Over the next six weeks, investors will spend hours of mental anguish and spill lakes of agonized ink attempting to analyze the outcome of the US presidential election. Will it really be time well spent? Louis isn’t sure.
Last month President Trump issued orders that threatened massive disruption to two of China’s biggest technology companies. But the Commerce Department’s final decision on WeChat was less extreme than feared, and Trump’s blessing of a deal to avert a ban on TikTok signals a promising shift in the political calculus.
The US government has stepped up its campaign against China’s leading technology companies, and already the measures against Huawei are taking effect. This threatens to severely disrupt global electronics supply chains, but creates opportunities for companies elsewhere in Asia. Vincent assesses who stands to benefit.
Test your knowledge
Nine Covid-19 vaccines are in the final phase of trials, and 5.3bn doses have already been promised in deals. What share of those vaccines has been set aside for the world’s rich countries, comprising 13% of the world’s population?
The bearish scenario for Hong Kong was that a combination of protests and Beijing’s heavy hand would trigger the flight of capital—financial and human—jeopardizing the peg and the financial system.
June 18, 2020
The Range Of US Sanctions
US President Donald Trump has pledged a response to Beijing’s decision to impose national-security legislation on Hong Kong, and has now signed legislation to sanction officials involved in the crackdown on Uighurs in Xinjiang. In this piece, Dan outlines the various legal tools that the US can bring to bear and their possible effects.
May 26, 2020
Hong Kong Q&A (Part III)
China has responded to prolonged political dissent in Hong Kong by proposing a tough anti-subversion law that threatens the city’s role as an international financial center. It remains unclear how this will be imposed on a common law-based legal system with a polar opposite jurisprudence to that on the Mainland.
Yesterday, Anatole suggested that stock markets may be soaring to new records because the Covid-19 crisis could indirectly produce a stronger world economy in the coming decade. Today, he seeks to explain his damascene conversion from post-March bearishness in order that readers can better judge the merit of this view.
August 17, 2020
Will A Keynesian Phoenix Arise From Covid?
Two months ago, Anatole dismissed the rebound in equity prices as an outbreak of “market madness” among bored small-time gamblers deprived of the opportunity to bet on horses and sports. He now admits that call was wrong and in this piece explains what has driven the market to new highs.
August 7, 2020
How To Pay For Sin In The Future?
Just as success has many fathers, there are many possible explanations for the upside breakout in gold prices. Obvious explanations include a rapid rise in monetary aggregates across the OECD, the fall in the US dollar and growing US-China tensions. An overlooked explanation is the demise of physical cash as a liquid and easily transportable asset.
Covid-19: Global impact
July 17, 2020
A Long Autumn For Covid In The US
Covid-19 has largely gone into the rear-view mirror in East Asia, and has been tamped down in Europe, but keeps dominating the headlines in the US. Infections in the current US wave are likely to peak in the first half of August, while deaths will peak in late August or early September.
June 10, 2020
US Reopening Tested By Regional Covid Outbreaks
Many US states begun to re-open their economies without getting their Covid-19 outbreaks firmly under control. They initially did this without experiencing a spike in infection levels, but the situation has now changed, writes Arthur.
April 22, 2020
Some Details On The Shape Of Things To Come
On Monday, Arthur laid out the core scenario for the exit from social lockdowns in both Europe and the US: a gradual relaxation of the most severe restrictions between now and mid-June, followed by several months or more of significant, but less onerous, restrictions.
August 20, 2020
Headwinds Build For Equities
Chinese equities tapped on their ceiling this week but have been unable to break through, despite both surprisingly positive economic data and rebounding corporate earnings. In this piece, Thomas explains how increasingly adverse liquidity conditions are keeping a downward pressure on the markets which is unlikely to lift in the short term.
August 17, 2020
Don’t Call It A Bailout
China’s government is finally rolling out a plan to aid small banks, the weakest links in the nation’s financial system. But don’t call it a bailout, Xiaoxi argues in this piece: while the government will replenish RMB200bn in capital, the money will mostly support relatively solid banks. The truly troubled banks will be shuttered or acquired.
August 14, 2020
Another Leg Up For Growth
After plateauing in Q2, China’s economic activity is stepping up in Q3, powered by demand in housing, infrastructure and exports, and a lessening drag in consumer services. In this Quick Take, Thomas, Rosealea and Wei explain how these factors will assist the country as it continues down its path back to economic normalcy.
July 14, 2020
Oil’s Unintended Consequences
On Wednesday, ministers from the Opec+ oil exporting cartel will meet to decide whether to begin scaling back their production cuts, but with the prospect of a renewed increase in infection rates, it's safe to say they will adopt a cautious approach.
April 23, 2020
Whale Watching In The Gulf
Gavekal’s dynamite fishing analogy maintains that the biggest impact of a market shock only shows up after a delay, much like the effects of an underwater explosion. First the small fry float to the top, then the mid-size fish. Only much later does the dead whale break surface.
April 21, 2020
Of Cows And Negative Oil
A friend has a sizable dairy farm in France. He usually sells his cows’ milk to local makers of yogurt and cheese for anywhere between €250 and €350 per 1,000 liters. Today, with most local cheesemakers shut down, buyers are offering just €1 per 1,000 liters for his milk. It could be worse, though. He could be in oil.
August 17, 2020
The Past Is Another Country
With US$3trn added to the US national debt during the Covid-19 crisis and trillions more in the works should new salary replacement payments be agreed in Congress, a vital question for investors is how to think about this runaway government spending and what it means for bonds and the US dollar.
August 14, 2020
Huawei And The Roads Of The Future
China is engaged in an imperial project that will not be typified by territorial conquest, but by “road building”. This is done to bring commodities to the heart of the empire at the cheapest cost, while higher value-added finished goods are pushed out to its outer realms.
August 11, 2020
Hawks In The Driver’s Seat
The China hawks are at the wheel in the Trump administration and driving as fast as they can. In this report, Arthur outlines the many tactics being employed by hardliners in the White House to lock in an adversarial stance against China ahead of the US elections. However tense things have been so far, even tenser times lie ahead.
Joe Biden has accepted the Democratic Party’s nomination to run for the US presidency. Invoking Franklin D. Roosevelt, who responded to the Great Depression with huge public works, Biden promised big fiscal programs to “build back better” after the Covid-19 recession.
August 19, 2020
Solid US Earnings Do Not Mean Another Boom Beckons
With more than 90% of firms in the S&P 500 having reported for the second quarter, the hit to earnings came in nowhere near as bad as expected. This picture is likely to be sustained in the coming year, or so and should lay the ground for solid US equity market performance.
July 30, 2020
A Conventional Fed
The Federal Reserve did not shift its policy stance yesterday and nor is it likely to announce some big-bang reform after a “strategic policy framework review”, which Jerome Powell indicated should be wrapped up within a couple of policy-setting meetings. That may not be an exciting story, but it is one that financial markets will welcome.
Chinese advances in hardware technology have increased the country’s contribution to the global smartphone supply chain. In this report, Dan explains how Chinese firms have increased their value-added in both innovation and branding. Now, he suggests, the main headwinds for Chinese smartphones are no longer technological, but geopolitical.
August 18, 2020
A Death Sentence For Huawei
The US government has passed a death sentence on Huawei. The questions now are whether it will choose to suspend that sentence, and whether China will retaliate by punishing major US companies. The likely answers, says Dan, are no and no.
August 7, 2020
Taking On Tencent
President Donald Trump signed executive orders on Thursday imposing restrictions on Tencent and ByteDance, two of China’s biggest software giants. In this report, Dan explains how the broad language in the orders might end up blocking any US person or company from working with the firms, dealing a major blow to their operations.
The Covid-19 pandemic has shocked China’s financial regulators into allowing a substantial rebound in total credit growth. But they are not worried enough to abandon their strict control of shadow finance. As Xiaoxi explains in this piece, a recent bounce in the shadow finance numbers is due to a popular arbitrage which is now being contained.
June 12, 2020
Can Small-Business Lending Be Fixed?
As China tries to get the economy back to normal, it is focusing more on the plight of small businesses, who have lost weeks or months of revenue to the pandemic. Yet it has resisted offering the loan guarantees other countries have employed. In this piece, Xiaoxi assesses the other tools China is using to boost lending to the smallest firms.
June 8, 2020
US Politics Versus Chinese Stocks
Financial markets are the latest field in which US-China political tensions are playing out. Thomas describes two lines of attack US hawks are pursuing against China: blocking Chinese firms from US equity markets and pressuring US asset managers to avoid Chinese equities. The risk associated with Chinese stocks has therefore materially increased.
Between February and April, some 22mn Americans lost their jobs. The rate of unemployment soared to nearly 15%—four percentage points above its last record high in 1982—but across the pond in Europe joblessness barely budged, inching up to 7.8%, from 7.2% in March.
August 12, 2020
Europe's Covid-19 Loan Drag
In response to the Covid-19 crisis, central banks in Europe have shoveled money to banks in a bid to have them deliver liquidity to stressed companies. A worry is that this new debt binge will weigh down corporate balance sheets for years to come, and limit growth. These concerns are probably overdone.
August 3, 2020
Europe Stares Down A Second Wave
Europe beat back the Covid-19 outbreak in March and April with decisive responses and reaped the benefit by reopening its economy in the early summer. Now, however, the price of fun in the sun has come due, with a rising case count that has led Britain’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, to label it Europe’s “second wave”.
As India's economic and fiscal situation goes from bad to worse, the government is preparing to do the unthinkable: privatize state-owned banks. Ever since the first round of nationalization of private lenders in 1969, the state has kept a tight grip on the financial system.
July 14, 2020
India’s Pharma Problem
India, the world’s pharmacy, is in danger of running out of drugs. The source of the danger is India’s deteriorating relationship with China, which provides up to 70% of the bulk ingredients for India’s pharmaceutical industry.
July 6, 2020
India Eyes Up Uncle Sam
After the border clash with Chinese troops on June 15, India is on the verge of a strategic reorientation towards the United States that will reshape security in Asia. A full formal military alliance with the US would be a red rag to the Chinese bull, and therefore remains unlikely.
Tensions in the South China Sea between the US and China are ramping up during a presidential campaign where the incumbent has set himself on a collision course with China. You do not have to be a crazed conspiracy theorist to wonder if this theatre could be the scene of an “October Surprise”.
August 20, 2020
Video: The State Of The US Recovery
Pandemic aside, the US faces a looming fiscal cliff and rising political risk as the presidential election campaign starts proper. So why is Will so sanguine about the country’s economic prospects? In this video interview, he explains his position.
August 6, 2020
Video: A Joe Biden Presidency?
With the US presidential election less than three months away, polling suggests Joe Biden and the Democrats have a chance at a clean sweep of the White House and Congress. While Biden has been open about wanting to raise taxes and tackle climate change, he would inherit an economy still reeling from the coronavirus shock.
The crowds that Monday swarmed British shops, allowed to open for the first time in 12 weeks, at first sight bodes well for a V-shaped recovery. Yet despite plentiful accumulated savings and considerable pent-up demand, the UK’s consumption-driven economy faces formidable post-lockdown headwinds, with consequences for equities and sterling.
May 22, 2020
Boris Will Pile Pelion On Ossa
No country has matched Britain’s dismal combination of currency and equity losses so far this year. Making matters worse for Britain than other DMs is Boris Johnson's refusal to extend the post-Brexit transition period beyond December, precisely the time when the Covid-19 recession might otherwise be expected to start lifting.
February 14, 2020
The Downing Street Putsch
Ever since turning negative on sterling and the UK economy when Boris Johnson dropped his post-election bombshell announcing a new “No Deal” deadline of December 2020, I have been waiting for a chance to double-down on this bearish position. On Thursday, Johnson provided such an opportunity to extend short positions in sterling.
August 13, 2020
Keep Chasing Asian Yield
As US equities brush up against new highs and safety assets like gold and treasuries sell off, global risk appetite has risen this week. Investors are betting that a vaccine for Covid-19 is at hand and if not, the world is at least learning to live with the virus.
August 6, 2020
Emerging Markets And The Dollar
A weakening US dollar is usually an unalloyed positive for emerging markets, so it is no surprise that their assets have rallied since the March 23 bottom in global markets—equities are up 45%, while bonds (both US dollar and local currency-based indexes) have gained 20%.
July 17, 2020
Unpicking The Tourism Effect
Despite a worsening Covid-19 situation in many big developing economies and concerns over central banks’ monetization responses, emerging market investors continue to climb the wall of worry, betting that a putative “second wave” does not stymie the recoveries of developed economies and China.
May 15, 2020
Webinar: China And The US Race Toward The Precipice
The rivalry between the US and China has taken a turn for the worse during the Covid-19 pandemic. In yesterday’s webinar, Tom Miller talked about how China has attempted to use the pandemic in its global influence strategy. Dan Wang updated viewers on the technology rivalry.
May 4, 2020
Strategy Monthly: Emerging Markets Under Pressure
Aside from China, emerging markets have not been hit as hard as rich countries by Covid-19, but their asset markets have been hammered. An optimistic view holds that undervalued EM assets can now bounce back.
March 6, 2020
India Macro Update: A Fragile Stabilization
The Reserve Bank of India's rescue of troubled private sector lender Yes Bank highlights the feedback loop between India’s bad-loan-burdened financial system and its stuttering economy, which is now facing its lowest growth rate since the financial crisis.
Local governments are balancing between encouraging housing construction and containing excess housing inventory. Although they have struck a balance so far, Rosealea argues that the growing vacancies in lower-tier cities coupled with depressed household consumption render current policies unsustainable in the long run.
June 2, 2020
A Property Rebound In May
Property sales are quickly recovering from their Covid-19 crash, with upward momentum that should continue for several months to come. However, Rosealea argues there are growing risks that China’s property market will start overheating, forcing policymakers to step in and leading to a downwards drift by July/August at the earliest.
March 20, 2020
Local Governments Will Lead On Property
Even as China’s property market has experienced an unprecedented decline, central government policymakers have kept a tight leash on official support. However, given growing signs of a lasting disruption to the sector, Rosealea believes that Beijing will tolerate more ambitious municipal efforts to keep local markets afloat.
From the archives: oldies but goodies
November 23, 2012
Deficit Deniers Of The World Unite
In our politically correct age the pressure to bow down before certain popularly accepted and apparently proven “truths” can be overwhelming. In the aftermath of the US elections, two such nostrums are unnecessarily vexing investors—the urgency of deficit reduction and fear of higher taxes.
July 20, 2011
Are We Entering Into Revolutionary Times?
In A Study of History, Toynbee explains that the role of a society’s elite is to rise to the challenges of the times, and find solutions fitting to those times, even if this involves a radical break with the past.
February 28, 2011
The High Cost Of Free Money
Perhaps the most famous economic law is the one that there is no such thing as a free lunch. By keeping US short rates at abnormally low levels beyond the financial crisis and as growth bounces back beyond the dreams of the wildest optimists, the Fed increasingly seems to be trying to ‘feed the US economy for nothing’.