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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

    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

    Algo Trading: A Great Opportunity For The Human Brain

    The rise and rise in money management of computerized trading systems which seek out and exploit correlations among assets and markets can have some curious side effects. One of them is that the rise of the machines, far from rendering the human brain obsolete, can throw up some wonderful investment opportunities for those surviving managers who prefer to rely on solid economic principles and good old fashioned common sense.

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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

    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 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 Research

    Video: Feeling Insecure — Japan’s Food Problem

    Japan’s late conversion to the cause of free trade owes a lot to the recognition that continued trade protection is no longer sustainable in what historically has been one of Japan’s most rigorously defended domestic sectors: agriculture. Demographics and changing diets mean Japan’s food self-sufficiency rate has fallen to 38%, the lowest among developed economies.

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    Gavekal Research

    Behind Japan’s Free Trade Drive

    When in January Donald Trump’s administration announced that the US was withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, pundits around the world lost no time in declaring Barack Obama’s flagship trade agreement dead in the water. They were premature. In a 180 degree policy U-turn, Japan stepped forward to provide leadership by stressing the attractiveness of access to its own home market.

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    Gavekal Research

    Good Governance, Poor Performance

    Japan has embraced the idea that better corporate governance leads to superior stock price performance. In 2014 the stock exchange launched the JPX-Nikkei 400 good governance index in an attempt to get Japan Inc. to raise its governance game. There’s just one problem: the index has consistently underperformed the broader market.

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    Gavekal Research

    Irving Fisher And Japan

    Few papers written by defunct economists have had as much influence on my way of looking at markets as Irving Fisher’s seminal 1933 article The Debt-Deflation Theory Of Great Depressions. In it, Fisher hypothesized the patterns that great depressions go through. In a nutshell, great depressions go through four phases.

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    Gavekal Research

    It Is Not Slack Weighing On Wages

    How can a labor market be very tight, yet have barely any wage growth? In today’s daily Nick tackled this for the UK and found a mix of universal and idiosyncratic causes. For the US and Japan a frequent refrain is that official data hugely understates the potential size of the workforce and so a ready source of “slack”. Will and Udith beg to differ.

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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

    Finding Outperformance In Japan

    On Monday, the cabinet office in Tokyo is expected to announce that Japan’s economy grew at an annualized rate of around 2.5% in the second quarter. If it does, it will mark Japan’s sixth consecutive quarter of economic expansion, the longest period of uninterrupted growth since the mid-2000s, when prime minister Junichiro Koizumi was in power.

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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research August Call

    In this week's call Tom Miller and Udith Sikand presented their view on India's macroeconomic situation and opportunities for foreign investors. Tom outlined the broad macro fundamentals and assessed the Modi government's progress in reforming the economy. Udith presented the investment consequences, expecting a capex revival to begin as soon as next year.

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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: India — Poised For A Pickup

    India clearly offers one of the best long-term growth stories in the world today. In 2016 for the first time it added more to global nominal GDP growth than China. Demographics are favorable, opportunities for infrastructure- and housing-driven growth are abundant, and despite some hiccups the Modi government has done a good job of taming inflation and setting the country on a structurally sounder path. For investors, the problem is that Indian...

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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...

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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.

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    Gavekal Research

    EM Asia’s Most Sensible Market

    The “safety first” stance of Indonesian fiscal and monetary policies has contained the country’s budget deficit, restored its investment grade credit rating and capped inflation. Granted, these policies have come at the cost of lackluster growth. However, with the rupiah undervalued and plentiful carry available, Udith still sees opportunities in local currency bonds.

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    Gavekal Research

    End Of The Line For EM Dollar Debt?

    As if alarmed by the realignment in global financial markets over the last few weeks, Janet Yellen struck a slightly more dovish note in her Congressional testimony yesterday. Yet the Federal Reserve chair’s more nuanced words are unlikely to temper by much the developing skepticism among investors towards the US dollar bonds of emerging markets.

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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

    Into My Indian Arms

    Last week Louis argued that the most likely growth area for richly valued defense contractors was Western-aligned powers in East Asia. The problem was that despite rising regional tensions, India and Japan were playing hard to get (see Should Investors Chase Defense Stocks?). Last week’s events on the Korean peninsula should give the merchants of death a fresh calling card in Tokyo, Seoul and Taipei. Yet while garnering fewer headlines, the...

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    The North Korea Conundrum

    In this brief video interview Yanmei Xie outlines the ever-shrinking list of options the US has for solving the problem of a nuclear-armed North Korea. The risk of military action remains slim, but with North Korea's recent test of an intercontinental ballistic missile it is no longer unthinkable.

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    Gavekal Research

    The North Korean Tail Risk Just Got A Whole Lot Fatter

    Despite the protestations of some of the less temperate US news media, North Korea did not cross a US “red line” yesterday. However, with the successful test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile that could, in theory, drop a nuclear warhead on the US state of Alaska, Kim Jong Un’s rogue state has brought North Asia a big step closer to the critical point at which investors can no longer rule out military action. A shooting war on the...

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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

    The Indian Summer

    Tomorrow India will roll out its most important economic reform since the early 1990s. The Goods and Services Tax will transform the country’s 29 states, which run semi-autonomous fiscal systems, into a single market. Backed by strong fundamentals, Modi’s reform agenda is playing well with investors: MSCI India is up 19% this year, foreigners are piling into Indian bonds, and FDI is at record levels. Yet, look closer and a weaker economy emerges...

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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.

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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Breaking The Yen-Equity Link

    Japanese equities recently touched a 17-year high in US dollar terms and perhaps more significantly, they appear to have decoupled from their usually tight inverse relationship with the yen. In this video interview Neil considers both cyclical and structural reasons for the apparent breakout and concludes that investors should not underweight a market that has plenty of tailwinds.

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    Gavekal Research

    EMs And A Chill Trade Wind

    The Asian trade cycle, having perked up notably since mid-2016, shows worrying signs of rolling over. Korean export growth in May halved from a month earlier, while Taiwan has seen the same measure steadily slow since February. Today, China reported a reduction in export growth to single digit levels, while import demand growth for May fell to 15% YoY, compared to 38% in February. To an extent, this can all be explained by flattering base...

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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

    Stimulus Gets More Direct In Japan

    Fresh reflation ideas are back on the agenda in Japan as inflation shows no sign of rising despite record stimulus and a tight labor market. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is focused on hard-pressed 30-somethings who continue to save furiously in part as they must fund their children's higher education. His idea is to ease the burden and hopefully spur a step change in consumption spending.

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    Gavekal Research

    India Macro Update: Navigating The Fog

    In this regular quarterly update, Udith and Tom survey the key developments in India’s macro-economy and markets, which have been clouded by the demonetization episode and yet more changes to national economic statistics. The fog may not be about to clear as the government prepares to rollout a new national goods and sales tax with the potential for significant economic disruption.

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    Gavekal Research

    Video: India's Economic Fog

    In this interview Udith discusses the key developments in India’s macro economy and markets, which have been clouded by the demonetization episode and yet more changes to national economic statistics. The fog may not be about to clear as the government prepares to roll out a new national goods and sales tax with the potential for significant economic disruption.

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    Gavekal Research

    Don’t Buy The Smartphone Hype

    As Apple prepares to launch its anniversary iPhone and Samsung unveils models that don’t blow up, technology equities in the US and Asia have soared on hopes for a new smartphone cycle. After 2016 saw high-end smartphone sales fall, investors are betting that consumers respond to gee-whizz gadgetry by replacing their devices more often. We are not so sure.

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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Japan's Next Baby Boom

    In this interview Neil explains why the oft repeated line about Japanese couples not wanting to have many kids is a huge exaggeration. The problem is bizarre government regulations and a drastic shortage of childcare facilities. Such inhibitors to tiny feet pattering are about to get a major government-induced overhaul, and a Japanese baby boom may be around the corner. If correct, this shift in Japan’s demographic curve could have profound...

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    Gavekal Research

    In Bed With The Japanese

    The international media have been full of headlines recently about how the Japanese are failing to make enough babies. But the reason for Japan’s failing fertility is not some lack of libido. Instead, as Neil explains, the government's antiquated policies towards women and families have proved a remarkably effective—if inadvertent—form of contraception.

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    Gavekal Research

    A Clearer Picture In Seoul

    South Koreans went to the polls yesterday and elected a special forces soldier turned human rights lawyer as president. Moon Jae-in will need both skillsets in dealing with a belligerent North Korea, distrustful China and saber-rattling US. Yet an even tougher ask may prove delivering on his promises to shake up collusive ties between big business and the government, and so unleash animal spirits. I would argue, however, that for once the...

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Calling Time On Indian Outperformance

    Indian equities have been on a tear this year with their 22% currency-adjusted gain only bested among emerging markets by Poland. This is not surprising given that India has strong fundamentals and a reform-minded government that still enjoys popular support. Yet, while long term positive drivers for the Indian market remain intact, equities have run ahead of themselves by pricing in a swift return to robust earnings growth.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The End Of Yen Outperformance

    Year-to-date, the yen is the best-performing of the G10 currencies. Over the last four months it has appreciated 5.2% against the US dollar, lifted by abating enthusiasm for the Trump trade and safe haven flows into Japan. Given the tight inverse correlation between the yen and Japanese equities, it is therefore no surprise that the Japanese stock market has underperformed its developed market peers so far this year.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    China’s Kim Problem

    Last weekend's extreme tension on the Korean peninsula is just the latest episode to severely test Beijing’s patience with North Korea. Yet even as elements of the Chinese leadership tire of Kim Jong Un’s grandstanding, China remains unlikely to make a bold move that threatens the regime. Despite acute US pressure, China will seek to preserve the status quo.

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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    India Gets Serious About Its Banks

    Indian equities delivered the best returns of any emerging market in 1Q17, as the economy rebounded from November’s demonetization debacle. With manufacturing expanding for three straight months, consumer demand returning to normal levels, and the BJP’s decisive victory in state elections boosting sentiment, MSCI India surged by 17%. Growth in the fiscal year to March 31 likely topped 7%, enabling India to retain its crown as the world’s fastest...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    Hong Kong Seminar — March 2017

    In Gavekal’s Asia focused seminar in Hong Kong last week Arthur Kroeber, Udith Sikand and Tom Holland presented their outlooks for the rest of the year.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Sanctions With Chinese Characteristics

    Since South Korea decided to host a US missile-defense system, China has restricted tourism and closed local operations of Korean firms. The dispute will mean some economic pain for Korea, but no lasting damage. But China is ever more willing to use such “sanctions with Chinese characteristics” to disrupt trade with countries that displease it.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Why This Time May Be Different For EMs

    Going into 2017, the logic of Donald Trump’s “America First” program suggested that investors should be long US equities and the dollar, and short longer-dated treasuries. Such an outcome would have been horrible for emerging markets. And yet EMs have rallied 13% year-to-date. The swing factor has been the sideways move of the US dollar in the intervening period, which persuaded investors to cover short-bets on EMs. In this chartbook Joyce...

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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    Like Japan, Love Korea

    Ignore for the moment the drumbeat to hostilities on the 38th parallel; it has still been a head-spinning few weeks in the normally staid world of South Korean governance. First, the head of Samsung, the country’s biggest company, was arrested on bribery charges, and then last Friday saw President Park Geun-hye ousted by impeachment. It is our view that a political upheaval is afoot in Seoul that threatens the collusive ties between officials...

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    Gavekal Research

    The BoJ’s Tantrumless Taper

    When the Bank of Japan’s board meets on Wednesday and Thursday this week, at least one member will be calling for a retreat from the central bank’s policy of negative interest rates coupled with quantitative easing “with yield curve control”. In a speech last month Takahide Kiuchi called on the BoJ to taper its purchases of Japanese government bonds from ¥80trn annually to ¥45trn. The chance that the central bank will announce any such change in...

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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    Modi’s Big Political Win

    After a shaky few months, India’s reform project is back on track. The ruling BJP’s unexpectedly strong performance in state elections will enable Prime Minister Narendra Modi to continue with pro-business policies that should both deliver economic growth and buoy equity markets.

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    Gavekal Research

    The North Korean Wedge Between The US And China

    This week’s missile launches by North Korea, the latest in a recent series of provocations, are forcing the US into a position where it must take steps to limit the threat to itself and its Asian allies. But such moves are certain to antagonize China, and shatter the fiction that the US and China have common interests in dealing with North Korea.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    India’s Property Dream

    In India, home building constitutes just 1% of GDP and fails to satisfy basic amenity demand—some 60mn Indians live in urban dwellings deemed unfit for human habitation. The good news is that India is getting serious about supporting residential property development, which could yet have a China-like impact on domestic demand and global commodity markets.

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    Gavekal Research

    A Structural Turn In Japan

    For more than a quarter of a century Japan has been a reliable source of disappointment for investors. After a nice little run-up late last year, a familiar pattern has emerged in 2017 as equities edge nervously sideways. Despite some evidence of Asia’s trading economy spluttering into life, Japan yesterday released surprisingly soft industrial production data for January. To top things off, the Wall Street Journal on the same day ran a...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The EM Reflation Trade Is Past Its Best

    The emerging market reflation trade has been on fire. This week Dr. Copper broke out of his six-year downward trend, adding fuel to the reflationary flames. As a result, while the relative performance of cyclical stocks has moderated in developed markets during February, EM cyclicals have continued their bullish run. Their strong performance has helped to lift the MSCI EM index by 10% year-to-date in US dollar terms to reach a 19-month high. But...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: India After Demonetization

    Udith discusses the effects of India's demonetization last year on the growth of the economy

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    India Macro Update: After Demonetization

    India has been a strong growth story over recent years and offered a haven from the commodity boom-bust-boom cycle that has roiled emerging markets. However the investment climate has darkened in recent months due to the government’s surprise “war on cash” and the central bank seemingly coming to the end of its easing cycle. In this chart book, Udith and Tom take a systematic look at the macro environment and review the outlook for major asset...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Win-Win Deal For Abe And Trump?

    This Friday Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe will touch down in Washington for his second meeting with Donald Trump since the November 8 US election. The auspices hardly appear propitious. In the run-up to the meeting, the new US president has pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a multilateral trade deal built largely around the US-Japan economic axis. He has railed against Japan for deliberately undervaluing the yen. He has bemoaned...

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    India’s Budget: A Fine Balance

    After the fiasco that followed India’s move in November to scrap large denomination banknotes, yesterday’s budget was carefully calibrated to reassure jumpy markets. With the IMF estimating that the monetary bloodletting will drain 1pp off growth this fiscal year, doubts have resurfaced over India’s ability to realize its economic potential. The good news for nervous investors is that India remains wedded to fiscal responsibility. The bad news...

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    Gavekal Research

    Drawing Meaning From 2016, And A Roadmap For 2017

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research January Call

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Emerging Markets Trumped

    In yesterday’s Daily, Louis argued that despite the renewed strengthening of the US dollar over the last couple of months since the US election, there has been no generalized flight out of emerging markets. Sure, Turkey appears to be experiencing a classic emerging market currency crisis. But as Louis noted, the collapse of the lira has been driven by peculiarly Turkish factors. There is little or no risk of contagion spreading to the broader...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Japanese Equities: More Where That Came From

    Japan is the top performer among developed world equity markets over the last six months, with the Nikkei 225 up 28% in local currency terms. Even in US dollar terms, the Japanese market has gained a robust 14%, enough to outperform an S&P 500 lent wings by the Trump trade. That strength is set to continue into 2017, with the Tokyo market remaining well bid on the back of a monetary policy stance that the Bank of Japan will find it hard—even...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Alchemist’s Apprentice

    If done right urbanization can be considered development alchemy as it transforms surplus rural labor and simple building materials into the “gold” of economic growth. India has lagged China’s embrace of city life over the last 30 years, but that is now changing and the result could be transformative for the Indian economy’s growth outlook.

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    The Gavekal Monthly: Our Top 12 Questions For 2017

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

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    Our 2016 Holiday Reading List

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

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    The Unsustainable Oil Price Spike

    It took a while, but the spike in the oil price expected at the end of November finally occurred this morning in Asia, when front-month Brent crude futures briefly hit US$57.89/bbl, up from US$54.33/bbl on Friday. The jump higher was triggered by news over the weekend that a handful of major non-Opec producers led by Russia have agreed to cut their output by 558,000 barrels per day on top of the 1.2mn b/d reduction announced by Opec at the end...

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    An Indian Payoff

    What was it that Kipling said about keeping one’s head, when all around you others are losing theirs? That was the Reserve Bank of India’s approach yesterday when it defied calls for an interest rate cut in response to severe economic disruption caused by the government’s hasty withdrawal of big denomination banknotes. The RBI downgraded its growth forecast for the year ending in March by just 0.5pp, and argued that price pressures remain a...

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    The Japan Reflation Trade

    About a month ago, Japanese investors learnt that a man who wants to rip up their prime minister’s prized free trade deal and potentially jettison Japan’s key security guarantees would soon be US president. After an initial wobble, they spent most of the last four weeks buying equities with such gusto that the Nikkei 225 is up almost 14%.

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    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research December Call

    Louis and Anatole outlined their views on the new investment environment. Louis focused on the apparent contradictions in investors’ reaction to Donald Trump’s win in the US presidential election. Anatole argued that the US has almost certainly transitioned to a more inflationary growth path, but said it would be a slow build-up.

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    Assessing EMs Vulnerability To The Trump Trade

    Emerging markets have faced selling pressure since Donald Trump’s US presidential election win started to drive treasury yields higher. EM debt funds saw their largest ever outflow the week after the election, while currencies have fallen on fears of trade protectionism and more talk of the US dollar being primed for a 1980s-style super-spike. Given this basket of worries, Joyce revisits her “emerging market relative balance sheet vulnerability...

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    How Bad Is The Dollar Squeeze?

    This has not been your regular dollar squeeze. Over the last month, the cost of obtaining US dollars offshore has soared to levels last seen in “crisis” periods, yet bank equities have rallied the most in six years. Rather than a new crisis unfolding, we seem to be transitioning to a macro environment where dollars are structurally scarce. This will be challenging for weak link economies, as shown yesterday by adverse market moves in Brazil and...

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    Something's Gotta Give

    Louis Gave held a conference call on December 6 where he discussed the state of global markets as the US gets ready for a Trump presidency. The fundamental challenge for investors is that while equities and the US dollar have rallied strongly and bonds have sold off in a “Trump reflation trade,” it is not clear how long that trade can withstand the reality of Trump’s economic program.

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    A New Tech Cycle?

    Weak Japanese exports for October were not a big surprise given that the yen has been strong and global trade remains lackluster. Yet buried within recent (dreary) trade releases is evidence pointing to a new semiconductor investment cycle. The first signal, from official data at least, came in Japan’s 3Q16 GDP report which showed growth at 0.5%, versus an expected 0.2%, with the difference explained by exports of electronic components and...

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    Hong Kong Seminar — November 2016

    Arthur Kroeber presented his thoughts on the outcome of the US election, as well as an analysis of China's leadership politics. Will Denyer presented his thoughts on the US economy. Tom Miller gave an optimistic take on reforms in India under Modi's government.

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    Why So Calm In Emerging Markets?

    Historically, a strengthening US dollar has been bad news for emerging markets; just think of the Asian crisis of 1997. And rising US long rates do not exactly help; consider the taper tantrum of 2013. Put them together then, and throw the prospect of greater trade protectionism into the mix, and the current global environment should be absolutely toxic for emerging market assets. Yet despite considerable local pain, notably in Mexico, the...

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    Arthur Kroeber: A New Era Of Sino-US Relations

    While Donald Trump has threatened to slap huge tariffs on Chinese exports, Arthur thinks this would be an act of self-harm given the economic co-dependence between China and the US. In this video interview, he maps out the likely evolution of relations between the two countries in the years ahead.

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    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research November Call

    Anatole Kaletsky, Arthur Kroeber and Charles Gave presented their views on what a Donald Trump presidency means. Anatole outlined both positive and negative potential outcomes. On the positive side, US growth could see a boost from expansionary fiscal policy, but isolationist trade policies could threaten US firms and equity prices. Arthur warned of the geopolitical risk of a power vacuum should the US pull back from its treaty obligations....

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    Joyce Poon: Market Timing In Asia

    Investors need to get nimbler in playing Emerging Asia’s equity markets due to the lack of any clear trend that dates back to 2010. Joyce outlines a trading strategy that can potentially make a big difference to performance.

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    Go Contrarian In Asia

    Investing in Emerging Asia is tricky due to the high volatility that exists within the overall trend of the region’s asset markets. Hence, market-timing has become a fairly essential strategy. It was not always so, for between the mid-1980s and 2010 Emerging Asia was a fairly straightforward call—“all in” worked during structural bull markets, and “all out” was the way to go during periodic bear markets.

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    Neil Newman: Japanese Equities — Good For A Rally?

    The Bank of Japan has rolled back the date that it expects to hit its 2% inflation target, the economy is soft and foreign investors have thoroughly given up on Japanese equities. So why does Neil think there is a good chance of a decent “Santa rally” going into the year end. In this video interview he explains.

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    The New Frontier In Aerospace

    The highlight of this week’s Zhuhai airshow in Southern China was a fly-past by two of the People’s Liberation Army’s new J-20 warplanes, touted as China’s first stealth aircraft. Western military analysts reserved their judgment, pointing out they had learned nothing new about the aircraft, except that it was very noisy. Nevertheless, the broader message from Zhuhai was clear, echoing a similar message broadcast by the Japan International...

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    Can India Grow By Day?

    “India grows at night,” goes a popular saying, “when the government sleeps.” Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promised to change all that as he thinks that effective governance will enable India to “grow by day.” In this piece Tom assesses the changing mechanics of government in India with a particular focus on digital solutions that have the potential to bypass an often self-interested and sclerotic bureaucracy.

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    The Economics Behind Korea’s Political Scandal

    The political turmoil engulfing South Korea claimed the scalps of both the prime minister and the finance minister on Wednesday, as embattled president Park Geun-hye opted for a cabinet reshuffle in a bid to shore up her sagging administration. In recent months Korea has seen the bankruptcy of Hanjin Shipping, the country’s largest shipping company, and the recall of millions of Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 phones, the flagship product from the...

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    The Gavekal Monthly: Deflation Ends; What Next?

    The biggest market move of the past month was a significant rise in bond yields across the US and Europe. Much commentary has suggested that this might be a symptom of a sustained rise in inflationary pressures, as wages and rents start to push up prices in the US, and Chinese producer prices end four long years spent in negative territory. We are skeptical. The recent rise in yields has so far reversed only half of the decline in the first half...

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    Safety First In EMs

    After a steady rise in emerging market inflows over the last seven months, tighter US financial conditions have led to an abrupt reversal. On the back of inflation concerns and a stronger US dollar, the seven day moving average of daily portfolio flows to EMs, as of last Monday, had fallen to its lowest level since the renminbi-induced sell-off 14 months ago. EMs are vulnerable to an externally-induced pull-back, for even if key central banks...

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    Japan Does An Apple

    The Bank of Japan and the Japanese government have done their best to stop a grinding appreciation of the yen, but to no great avail. The unit is up 14% this year against the US dollar, which has seemingly delivered a body blow for the monetary easing “arrow” in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s 2012 revival quiver. This is certainly the view of foreign investors who this year have pulled money out of Japan at the fastest rate since 1987. And yet a...

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    London Seminar — October 2016

    Charles Gave, Joyce Poon, Tom Miller and Anatole Kaletsky outlined their views on issues ranging from the end of the Pax Americana, global asset allocation in the face of increasingly ineffectual monetary policy, India's growth potential, and the imminent uncertainty for markets in the face of political risk.

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    Thailand’s Transition

    Perhaps the one thing that Thailand’s polarized political tribes have agreed on in recent times is that the passing of their (generally) popular king would mark a pivotal moment of transition. King Bhumibol Adulyadej, 88, who died yesterday was a steady presence who stopped violent political struggles from morphing into a general civil conflict. The concern is that this restraint now goes out of the window, as opponents to the royalist...

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    The World's New Tax Haven

    In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, there was a sense that the systemic failures it revealed would spark a radical overhaul of the global financial architecture. Eight years on, that has not happened: an exception is perhaps offshore finance. The US led the way with its Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), which targets US citizens with footloose money. A more ambitious initiative was launched in 2009 by the G20; it aimed for...

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    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research October Call

    Will Denyer presented a newly minted dynamic asset allocation tool which was developed from an ROIC-based framework that has helped us to better map and predict US economic cycles. He then answered listener questions on these themes.

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    India’s Race To The Top

    What do Apache helicopters and one-fifth of the world’s vaccines have in common? They are manufactured in India’s Telangana state. How about Apple, Google and Uber? They are all opening their largest development bases outside the US in Hyderabad, the state capital, following in the footsteps of Facebook and Microsoft, which have their head India offices there. Amazon, too, is setting up its second-largest global delivery base in the city. And...

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    Staring Into The Abyss

    Since Rodrigo Duterte became president of the Philippines in May, he has sanctioned the extra-judicial killing of some 3,600 petty criminals and drug users, graphically insulted the US president, favorably compared himself to Hitler, and threatened to switch his country’s allegiance to China and Russia. As he has ripped up behavioral norms for democratic heads of state, investors have yanked out at least US$500mn of capital over the last two...

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    The Gavekal Monthly: What Price On A Trump Victory?

    Markets seem sanguine about the prospect of a Donald Trump victory in next month's US presidential election—too sanguine. Expert opinion gives Hillary Clinton a 75% chance of winning. But remember that four months ago in the UK, expert opinion discounted polls showing a strong chance of Brexit, and the experts were proved wrong. And the consequences of a Trump win are so huge and potentially destabilizing that even a 25% chance means...

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    That Sinking Feeling

    You almost have to feel sorry for poor Haruhiko Kuroda. Just over a week after the Bank of Japan governor announced his intention to overshoot the central bank’s 2% inflation target, it is painfully obvious that investors believe he will fall short. That much is clear from the Japanese government bond market. At last week’s meeting the BoJ announced that from now on it will tailor its JGB purchases to target a 10-year yield of zero. In the days...

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    Modi Finds His Mojo

    India, according to its many skeptics, will never change. It is too messy, too unwieldy—perhaps too democratic—to emulate China as an engine of global growth. For all the hoopla that greeted Narendra’s Modi election in 2014, very little changed for the better in Modi’s first two years in charge: his new government failed to pass its “big bang” reforms, banks stopped lending, and investment slumped. Critics accused Modi of being all talk and no...

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    Singapore Seminar—September 2016

    Audio and video from the latest Gavekal seminar in Singapore is available here. Louis Gave explains why financial markets have recently behaved predictably, and why that is about to change. Andrew Batson explains why Chinese policy making is in a holding pattern until next year's party congress is settled. Udith Sikand explains why this year's emerging market outperformance is likely to continue, as bonds and especially equities have...

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    Neil Newman: BoJ Policy Meeting In A Nutshell

    After the Bank of Japan’s announcement earlier today of quantitative easing “with yield curve control”, Neil delivers a quick-fire video assessment of the new policy slant, and what it will mean for markets and the broader Japanese economy.

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