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    Gavekal Research

    Watch US-Eurozone Rate Differentials

    Interest rate differentials between the US and eurozone are wide by historical standards. This is no surprise. The US has enjoyed uninterrupted growth (at least in year-on-year terms) since 2010, and today the Federal Reserve stands as the most hawkish big central bank in town. In contrast, the eurozone slumped back into recession in 2012, and the European Central Bank remains in full-blown easing mode. As a result, interest rate differentials...

    2
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    Who’s Afraid Of The ECB?

    Mario Draghi’s hint last month that the European Central Bank’s bond buying may not continue forever unleashed a storm of panic among the perma-bears who still dominate the media and market commentariat. But its actual effect on markets themselves has so far been close to minimal. So should investors worry—or relax—about a repeat of the “taper tantrum” in May 2013, when Ben Bernanke first hinted that the Federal Reserve would eventually start to...

    0
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    The Lost Decade

    Next month will mark the tenth anniversary of the Global Financial Crisis, and the developed world’s GDP per capita still lingers 20-25% below its pre-crisis long term trend. Were there no good economic policies to deal with the aftermath? Far from it, argues Anatole, but four features of post-crisis politics and ideology blocked constructive policy responses.

    2
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    Making Sense Of Mario Draghi

    Mario Draghi got people scratching their heads last month. “As the economy continues to recover, a constant policy stance will become more accommodative,” declared the European Central Bank president. “The central bank can accompany the recovery by adjusting the parameters of its policy instruments—not in order to tighten the policy stance, but to keep it broadly unchanged.”

    0
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    The Wile E. Coyote Moment

    Sometimes financial markets can look a lot like Wile E. Coyote. So intent was the old Looney Tunes character on chasing the Road Runner, that he somehow never realized when he had shot over the cliff’s edge. For a few moments he would continue in thin air, legs a blur, supported by momentum and incomprehension. Only when he looked down... In much the same way, financial markets often continue their trend after the underlying conditions change,...

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    On The Demise Of Populism

    Anyone who bought European equities in the wake of Emmanuel Macron’s impressive win in the French presidential election is down a few percent in euro terms and underperforming global equities by about 1%. Charles are Louis are not convinced that this can be explained away by the markets taking a “breather” after a big run up. They smell darker forces at work.

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    Gavekal Research

    Don’t Give Up On Eurozone Equities

    When a market fails to rally further on successive rounds of good news, investors can be forgiven for feeling a tad nervous about the outlook. It is little surprise, therefore, that many portfolio managers are expressing skepticism about the near-term sustainability of the bull market in eurozone equities. Since the election of Emmanuel Macron as French president two months ago, the macro headlines from the single currency area have been...

    0
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    Video: A Cure For The Italian Malaise

    Italy’s economy is enjoying a cyclical upswing, and a long-delayed banking clean-up is finally under way. But while both these developments are welcome, they are not sufficient to change the underlying picture. Nick argues there is little chance that the general election due to be held by May 2018 will produce a government strong enough to press ahead with reform.

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    The Real Macron

    On Monday Emmanuel Macron launched what is being dubbed an imperial presidency. He offered a neo-Gaullist vision of a strong leader nurturing a troubled nation’s recovery. Yet he also unfurled an electoral reform program aiming to break the old political duopoly. The worry is that Macron uses up his political capital and economic reform stalls.

    1
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    Sweden’s Secret Sauce

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

    1
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    Should Investors Chase Defense Stocks?

    Aside from health care, the other “Trump trade” that has worked wonders since November 9 has been defense stocks. After all, with the Dow Jones sector index up some 22% in the period, what’s not to like? On taking office, Donald Trump cranked up military spending, and during his state visit to Saudi Arabia in May secured weapon sales worth US$110bn. On Friday—just hours before Xi Jinping took the stage in Hong Kong to celebrate the 20th...

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    When Central Bankers Attempt To Change Direction

    In recent days , central bankers in the US and Europe have been signaling how much they want to end unconventional monetary policies and revert to a more normal monetary model that does not put asset prices at the heart of the system. It is a laudable aim. But, warns Charles in this piece, central bankers have seldom managed to transition from one monetary regime to another without causing convulsions in the financial markets. This time, the...

    1
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    Draghi’s Two Ps And The Euro

    When choosing three adjectives to describe the ECB’s evolving monetary policy stance, Mario Draghi this week alighted on confidence, persistence and prudence. Yet judging by the big reaction in currency and bond markets, traders ignored the two Ps and heard only about Draghi’s confidence in Europe’s strengthening recovery. Markets treated the speech as a unambiguous signal that the ECB is turning more hawkish.

    2
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    A Change In The Investment Environment?

    A couple of weeks ago, Louis asked if the downside breakout in bond yields (touching 2.10%) could foster a stable investment environment. At the time he foresaw three possible scenarios. After yesterday's hawkish pronouncements by multiple central banks, he is not so sure and is focusing on a narrower range of possibilities which may herald a new investment environment.

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    Common Sense Prevails In Italy

    The European Union authorities bowed to the inevitable yesterday. They agreed to let Rome spend as much as €17bn in Italian taxpayers’ cash to prevent losses among the senior bondholders and depositors in two Italian regional banks that the European Central Bank declared on Friday to be failing.

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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...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A British Rebalancing?

    Last week the Bank of England left interest rates unchanged, but three out of eight policymakers voted for a hike. In the past any weakness in UK consumption has been met with a soothing monetary response. The fact that the consumer looks increasingly forlorn, yet the BoE is hanging tough suggests the game has changed.

    0
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    The French Reset

    French voters have handed President Emmanuel Macron a clear parliamentary majority after his La République en Marche party yesterday secured an estimated 360 out of 577 seats. He will also get support from many of the 170 or so Republican and Socialist party deputies who were just elected. After a record low turnout, critics may question his moral authority, but there is no doubting that Macron is now the master of French politics. Hence, he is...

    0
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    May Day For Hard Brexit

    After the Conservative government of UK prime minister Theresa May lost its parliamentary majority in last week's general election, Anatole argues that the "hard Brexit" strategy formerly pursued by May no longer looks politically viable. That means a Norwegian-style soft Brexit is more likely, which makes sterling assets look relatively attractive.

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    Goldilocks Beds Down

    Headline attention today is clearly focused on the car-crash general election result for UK prime minister Theresa May. At the time of writing, it was still unclear whether May would be able to form a viable government after the vote. Unsurprisingly, the uncertainty triggered a steep 1.6% sell-off in sterling (see Trading The UK Election).

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Figuring Out Where The Ball Will Be

    Rugby players fall into one of two categories: the forwards, who typically go where the ball is (and in the process put their heads in places most sane people wouldn’t put their feet), and the backs, who try to go where the ball will be, which enables them to look good and keep their kit clean, but earns them the scorn of the forwards. Peter FitzSimons, the first Aussie to play for a French club (Brive), once remarked: “Come the revolution, the...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The UK’s Pre-Election Wobble

    In mid-April, when UK prime minister Theresa May took the decision to call a general election for June 8, she did so because she was confident her Conservative party would be returned to government with a massively increased parliamentary majority. Six weeks later, and with just one week of campaigning still to go, that confidence is a distant memory.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    German Ordo-liberalism vs French Keynesianism

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

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    ECB Normalization And Why Not To Worry About It

    The US Federal Reserve will almost certainly announce the second of this year’s rate hikes at its next policy meeting on June 14. The week before, on June 8, the European Central Bank will probably state for the first time in years that the risks to the eurozone are now balanced “symmetrically” instead of tilting unequivocally downwards. If they were brave they might even echo Benoit Coeuré, the French governing board member who in an interview...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    A Less Flexible Britain

    Yesterday saw the release of robust UK retail sales data for April that reversed a weakening trend and pointed to still strong consumers. So it was notable that on a day that confirmed British economic resilience despite attendant uncertainties, Prime Minister Theresa May effectively renounced free market policies that long have been core tenants of the Conservative Party credo.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    What Germany Wants

    What does Germany want? That was a question we asked in January as sabre rattling by the new US president unnerved Europe’s instinctive mercantilist. Our answer was that Germany was at a cross-roads in its modern history and could either double down on a narrow pursuit of surpluses, or instead embrace its European Union members with a fresh push to federalism. Monday’s meeting between Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel confirmed that the latter...

    0
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    Back To The Future

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

    2
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    Why A Brexit Deal May Not Be So Hard

    European Union membership entails four core freedoms—goods, services, capital and people. To keep the first three, but not the last one as the UK wants has been dubbed “having one’s cake and eating it”. The UK also wants to be exempt from the European Court of Justice’s control and to exit the EU customs union, opening the way for free trade agreements to be made elsewhere. The assumption is that these demands will ensure the UK ends up with a “...

    2
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    Video: How Brexit May Work

    The consensus is for a tortuous few years of negotiations between the UK and the European Union over the terms of Brexit and any subsequent free trade agreement. Following up on today’s Daily, Nick argues in this video interview that a deal may be easier than most people think. Moreover, the template for an FTA may already be in place.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    So It’s Macron. What Next?

    The French presidential election did not play out as Charles had expected. With Emmanuel Macron having achieved a decisive victory, he concedes that the En Marche! Party is likely to carry the momentum into next month’s parliamentary elections. What this means for investors is that France is likely to be politically stable in the coming few years and will not be the focal point of eurozone ructions.

    0
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    Macron And French Optionality

    For investors, the great benefit of Emmanuel Macron is that even if his big plans for change fizzle a nice cyclical economic recovery will almost certainly play out. If the president-elect defies the stereotypical view of France as being basically unreformable, the kicker is huge optionality built into asset values that have non-challenging valuations. Either way, Cedric argues that France represents a stand-out investment opportunity.

    0
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    Macron And A New Europe

    With the populist, anti-EU tide now clearly reversing, first in Holland, then last night in France and finally in September’s German elections, investors can put to rest their worries about a breakup of the euro or the European Union and focus instead on the continent’s economic and financial fundamentals. These fundamentals have been steadily improving since the European Central Bank began its enormous bond purchase program in March 2015.

    5
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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...

    2
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    A Positive Cycle For Eurozone Earnings

    For many investors, last night’s televised debate will have removed any lingering fears about French political risk, freeing them to focus on the eurozone earnings picture—which is increasingly rosy. The majority of pundits awarded the debate on points to centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron. Their verdict was that the performance of far-right Euroskeptic Marine Le Pen was insufficiently “presidential” to sway undecided voters. As a result,...

    0
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    An Alternative Explanation For The French Split

    One of the more interesting thinkers about the current political scene in France is Christophe Guilluy, an urban geographer and author of The Twilight of Elite France. His basic insight about French cities and by extension the structure of the French economy starts with the observation that most urban areas are divided into three concentric circles which contain very different social classes. Charles likes the argument which clearly illuminates...

    1
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    The Flip Side Of A Hard Brexit

    The pound has rallied strongly since Theresa May announced an early UK general election on April 18 and may soon break through US$1.30, opening the way for a rise back to levels not seen since last summer. This move has mostly been driven by politics in France, rather than Britain, but this may be about to change.

    1
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    The Underperformance Of Energy Stocks

    Charles likes to say that good money management often involves taking a few key decisions and sitting on them for a decade. In 1982, for example, the avoidance of energy and material stocks ensured almost 10 years of outperformance. In 1990, avoiding Japan paid off for two decades. In 2000, sidestepping TMT and underweighting the US dollar worked for almost a decade. In 2006, avoiding financials also paid off for a decade, as did underweighting...

    0
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    Video: The French Election And Beyond

    In these video interviews Cedric looks at likely scenarios in the second round of the French presidential election, while Nick considers the potential for a renewed Franco-German axis as the driver of progress in the European Union.

    0
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    Europe’s Road To Reflation

    With fears of a political upset laid to rest, the European reflation trade is in full swing. The flash eurozone composite PMI hit a six-year high last week, French manufacturing confidence is at its highest since June 2011, and the European Central Bank’s bank lending survey published yesterday showed that banks are continuing to relax credit standards as demand for borrowing grows. With employment growth lifting domestic demand and external...

    0
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    Stop Worrying And Buy Europe

    The market reaction made good sense, assuming that the opinion polls—which turned out to be uncannily accurate in the first round of the French election—prove right again and Emmanuel Macron wins by a landslide on May 7. The polls may, of course, be completely wrong and Marine Le Pen may become the next President of France, but for this to happen the polling error would have to be many times larger than it was in the case of Brexit or Trump.

    0
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    Takeaways From France’s First Round

    For once the opinion pollsters got things right. Although the candidates of France’s traditionally dominant left and right wing parties were both eliminated in yesterday’s first round presidential election, the political center held. Independent Europhile centrist Emmanuel Macron emerged with the largest share—23.9%—of the vote, for a second round face-off against nationalist Euroskeptic Marine Le Pen, who captured 21.4%.

    0
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    French Political Trouble Just Started

    Investors cheer the win of centrist Emmanuel Macron in the first round of the French presidential election, presuming a victory in the second round would mark the end of Euroskeptic populism. Charles is not so sure about this benign interpretation and argues that France may in fact be on the cusp of a new era of political instability.

    3
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    Final Thoughts On The French First Round

    Going into Sunday’s first round vote in France’s presidential election, it is widely assumed that yesterday’s tragic events on the Champs Élysées will boost nationalist-populist candidate Marine Le Pen. What is clear is that the race has tightened: centrist outsider Emmanuel Macron is polling at 24%, Le Pen at 22.5%, Republican François Fillon at 19% and firebrand socialist Jean-Luc Mélenchon at 18.5%. Here are some final thoughts for navigating...

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Target2 Fears Are Wide Of The Mark

    With Euroskeptic candidates showing strongly in the opinion polls ahead of France’s presidential election, Italy’s debt trap as inescapable as ever, and negotiations over the next round of Greece’s bail-out making little headway, talk about a possible break-up of the eurozone is once again doing the rounds. And as it does so, fears are rising about the growing magnitude of the European Central Bank’s Target2 balances, and the financial havoc...

    5
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    Pound’s Rally Based On Flawed Assumptions

    The spring sun was shining on UK prime minister Theresa May yesterday when she stood in Downing Street to announce a cut-and-run general election for June 8. The sun was shining too on sterling, which rallied 2% against the US dollar and 1.3% against the euro on the news. The market clearly expects that a greatly increased parliamentary majority for May’s Conservative government following the vote will boost the chances of a softer Brexit deal...

    2
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    Whether Or Not To Underweight The US

    Charles has been shifting his asset allocation recommendations in recent weeks away from US assets in favor of foreign alternatives. This was squarely valuation-based as his models show the US dollar, corporate bonds and equities to be overvalued. Here, he road tests this view by incorporating non-valuation-based macroeconomic factors into the analysis.

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    Beyond The Election Risk: Upturn Still Favors Eurozone Stocks

    For the next three weeks at least, the upcoming two-round French presidential election will continue to dictate short term sentiment among investors in the eurozone. Following a late surge in the opinion polls from far left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, two of the four leading contenders are now professed Euroskeptics. That knowledge has colored investor attitudes, keeping the spreads between French and German sovereigns elevated—the 10-year...

    0
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    The New EM Intervention Playbook

    In recent years emerging market central banks have taken to intervening to support their currencies against depreciation pressure using non-deliverable forward contracts settled in local currency, a technique that helps preserve the headline value of their foreign exchange reserves. Although the strategy bought time in Brazil and Mexico for more fundamental policy changes to take effect, non-deliverables are no magic bullet.

    0
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    Who The French Will Not Vote For

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

    10
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    Video: How To Play A Le Pen Victory

    In this follow-up to yesterday’s interview Charles outlines how investors can position themselves to hedge against a European Union breakup scenario that would likely follow from a Le Pen victory in the French presidential election.

    0
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    Video: The French Election

    In this interview Charles assesses the political situation ahead of France’s two-round presidential election, which kicks off later this month. Topping everyone’s list of questions is whether National Front leader Marine Le Pen will defy the opinion polls to win a surprise victory, and what a Le Pen presidency would mean for France and the European Union.

    0
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    E Pur Si Muove

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

    5
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    London Seminar — March 2017

    In Gavekal’s seminar in London last week Will Denyer, Charles Gave, Tom Miller and Anatole Kaletsky presented their macroeconomic outlooks and offered investors asset allocation advice.

    0
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    The Dollar In The Coming Quarter

    The first quarter of the year demonstrated once again that there is little more uncertain than a sure thing in the foreign exchange market. Rewind to mid-December, just before markets eased back for the holiday season, and the consensus firmly favored a stronger US dollar in 2017 . Of course, when sentiment is so strongly aligned, it means there are few marginal buyers left to enter the market. As a result, the consensus was confounded, as the...

    0
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    Strategy Monthly: Europe Braces For The French Election

    The macroeconomic stars are aligning for the eurozone. The region’s cyclical recovery is extending itself across economies and sectors alike. Inflation remains modest, reducing the chances of an early monetary tightening. Eurozone equities are relatively cheap in an expensive world. And the euro is fundamentally undervalued against the US dollar. However, the big risk for investors remains the possibility that nationalist euroskeptic Marine Le...

    0
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    Stay Long Ruble Bonds

    Russia has been a consensus overweight among emerging market managers since early 2016. They have been handsomely rewarded. Over the last 12 months, ruble-denominated Russian finance ministry bonds, known as OFZs, have returned 37% in US dollar terms. Small wonder then that over the same time period non-resident holdings of OFZs have increased from 21% of outstanding issuance to 27%. After such an impressive outperformance, it is natural to ask...

    0
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    Regulating Complex Systems

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

    3
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    Yes To Brexit, No To Rate Hikes

    Tomorrow should see the UK initiate its departure from the European Union by triggering Article 50 and starting the clock on a two year exit negotiation. Yet far from anxiously counting down the days, investors have spent the last week bidding sterling higher, largely on the belief that a robust UK economy may soon spur tighter monetary policy. That is probably a bullish interpretation too far, and the pound’s next significant move will probably...

    0
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    Europe’s Surest Bet

    As investors fret about the trajectory of US growth and the sustainability of the Trump reflation trade, Europe is getting drawn in. Sovereign yields fell pretty much across the board yesterday on worries that the eurozone’s gathering cyclical upturn could be disrupted. In this case, the thinking is that monetary stimulus by the European Central Bank gets extended. To our mind, such worries are overdone as—absent an external shock—Europe’s pick-...

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    Where The French Center May Fail

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

    2
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    The UK Nine Months After The Brexit Vote

    With Theresa May’s government set to begin the formal exit process from the European Union, Charles reckons now is the right time to step back and see just how the UK economy has fared in the nine months since that fateful referendum. In this concise chartbook, he tours Britain’s economic and market landscape and finds that value is to be had across multiple asset classes.

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    The Risk Picture Diminishes

    Yesterday’s 25bp rate rise from the US Federal Reserve was universally expected. The relative dovishness of Fed officials was not. With headline CPI inflation in the US running at a brisk 2.7% in February, ahead of the meeting at least some market participants had been pricing in four rate hikes this year. But after the latest dot plot signaled that policymakers continue to see only three hikes—including yesterday’s—in 2017, those expectations...

    0
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    The Importance Of The Dutch Election

    Today’s Dutch election may not seem very important in itself, since it is almost inconceivable that the anti-immigration Freedom Party of Geert Wilders will win enough votes to enter the next Dutch government. Nevertheless, the result—which is likely to be clear by around 0400 GMT Thursday—will have a big market impact. That’s because the Freedom Party’s performance will rightly be seen as a leading indicator of political events during the...

    3
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    The Best Macro Trade Of 2017

    What has been the world’s most crowded macro trade of the year to date? Not buying dollars, shorting US bonds or selling French OATs or sterling. The most over-extended speculative position in the world by historic standards has been the bullish exposure to crude oil. This began to reverse last week, and the -7% correction in Brent could soon turn into an avalanche.

    0
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    When A Less Dovish Dove Is A Hawk

    As changes of tone go, Mario Draghi’s was a muted shift. At yesterday’s meeting, the European Central Bank president said that the sense of urgency driving additional easing had diminished, and dropped his pledge to use all the weapons in the ECB’s arsenal to effect monetary accommodation. Interest rates will still remain negative for an extended period, and quantitative easing will continue at least until the end of the year. But while the...

    0
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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 Prime Minister Has No Clothes

    Britain’s House of Lords passed a crucial amendment yesterday to Theresa May’s Brexit bill. This amendment would give Parliament a “meaningful vote” at the end of the Brexit negotiations and could offer the possibility of stopping Brexit or seeking to extend the negotiations beyond the 2019 deadline, if the deal Mrs May brings home next year is deemed to be not good enough. Anatole argues this is a game changer for opponents of Brexit.

    7
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    Video: The Self-Sustaining Eurozone Recovery

    A broadening and deepening of the eurozone’s economic recovery suggests that the expansion has finally become self-sustaining. The worry is that a political shock from upcoming national elections tips the single currency area back into crisis. Nick Andrews does not think such a bearish outcome is likely, and in this video explains his preferred investment strategy.

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    The Upside Of Eurozone Inflation

    As even formerly dovish policymakers on the Federal Open Market Committee have hardened their rhetoric in recent days, the US dollar has strengthened, with the bilateral EUR/USD rate falling back to dip briefly below the US$1.05 mark late Tuesday. Whether the US dollar’s run-up can be sustained is questionable, however. With the market expecting three US rate hikes this year, the US dollar appears priced for a “Trumpflation” outcome that both...

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    The Battle To Command The Logos

    The “Logos” encompasses a society’s language, its way of looking at the world, and its dominant political narrative—he who commands it has his hands on all the levers of political power. Every so often, however, a new communication technology emerges that allows the rise of a new Logos to challenge the old.

    6
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    The Eurozone’s Ongoing Rebalancing

    Yesterday the European Commission criticized Germany for its “persistently high current account surplus”. Berlin should take more steps to boost domestic demand in Germany, Brussels suggested, in order to trim its external surplus and to help the rest of the euro-area rebalance. It is hardly new advice, but the EC does not seem optimistic it will be heeded anytime soon. In the same release, it forecast that Germany’s current account surplus will...

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    Hong Kong Seminar — February 2017

    Gavekal’s global macroeconomic seminar in Hong Kong in February featured Anatole Kaletsky, Will Denyer and Louis-Vincent Gave. They presented on the global investment outlook under a Trump presidency, the decline in US productivity, and the sustainability of the "Trumpflation" rally.

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    A Methodology For Playing The Eurozone Bond Markets

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

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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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    It’s Time To Buy French Equities

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

    6
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    The Eurozone’s Silver Lining

    Just as it has been hard to work up much excitement over the last couple of years about the eurozone’s grinding emergence from economic despond, so investors should not be too downhearted at the latest lackluster growth data. Yesterday Eurostat revised down its flash estimate for 4Q2016 eurozone GDP growth to 0.4% QoQ, compared with its advance estimate of 0.5% released two weeks ago. The downward revision was due mainly to weaker than expected...

    3
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    In Dutch With The Electorate

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

    1
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    Choosing Between Disadvantages

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

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    Germany And The Greek Question

    Last month Cedric Gemehl and I argued that the new geopolitical back-drop offered by Donald Trump had changed the basic strategic equation for Germany. Berlin could respond by doubling down on its mercantilist impulses, or alternatively embrace its eurozone partners. An interesting test case of our hypothesis has just arisen: yes, the Greek problem is back on the agenda.

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    The End Of The European Dream

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

    4
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    The Eurozone Upturn Continues

    The data flow out of the eurozone—both forward and backward-looking—continues to paint a picture of accelerating activity, subdued core inflation, ongoing monetary accommodation, and—most notably for investors—improving corporate earnings.

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    The Real Political Risk In France

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

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    Points Of Agreement And Dissent

    Last week Louis laid out his roadmap for navigating financial markets in 2017. In this follow-up, Anatole picks up on five debating points, and details where and why he agrees or disagrees with Louis.

    2
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    The “Experts” May Yet Be Right

    Last week Louis set out a comprehensive roadmap for 2017. I have just five points to add: two points of strong agreement (on Europe and the oil price); two of dissent (on US bonds and Britain); and one that echoes Louis’s uncertainty and anxiety, but for slightly different reasons (about the pressures on the US dollar and what they could mean for emerging markets). I will explore these specific issues of agreement and dissent in a lengthier...

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    Drawing Meaning From 2016, And A Roadmap For 2017

    Having experienced a rough 2016, the temptation for most investors is to clean the slate and start again. Unfortunately, life in financial markets does not allow for such neat endings. In one of his biggest reports in years, Louis argues that after such a complex and tumultuous year, it is essential for investors to draw a breath and derive some understanding of what just happened. Only then should they try to sketch out future scenarios.

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    The Return Of German Inflation

    Inflation is re-emerging in Germany, and a tightening labor market implies inflationary pressures will continue to mount in what could promise to become the great German reflation that many have long looked for to rebalance the eurozone economy. Yet rising inflation threatens to erode one of the central tenets of the German economic model.

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    Germany’s Date With Destiny

    Germany, more than any other European economy, has relied on the US-dictated, rules-based international system to define its post-World War II identity. Germany’s highly specialized export-orientated economy has thrived within the World Trade Organization and its security has been ensured by the American nuclear umbrella. It is not clear whether Donald Trump’s recent broadside against Berlin reflects a permanent rupture in that order, but...

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    Hard Brexit Means Soft Sterling

    Since the June referendum the only real choice for Britain has been Hard Brexit or No Brexit. The No Brexit option disappeared as soon as Theresa May became prime minister under the slogan “Brexit means Brexit”. Barring some deus ex machina that swept May out of power, that left only one possibility: a rock-hard Brexit.

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    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research January Call

    Charles Gave argued that Donald Trump’s protectionist policy could lead to a breakdown of the post-1971 fiat money system that is based on a US dollar standard. Will Denyer deconstructed the likely workings of a new trade taxation regime in the US and explained what that means for currencies. Arthur Kroeber outlined the likely Chinese response to a US trade broadside and argued that Beijing was decently well placed to weather the attack.

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    Video: A Coming US-China Trade War?

    In this video interview Arthur explains how a US-China trade war may play out and the implication for capital outflows from China

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    Video: The Dissonance In US-China Relations

    Once Donald Trump occupies the White House he is sure to take aim at China in the form of new tariffs, anti-dumping actions and the labeling of the country as a currency manipulator. What is unclear is whether such actions reflect a tough negotiating stance, or instead a fundamental shift in the strategic equation. In this video interview, Arthur explains why the mixed messages coming out of Washington have the potential to spark a dangerous...

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    Political Fiction

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

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    A Very Turkish Mess

    Get into a taxi in Rio de Janeiro, Jakarta or Cape Town, and ask for that day’s US dollar exchange rate, and the chances are that the driver will know the answer to within a decimal point. Try the same thing in Tokyo, London or Berlin and you will likely receive a blank stare. My anecdote reflects a simple reality: most people in emerging markets think in two currencies: their own and the US dollar. This highlights most emerging market consumers...

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    Firing On Three Cylinders

    The upturn in the eurozone continues to gain momentum. The recovery in France which long has been among the European economy's laggards, coupled with brisk activity in Germany and Spain, suggests that the eurozone is now firing on three of its four main cylinders in a cyclical upswing that promises to become self-sustaining.

    1
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    The Gavekal Monthly: Our Top 12 Questions For 2017

    For our first Monthly of the year, we depart from our normal format to offer our thoughts on the dozen most important questions investors must face this year. Not surprisingly, the issues that rose to the top were the impact of the new Trump administration's policies on the dollar and US bond yields, and whether the eurozone will spend the year tearing itself apart. Also,oil prices, the risk of financial implosion in China, and where to...

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    A Higher Headline CPI Does Not Spell ECB Tapering

    According to the financial media, eurozone inflation is “soaring”. The initial estimate released yesterday showed that consumer price index inflation picked up to 1.1% year-on-year in December, from 0.6% the previous month. That is the fastest rate since 2013. What’s more the rise occurred against a background of generally accelerating economic activity. In December, the eurozone composite PMI ticked up to 54.4, its highest reading since May...

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    The Crisis Of Market Fundamentalism

    After 2008, the prevailing market fundamentalism forbade political interventions that could have shared the benefits of capitalism while mitigating its costs to specific people. The result was a post-crisis confusion and disillusionment whose political effects we witnessed last year—and which has not yet ended.

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    A €20bn Start In Italy

    Yesterday the Italian government said it would seek the permission of parliament to raise €20bn in new debt to fund the recapitalization of the country’s weakest banks. Although Italy’s politicians had been earnestly hoping to avoid overt state involvement in bank restructuring, this could well turn out to be a positive development. Coupled with encouraging progress towards the private sector clean-up of Italy’s biggest bank, a well managed...

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    The Dollar Surge Continues, For Now

    Louis likes to say that the foreign exchange market is a serial monogamist. At any one time, the market is faithful to a single idea. The trouble is that at any moment it is liable to switch the object of its affections. Right now the foreign exchange market is clearly still smitten by the Trumpflation trade. Following the US Federal Reserve’s decision earlier this week to raise interest rates, yesterday the US currency’s DXY index climbed to...

    2
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    Our 2016 Holiday Reading List

    “All books are divisible into two classes,” said John Ruskin, “the books of the hour, and the books of all time.” This year’s list of works enjoyed by Gavekal staff in 2016 includes books from both categories; among them are an account of Russian nationalism, an examination of the sharing economy, and a look at the future of Japan. Happy reading.

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