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E.g., 28-02-2020
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    Gavekal Research

    The Fragility Of A Complex World

    When, a couple of lifetimes ago, I played rugby, I never got injured. That’s because I was a little overweight, and slow, while the fast and agile players ended up with injuries. Why do I bring this up? The question investors must confront is whether the global economy is a slow but resistant beast of burden, or a finely tuned machine which has now been thrown off its axis.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Next Infrastructure Stimulus

    As size of China’s growth shock from the coronavirus shutdown becomes clear, yet another infrastructure stimulus looks to be on the way. In this piece, Wei assesses the scale of the possible boost. The most likely outcome is that public-works spending accelerates to 8-9% in 2020 from just 3.3%, a nice boost but still well below historical peaks.

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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Still The Safest Port In A Macro Storm

    It took a while, but fear of contagion is gripping Wall Street. In the last week, the S&P 500 has fallen -8%, while 10-year US treasury bills have hit a new all-time low. Yet the risk-off move in US asset markets triggered by worries the coronavirus epidemic is turning into a global pandemic is at odds with underlying US fundamentals.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Velocity Of Money In The Time Of Covid-19

    Most serious investors know MV=PQ, where M is the money supply, V is the velocity of money, P is the general price level and Q is output. The typical approach is to wait for M, P and Q to be published and so derive V, which renders the equation a mere tautology. In contrast, Charles has long thought V to be an independent variable whose variations impact P and Q.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Covid-19 Cost To Corporate Cashflow

    The coronavirus has only worsened the situation for corporate coffers already under strain from the Lunar New Year. Thomas outlines the difficult road ahead for Chinese firms: with an estimated loss of RMB5trn in cashflows, many will have no choice but to default on cash obligations to staff, banks and suppliers, as well as curtail their capex plans for the year.

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    Gavekal Research

    Doing On Monday What We Wish We’d Done On Friday

    Monday was the epitome of Charles’s observation that in a down-market, the temptation to sell on Monday what you wish you’d sold on Friday can become overwhelming. As markets sold off on Monday following a weekend of bad news, the following developments seemed especially relevant.

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    Gavekal Research

    Far From Priced In

    Asian markets switched to risk-off mode Monday as investors reacted to further coronavirus news outside of China. Yet in onshore markets, investors are optimistic that the economy will quickly normalize as the spread of the virus comes under control, and that the central bank will provide policy easing. Neither belief looks well-founded at the moment.

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    Gavekal Research

    What Will End The US Dollar’s Run?

    Among the confounding effects of the coronavirus has been its impact on foreign exchange markets. The last few weeks have seen heavy flows into the US dollar, on the grounds that the US economy is relatively insulated from the ill-effects of the outbreak. As fears have grown of a dismal first quarter for the eurozone on diminished external demand (see Just When Things Were Looking Up), the euro has slumped to a near three-year low against the US...

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    Gavekal Research

    The Problem In US Equities

    As US equities power to new highs, investors have brushed off geopolitical ructions and fears of a global pandemic. It is less clear that weak earnings are incidental to the US bull market. With 420 firms in the S&P 500 having reported for 4Q19, earnings are only up 1.6% on the previous year.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    A Looming Private Liquidity Squeeze

    A March spike in maturing bonds is going to mean significant liquidity challenges for many companies, particularly as they continue to grapple with the coronavirus and its economic fallout. The government has announced some supportive policies, but as Xiaoxi explains these measures are likely to favor large and state-owned companies, leaving smaller firms at risk of going under.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Multinationals Take The Long View

    The coronavirus outbreak has undoubtedly had a significant impact on multinational companies’ operations in China. Nonetheless, drawing from a dozen interviews with China-based executives, Lance argues there is little evidence the outbreak will cause firms to rethink their long-term China strategies.

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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Will The Economic Contagion Hit Europe?

    Europe’s financial markets are sending mixed signals. On one hand, fears about the eurozone's exposure to China’s coronavirus-hit economy have pushed the euro to a 21-month low against the US dollar. On the other, euro-denominated stocks are hitting record highs. In this interview Nick examines the mixed message.

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    Gavekal Research

    Time And Risk

    The financial world is organized around two axes: time and risk. If some authority manipulates the time axis, the effect will be to compromise the risk axis. This is not an abstract formulation. It has the potential to threaten portfolios and the solvency of major institutions.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Kinks Appear In The Tech Supply Chain

    Chinese electronics manufacturers are struggling to get their operations back to normal amidst the coronavirus outbreak. Dan outlines how this might lead to larger disruptions in the tightly scheduled mobile phone production cycle, and why smaller companies are more likely to postpone launching new products than their larger counterparts.

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    Gavekal Research

    A Surfeit Of Money

    The fruits of the US Federal Reserve’s swing to monetary easing are ripening. In the last couple of months the about-turn in monetary direction has triggered a dramatic rebound in aggregate US money supply growth, which is outpacing GDP growth. This suggests excess cash may be piling up. If so, the excess is likely to further bid up US asset prices.

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    Gavekal Research

    Q&A On The Coronavirus Situation

    Louis spent last week meeting with clients in the US and discussions centered on the coronavirus situation. His starting point is that the Chinese authorities now have every incentive to overstate, rather than understate, the severity of the viral outbreak. He explores the impact on growth in the rest of the world and asset price movements.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Risk Of Falling Behind The Epidemic Curve

    China’s government was slow off the mark in responding to the initial outbreak of the new coronavirus. Although the government is now fully mobilized to fight the outbreak, it risks falling behind the curve again—this time in responding to the economic damage wrought by its extended shutdown of normal life and business activity.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Long Term Risks That Matter, And Those That Don’t

    In the third paper of his series about the risks that threaten asset markets in both the short and long run, Anatole turns his attention to four longer term risks that are widely discussed—and even more widely misunderstood. Investors should worry about demographics and climate change, although not for the reasons many believe. In contrast, they can sleep relatively easily about debt and productivity growth.

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    Gavekal Research

    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.

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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Hong Kong's Viral Woes

    For Hong Kong’s economy, already in recession after eight months of anti-government street protests, the Chinese coronavirus outbreak comes as a fresh blow falling on the existing bruise. Inevitably, the effect will be painful. Yet as Vincent explains, the Hong Kong economy has considerable resilience.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Hit To Consumer Durables

    The government’s drastic measures to contain the coronavirus are certain to deliver major blows to the auto and smartphone markets. Fortunately, Thomas, Ernan and Dan report that a V-shaped recovery is the most likely scenario for both sectors. Neither will meet pre-virus growth expectations, but both will likely still see an improvement from 2019.

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    Gavekal Research

    Paying Your Way In The UK

    A triumphant Boris Johnson is set on consolidating a new electoral coalition through big infrastructure projects that help “level up” forgotten regions, but he faces a weak economy and tough negotiations with the European Union over Britain's trading relationship. The worry is that investors begin to balk at funding a gaping current account deficit.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Dial Moves Against US Growth Stocks

    The outperformance of growth over value continues, yet an increasing number of serious US managers are making the case for value. On the macro front the worry is of a strong economy that continues to have an inflationary vibe. Over the last five years, I have taken an equity growth bias. Now I’m shifting towards the value camp.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Lingering Impact On Property

    While the 2003 SARS outbreak had only a transitory impact on China’s housing market, the 2020 coronavirus episode is proving to be much more serious. In this piece, Rosealea argues that the big hit to housing sales will leave developers short of cash and limit their ability to keep projects going. This points to a lingering drag on construction.

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    Gavekal Research

    Opportunities In Asian Easing

    Economists are still trying to assess how severe the economic fallout from China’s coronavirus outbreak will be for the rest of the region, but local central banks are not waiting to find out, and are already either cutting interest rates or promising to cut them. As policymakers cut rates, some will offer opportunities for emerging market investors.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Fiscal Fallout Of Germany’s Political Ructions

    On Monday the uncertainty quotient in German politics jumped dramatically when Angela Merkel’s chosen successor quit as leader of the CDU. Her departure will trigger a new CDU leadership struggle which will further fragment an already fractured German political scene. The upheaval is likely to lead to a more expansionary German fiscal policy in the medium term.

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    Gavekal Research

    Back To Work, Not Back To Normal

    China’s businesses are starting to get back to work, but the economy is still very far from normal. On Monday, the extended holiday declared by the government to help contain the coronavirus outbreak came to an end (except in Hubei province). But most businesses still face great difficulty in resuming their normal activities.

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    Gavekal Research

    A Sweet Spot For US Jobs

    US non-farm payrolls came in stronger than expected in January. Examining more forward-looking data, such as job openings, many observers suspect the US jobs market may be heading for slower job creation and weaker wage growth in the coming quarters. These worries are likely misplaced.

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    Gavekal Research

    A Quant View Of The Virus, Updated

    Last week, Didier applied his quantitative risk management tools to model the spread of the coronavirus, setting a bound on catastrophic risk. Thankfully that bound appears to have been undershot. In this update, he models the probable trajectory of the epidemic from here and finds reasons to hope the spread of the virus has been contained.

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    Gavekal Research

    Bad Shocks Can Have Benign Effects

    There are few people outside Donald Trump’s administration who think the US-China trade war was a good thing. There are surely even fewer who think the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak has any positive aspects at all. Nevertheless, while both last year’s trade war and this year’s viral epidemic are bad for global economic growth, they are both largely beneficial for US households.

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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research Call February 2020

    In yesterday’s research call, Vincent Tsui and Tom Holland joined Arthur Kroeber to discuss the coronavirus outbreak, what it means for Chinese and regional economic growth, and how investors should position themselves during this period of rapid news flow and high market volatility.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Viral Monetary Policy

    China’s central bank has moved quickly to demonstrate its readiness to support an economy battered by the coronavirus outbreak. But Wei argues that it is too early to assume the PBOC is going to abandon its policy of selective easing and aggressively cut rates, as it still has reasons to hold to its its conservative policy stance.

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    Gavekal Research

    Just When Things Were Looking Up

    It seems the European economy can’t catch a break. After a grim year in 2019, especially for the manufacturing sector, the old continent entered 2020 with reasons for cautious optimism. Survey-based indexes of business optimism appeared to bottom out late last year. Then the Wuhan coronavirus hit China.

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    Gavekal Research

    Video: When Oil Hits The Floor

    No financial market has been hit more heavily by the Wuhan coronavirus than oil, with the price of crude falling by more than -20% from its early-January high on fears the outbreak will crush China’s demand for fuels. In this short video, Tom examines the global implications of the oil price slide, and asks “where next?” for the price of the world’s key commodity.

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    Gavekal Research

    Don't Count On Oil To Fall Further

    Nowhere in markets has the impact of the Wuhan flu made itself felt as forcefully as in the oil price. The price of Brent crude has fallen -24% in just four weeks to US$54.58/bbl on Wednesday morning in Asia on fears of massive demand destruction in disease-hit China. WTI has fallen by a similar amount. This slide has great immediacy for investors in the energy sector.

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    Gavekal Research

    A Quant View Of The Wuhan Virus

    There is now enough data on the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus to permit a useful quantitative analysis of its likely evolution. In this paper, Didier notes that while the spread of the virus continues to accelerate, the “jolt” of that acceleration is now slowing. This suggests the outbreak is likely to peak by early March.

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    Gavekal Research

    After The Rout

    The Chinese authorities’ attempts over the weekend to shore up confidence among domestic investors came to naught on Monday as prices plummeted when the onshore stock markets reopened after their 10-day lunar new year shut-down. Yet, once signs emerge that the outbreak it is contained, the resulting relief rally should combine with underlying tailwinds to propel stocks higher again.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Long And Short Of The Wuhan Flu

    There is now enough information available to begin to make useful judgments about both the short term and long term impact of the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak. In this extensive analysis, Arthur examines the health risks posed by the virus, its economic impact, and likely political fallout.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Threat To US Equities

    On Friday the US equity market succumbed to coronavirus jitters, with the S&P 500 sliding -1.77% to wipe out its year-to-date gains for January. The sell-off was accompanied by a surge in the VIX volatility index, which could continue to rise. Happily, however, there are five good reasons to think any such elevated volatility will prove short-lived.

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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: The Wuhan Virus And Emerging Markets

    The rapid spread of the Wuhan coronavirus has spooked investors and triggered steep sell-offs in Chinese and Asian markets. But there are good reasons to hope the spread of the disease will be contained in the coming weeks, at which point Chinese and regional equities can recover.

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    Gavekal Research

    Britain’s Soggy Prospects

    Despite a worsening coronavirus situation and worries that a Brexit bounce could be short-lived, the Bank of England defied the expectations of many by not cutting interest rates. The UK’s weak medium term growth outlook and difficult impending trade talks with the EU means that policy will remain dovish and sterling’s upside prospects are likely capped.

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    Gavekal Research

    Don't Fret About The Fed's Balance Sheet

    As if investors didn’t have enough to worry about just now, many have been spooked by this month’s dip in the size of the US Federal Reserve’s balance sheet. Happily the Fed is one thing investors don’t need to fret about. The Fed’s statement and press conference on Wednesday confirmed that US monetary policy remains clear and predictable—and accommodative.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Huawei Comes Out Ahead, For Now

    American attempts to kneecap Huawei have run into several setbacks. Internationally, Europe is pushing back on demands to exclude Huawei from 5G networks; domestically, further sanctions have been stymied by bureaucratic infighting. Dan reports that the war is hardly over, and we are likely to see broader rules limiting Chinese access to US tech.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Utility Of A ‘Jeep’ Portfolio

    Back in December 2017 I published a warning for portfolio managers. Sometimes it makes sense to have a turbocharged portfolio, at others investors should seek out something more suited to rough going. Two years on, and with market volatility again on the up, this seems a good time to review how my Jeep portfolio has fared over the last two years.

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    Gavekal Research

    Ten Long Term Risks For The New Decade

    Two weeks ago, Anatole looked at the risks that could derail markets in 2020. This week he puts on his long term forecasting cap, and examines the big risks that could play out over the next 10 years. The good news? While there are some risks investors do need to worry about, there are other concerns they can dismiss entirely.

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    Gavekal Research

    It’s Not The Disease, It’s The Treatment

    The economic costs of the Wuhan virus are not simply a function of how deadly it is, but of the measures China’s government takes to contain it—which have rapidly escalated to an unprecedented severity. The shutdown of normal travel and business now in place across much of China is certain to deliver a hit to growth in the first quarter of 2020.

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    Gavekal Research

    Cardiac Arrest In India’s Body Economic

    Bad debts are clogging the arteries of India’s financial system. Two policy developments at the end of 2019 raised hope of recovery. A Supreme Court judgment set a precedent for resolving bankruptcies more quickly. And the insolvency code was extended to cover non-bank financial companies. However, the reality is that India’s financial system could worsen before it gets better, especially if the government goes ahead with a mooted finance bill.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Fourth Horseman?

    It is unlikely Xi Jinping has spent much time studying Christian eschatology. But if he has, the Chinese president might be forgiven for thinking that after (trade) war, conquest (in Hong Kong) and famine (African swine fever), he now has to deal with the fourth horseman of the Apocalypse: Death (in the unwelcome shape of the Wuhan coronavirus).

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    Gavekal Research

    Playing The ECB Strategic Review

    When a government agency announces a “strategic review”, the presumption is that some knotty issue is being kicked into the long grass. That was the vibe yesterday when Christine Lagarde kicked off the European Central Bank’s year-long navel gazing exercise. In this case, however, investors would do well not to check out entirely from ECB watching.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Video: On Target In China?

    In 2015 the Chinese government set out its 13th five-year plan, with economic and social targets that it aimed to hit by the end of 2020. The five-year plans are important because the government derives legitimacy from improving people’s livelihoods. The Dragonomics team has examined seven such targets and their impact on the economy.

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