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E.g., 26-03-2019
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    Gavekal Research

    The Gavekal Monthly: How Long Can The Rally Last?

    Investors enjoyed a surprisingly upbeat summer with the World MSCI close to an all-time high and emerging markets continuing to benefit disproportionately. Yet with the Federal Reserve sounding increasingly hawkish, earnings looking soft and political uncertainty remaining the order of the day, this Gavekal Monthly focuses on threats to the current benign market mood.

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    The Falling Natural Rate Is No Mystery

    As the high priests of global central banking congregate in Jackson Hole, much of the chatter ahead of the meeting has concentrated on the “mystifying” fall over recent years in the natural rate of interest, and possible reasons why it should have declined to such an extent. Having spent the last ten years attempting to apply the economic theories of the great 19th century Swedish economist Knut Wicksell, I have to say I am delighted with the...

    6
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    Battered But Still Standing

    Battered by terrorist attacks and crippling strikes, France has hardly been having a good time of it. These problems were amply reflected in second quarter growth data which stalled after a mildly encouraging 0.7% QoQ rise in the first quarter. Yet a decent flash PMI for August—which rose to a 10-month high of 51.6—suggests an underlying resilience, which may render the 2Q16 soft patch a blip on a modest, but concerted, economic upturn of the...

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    Gavekal Research

    Renzi’s Great Gamble

    Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has bet his premiership on a referendum over constitutional reform. It is a high stakes gamble. Renzi’s promise to step down if there is a “No” vote has turned the referendum into a vote of confidence in the government, its Europhile policies, and Italy’s membership of the eurozone itself.

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    Gavekal Research

    A Brexit-Induced Recantation

    Exactly two months have now passed since the Brexit referendum. It is now an appropriate time to review what has happened, and what hasn’t, since June 23. As a quintessential member of the elite that was angrily repudiated by a majority of British voters, this referendum was a profound emotional trauma. Therefore, my initial reaction turned out to be completely wrong.

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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Italy's Constitutional Referendum

    Nick presents what's at stake in Italy's upcoming constitutional referendum, and what it could mean for the European Union

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    Gavekal Research

    Video: The Politics Of Italy's Referendum

    Stefano Capacci On The Politics Of Italy's Referendum

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    Gavekal Research

    The Euro And Mean Reversion

    Among my long-standing decision rules is one that generally proved reliable in the past. If two developed and open market economies trade freely with each other, then over the long run the return on invested capital in each economy will tend to be the same. In turn, this implies that over the long run, the ratio of total returns from each stock market will exhibit no trend in common currency terms. This makes intuitive sense—if one market...

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    Ripples In The Eurodollar Market

    The Eurodollar market is making waves. While most benchmark interest rates around the world have been stable or softening, US dollar Libor has bucked the trend. Over the last seven weeks three-month Libor has climbed by almost 20bp to a shade over 0.8%. Meanwhile the TED spread, which effectively measures interbank credit risk by tracking the spread between Eurodollar rates and three-month US Treasury bill yields, has shot to its widest since...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Eurozone Equities Ride Again

    Eurozone equities have been sucked higher in the post-Brexit global rally, but with earnings showing a mild pick-up and fears of a populist political contagion fading, the hope is that a 15 month downtrend has been broken. On a technical level the MSCI EMU’s 200-day moving average has flattened out nicely, and with the DAX on Tuesday hitting a high for the year, German stocks look as if they could break out. As to whether the broader market can...

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    Gavekal Research

    Behind The BoE’s Positive Thinking

    Yesterday the Bank of England rolled out the artillery it plans to deploy against the UK’s fast-materializing post-referendum slowdown. Yet for all the effect they are likely to have, the Bank’s big guns might as well be peashooters. Although the Bank’s new forecasts suggest the UK is heading for a period of stagnation, rather than outright economic contraction, all the latest forward-looking indicators point to a severe recession starting in...

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    Gavekal Research

    The Cracks Begin To Appear

    Backward-looking data has held up surprisingly well in the UK since June’s Brexit vote. It is not that second quarter GDP growth came in ahead of expectations at 0.6% QoQ; only one week of 2Q fell after the referendum. However, despite dire warnings of the damage June’s “Leave” vote would inflict on the UK’s all-important property market, home prices proved remarkably resilient in July. The Nationwide house price index rose 0.5% MoM, an...

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    Gavekal Research

    The EM Equity Question

    Despite this year’s strong run-up, there remain good reasons to stick with emerging market assets. The twin impact of collapsed borrowing costs amid a renewed global hunt for yield, and greatly reduced exchange rate volatility has been the ideal environment for EM yield curve flattening trades.

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    Gavekal Research

    One Certainty In An Uncertain World

    In an uncertain world, in which Brexit, the US presidential elections, the future of the eurozone, are all strewn with wild cards whose potential impact is impossible to quantify, investors are left grasping for certainties. One is that whatever happens in the near term, the European Central Bank will continue to buy financial assets, including corporate debt.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Way Ahead For Italian Banks

    On Friday, the European Banking Authority will publish the results of its 2016 stress tests. Although 51 banks from across the European Union have been tested, attention will focus most closely on the results of the five Italian banks covered. With Italy’s banking system widely identified as the most likely locus of a new eurozone crisis, bankers, politicians and investors are all hoping for the “best” likely result. This would see all the banks...

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    Gavekal Research

    The Constraints Of ECB Stimulus

    Already fragile, eurozone confidence has taken a further beating in the last four weeks. In one of the first data releases since last month’s Brexit vote, the ZEW index of German economic sentiment plunged to -6.8 yesterday from 19.2 in June, its steepest fall since 2012. With growth in the eurozone’s principal economic driver likely to soften as confidence deteriorates, expectations are mounting that the European Central Bank will respond by...

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    Gavekal Research

    Why Brexit Still May Not Happen

    With a newly installed British prime minister gravely intoning that “Brexit means Brexit” and having just appointed a cabal of Brexiters to run the UK’s exit strategy from the European Union, it would look to be game-over. Anatole would beg to differ and explains why there remains a strong likelihood that the UK government will change tack in the face of different circumstances than prevailed at the time of last month’s referendum.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Post-Brexit Rally: Head Fake Or Game-Changer?

    Let’s face it, few expected the rally in global risk assets of the past ten days. Even investors who, like Charles, believed that Brexit was a fundamentally positive development did not expect positivity to erupt quite so suddenly. Yet, here we are, with the Nikkei up 10% since its post-Brexit low, the S&P 500 breaking out to new highs and the Shanghai benchmark above 3,000. Will it last?

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    Gavekal Research

    A Fundamental Assault On Freedom

    Of all basic freedoms, one of the most fundamental of all is the freedom of the individual to organize his or her relationship with time. The way we order our affairs with respect to the all too brief time allocated to us on this earth is a profound right that we all should be allowed to exercise unhindered. In short, everyone should be free to choose whether to be an ant or a grasshopper.

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    Gavekal Research

    Sterling’s Automatic Stabilizer

    As international investors question the ability of a post-Brexit UK to attract the capital inflows needed to finance its hefty current account deficit, the pound is tumbling. Yesterday cable briefly dipped below US$1.28, its lowest since the summer of 1985 just ahead of the Plaza Accord to weaken the super-strong US dollar. And many analysts believe the pound’s fall has further to run, with several houses targeting exchange rates of US$1.20, US$...

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    Gavekal Research

    Can The Russian Bear Turn Into A Bull?

    This month Russia’s Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company delivered two 100-seater passenger airplanes to the regional Irish carrier CityJet, and has orders for 13 more over the next year. The news caught our eye as it is the first time the Russian plane maker has broken into the European aviation market. As economists rather than aviation experts, it got us wondering whether Russia is finally curing itself of a decade-long bout of “Dutch disease” as...

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    Gavekal Research

    The Options For Italy

    In the wake of the Brexit vote, investors fearful of contagion have woken to the slow-burn banking crisis in Italy. It should have been news to no one that Italy’s banks are sitting on non-performing loans. Yet with the sector index down -30%, banks are suddenly front and center in investors’ minds as the next source of European uncertainty.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Italian Problem

    The British were recently asked if they wanted to leave the European Union and to the establishment’s horror, they chose to do just that. Italy will host Europe’s next big referendum in November with Prime Minister Matteo Renzi threatening to resign if his package of constitutional reforms isnot passed. Such a dénouement in Europe’s most indebted big economy would trigger a political crisis and require fresh elections. The issue with referendums...

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    Gavekal Research

    Positioning For Uncertain Times

    Regular readers will know that Gavekal is a broad church. And while the church choir only occasionally sings in perfect unison, the different singers can often hit harmonies that are all the more powerful for being unexpected. This may be one of those occasions. Yesterday, Anatole, Charles and Louis took part in a conference call in which they laid out their different views of Brexit and what it will mean for the economy and markets of the UK,...

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    Gavekal Research

    Towards A Fiscal Union By Stealth

    Unlike most fish, sharks possess no swim bladder, which means they rely on dynamic lift to maintain their buoyancy. If they stop moving forwards, they sink. In that much, at least, Europe resembles a shark. Following the UK’s Brexit vote, if the EU does not press forward with closer union, it risks sinking under the weight of the forces dragging it into the abyss.

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    Gavekal Research

    History Moves Again, Again

    Back in September 1989 as it became clear that big forces were shaking up the Cold War status quo, I wrote a research piece that aimed to place these convulsions in a broader context. It borrowed from a core idea of the great historian Arnold J. Toynbee that a driving force of history is what he dubbed “missionary ideas”, which tend to find their inspiration in religion (see History Moves Again). In the post-enlightenment era there have been...

    28
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    Gavekal Research

    Coping With Brexhaustion

    Among all the different questions investors have had to confront in the past 72 hours, only one really matters: have we just witnessed a “Lehman moment”? At the risk of sounding like a Jesuit priest, I will answer this vital question with a bunch more questions. The first is: have the financial market’s core beliefs now been shattered?

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Everything Just Changed

    There are moments in history when the impossible becomes inevitable without ever passing through improbable. The period after the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy was such a time. Last night’s unexpected repudiation by British voters of 40 years of European Union membership is another. The outcome of the referendum is a shock fully comparable to the Lehman collapse. Rarely, if ever, has a G7 currency fallen by -10% in a single trading session, as the...

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    Gavekal Research

    Europe: Ready To Be Reborn From Its Own Ashes?

    Over the past decade, global investors would have been wise to largely ignore eurozone equities. Their underperformance has not been constant, but intermittent policy-driven rallies have become weaker and shallower. Eurozone stocks outperformed for two years after Mario Draghi’s 2012 promise to do “whatever it takes” to save the euro, yet by the time the European Central Bank got around to launching its asset-buying program in 2015 the benefit...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Never Mind The Brexit, Look At Eurozone Mid-Caps

    Recent releases of hard and soft macro-economic data point to a cyclical eurozone recovery whose domestic drivers are increasingly robust. On the back of stronger consumption and investment, GDP growth was just revised up to 0.6% QoQ for 1Q16. Unemployment continues to fall and, after a weak start to the year, economic sentiment indicators have rebounded—the ZEW released yesterday for June leapt to 20.2 from 16.8 in May. This improvement is...

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    Gavekal Research

    Brexit Tail Wags The Dog

    If anyone still doubted the claim expressed here on May 25 that politics is now driving global financial markets far more than economics (see The Brexit Vote As Harbinger Of A Populist Age, Or Not), those doubts should have been dispelled by Monday’s trading. From the moment that currency trading started in the New Zealand morning, through the Nikkei and Hang Seng openings in Asia, to the main forex business in London and finally the stock...

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    Gavekal Research

    Populism And A New Financial Crisis

    The febrile behavior of financial markets ahead of Britain’s EU referendum shows that the voting on June 23 will influence economic and political conditions around the world far more profoundly than Britain’s share of 4% in global GDP might suggest. This outsize impact has at least three explanations.

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    Gavekal Research

    Never Do On Monday What You Wish You’d Done On Friday

    The first rule of bear markets is never to do on Monday what you wish you had done on Friday. During bear markets, the constant stream of negative stories from the media leads to a build-up of anxiety among investors, anxiety that pours out first thing on Monday morning on trading floors everywhere.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Fear Not Brexit

    The UK political class is all in a flutter as the latest European Union referendum polls show an apparent rising tide of support for “Leave”. Having orchestrated the great and good into warning of catastrophe should a Brexit materialize, it would seem that “project fear” is not cutting through. I tend to have strong political convictions and perhaps for this reason I have a lousy record of guesstimating election outcomes. Since the UK referendum...

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    The ECB Embraces Total QE

    The European Central Bank pushed further into uncharted territory this week, when it made its first foray into the corporate bond market. Three months after announcing its new initiative, the ECB added the Corporate Sector Purchase Program, or CSPP, to its alphabet soup of monetary operations. Under the CSPP, the central bank will make purchases of investment grade non-bank corporate debt, to go with the sovereign debt, covered bonds and asset-...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The French Investment Pick-Up

    France may be racked by strikes and edgy about terrorist threats as a major soccer tournament it is hosting kicks off today, but the eurozone’s second biggest economy has a decent story to tell. Consumer confidence is at a post-2007 high, recent GDP readings have surprised on the upside and even jobless claims hint at an improvement in the labor market (see Is France Getting Better?). All of this perhaps explains why French investment for 1Q16...

    2
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    The Outlook For The US$ Vs The Euro

    When coming to investment decisions in the financial markets, I always try to be as “rules-based” as I possibly can. By that, I mean that I look as closely as I can at the available evidence to determine what has worked in the past—and what has not. This is difficult enough when analyzing the US bond market or the French stock market, but when it comes to exchange rates, the task reaches a whole new level of complexity. It is necessary to look...

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    On Populism

    The ruling class, which over the last 20 years has done so much to manage our decline, has found a new enemy in the shape of political “populism.” While acknowledging that times have been tough, what so annoys this elite is the realization that “we the people” do not recognize that a complicated world is being run in our own best interests. For this reason it is no great surprise that such ingrates have been labelled populists.

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    A Backdoor Resolution For Greece, And The Eurozone

    A Greek crisis was avoided last week after European creditors agreed to a €10.3bn disbursement to Athens without the International Monetary Fund contributing funds. The idea is for the Europeans and the IMF to thrash out a compromise that grants Greece sufficient debt relief to make its program sustainable. On one level this mucky deal seemed just another case of the can being kicked down the road, yet on another there is now a “back door”...

    2
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    The Gavekal Monthly: Risks For Equities—Populism And The Dollar

    Even as markets nudge higher, investors are unnerved by a rising tide of populist politics whose tangible expression will be tested on June 23, when UK voters must choose between Brexit or a less than perfect status quo inside the European Union. Investors are also concerned that the US dollar will strengthen further as the Federal Reserve mulls the question of whether to raise interest rates. In this monthly our writers weigh these big issues...

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    The Death Knell For The French Left

    To outside observers the latest round of strikes and demonstrations to sweep France must seem a case of déja vu all over again. For the fourth time in a little over 20 years, left wing trade unions have called mass walk-outs to protest against proposed government reforms of France’s notoriously rigid labor market. As before, the transport system has been thrown into chaos, with air traffic controllers en grève, and blockades of the country’s oil...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    When Rules Are There To be Broken

    It has become an article of faith for Europe-watchers that the one thing holding together the single currency area is super easy monetary policy. Yet in light of Brussels deficit policing bureaucracy having recently been revealed as a toothless tiger, expansionary fiscal policy can perhaps be added to the list. It is hardly news that Europe is back-tracking from German-dictated austerity, but for the first time officials are openly admitting...

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    The Challenge For Equity Markets

    Given high valuations and a rock bottom risk-free rate, it is hard to see US equities moving higher without a pick-up in corporate earnings. Yet with the strong US dollar hurting exporters and domestic economic data coming in weak, US-based firms may struggle to deliver.

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    Gavekal Research

    The German Consumer Lives

    By most measures, the eurozone remains unbalanced, with a competitive north eating the lunch of a productivity-challenged Latin periphery. Germany’s current account surplus stands at 8.6% of GDP and its banks are stuffed with excess deposits, suggesting that thrift remains the Teutonic economic passion of choice. Yet look closer at Germany and it is clear that domestic demand, not exports, is driving growth—household spending accounted for about...

    0
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    The Calm Before The European Storm

    A deal with Turkey to ease Europe’s refugee crisis is close to collapse, Greek bailout negotiations are set to test German political resolve and Britain’s referendum on European Union membership is too close to call. Europe’s “project” has been held together since 2012 by extraordinary monetary policy which has spurred a mild economic recovery, observable in the latest data. The concern now is that growing centrifugal forces—mostly political in...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Trump And The Tree People

    Recently I reada bookcalled Je n’ai plus peur (I am not afraid any more)by the French writer Jean-Claude Guillebaud. I do not know Guillebaud personally, but even though he is very much on the left of the French political spectrum, I must confess that I have read all his books, and that I have always liked what he has to say.

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    Gavekal Research

    Disaster Averted Is Not Success

    This week Atlante, Italy’s new private sector bail-out fund, swung into action for the first time, supporting an equity issue by the troubled Banca Popolare di Vicenza. But although Atlante’s market debut could be said to have averted a potential systemic disaster, it was hardly the success either the politicians of Rome or the financiers of Milan had been hoping for.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Making Sense Of The Rally In Cyclicals

    By all accounts, 2016 has so far proved to be a challenging year for “market neutral” funds, and “smart beta” strategies, along with various quant funds. Before we have even reached the seasonally-challenging part of the year—sell in May and go away, and all that—a quick glance at year-to-date returns for “low volatility” hedge funds illustrates that the pain is pretty widespread. In a sense, this is surprising; after all, spreads are tighter...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Is France “Getting Better”?

    He was not quite Reaganesque in his cheery optimism, but in a recent primetime television appearance President Francois Hollande did declare to France that life was “getting better”. He could point to growth rising to 1.1% last year from a meagre 0.2% in 2014. Unfortunately, the French jobless total hit a new record of 3.6mn in February contributing to a public response of general derision, not to mention rioting at proposed labor market reforms...

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    A European Sinner Repents

    When Brussels implemented new solvency rules for European insurance companies in 2014, it committed one of the five cardinal sins of government: over-regulation. Of course, stricter rules were always likely following the financial follies of the pre-crisis era, but when they drew up the new “Solvency II” regulations, the European Union’s generals were so focused on fighting the last war, they failed to realize the danger posed by their own...

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