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    Gavekal Research

    Parliament Of Losers

    For anyone who did not grow up in a Commonwealth country, one of the most perplexing things about the game of cricket is that matches can last for as long as five days, and at the end of it all still end up in a draw. Much the same can be said about European parliamentary elections: they take for ever, and it is often hard to identify a clear winner. Identifying losers, however, is simpler. And looking at Sunday night’s results there were both...

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Who Wants A New Long March?

    Since the collapse of the US-China trade talks, the public position of both sides has hardened. Top leader Xi Jinping’s call for a “new Long March” was widely taken as a sign he is ready for a protracted standoff with the US. But support for such a stance is not universal, as the surprising public comments of Huawei chairman Ren Zhengfei suggest.

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    Gavekal Research

    India After The Victory Party

    After Narendra Modi’s landslide victory in India’s general election, the economic issues that must be tackled quickly are stacking up. Tom runs through the Indian leader’s inbox and concludes that the scale of the short term problems he faces rules out a 2014-style euphoric run-up in Indian equity.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Change In The Market Mood

    Thursday was an ugly day for global equity markets, with losses that brought total returns on US equities almost back to their January 2018 level, and non-US equities to the brink of bear market territory. It is hard to shake the feeling that the investment environment has changed. What lessons should we draw from the tumultuous trading session?

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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Iran And The Oil Price

    Angry rhetoric between the US and Iran reached blood-curdling intensity after the US announced in late April that it wouldn't grant waivers for sanctions on Iran's oil exports. While this caused a short term spike in the oil price, it has since fallen about -8% from its high. Are oil traders too complacent about the risks, or does the market have it right?

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Household Debt Service Burden

    The rapid rise in China’s household debt has become a major concern for markets and policymakers. While most analysis looks at the household debt-to-GDP ratio, in this report Ernan calculates the household debt service ratio for a better angle on the problem. She finds that the debt burden on household budgets will keep increasing in 2019.

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    Gavekal Research

    Don't Bet On A German Fiscal Boost

    On Wednesday the OECD added its voice to the chorus calling on the German finance ministry to open its fiscal tap and juice up economic growth with additional public spending on investment. Yet although the outlook for external demand is darkening, investors should not hold their breath for a sizable fiscal boost.

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    Gavekal Research

    May's Last Stand

    When something unexpected happens and the market moves against you, it is usually best to cut your losses. But sometimes it is worth indulging the contrarian instinct. This month most of the pound's gains in the first quarter have been given up and sterling’s position looks dicey. But sterling bulls should not cut their losses. In fact, they should consider doubling down.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    The Trouble Unseen

    The world and its dog are suddenly worried that the growing US-China trade war may be the event that sparks the next panic. Might I suggest that the looming iceberg that could yet sink the good ship Global Growth may not lie in the obvious spot where spy glasses are focused.The real menace may still lie in the European banking system.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Fate Of Huawei

    The US government has China’s most prominent technology firm in a stranglehold. The question now is whether the US government continues to strangle Huawei until it goes out of business, or chooses to eventually stop squeezing and allow a weakened Huawei to keep operating under some limitations. In this report, Dan explores the possible scenarios.

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    Gavekal Research

    Everything You Wanted To Know About EU Politics

    This week EU voters will elect representatives to a legislature that has often been dubbed a snooze fest. That has changed as populist-nationalist parties challenge the established organs of government. Cedric gives a detailed explanation of how politics works at a supra-national level in Europe, and how current tensions are changing the key institutions.

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    Gavekal Research

    Trump's Trade War Calculus

    Keeping track of all the pieces of the US-China confrontation has become a full-time job. But the chaos and uncertainty of the past couple of weeks has begun to resolve itself into fairly clear patterns, even if the outcomes remain in doubt. Three main conclusions emerge from last week’s activity, and none of them are particularly reassuring.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Video: How Much Downside For The Renminbi?

    Since the US slapped fresh tariffs on Chinese exports a week ago, the renminbi has fallen, but by less than when the first round of tariffs were imposed last year. In this video interview, Chen Long discusses why that is, and how far China’s currency is likely to fall if things get worse.

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    Gavekal Research

    Oil Market 1, Commentariat 0

    As if the macroeconomic impact of a full-blown US-China trade war weren’t enough to worry about, over the last couple of weeks investors have also had to contemplate the risk of a real shooting war between the US and Iran, the effect it would have on the price of oil and the threat that would pose to a fragile global economy and jittery world markets.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    One Reduction Of Risk At The Margin

    By putting off for six months its decision whether or not to impose a 25% tariff on all imports of passenger cars and car parts on national security grounds, the US administration bowed to expedience on Wednesday. In theory, the threat of auto tariffs remains on the table. In practice, the six month delay has robbed the proposal of much of its credibility.

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Stabilization At Risk

    China’s economic data for April came in rather worse than the too-good-to-be-true indicators for March. As Andrew explains in this report, the April figures do not actually show a serious deterioration, and property is still holding up. But the stabilization in growth is now under threat from a more protracted trade conflict with the US.

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    Gavekal Research

    A Less Than Bonza Outlook

    Australian politics has been a psychodrama for more than a decade, but for investors it barely mattered. The country has grown rich on selling ever more rocks to China and following smart, evidenced-based policy at home. That, however, looks to be changing as this weekend voters go to the polls after an election campaign that may come to be seen as a watershed.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    The Case Of The Missing Inflation: The Changing Demographic Picture

    Demography, it is said, is destiny. If so, then the finger of destiny may be pointing at a more inflationary future for the world economy. Louis reviews the slow shifts in demographic profile which govern trends in consumption and savings, and so propel the forces of inflation and deflation over the very long term.

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    Gavekal Research

    Monopsonies, Protectionism And ROIC

    It is extremely unfashionable to say so, but Donald Trump’s campaign to bring manufacturing industries back to the US by slapping tariffs on goods imports may not be quite the act of economic illiteracy most professional practitioners of the dismal science would have you believe. On the contrary, it could well be positive for US growth, living standards, and market outperformance.

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    Gavekal Research

    Beijing's Most Effective Trade Tool

    In response to the escalation of the US-China trade war, Chinese policymakers are likely to step up their easing measures. This should help support domestic demand. But as Chen Long argues in this piece, the effect of policy easing, coupled with the impact of increased tariffs on China’s exports, will add to downward pressure on the renminbi.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Trade War Story Lines Harden

    The US-China trade war has three potential outcomes. First, we could see a step back from brinksmanship and a deal in the next few weeks. Second, the two sides could dig in for more protracted negotiations. Third, the talks could break down and the trade war become permanent. With the probability of each outcome less than 50%, the only certainty is continued uncertainty.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Goldilocks And The Ten Bears (2019)

    Despite last week’s sell-off, the bull market remains intact, for now. In this report Anatole returns to the framework he set out in November 2017, examining the 10 key risks that could threaten global markets over the next 18 months and which investors should monitor closely—and he comes to some surprising conclusions about the central locus of global dangers.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Is The Worst Over For The Eurozone?

    Eurozone economic growth was modest in the first quarter of 2019, but it was still stronger than most economists had expected, with Germany avoiding a recession and Italy returning to growth. Meanwhile eurozone equity markets are up a respectable 13% over the year to date. Does this mean Europe is emerging from its economic soft patch?

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Motivation Behind Trump's Tweets

    Since becoming president, Donald Trump has made it clear that he sees the S&P 500 as the real-time judge of his White House performance. Why, then, did Trump on Sunday send a tweet alleging that China had backed off from agreed positions in the US-China trade talks, and in so doing rattle a market priced for Goldilocks?

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research Call May 2019

    Investor concern this week is centered on the US-China trade negotiations, but Charles Gave and Louis Gave wonder if investors aren’t missing another risk, namely, that the world might be shifting from a deflationary to an inflationary environment. In our monthly Conference Call yesterday, they outlined arguments for why this may be the case, and what it would mean for portfolio construction.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Where Can Industrial Policy Work?

    The Trump administration’s trade war has targeted China’s ambitious industrial policy, which China clearly has no intention to abandon. But will that industrial policy work? In this report, Lance explains his eight-point system for evaluating industrial policy’s odds of success, and tests it on electric vehicles, airplanes and pharmaceuticals.

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    Gavekal Research

    A Better Time For A Trade War

    For equity investors, there is a never a good time to have a trade war. Nevertheless, if there must be one, the US stock market is now better placed to ride out a US-China tariff conflict than it was a year ago. That’s just as well. Chinese negotiator Liu He is set to arrive in Washington on Thursday for the latest round of trade talks which are going down to the wire.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Gauging The EM Collateral Damage

    After Donald Trump’s weekend tweets, trade war is once again the center of attention for investors. The perceived probability of an escalation has risen sharply, and risk assets have sold off. Asian emerging markets have not escaped the rout, but it would be a mistake for investors to treat all Asian emerging markets equally.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    The Case Of The Missing Inflation: Chinese Foreign Exchange Policy

    As the US-China trade talks enter a critical phase, all eyes are on a new meeting of officials and whether it can can break the log jam. Louis, however, wonders if investors may be missing a trick by purely focusing on issues of market access, enforcement and tariffs. Adjustments in the value of the renminbi may yet be the real story of any deal.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Series: The Case Of The Missing Inflation

    As the Federal Reserve launched the second round of its quantitative easing, the fear was that the Fed’s unorthodox monetary policy would ignite a new round of inflation throughout the world, with dramatic effects on asset prices. After all, most asset prices are driven by the interaction of inflation and economic activity. But inflation failed to materialize, and even fell from more than 3% globally in 2010 to negative territory in 2015. These...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Reverse-Engineered US Inflation Indicator

    In the Strategy Monthly I presented a fairly simple rule to show whether an economy is in the top, or the bottom half of the Four Quadrants framework. To show that the rule worked, I laid out relationships between the "rule" and a range of other useful indications of a price environment shift. Here, I capture all of these relationships in a simple, revised decision rule.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Xi's Pivot To The Private Sector

    The improved economic outlook for China in 2019 owes a lot to an effective stimulus and progress toward a trade deal. But it has also been driven by top leader Xi Jinping’s surprising political pivot from champion of state enterprises to patron of the private sector. In this piece, Andrew examines how sincere Xi’s new stance will prove to be.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    How Long Can Productivity Contain US Inflation Pressure?

    April’s US payrolls report showed job creation was stronger than expected and unemployment lower, yet wage pressures were softer. This suggests weaker unit labor costs will allow the Fed to remain dovish, at least for now. All else being equal this is positive for equity investors. The question is: How long can this benign combination persist?

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Trade Deal Delayed, Not Yet Denied

    Any trade negotiator will tell you that the last yard is always the hardest. That is obvious now in the US-China trade talks, which were thrown into doubt by Donald Trump’s weekend tweets threatening to hike tariffs on US$200bn of imports from China from 10% to 25% this Friday if a deal is not done.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: India’s Acceleration Phenomenon Explained

    Multinationals and investors are looking to India to deliver the next great surge in sales of consumer goods and services. But demand will not expand in a linear fashion as GDP increases. The acceleration phenomenon dictates that sales of different products and services will grow in leaps and bounds as cohorts of new consumers surpass key income thresholds.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Q&A On The Hong Kong Dollar Peg

    The recent publication of a letter on the future of the Hong Kong dollar peg by Gavekal’s good friend Kyle Bass has triggered a flood of questions on the topic from clients. Now, Louis admits that there may be some home bias to this conviction that the Hong Kong dollar peg is not under threat. But in this paper, he sets out his answers.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Inflation And The Gold Fix

    When the market rate of interest for a long period has been held abnormally low relative to returns on invested capital, financial engineering takes off with huge debt issuance, making a chaotic denouement of the credit cycle unavoidable. To prepare for such an event, an equity portfolio hedged with gold can reduce volatility and raise returns.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    The Message In Eurozone Money

    The advanced estimate of first quarter eurozone GDP released on Tuesday came as a pleasant surprise. Growth came in stronger than generally expected, while Italy emerged from recession. With the MSCI EMU equity index up almost 17% YTD in local currency terms, the question is whether growth can be sustained over the coming quarters.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: The Inflation Shift And Portfolio Construction

    Despite inflation remaining muted, Wednesday saw the Federal Reserve stand pat on interest rates. Having switched to an overly dovish stance early this year, Fed Chairman Jay Powell remains wary of changing tack and easing policy as he worries about inflationary pressure bubbling up from an economy that looks to be fully occupied. For his part, Charles is less nuanced and believes the US will shortly flip over into an environment where inflation...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Look Through The Trade Data

    After rallying 10% in 1Q19, emerging market equities have hit an air pocket as investors worry about global growth. Given the link between EM profitability and global trade, data showing that activity shrank in both volume and value terms in the three months to February has raised concerns. It hasn’t helped that the Washington side of the US-China trade talks has amped up “no deal” rhetoric in what is slated to be the final run-in of the...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Struggling To Reform The Belt And Road

    China’s much-criticized Belt and Road Initiative will become “open, green and clean,” Xi Jinping pledged last week. Do these new promises mean an end to the debt traps, kickbacks and white elephants that the infrastructure spree has been accused of fostering? In this piece, Tom argues Beijing will struggle to fundamentally reform the initiative.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The World's Biggest Bull Loses Steam

    China’s equity bull market has lost steam in the last 10 days after the Politburo adopted a less supportive tone following stronger than expected economic data in March. Even before the announcement, market ebullience had moderated. This is positive for China's stock market development, since it reduces the risk of an over-muscular regulatory reaction.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Managing Today’s Biggest Risk

    The US first quarter GDP data released on Friday proved consistent with the picture of slower—but still positive—growth through 2019, and a continuation of the Goldilocks tailwind for asset markets. But after a strong run-up in equities this year, it might be time to ask what the greatest risk is to the current environment, and how to position for it.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Case Of The Missing Inflation: US Fiscal Policy

    The US seems set to run huge fiscal deficits for as far as the eye can see, and it is not clear who is going to fund this indulgence. In the fourth instalment of his “missing inflation” investigation Louis considers the options available to the US Treasury and concludes that hard funding choices will likely be ducked by whoever wins the 2020 election.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    The Least Ugly Duckling

    In a year marked by unexpected US dollar strength, the renminbi is one of the few major currencies to be up against the dollar. The reason is simple enough: the resumption of trade talks between the US and China. Yet although a trade pact is now substantially priced in, there are reasons to believe the renminbi has further upside potential.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Video: Is The Worst Behind Us?

    At our seminar in Shanghai, Chen Long presented the outlook for China’s economy and markets. Crucially, the credit cycle appears to have bottomed out, and credit growth should accelerate towards the end of the year. He expects the overall economy to follow suit. He also covered the outlook for capital markets, equities and the renminbi.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Case Of The Missing Inflation: Chinese Monetary Policy

    China’s response to the Fed’s QEII program in 2010 was to tighten monetary policy, as it feared a spill-over effect into inflation. Since that point China has seen credit growth progressively slow, making it an inhibitor to any global rebound in inflation. This orientation by China is changing as the focus of policy shifts away from crimping the shadow finance sector.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Why The Bulls Are Back In Charge

    Now that the S&P 500 has hit a new all-time high and other stock markets have recovered most of the steep losses they suffered last summer, it seems a lifetime since the financial panics of 2018. Investors who bought the dip have enjoyed Wall Street’s strongest quarterly performance in this bull market. After being so well rewarded, how should bullish investors who kept the faith now respond?

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Property Cycle Perks Up

    China’s property market data has been surprising on the upside. Thanks to easier credit and looser administrative restrictions, sales volumes picked up in March and prices rose. In this paper, Rosealea examines whether the upturn can last, and assesses what it means for land sales, construction activity, materials prices and the broader economy.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Fire-Tested Macron

    Tomorrow will see Emmanuel Macron deliver the big national address that got upended by the Notre Dame inferno on April 15. His speech will outline a mix of tax breaks, constitutional modernizations and symbolic grand gestures. The broad story, however, is that the effort to reform France remains broadly on track.

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