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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...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Capacity Cuts Won't Hold Up Metals Prices

    To reduce air pollution, China says it will run northern steel mills at just half their capacity this coming winter. Prices of steel and other metals initially rallied on the news, but now are coming off. In this piece, Rosealea argues that metals prices have seen the top of their range, and explains why capacity cuts won’t push prices higher.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    High Financial Anxiety

    China’s financial system has its troubles, but a large-scale crisis is unlikely. Localized problems among poorly run, small-scale city and rural banks are the bigger risk.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Your Guide To The Maze

    China’s financial system has grown almost five-fold and seen a proliferation of players and products over the past decade. We try to impose order on chaos and explain how the system works.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    A Short History Of Financial Deregulation

    Financial deregulation has seen a cartel of national state-owned banks give way to a bewildering array of local banks, non-bank lenders, wealth management products and loans disguised as investments. Regulators are tightening their grip, yet so long as Beijing demands high-speed growth, it will have to tolerate some financial misbehavior.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    China’s Banks Are Better Than You Think

    China’s banks get a bad rap. But actually they are pretty well run, especially if one understands their twin roles as commercial actors and tools of state development policy.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Beijing’s Bid To Make US Rail Great Again

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

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Hollywood Hoo-ha

    Chinese investors have developed a taste for Hollywood, but their buying spree has drawn more scrutiny than tangible benefits. With their wings clipped by new foreign investment rules, their focus will turn back to their home market.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Finally, China Learns To Kick Ass

    When future historians seek to mark the moment when China celebrated its arrival as a world power, they may well point to its newly crowned highest-grossing movie, Wolf Warrior 2. The film is repudiates every sick-man-of-Asia slight China has suffered since the Opium War, and tells the world: those days are over; China is powerful; get used to it.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Rebooting China Inc.

    Beijing is tightening controls on cross-border deals. The good old days of unhindered and lavish outward investment are over. Strategic ODI is back in fashion, with China’s SOEs at the helm.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Dealing The Right Kind Of Opium

    Xi Jinping’s embrace of traditional Chinese religions is a highly political move to build up popular support. But his hostility to Christianity, Islam and Tibetan Buddhism could cost him dearly in terms of social stability.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Three Sets Of Books

    China’s financial system has grown dizzyingly complex, but at its heart sit the banks, which provide most of the funds for shadow lending by non-banks. To assess the system’s risks, we need to understand the banks’ three credit books: their loans, their “investments” routed through non-banks, and their off-balance-sheet wealth management products.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ: The Financial Labyrinth

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

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Straight On Through The Party Congress

    China’s economic data for August confirmed that growth has stepped down a bit in the third quarter. The long-anticipated slowdown is for real, but is also still quite gradual. Andrew argues that policymakers will be comfortable with this situation, and that we should not expect a big change of direction after the Party Congress in October.

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    Gavekal Research

    Asian Hardware Makers Trump California Engineers

    When Apple launched its new lineup of smartphones a couple of days ago, the loudest cheer may have come not from its new donut ring headquarters in Cupertino, but the factory lands of Taiwan and Korea that house its key component suppliers. Launching a flagship phone whose innards are in short supply represents a subtle shift in power from software engineers in California to hardware makers in Asia.

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    Gavekal Research

    Disasters, Bond Yields And The Dollar

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

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    Gavekal Research

    After The Renminbi Rally

    The last renminbi bears are throwing in the towel: with Chinese corporates unwinding the dollar holdings they have accumulated over the last two years, the renminbi is up strongly. Although the PBOC is for now happy to step back and let appreciation happen, there are still limits to how much it will want the trade-weighted exchange rate to rise.

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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 Dragonomics

    The New Economy Takes The Baton

    Second-quarter earnings for Chinese listed companies showed heavy industry still enjoying strong profit growth, but the more important trend is the consistent rise in profits in the “new economy.” As industrial reflation gradually cools, Thomas argues, these consumer, healthcare, and technology firms are set to outperform.

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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

    The Difference A Couple Of Years Makes

    In August 2015 the offshore renminbi fell -4.5% against the US dollar, unleashing a global panic as investors fretted that another big deflationary downdraft beckoned. Fast forward to August 2017 and the renminbi rose a little over 2.07%, making it the world’s best performing major currency—it even outstripped rises in the euro and Scandinavian currencies.

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    Gavekal Research

    Tremors On The North Korean Border

    Yanmei Xie reports from China’s border with North Korea, where local residents and officials were left largely unshaken yesterday by the earth tremors from Kim Jong Un’s latest and biggest test of a nuclear bomb. Despite imposing some trade sanctions on its troublesome neighbor, Beijing has no desire to back the North Korean regime into a corner.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Housing Prices Set To Slowly Cool

    Housing prices have had a wild ride in China this year, but with sales now cooling, prices are also losing steam. In this piece, Rosealea argues that the coming correction in housing prices will be a moderate one—probably about half of the 10% nationwide decline in 2014—as inventories are still low and policies are not particularly tight.

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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...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Mortgages Take A Bite Out Of Consumption

    Despite the recovering economy, household consumption in China has slowed this year rather than accelerated. As Ernan explains in this piece, the culprit is the surge in mortgage debt, which has meant a sharp increase in the burden of mortgage payments on household budgets. While income growth is solid, less of the gains are available to spend.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    China Unicom’s Mixed-Ownership Mixup

    China Unicom says its US$11.6bn share placement will bring it ten new strategic shareholders, including the nation's biggest internet firms. State media are touting the deal as a triumph of the "mixed ownership" reform for state enterprises, but it looks more like a bailout timed to score political points ahead of this fall's Party Congress.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Electric Passenger-Car Acid Test

    China's industrial planners have a clear goal for electric cars: they want China to be the world's biggest market, and the global technological leader, by 2025. The first goal is already in the bag, thanks to massive subsidies and orchestrated purchases by city governments. Gaining technological leadership will be a much tougher slog.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The China Inc. Annual Report 2017

    This chartbook outlines the recent core trends in China’s corporate sector. There has been a major rebound in revenues and profits, but most firms are using this to repair balance sheets rather than boost capex. So leverage is down and debt servicing ability is up. But the profit cycle is now likely at its peak, as is firms’ ability to deleverage.

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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...

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    Gavekal Research

    China’s Slow Exit From Reflation

    China’s first monthly data for the second half of 2017 showed growth momentum softening. While reflation peaked in the first half of 2017, the story is still that the exit from reflation will be very slow and gradual. Economic policy will be largely on hold in this period: tightening has peaked, but the switch to easing is still a long way away.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Limits Of Magical Thinking

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

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    Gavekal Research

    The Most Important Change And Its Natural Hedge

    I don’t usually quote mass murderers, but when I do, I usually fall back on Lenin’s quip that “there are decades when nothing happens, and weeks when decades happen”. Lenin was referring to the Russian Revolution which took place a hundred years ago and to this day still casts a long shadow. To some extent, the Russian Revolution, itself a bastard child of the first world war, crystallized the end of an era for Europe. Thereafter the world’s...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Lull In The Tourism Boom

    Chinese outbound tourism is having a rough 2017: growth in international travelers is down to about 6%, from 20%-plus growth in earlier years. So has something fundamental in the Chinese tourism story changed, or is this just a blip? In this piece, Ernan argues this slowdown is largely temporary, caused by events in key destinations in Asia.

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    Gavekal Research

    Fade The Latest Commodity Rally

    China’s property market is once again running hotter than expected, pushing prices of iron, steel and coal up by 15%-40% over recent weeks. But the gradual downward trend in property has not changed. And with high prices and government intervention both stimulating more commodity supply, the potential for further price gains is limited.

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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 Dragonomics

    Taking Stock Of The Investment Cycle

    Investment drives China’s growth, but the state of the investment cycle is now being obscured rather than revealed by the most closely followed indicator of capital spending, fixed-asset investment. In this piece, Andrew updates his model of monthly real growth in gross fixed capital formation, and draws three conclusions from its signals.

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    Gavekal Research

    Reading Trump’s Trade Signals

    Donald Trump came into office six months ago today promising to rip up the rules of global trade in order to put America’s narrow interests first and cut its trade deficit. So far, though, his administration’s trade policies have been more smoke than substance. Global trade volume has accelerated smartly since the US election. Threats of a trade war with the main target, China, fizzled in the face of US business interests, Beijing’s ability to...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Reasserting Control Over Outbound Investment

    The flow of cross-border M&A from China is reviving as the crackdown on capital flight eases. But as Yanmei argues, the flow of deals is unlikely to repeat the stunning growth surge in 2016, as the government has now reasserted its control over outward direct investment. This environment will likely be friendlier to state firms than private ones.

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    Gavekal Research

    Video: New Investment Opportunities In China

    China’s onshore financial markets are opening up. Admittedly, neither last month’s inclusion of Chinese A-shares in MSCI’s benchmark indexes, nor this month’s opening of the Bond Connect scheme, will change the world immediately. But together they signal that Beijing is serious about opening its capital markets to foreign investors.

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    Gavekal Research

    Signs China’s Tightening Has Peaked

    Official statements following the conclusion of Beijing’s National Financial Work Conference signal that the recent tightening cycle has now peaked and that market interest rates are likely to fall from current levels, argues Chen Long. The story remains that while Chinese reflation has peaked, the ensuing slowdown will be moderate and gradual.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Regional Bottom Line For Growth

    China’s 2016 stimulus likely provided enough momentum to ensure GDP growth in 2017 will meet the 6.5% target. But on closer examination the stimulus looks as much a rescue operation for troubled regions as a shift in national policy. This interpretation implies that the political drivers of Chinese policymaking are different from what most commentators believe.

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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research July Call

    Recent efforts to open up China's stock and bond markets have granted deeper access for foreign investors. In Tuesday's conference call Thomas Gatley outlined what MSCI's decision to include A-shares in its indexes means for investors, while Chen Long argued that the next great bond bull market may happen in China.

    0
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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 Dragonomics

    The Peak In Home Appliances

    When you buy a house, you also buy things to go in it—yet the rebound in housing sales over the past 18 months has not done much for sales of major home appliances. As Ernan explains in this piece, Chinese demand for washing machines, refrigerators and televisions has now more or less peaked. The main exception is the humble air conditioner.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Government Becomes A Home Buyer

    It’s no secret that managing the housing market is a core part of China’s economic policy. But as Rosealea explains in this piece, government’s role in supporting housing sales is now even greater than most realize. The government is buying millions of unsold housing units directly from developers, and the scale of the program is only increasing.

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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...

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    Gavekal Research

    Trump And Xi: The End Of The Bromance?

    Last week Washington soured its relationship with China by imposing sanctions on some Chinese companies and individuals that do business with North Korea and announcing a big arms sale package for Taiwan. Rumors also continue to percolate that Trump is preparing for more aggressive trade action. Arthur discusses whether it is time to worry.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: The China Markets Opportunity

    The doors to China’s capital markets are opening wider, with MSCI adding A-shares to its indexes, and the Bond Connect program launching in Hong Kong. In this Strategy Monthly, Thomas Gatley and Chen Long explain how foreign investors should position themselves in Chinese bonds and equities in light of these new market-opening measures.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Macro Update: Surviving The Financial Crackdown

    In our latest quarterly chartbook, Chen Long assesses the effects of Chinese regulators’ surprising crackdown on the financial sector. Interbank rates and bond yields have jumped, but credit growth has slowed only modestly. While growth has clearly peaked and will slow further in the rest of 2017, a gradual slowdown still looks quite achievable.

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