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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.

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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

    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 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

    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.

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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

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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...

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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.

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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.

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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...

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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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    Gavekal Research

    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...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    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...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    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...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    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...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    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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  • Gavekal Research

    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.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    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...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    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...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    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...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    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...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    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...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    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...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    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...

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    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...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    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...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    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...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    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...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    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...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    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...

    0
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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.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Don’t Misread The BoJ’s Signals

    The monetary policy committees of both the Federal Reserve and the Bank of Japan meet tomorrow. But whereas the Fed faces a simple binary call—either raise rates or don’t—the decision confronting the Bank of Japan is more complex.

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    Gavekal Research

    The End Of A Bubble?

    Ask three economists for the definition of a financial bubble, and you will be lucky to get fewer than four different answers. Even in our little shop, we like to make distinctions between bubbles in productive assets (US railroads, the internet, fiber optic cables, shale gas wells...) and bubbles in unproductive assets (gold, tulips, Japanese land, Florida condos…). We also like to make distinctions on how bubbles are financed: equity (good) or...

    2
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    The ECB And BoJ: Brothers Disarmed

    The combination of negative interest rates and quantitative easing is not working as central banks had hoped. Yesterday European Central Bank president Mario Draghi conceded that more than two years after introducing negative rates and 18 months after commencing asset purchases, the ECB is no closer to hitting its 2% inflation target than when it first adopted its unconventional policies. Although headline inflation is set to tick up over the...

    0
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    Gavekal Research Monthly Conference Call — September 2016

    In the inaugural Gavekal Research monthly conference call, Louis, Anatole and Arthur addressed the global growth environment and offered asset allocation suggestions.

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    Gavekal Research

    Yes, Those Indian Growth Numbers Are For Real

    China has long been the whipping boy of skeptics who claim its growth numbers can’t be trusted. Data denialists got a fat new target in 2015 when India adopted a new set of national accounts that magically bumped up its GDP growth by 1.5 percentage points to over 7%, vaulting it past China as the world’s fastest growing big economy. This seemed just a bit too good to be true. Is India’s growth for real, or just a mirage conjured up by...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    A Better G-20 Communiqué

    Another year, another G-20, another yawn. Though the group of the world’s 20 biggest economies was useful in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, it has since degenerated into another global drawing room where leaders explain to one other how the world would be a better place if only it were a better place. This was a missed opportunity.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    India’s Quiet Revolution

    Last week India announced a partial liberalization of its debt and currency markets, which should open up the economy to more long term foreign capital. Such money is sorely needed to finance an estimated US$1trn of infrastructure spending over the next five years. While India has a fairly open equity market, debt issuance has been tightly controlled and banks account for some 80% of total financing across the economy. The issue is whether banks...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Real Yields Still Favor A Strong Yen

    Haruhiko Kuroda didn’t quite say he will do “whatever it takes” to push up inflation expectations, but he did the next best thing. Speaking at Jackson Hole on Saturday, the Bank of Japan governor promised “to take additional easing measures without hesitation”. Declaring there is “ample space” to expand the size and the scope of the BoJ’s asset purchases, as well as to push short term interest rates further into negative territory, Kuroda...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    Indonesia: Bet On Stability Not Growth

    Late last summer, Indonesia looked like a disaster in the making as the worsening commodity bust caused its currency and equity markets to plunge. A sharp fall in exports had caused economic growth to crater, while high inflation limited the scope for monetary easing. It was a time for strong leadership and decisive action, yet President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo seemed weak and ineffectual. A year on and much has changed with economic growth up,...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Demographic Dividend Or Demographic Nightmare?

    Among the Herculean challenges facing the government of India, job creation ranks first. Simply put, the number of new jobs is not keeping up with economic growth—a huge problem in a country where half the population is aged below 25. India needs to create roughly 8mn new jobs every year to absorb new entrants into the labor force. In addition, it needs to create more opportunities both for farmers seeking better-paying non-agricultural work and...

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    Video: Indian Growth And Demographics

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    India’s Enhanced Central Bank

    Louis is fond of quoting Lenin that there are “decades when nothing happens and weeks when decades happen”. Given India’s generally sclerotic pace of institutional change, these seem to be revolutionary times that will dictate the policymaking framework for years to come. Last week saw parliamentary approval granted for a national goods and services tax that should spur a genuinely common market, while lawmakers this weekend signed-off on an...

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    India’s Great Leap Forward

    India, finally, is on course to become a genuine economic power. Calling it a “Treaty of Rome” moment goes too far, but India’s Goods and Services Tax could prove nearly as significant as the agreement that created the European common market. India has been a strong political state for nearly 70 years, but its fragmented economy prevents goods and many services from moving freely within its borders. The GST promises to create a genuinely common...

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    The Death Throes Of The JGB Market

    While the Japanese government was rolling out its latest stimulus package yesterday—with a headline value of ¥28trn, but only ¥4.6trn of additional fiscal spending this year—investor attention was fixated on the spasms in the JGB market. Having touched a record low of -0.3% last Wednesday, the yield on 10-year JGBs leapt 28bp in just five trading days to hit a four and a half month high of -0.02% yesterday morning. On one level the spike in...

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    The Gavekal Monthly: Shall We Dance?

    In a world in which the Fed shows no inclination to get ahead of the curve on inflation and in which both the ECB and the BoJ are in full quantitative easing mode, investors everywhere are on the hunt for yield. But the chase is a nervous one. Investors are all too aware that equities and bonds are sending conflicting signals, and that the favorable trends that have lifted most assets over the last six months could be disrupted by a sudden spike...

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    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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    The Flow Through To EM Equities

    These are strange times for investors with bond yields in big developed markets plumbing new depths on dark concerns about never ending deflation and stagnation. Yet in a clearly related development, US equities are making new highs while corporate- and emerging market-bonds continue to rally.

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    The JGB Endgame Approaches

    Over the last couple of weeks, the world’s attention has been focused by turns on British politics, Italy’s banking crisis, the US presidential race and most recently, last night’s ghastly events in Nice. It is little surprise then, that a series of three stories from Japan (or perhaps just two and a half) has passed largely under the radar. Taken together, however, these developments bear heavily on the future of the Japanese government bond...

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    Can ‘Make In India’ Work?

    In September 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched an initiative to transform India from an industrial laggard into a global manufacturing hub. The “Make in India” plan is sorely needed: in 2014, India’s merchandise exports accounted for a paltry 1.7% share of the global total. That was on a par with Taiwan, whose population is smaller than Delhi’s. India relies heavily on imports of consumer goods, especially from China, and runs a large...

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    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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    The Next Monetary Move

    Shinzo Abe was today scheduled to meet with Ben Bernanke, the chief architect of unconventional monetary policy responses following the 2008 crisis, with the issue of Japan’s adoption of so called helicopter money expected to top the agenda. In this piece Joyce asks would Japan do it and more importantly could money drops make any difference in the land of the stagnant price index.

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    Ignore Japan’s Banks At Your Peril

    Any investors contemplating adding to their Japanese equity exposure following Shinzo Abe’s weekend election victory and the subsequent market rally should look closely at the performance of Japanese bank shares. Their signal, argues Joyce, is anything but encouraging.

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    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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    The Gavekal Monthly: Life After The Brexit Vote

    The world is now a considerably more uncertain place than a month ago. Following the UK’s referendum vote in favor of Brexit, a near-term recession in the UK is more likely than not, the European Union faces the possibility of a renewed economic slowdown, and investors find themselves forced to reassess the probability that Donald Trump will win November’s US presidential election. In this edition of the Gavekal Monthly, our analysts set out to...

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    The Enemy Of My Enemy Is My Friend

    The British prime minister was not the only one thwarted by a vote last week. Despite Narendra Modi’s personal efforts and heavyweight backing from Washington, India failed in its attempt to join the 48-country Nuclear Suppliers Group. It was a bruising setback for Modi, who has spent two years energetically trying to boost India’s global clout. Yet the result itself was less significant than the US support for India in the face of Chinese...

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    India’s Reform Agenda After Rajan

    Over the weekend, Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan announced he will not seek an extension of his three-year term, which ends in September. His unexpected decision will dampen sentiment in the near term, as it follows—and was perhaps even precipitated by—a high decibel campaign seeking his ouster by members of India’s ruling BJP. However, fears that the hard-won credibility of the RBI under Rajan will be undermined by the...

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    Japan As Safe Haven

    Global markets are in a risk-off mood as investors scramble to find a sure thing in an uncertain world. The populist surge in Europe and the US is ending long held “certainties” about the developed democracies, while next week’s Brexit vote could set in train the European Union’s break-up. Ironically, as investors scramble for stable ground, Japan is proving an island of calm, at least for those with an eye to capital preservation. The yen has...

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    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.

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    South China Sea Risks

    In the next few weeks the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague will likely rule in favor of the Philippines in its dispute with China over territorial claims in the South China Sea. Beijing’s reaction will show to what extent China is prepared to defy international law to defend what it claims are “core interests”.

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    The New Material

    The US$1.8trn global aviation sector shows no sign of slowing—last year passenger numbers rose by 6.5%. The race is on to deliver cheaper, more efficient aircraft. The big winners from this trend may be makers of composite carbon fiber. The market for carbon fiber used in aircraft is set to grow from US$17.3bn in 2014 to US$34.2bn by 2020.

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    Japan: Twice Bitten, Thrice Shy

    It was a case of twice bitten, thrice shy. This week Shinzo Abe announced he will postpone next April’s planned 2pp increase in Japan’s sales tax until October 2019—a step the prime minister had previously sworn he would only take in a Lehman-scale crisis. Despite Abe’s protestations to the contrary at last weekend’s G-7 meeting, the world economy is facing no such meltdown. Nevertheless, deferring the tax hike makes sense. Previous increases in...

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    How Much Geopolitical Risk In Asia?

    With the global economy in the doldrums and most asset markets stuck in neutral, the last thing that is needed is a trade war or an armed confrontation in the world’s most vibrant region, East Asia. The risk of either is low, but inching up.

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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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    A New Marginal Buyer Of Japanese Equities

    Thanks in part to erratic monetary policy moves, Japan has slid back to being an irrelevance for global investors. Perhaps that does not matter, as foreigners only account for about 30% of the market while Japan has a vibrant domestic equity scene. Yet, the fact remains that it generally takes fickle gaijin to get excited about Japanese equities for the market to break out—that was the story in 2012-15 as a 50% yen devaluation supercharged...

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    India’s Significant Step Forward

    When Narendra Modi took over as Indian leader nearly two years ago, he promised to deliver higher growth by making the world’s most bureaucratic large economy more business friendly. It has been a hard slog, with a slew of failures along the way: the BJP-led government’s attempts to push through tax, land and labor reforms have all been hobbled by opposition in parliament. But with the passing of a new bankruptcy code last week the fog of...

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    Asia’s Best Market Reaches A Precipice

    The Philippines has since 2011 morphed into a balanced development story with growth averaging about 6% Growth has been underpinned by robust domestic demand, and it has also benefited from a long period of fairly trouble-free governance so when Filipinos go to the polls on Monday to elect a replacement for the President, much is at stake.

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    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...

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    The Gavekal Monthly: Glass Half Full Or Glass Half Empty?

    The past month has seen the US dollar seemingly top out, the oil price settle into a trading range and China’s economic outlook stabilize. Emerging markets in particular have bolted higher despite weak global trade, an oversupplied commodity complex and worries about high levels of leverage. In this edition of The Gavekal Monthly we ask a pressing question for EM investors: is the glass now half full, or half empty?

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    Can The BoJ Ever Do The Right Thing?

    Another Bank of Japan meeting, another market slump. Yesterday saw investors mortified by a BoJ tease which came to nothing, while in January the same market response followed an activist move to charge a negative interest rate on a small part of banks’ reserves. In response to the disappointment the yen soared against the US dollar with its biggest daily move in seven years, while the ensuing six hours saw a 7% peak-to-trough move in Nikkei...

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    Asian Plowshares Into Swords

    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe invested time and prestige in a failed bid to supply Australia with 12 new attack submarines and service them for the next 50 years. It was announced yesterday that the approximate US$38bn contract was scooped by a rival French bidder due to its technical competence, but also after a strong lobbying effort by China which does not want to see a resurgent Japanese defense sector. Canberra’s decision represents a...

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    The End Of Asian Equity Market Underperformance?

    With Asian equities having underperformed their global equivalents by almost 40% since 2011, the past five years have not been much fun for regional investors. Encouragingly, however, just as the panic over a possible China currency crisis and economic implosion reached its apex last summer, Asia’s underperformance seems to have abated. Over the following eight month period or so, Asian equities have held their own with a number posting decent...

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    NIRP: Machiavellian Design Or A Policy Mistake?

    In order to make money, Starbucks has little choice but to sell coffee. Ford must sell cars if it hopes to stay open. And Lockheed Martin better get orders for bombs, missiles and planes if it is to remain relevant. But banks do not need to make loans (their stated purpose) in order to make payrolls and pay shareholders a dividend, at least at certain points in the cycle. When the yield curve is steep, banks can borrow money cheaply at the...

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    Emerging Markets Reality Check

    Emerging market assets have enjoyed a powerful momentum-driven rally over the last two months. A more dovish stance from the US Federal Reserve, falling yields, acceptance that the US dollar is no longer strengthening, and a pick-up in commodity prices combined to quell the market’s worst fears and persuade investors that emerging markets were not in fact facing Armageddon. More recently last week’s release of relatively upbeat economic data...

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    The Sum Of All Fears

    As “China implosion” and renminbi devaluation fears have faded, risk assets around the world have enjoyed a sustained a rally led by “China sensitive” assets such as commodities, Asian equities and emerging market high-yield debt. In short, all the assets that were priced for a scenario just short of Armageddon. But following this rebound, what next? The most obvious point is that, with the pick-up in fiscal stimulus, the rebound in construction...

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    Worth Buying This Japanese Dip

    Those with an active interest in Asian markets had much to process in early trading with shorts cheered by the hardly surprising news that Iran and Saudi Arabia could not agree on an oil production freeze, while longs could point to China whose 1Q15 GDP report on Friday seemed to confirm that the authorities will do whatever it takes to defend their near-term growth targets. But perhaps the bigger factor unnerving investors has been the fallout...

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