been one-way. Since mid-August, the Philly semiconductors index is up 23%, the Nikkei 225 by 18%, the S&P energy index by 14% and the S&P materials index by 10%. In other words, all “deep-cyclicals” and “price monetizers” are ripping higher. So what to make of this?

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    All Pomp, No Circumstance

    President Trump’s 12-day trek through Asia promises much pomp and little circumstance. Since his administration has no strategic vision for the region and has chosen to abandon many of the tools of diplomacy in favor of overblown rhetoric and empty threats, there is little chance of material progress on any important economic or security issues.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The US Investment Environment

    House Republicans put forward their tax reform bill and Jerome Powell was put up to replace Janet Yellen at the Federal Reserve. On the face of it, this all seems like good news for markets. US firms may soon get a permanent tax cut on domestic earnings and mostly keep Uncle Sam away from their foreign earnings, while the prospect of a Taylor-rule adjustment to interest rates has been dodged as Powell seems set to maintain a path of gradual...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    A Different Order Of Political Risk

    Investors in big technology companies, both US and Chinese, are waking up to political risk. In Washington yesterday, senators hauled lawyers for Facebook, Google and Twitter over the coals for carrying foreign-funded political advertisements during the 2016 presidential election campaign in contravention of US law. Meanwhile in China, the government is demanding representation on the boards of big internet companies, including Tencent, Alibaba...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: How Much Longer For Low Rates?

    For decades fixed income and equity markets have enjoyed a secular bull market, propelled higher by low real long term interest rates, depressed by a glut of global savings. In this Strategy Monthly, Will Denyer updates his Capital Provider Ratio, a powerful demographic tool which indicates that the growth of global excess savings has peaked, and that the glut will soon begin to dry up, with far-reaching consequences for global asset markets.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    False Dawn For The Dollar — And Oil

    Last week the US dollar broke out of its summer trading range and hit its strongest level against the euro and the yen since July. The Brent oil price broke through US$60/bbl to a two-year high. And even sterling seemed to be on the verge of strengthening beyond its post-French election trading range against the euro. How should investors respond to all these breakouts?

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    The Unconvincing Pick-Up In US GDP

    US third quarter GDP growth came in on Friday at 3% QoQ annualized, much higher than the expected 2.6% rate. The strength of the headline number sparked optimism that the US economy had successfully shrugged off any negative impact from hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and certainly did nothing to discourage equity investors, as both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite rode buoyant earnings to new highs.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    US Equity Exposure For The Late Cycle

    The US equity bull run continues even as the US economy issues an increasing number of late cycle indicators. For investors who want to maintain exposure to the stock market but are getting nervous that the economy may soon turn down, KX examines the characteristics that allow stocks to outperform in the late stages of the cycle.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Bitcoin And Money

    Philosophically, I have often argued that an asset’s value can derive from just two sources. It can be scarce like a jewel, or useful like a tool. It is customary to measure these values using “money”, which offers a unit of account, a medium of exchange and a store of value. When “national money” forms the backbone of a banking system, it is usually guaranteed by a central authority. Yet, the real question about money has always been whether it...

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    Back Away From Buyback Plays

    From a cyclical peak of US$161bn in 1Q16, US corporate share buybacks fell to US$120bn in 2Q17. But although buyback activity is down, it is not out. In the past few weeks companies including Walmart, HP and Allergan have announced new share repurchase programs. The question for investors is whether they should chase these buyback plays.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Experiences, Not Things

    It is a core Gavekal belief that good money management is more about “avoiding losers” than “picking winners”. Yet sell-side research focuses almost entirely on identifying winners. This leaves an avenue for a small, independent firm like ours to lean the other way and help clients identify “losers”.

    27
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Which Messenger To Believe?

    After Louis wrote up today’s Daily on the strange dichotomy between strong growth and moribund yields, we sat down to quiz him further on how this contradiction gets resolved. In this short video, he explains why the bond market is the thing that will probably have to give.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Growth And Yield Dichotomy

    Of the 45 economies tracked by the OECD, all 45 are expanding, and 33 are seeing an acceleration in their rates of growth.Simply put, both official economic data and market prices are pointing the way towards economic growth—which probably explains why a “data-dependent” Federal Reserve is intent on tightening monetary policy.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    The Savings Glut’s Long Life And Slow Death

    Slow-moving demographic trends have a big impact on asset prices. For the last 35 years, the age structure of the world’s population has created a global savings glut which has propelled secular bull markets in both equities and bonds. Now that demographic tailwind is fading. In a few years it is likely to reverse. In this paper Will introduces a new measure, the Capital Providers Ratio, which relates the impending demographic shifts to the...

    22
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    Gavekal Research

    MV=PQ And Fed Policy

    It’s probably not advisable for the chairman of a macroeconomic research firm to admit this, but the Federal Reserve has me thoroughly confused. My analysis of the likely outcome from a particular central bank policy is often wrong, but I generally have a fairly clear idea of the objective. In the case of Janet Yellen’s Fed, which is preparing to exit its quantitative easing program, I don’t really understand its ultimate aim.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Don’t Count On A Miracle

    Do animal spirits in the US live after all? As profits have picked up, firms’ capital spending has rebounded from contraction territory in 2015-16 to a perky 6.7% QoQ rise in 2Q17. A range of business surveys suggest the trend was sustained through the third quarter. Much is at stake, for if capital spending can break out of its post-2008 range, it is just possible that a productivity surge can follow, lifting underlying economic growth. KX...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Portfolio For The Monetary Cycle

    Every US recession since the 1960s has been preceded by the combination of a fall in true money supply growth relative to real GDP growth, and a fall in the unemployment rate below NAIRU. In this paper, KX constructs a model portfolio which reduces exposure to risky assets in response to these signals, and finds that it offers investors superior risk-adjusted returns.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    An Odd Bull Market

    When supermarket checkout clerks lecture their customers on the merits of leveraged ETFs, investors can be forgiven for thinking the bull market has finally passed its “shoeshine boy” moment. But although there is no shortage of late cycle indicators out there, Louis argues that for several reasons, the current run-up may still have further to go.

    12
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    Gavekal Research

    The Cycle And The Structure

    This bull market has been driven not by conviction, but a belief that in a zero-interest world there is no alternative to equities. Yet with global growth picking up in a seemingly coordinated fashion, commodity prices rising and bond yields firming up, does that condition still hold? Louis thinks that many investors’ “barbell” strategies could be extremely vulnerable to a change in the investment environment that may now be unfolding.

    8
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    Gavekal Research

    The Return Of Alpha?

    This week’s obsession seems to be whether the big reflation trade is back on, heralding a shift in the investment environment. Louis will address this question in a piece to be sent later today, but it is worth noting another important morphing of the investment milieu: that actively managed funds are handily outperforming passive index funds.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    No Closer To Effective Tax Reform

    The much-anticipated US tax reform plan from “the big six” (officials from the administration, House and Senate) has landed. What a disappointment it is. The ball has barely been pushed forward at all. It thus seems unlikely the US will get major tax reform. And if it does, it is likely to be much less effective than the plans previously proposed by the House Republicans.

    9
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    Gavekal Research

    The Real Story With US Inflation

    While hardly ranking as a hawk, Janet Yellen yesterday restated her view that inflation remains a worry. The Federal Open Market Committee as a whole may have last week nudged its 2017/18 inflation forecasts lower, but Yellen continues to argue that weak pricing pressures are transitory. The corollary is that the Fed should stick with its gradual monetary tightening plan. This places her slightly at odds with policymakers like Charles Evans, who...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    EM Can Handle Fed Fallout

    Yesterday, the “world’s central bank” confirmed that it will reverse its quantitative easing policy and likely raise interest rates in December and then three times in 2018. On the same day, the benchmark emerging market index nudged higher and is only a whisker off a six year high. Ordinarily, Federal Reserve tightening is terrible news for EMs, especially for those economies with the temerity to simultaneously try policy easing. Yet this is...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    QT And The Treasury Quandary

    The Federal Reserve has confirmed that quantitative tightening will begin next month as it gradually lowers its holding of treasuries and mortgage-backed securities. For investors, the question is whether they should “fight the Fed” by owning assets that are now out of favor with the central bank. I would argue that such a formulation is wrong and these are good times to be mitigating risk by picking up treasuries, probably of shorter duration.

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    Reviewing My Calls

    Over the years my research has focused on broad concepts which have been applied in many situations and lots of reports. These include ideas such as the disruptive power of platform companies, assets whose value comes from scarcity rather than efficiency, or the effect of firms running on Schumpeterian, Malthusian or Ricardian principles. Once in a while, however, I do get specific and make investment calls. Having had a little time this week, I...

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    Any US Profits Rebound Lacks Legs

    US equities have rallied to new highs on a favorable liquidity tide, buoyed by hopes for coordinated global growth. But they have also been given a leg-up by an apparently improved US profits outlook, as shown in the second quarter national accounts data. There are, however, compelling reasons to think that an uptick in profit margins cannot last. As 59% of value added by US non-financial corporates went to their workers in 2Q17, these center on...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Beijing’s Bid To Make US Rail Great Again

    CRRC is winning contract after contract in the US light rail market, slowly squeezing out traditional competitors. Its secret? The promise of direct investment and job creation.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ: The Financial Labyrinth

    Is China’s financial system going to collapse? The speed of credit growth, the proliferation of financial institutions and financial products, and the chaotic and fragmentary data all make it reasonable to fret that China is on the verge of catastrophe. This issue of the CEQ is our attempt to bring clarity to this mystifying landscape.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Disasters, Bond Yields And The Dollar

    In the past few weeks the US administration cut a deal with opposition Democrats to keep the government open, increasing the likelihood of a budget deficit expansion, and a string of natural disasters have roiled North America. In turn, these events seem to have triggered a sell-off in the US dollar and a global bond rally. Louis outlines two scenarios for where things could go from here.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Robots Everywhere, But The Statistics

    It is hard to open a business magazine these days without finding some grave prediction about machines eating the jobs of middle class professionals from Pittsburgh to Paris. Yet for all the agonizing about mechanized baristas in every neighborhood coffee shop, killer robots and subversive AI algorithms, it is not clear that machines are taking over. Dan runs the numbers in this piece and reaches some sobering conclusions.

    10
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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research September Call

    In yesterday’s monthly call Louis Gave presented his view on the global investment outlook for the rest of the year. He argued that the key story so far in 2017 has been the strong performance of Asian equities, which has added a second leg to a bull market led by US technology and consumer stocks. The question is whether this can last.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    What Next From Washington?

    Despite all the bickering in Washington, kicking cans is still a bipartisan sport. Yesterday, President Donald Trump sided with the Democrats in a deal to temporarily raise the debt limit and fund the government for three more months. Republican leaders wanted to kick the can further down the road, but will accept the president’s lead. With the issue temporarily parked, Trump jumped on Air Force One and in North Dakota today he is expected to...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A New World Order In The Making

    It’s all too easy to laugh at the BRICS group, a motley crew of five developing nations with little in common other than the fact that they’re (mostly) big and not yet rich. The term has been mocked as a “Bloody Ridiculous Investment Concept”. So why do the BRICS themselves take it so seriously?

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: A Two-Legged Equity Bull Market

    For the past several years, the brightest spot in global equity markets has been the US, and in particular tech and consumer stocks. This is changing, and we now have a "two-legged" equity bull market led both by US tech stocks and by a resurgent Asia. In our review of global investment conditions Louis explains why this is so, and argues none of the obvious land mines is likely to go off at any time soon.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Deteriorating Market Signals?

    We have a rule of thumb at Gavekal that when the S&P 500 equal-weighted outperforms the “S&P 500 index”, our equity clients are cheery since beating the benchmark is fairly easy. At such times, clients will typically take more risk. The reverse is, of course, true: outperformance by the S&P 500 makes for grumpy clients, tougher meetings, and less appetite for risk-taking. In the latter case, there is a tendency for investors to rush...

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Good News At The NIPA Coal Face

    The so-called NIPA data (national income and product accounts) offers a cleansed account of US profitability as the effects of inflation and currency moves are stripped out. Thus, while nominal profits reported by S&P 500 companies have rebounded since early 2016, no such signal has emerged from the NIPA numbers—until now. This matters as in late-cycle situations it is common for my preferred inflation-adjusted version of NIPA profits to...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Not That Canadian

    The US and Canadian economies share many similarities due to their geographical proximity, similar level of development and Anglo-Saxon traditions of common law and open political dialogue. So it is curious that each economy’s labor market dynamics are strikingly different. This observation has more than hypothetical significance as workers become hard to find at the right price in late-cycle America.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Bank Deregulation Is Not The Answer

    Janet Yellen nailed her regulatory colors to the mast on Friday. In her speech on financial stability at Jackson Hole, the Federal Reserve chair made plain her opposition to any wholesale roll-back of financial regulations introduced in the aftermath of the 2008 crisis. She didn’t mention by name the Financial Choice Act, the attempt currently before Congress to scrap key provisions of the post-crisis Dodd-Frank regulations. But she did address...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Why Lower Forever Is Good News For Investors In Big Oil

    Suppose you are convinced, as I am, that oil prices will fall to near-zero by the middle of this century, for the reasons I outlined last week. If so, then among the best investments of the coming decades will be the equity of giant international oil companies such as BP, Shell, Exxon, Chevron, ENI and Total.

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    A Better Tool Required

    Having long advocated that equity managers hedge their portfolios with a US long-bond, I mostly run at a 50:50 weighting. Still, the aim must be to adopt a rules-based mechanism for sliding the bond-equity mix (say between 60:40 and 40:60) and also the average duration of the fixed income piece. I can satisfy this aim by combining market-based measures with my recent valuation work.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    From A Newly-Minted Gold Bug

    Gold, as we know, is and always has been a hedge against the silliness of central bankers and governments. So when from 2012 onwards the world’s central banks decided to throw all caution to the winds, logically one would have expected gold and gold miners to rise strongly.But instead of going up, both gold and gold miners went down big time, while the price of most other assets went up.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    It Is Not Slack Weighing On Wages

    How can a labor market be very tight, yet have barely any wage growth? In today’s daily Nick tackled this for the UK and found a mix of universal and idiosyncratic causes. For the US and Japan a frequent refrain is that official data hugely understates the potential size of the workforce and so a ready source of “slack”. Will and Udith beg to differ.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Carthago Delenda Est

    Global geopolitics is characterized by the “land-based” empire of China challenging the dominant “maritime” empire of the United States according to Louis and Charles. What they cannot figure out is the seemingly contradictory responses of Washington to this well telegraphed challenge. In this piece they examine pressing challenges to American power and explore the investment consequences, which may come home to roost far quicker than most...

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    The Limits Of Magical Thinking

    A persistent American fantasy of hardliners is that threats of force will magically cause other countries to abandon their interests and cave in to US demands. The current occupant of the White House is taking this magical thinking to new heights in his approach to Asia. But thankfully, despite the dire headlines, the real-world impact is small.

    5
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