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E.g., 26-04-2018
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    Gavekal Research

    Still Bond Bears

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

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    Gavekal Research

    Emerging Markets And Energy

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

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    Gavekal Research

    No Time To Give Up On Europe

    Even as winter descended in January, the economic climate seemed decidedly balmy. Eurozone growth for 4Q17 came in at 2.7% YoY, while the year’s first PMI peaked at a post-2006 high of 58.8. Investors liked the idea of deflation finally being slain and a possible earlier-than-expected normalization of monetary policy. Alas the fun didn’t last as a series of data disappointments punctured an equity rally that had been led by financials. My bet is...

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    Gavekal Research

    Hong Kong Seminar — April 2018

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

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    Gavekal Research

    La France En Grève

    Once again, French public sector workers are en grève—on strike. In the last couple of weeks, railway workers, air traffic controllers and teachers (and their students) have walked out in protest against Emmanuel Macron’s structural reforms. Inevitably such broad opposition to official policy has prompted memories of 1995, and even 1968. But as Cedric explains, times have moved on, and today the public is more ready than ever before to...

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    Gavekal Research

    After Constructive Engagement

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

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    Gavekal Research

    Reasons To Buy The Dip

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

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    Gavekal Research

    Ready For A Further P/E Derating

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

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    Gavekal Research

    Following Yesterday’s Pullback

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

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: Navigating In Choppy Waters

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

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    Gavekal Research

    On Protectionism

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

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    Gavekal Research

    Farewell My Lovely Bull Market

    No doubt market pundits will go on discussing the trigger of last week’s sell-off in equity markets and debating its implications ad nauseam. But whatever the proximate cause of the latest risk-off, it is looking increasingly as if the uncomplicated, low volatility bull-market-in-everything that prevailed through much of last year is now no more than a pleasant memory. With markets apparently intent on retesting the lows set in early February,...

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    Gavekal Research

    London Seminar — March 2018

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

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    Gavekal Research

    Legitimacy Versus Legality

    France’s top central banker yesterday called for the nations of the eurozone to cease bickering over ideological questions, and instead get things done. National leaders should stop wasting time on “theoretical debates” that pitted “risk reduction against risk sharing”, said Francois Villeroy de Galhau. They should, instead, tackle real problems like the half-built capital markets union. It was the authentic voice of the European technocracy and...

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    Gavekal Research

    A Fork In The Road For European Equities

    In the first half of last year making money in European stocks was easy as benchmarks steamed higher on hopes that less political risk would allow an economic surge into sunlit uplands. It has not exactly worked out that way. Such has been the loss of momentum that both the MSCI EMU and broader MSCI Europe indexes have plunged below their 200-day moving averages (just as worrying for tea leaf readers, the 50-day moving average for the narrower...

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    Gavekal Research

    Playing Russia’s Continued Recovery

    The result of this weekend’s Russian presidential election is not in doubt. But investors in Russia face considerable uncertainty. Despite monetary policy and exchange rate liberalization, Russia has made little progress towards the structural reforms needed to boost its potential growth rate above rock-bottom levels. Nevertheless, cyclical tailwinds mean there are still some attractive pockets of opportunity for international investors.

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    Gavekal Research

    What A Trade War Means For Europe

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

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    Gavekal Research

    Another Finest Hour

    At Gavekal, we have no house view, but in recent weeks something of a united front has formed among my erudite colleagues on the subject of Europe and her politics. Just to be sure that clients don’t conclude that we have all imbibed the Brussels-dispensed Kool Aid, let me offer my take on the situation and the implication for financial asset values.

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    Gavekal Research

    Change And Stasis In Italy

    In Italy’s general election on Sunday, the anti-establishment Five Star Movement emerged as the largest single party in each chamber of parliament, and the populist Lega eclipsed Silvio Berlusconi’s Forze Italia to dominate the right of Italian politics. Following these changes, it is hard to see how any plausible combination of parties can secure a stable majority in both houses of parliament. As Cedric and Anatole explain, the most likely...

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    Gavekal Research

    Time To Stop Worrying About EU Political Risk

    Is it time for investors to finally forget about “political risk” in the eurozone? Judging by the weekend’s events in Germany and Italy the answer is an emphatic “Yes”. The big event was the overwhelming vote by Germany’s Social Democratic Party to participate in a “grand coalition” with the center-right. This means that Angela Merkel will be reappointed for a fourth term as chancellor. Thus Germany will have a stable government with no serious...

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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: Trading On European Diversity

    The European economic recovery has matured into a sustained, broad-based expansion, and the risks from politics and ECB policy normalization are modest. But eurozone equity indexes have not done well. In relative terms, they started trading sideways after Macron's victory in the French election last May, and for the past several months they have underperformed. The fault lies in the indexes, not in Europe's corporate sector. The...

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    Gavekal Research

    The New Challenge Confronting Investors

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

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    What Lies Beneath

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

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    Gavekal Research

    Eurozone Growth: Blip, Peak Or Plateau?

    European growth was always going to soften at some point; the question is whether this week’s squishy data releases reflect a fizzling out of the upswing, or merely an inevitable maturing of the cycle. The fact that the deterioration unfolded during a market dislocation that did not originate in Europe certainly gives succor to skeptics who see the single currency area as the soft underbelly of the current global synchronized upturn.

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    Gavekal Research

    Bond Market Risks

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

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    Gavekal Research

    A Very British Tightening

    Last week, the Bank of England upped its UK growth forecast and signaled that interest rates may be raised harder and faster than expected. This week, Theresa May’s government maintained its muddled passage towards a European Union exit, which has increasingly fretful multinationals warning that Britain’s economy could be headed for the rocks. Even, if like me, you think the UK will secure an eventual squishy-type deal with the EU that involves...

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    Gavekal Research

    EMs And The Global Cycle

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

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    Gavekal Research

    Five Ways To Play European Equities

    After a traumatic couple of weeks in the equity markets, Nick and Cedric take this opportunity to revisit their longstanding advice that investors should overweight European mid-caps exposed to the eurozone’s cyclical upturn. As they explain in this report, that call still holds, and they suggest three sectors where investors should look to buy the dip, and two that portfolio managers would do well to avoid.

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    Gavekal Research

    Behind The Market’s Inability To Rally

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The End Of Germany’s ‘Nein’ Policy?

    On the face of it, yesterday’s coalition deal between Angela Merkel’s center -right grouping and the Social Democratic Party differed little from that agreed last month. In addition to domestic stimulus measures it backed more European integration. Yet look closer and the German political landscape may just have been roiled by an earthquake, for while Merkel should stay chancellor the new man at the finance ministry is set to be Olaf Scholz, the...

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    Gavekal Research

    Nobody Rings A Bell At The Top Of A Market

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

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    Gavekal Research

    Parsing The Market Sell-Off

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

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: Portfolio Strategy For An Inflationary World

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

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    Gavekal Research

    Real Yields, The Euro And The Dollar

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

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Eastern Europe's Equity Sweet Spot

    The big issue facing investors globally is whether inflation makes a Lazarus-like comeback. But in one significant economic region, it is already alive and kicking. Eastern Europe experienced a painful deflation and repricing after the 2008 crisis, but inflation is now well above 2.5%. Having underperformed for many years, Cedric argues that its financial-heavy equity indexes should continue to do well in an environment of strong domestic demand...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Mnuchin’s Weak Dollar

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

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    A “Once In A Generation” Shift

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

    10
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    Gavekal Research

    The German Coalition And Europe

    Late Sunday, party delegates of Germany’s social democrat SPD voted 362 to 279 to begin formal coalition talks with chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU conservatives. Hurdles still remain, but our base case is that the weekend’s vote paves the way for the formation of a Grand Coalition by April. After months without a stable government, any reduction in uncertainty will naturally be positive for markets. But for investors, the most significant...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    From Recovery To Expansion

    Perception is a funny thing. Yesterday President Emmanuel Macron pitched up in London and wowed the British by loaning them a 70 meter piece of embroidered propaganda that celebrates their conquest 950 years ago. By contrast, the last French president to visit Britain had a pint of warm beer with David Cameron in a pub and no one noticed. A similarly discombobulated dynamic can be seen in European equity markets, where years of pessimism have...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Five Big Bond Market Questions

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Don’t Fear The End Of The Bond Bull Market

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

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Spending Again In Germany

    Picture the typical German consumer. The image that comes to mind is almost certainly of a deeply conservative individual: cautious, thrifty in his or her spending habits, and with a deep-seated aversion to maxing out the credit card. As with most stereotypes, this one has some foundation in experience. But like many, it also looks increasingly out of date. While Germany’s booming export sector has got most of the attention recently, it is...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: Everything Looks Fine, But…

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    France: Believe The Hype

    A basic assumption among Anglo-Saxon investors has been that France, for all its nice food, good wine and smart infrastructure, was the unreformable economy. Then Emmanuel Macron came along promising to fix things, duly got elected president, orchestrated a thumping parliamentary majority and actually began to deliver on promises.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    The Drains On Liquidity

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

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    The Big Questions For 2018

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

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    German Overheating? No, Eurozone Rebalancing

    In early November, Germany’s Council of Economic Experts, a panel of five heavyweights that advises the government, declared there were clear signs that Europe’s largest economy was running above potential and at risk of overheating. Three weeks later inflation data showed that consumer prices rose by a faster than expected 1.8% year-on-year in October, up from 1.5% in September, with the core ex-energy and food inflation rate also surprising to...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Persistence Of European Political Risk

    This was supposed to be the year that European political risk was laid to rest by the spring defeats of populist Euro-skeptic parties in the Dutch and French elections. But as 2017 draws to a close, anyone glancing at the headlines from Europe is likely to come away with the impression that reports of the demise of political risk were ludicrously premature. A rundown of this week’s news, from today’s regional election in Catalonia, through...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Cui Bono?

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

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Where Has Eurozone Inflation Gone?

    The eurozone’s recovery continues, but all is not proceeding quite as expected. At its meeting last week, the European Central Bank’s governing council raised its forecasts for eurozone growth over the next two years to reflect the single currency area’s strengthening cyclical upswing. But while growth is accelerating, inflation remains largely missing in action, with the ECB last week revising down its forecasts for core inflation.

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