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E.g., 20-09-2017
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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...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Very British Zombie Apocalypse

    After the Bank of England signaled its intent to raise interest rates yesterday, sterling jumped more than 1% against the US dollar and the international FTSE 100 index fell similarly. With the UK’s latest inflation reading rising to 2.9% and unemployment hitting a post-1975 low of 4.3%, it is increasingly hard to justify leaving the policy lending rate at 0.25%. One argument for deferring hikes is the UK’s lack of wage growth, but such thinking...

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    2002 All Over Again For Europe?

    The eurozone’s recovery is speeding up despite the unresolved “original sin” of lumping a single currency on to a heterogeneous economy. Yesterday Charles argued that this conceit meant the next big move for Europe would be back toward crisis, and among other things investors should avoid eurozone banks. I would not dispute this basic analysis, but take a different view on timing.

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    Gavekal Research

    Italy: The Bear Case

    No chain is stronger than its weakest link, and the eurozone’s weakest link is Italy. Growth has picked up over the last two years, but as Charles demonstrates in this paper, the Italian economy is uncompetitive both within the eurozone and on the global stage. With the rise in the euro exacerbating the problem, and the prospect of ECB tapering threatening to push up Rome’s funding costs, Italy risks falling once again into a debt trap.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Time For A Eurozone Reality Check

    A new wave of optimism is sweeping across the eurozone. Disconcerted by the single currency area’s new-found economic buoyancy, confirmed euroskeptic Charles reviews the structural trends at work in the eurozone to determine whether it is finally time to throw in the towel on his longstanding euro-pessimism.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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    Gavekal Research

    Macron Goes To Work On Reform

    The moment of truth is approaching for French president Emmanuel Macron. Four months after he pledged an early reform of France’s overly rigid labor market he is pushing ahead. On Thursday the French government unveiled proposals to the lighten the regulatory burden on employers and clear away the legal uncertainties that have long deterred businesses from hiring.

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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

    Korean Rage And European Angst

    When North Korea fired off another ballistic missile yesterday morning the immediate response of investors in the most directly affected neighboring economies was to shrug. Curiously it took far-away Europe to get in a flap, with the euro soaring and equities falling. Granted, currency players were also reacting to the Texas flooding, especially as London was closed for a public holiday on Monday. Yet it was strange for the region least...

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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.

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    Gavekal Research

    Despite Draghi, Flows Favor The Euro

    All eyes will be on Mario Draghi this week. Last Thursday’s release of minutes from July’s European Central Bank monetary policy meeting highlighted policymakers’ unease at the strength of the euro. The suspicion now is that the ECB president may attempt to talk down the euro when he stands up to make his lunchtime speech this Friday at Jackson Hole. Yet even if Draghi does play down the prospect of an early or rapid ECB exit from either...

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    Gavekal Research

    In Work But Out Of Pocket

    Data released yesterday showed that the UK’s unemployment rate fell to 4.4% in the second quarter, its lowest since the second quarter of 1975 (when Britons voted by a 34pp margin in favor of membership of the precursor to the European Union). Yet despite the lowest unemployment in generations, wage growth in the UK remains for the most part missing in action. Workers’ total earnings rose by a muted 2.1% in 2Q. With CPI inflation running at a...

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    Gavekal Research

    The Strangulation Of Enterprise

    Zero interest rates have made a great many people a great deal richer. But paradoxically they have strangled wealth creation. The reason for this is that enterprise is overwhelmingly a phenomenon found among smaller companies. Among big companies it is a rare and ailing quality. Quite simply, the overriding goal of every big company is to transform itself into a monopoly, so it can move away from having to earn its profits towards collecting...

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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

    Testing Europe’s Escape Velocity

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

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    Gavekal Research

    Love The Economy, Hate Economists

    Charles is proud of his data-driven approach to economic analysis and is not impressed with the methods applied by much of the modern economics profession. More to the point, he thinks that most modern economic remedies have negatively impacted the growth outlook and dulled investment performance.

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    Gavekal Research

    Leading Europe Into Reflation

    The Czech National Bank has become the first central bank in Europe to raise interest rates in this cycle. Yesterday the CNB lifted its policy rate from 0.05% to 0.25%, its first rate hike since 2008. Where the Czechs are leading, others, including the European Central Bank, will follow—but in the case of the ECB, likely not for another two years or more.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Brexit Talks Don’t Matter

    The details of the Brexit talks between the British government and Brussels are far less important, argues Charles in this paper, than the blow Britain’s referendum vote has dealt to the technocratic principles which underpin the European Union’s power structure. The pillars of the temple are crumbling, and sooner or later the edifice must fall.

    14
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    Gavekal Research

    Get Selective Over Eurozone Stocks

    Emmanuel Macron’s political honeymoon proved short-lived, but the new French president’s honeymoon with eurozone equity investors was over before it began. In a classic case of buy the rumor sell the fact, the euro Stoxx index peaked on May 5, the last trading day before the second round of the French presidential election. That run-up had been driven by receding fears of deflation, as investors embraced the idea of eurozone reflation, coupled...

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    Gavekal Research

    The Battle Of Brexit Is Over

    Judging by statements made by two of the most fervent Europhobes in Theresa May’s cabinet, Soft Brexit has emerged the victor over Hard Brexit. While this means the UK's exit will be postponed during a transition period, and possibly beyond, Anatole argues this comes with its own drawbacks and risks. Things are likely to get worse before they get better.

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    Gavekal Research

    When Smoking Pays

    Baseball cards, Beanie Babies, bitcoins... For the last eight years, governments have regarded them as much the same sort of thing, taking a broadly tolerant attitude to the proliferation of crypto-currencies. Not anymore. Yesterday the US SEC declared that blockchain-based digital tokens such as bitcoin are in fact securities and thus subject to the full panoply of SEC regulation.

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    Gavekal Research

    Big Tech Is Not Standard Oil

    Back in May, Louis warned that the regulatory knives were coming out for Big Tech. In the worst case scenario for the dominant technology giants that have done so much to drive the stock market to new highs, Louis argued that they could even face the same treatment that Standard Oil received at the hands of the US government in 1911. Investors were forcibly reminded of this tightening regulatory squeeze yesterday when Google parent Alphabet...

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    The Eurozone Is Now So Far Behind The US, It’s In Front

    Among the many tricky tasks facing investors is to determine the relative positions of the US and eurozone economies in their respective business cycles. Over the preceding two cycles—the ones that peaked in 2000/01 and 2005/06—the two economies moved broadly in phase, with the eurozone lagging the US by around one year. Estimates from the International Monetary Fund and OECD suggest that that relative position is largely unchanged, with the...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Draghi Can’t Lean Against The Euro’s Rise

    After the euro broke out of its three-year trading range last week, it is reasonable to assume that the European Central Bank would much rather see a big correction than a further move to the upside. But central bankers can’t always get what they want—and their powers to control the currency markets are much more limited than generally assumed by day traders and media headline writers.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Life’s Certainties And The Euro

    There are very few certainties in life. Death, taxes, US consumers living beyond their means, and Italian central bankers talking down their currency are pretty much the only things I have learnt in my career to be inevitable. Sure enough, Mario Draghi came out yesterday doing his best to sound as dovish as he possibly could. That did not stop the euro from surging past its ceiling of US$1.15 to reach US$1.1620.

    1
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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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    Gavekal Research

    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...

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    Gavekal Research

    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.

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    Gavekal Research

    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.”

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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    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.

    5
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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...

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    Gavekal Research

    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.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    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...

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    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.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    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.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    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.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    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

    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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    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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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    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...

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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.

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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%.

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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.

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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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    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...

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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...

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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...

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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...

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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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    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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    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.

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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...

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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...

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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.

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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.

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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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    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 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.

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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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