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E.g., 08-07-2020
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    Gavekal Research

    Is This What Capital Flight Looks Like?

    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. Yet despite months of protests, and Beijing’s subsequent clampdown, the financial elements of this doomsday scenario have completely failed to materialize.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Behind The Bull Run In Chinese Stocks

    Chinese equity markets are bounding higher on ebullient animal spirits. The CSI 300 index is up some 12.5% YTD in renminbi terms Monday morning. While the sequential rebound in profits from the first quarter’s dire situation has been heartening, the prospects for year-on-year earnings growth cannot justify this exuberance.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Time To Run With The Herd?

    When a herd of cattle is being hunted by a pack of wolves, the worst thing any cow or bull can do is show individualism and originality by running off in a different direction from the rest of the herd. In financial markets, “the trend is your friend” expresses the same evolutionary logic. Are markets now displaying non-rational herd behavior?

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    The Rising US Covid Risk

    In the coming weeks, the headlines about Covid-19 in the US are all but certain to get much worse as case numbers rocket in many southern and western states. Higher case numbers will be accompanied by more hospitalizations, stories of overloaded hospital systems and (probably) rising death tolls.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Competing Reserves Of Value

    In order to function properly, any economic system must have one or more trusted reserves of value, so that participants can factor time into their calculations. In recent decades the world has offered investors three principal reserves of value:

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    A Rare Growth Story

    Economic good news stories are almost as rare as hens’ teeth these days—almost, but not quite. On Tuesday Vietnam’s General Statistics Office released its advanced 2Q20 GDP estimate showing 0.36% YoY growth, meaning Vietnam is likely to be one of the very few countries in the world to register any growth at all during the second quarter.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    From Bullish To Neutral

    There has been a lot of talk about how the rally in US markets has been driven entirely by irrational sentiment. We disagree, and have since late March argued that the rebound in risk assets was rational. Our assessment rested on four financial and economic pillars. Today a reexamination of these pillars suggests a moderation of our bullish stance.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    What's US$1.6trn More Or Less?

    As three months ago, the prime case for holding US risk assets is the liquidity support provided by policymakers. But while liquidity conditions remain extraordinarily easy, and will continue to do so as long as inflation expectations remain depressed, in one respect at least the potential of surplus liquidity to push asset markets higher may have been exaggerated.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Please May I Have €10bn Too?

    Indulge me for a moment in a flight of fancy. Last week, the European Central Bank lent out €1.31trn to eurozone banks at a negative interest rate of -1%. Now, I am not a bank, but it is diverting to imagine that I might qualify for a small crumb of this funding, say a modest €10bn—because I know exactly what I would do with the money.

    16
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    Gavekal Research

    The US Approaches A Cliff Edge

    As the US starts to resume normal economic activity, a concern is that fiscal support is ended too early and the recovery is snuffed out. While European economies have extended many of their job protection schemes, the US faces a cliff edge at the end of July. If incomes suddenly crater, the worry is that spending plunges and the recovery takes on the feared W-shape.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Club Med’s Cruel Summer

    France, Italy and Spain suffered the deepest contractions in their economic activity in the first quarter and through April. Yet government programs have successfully supported both business cash flows and household incomes. Beyond the immediate bounce-back from lockdown, however, their economic trajectories are set to diverge.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    China Legislates For Hong Kong

    The summary of Hong Kong’s national security law released on Saturday is a tough read for advocates of a common law system. It represents a hybrid of China’s and Hong Kong’s legal systems that effectively ends the separation of powers between the executive and judiciary. How quickly the city changes as a result depends on the severity of enforcement.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    From A Tax To A Subsidy

    There will be some hard bargaining ahead when the European Union’s 27 heads of government meet by video conference Friday in an attempt to thrash out details of the bloc’s proposed €750bn recovery fund. German chancellor Angela Merkel is urging a quick deal. But with the “frugal four” countries led by Dutch premier Mark Rutte holding out for strict conditions, a final agreement could yet take several months, with the fund unlikely to start...

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    The Market’s Perception Of Scarcity

    It is a long-running trope of Gavekal’s research that assets can have value either as tools or as jewels. Tools have efficiency value and jewels have scarcity value. The rule that seemed to govern the relative performance of these over the last 50 or so years appears to have broken down. Louis wonders if this is because investors have reversed their perceptions of what is "scarce" and what is "abundant".

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    The US Consumer Has Legs

    Another day, another upside surprise from the US data. For investors, the key question is whether this recovery will continue, or whether May’s bounce-back in consumption will prove a one-off flash in the pan, extinguished by a second wave of infections and long term unemployment. Happily, there are good reasons to expect the consumption recovery to have legs.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    A Dismal Best Case

    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.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Rotating Into US Small Caps

    Despite some states seeing a worrying rise in Covid-19 cases, a US economic recovery is gaining strength as lockdowns are lifted. Barring unforeseen setbacks, there are reasons to think that the US recovery sustains itself and the equity rally continues. There is, however, a solid macro argument for rotating to a different class of US stocks.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Froth Comes Off

    Recent weeks saw telltale signs of markets getting silly: firms with no sales reaching U$26bn valuations; airline-focused exchange traded funds jumping from US$50mn in size in January to US$1.5bn, and bankrupt firms becoming five and 10 baggers. This kind of activity may lead to one of three conclusions.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    The Derating Of The Dollar

    In the last four weeks as market participants have reassessed relative risk premiums, they have found it increasingly easy to identify currencies which at the margin are looking more attractive than the US dollar. As a result, the dollar has weakened both against developed world and emerging market currencies. This weakness is acquiring momentum, and may have further to run.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Accelerating Into Inflation

    Long-time readers will be familiar with Gavekal’s Four Quadrants framework, which describes how the economy alternates between periods of inflation and deflation, and cycles from boom and bust and back again, and which we use to illustrate which asset classes investors should favor and when. Although this is one of Gavekal’s oldest frameworks, it provides an extremely useful way to think about how the macroeconomic environment is set to evolve...

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    A Fed Reality Check

    Ahead of the FOMC meeting that concludes Wednesday, there has been a growing volume of chatter that the Federal Reserve is moving to scale back its easing measures. The talk has been further amplified by May’s surprisingly strong employment report, with some commentators even warning of an imminent taper tantrum in the markets.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    What US Payrolls Do And Do Not Mean

    May’s US payrolls report clearly came as a shock to many. Non-farm jobs climbed 2.51mn month-on-month, and the unemployment rate fell to 13.3%. Wrong-footed by the stronger-than-expected figures, investors rushed to bid up US equities. But while the payrolls are good news at the margin, it should not be taken as a reason to rush into equities.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Europe’s Big Guns

    If the worry was that European Central Bank activism was threatened by German judicial chastisement, Christine Lagarde yesterday showed no sign of being cowed. The Pandemic Emergency Purchase Program was topped up to an almost bazooka-qualifying €1.35trn from €750bn and extended a further six months to June 2021. The move added fuel to the rally in euro assets. Rightly so.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Europe Flexes Its Fiscal Muscles

    Another day, another big fiscal expansion from Germany. Yesterday, Berlin outlined a €130bn stimulus package, representing 3.8% of GDP. If there was any doubt, Europe has clearly ditched its decade-long infatuation with austerity and is back in the Keynesian camp. This situation is bullish for eurozone stocks and in time could yet spur a long-forgotten problem—inflation.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    To Rotate, Or Not To Rotate?

    This week readers have heard a variety of views from Gavekal partners on the outlook for equity markets. What is not in doubt is that since hitting a peak on February 20, US growth stocks have outperformed value plays by a whopping 17%. Wherever one stands on the macro situation, there certainly seems to be an argument for rotating.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    The Case For Commodities

    For most of the last decade, we have been in a period of low investment in the commodity sector. Yet, over the next 20 years the global population will grow by almost 2bn—a 25% increase. Migration into cities will continue, with the world’s urban population growing by almost 50%, creating enormous demand for infrastructure.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    As The World Reopens

    A few weeks ago, I outlined three scenarios that could unfold as the world reopened for business. Since then, it looks like the market is starting to tentatively position scenario #3 in which the world economy rips and inflation rises due to pent-up demand, budget deficits, low oil prices and money printing. This makes sense, but the rotation may soon face a number of challenges.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Renminbi As Collateral Damage

    The rise in US-China tensions over the past week is taking a toll on China’s currency, which has weakened to CNY7.15 to the dollar from around CNY7.10, approaching its lows of last September. This has raised a worrying question: is China about to use currency depreciation as a weapon in its widening dispute with the US?

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    It’s Looking Hamiltonian

    It wasn’t quite the dawn of a new epoch, but the European Commission’s plan to boost its seven-year budget with €750bn of borrowing certainly ranks as a moment for the European Union. The plan needs unanimous backing from all member states and is far from a done deal. Yet it is likely to pass and in so doing it will change the nature of financial risk in Europe.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Return Of TINA

    All bull markets start as unloved beasts, but the one that began in US equities on March 23 has been especially despised. The news in the intervening two months has been dreadful, and it is still not really clear who is doing the buying, and why. So in seeking to understand if a market that is up 33% from its bottom can go further, KX considers four possible drivers.

    8
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    Gavekal Research

    Hong Kong And The Ethic Of Responsibility

    German sociologist Max Weber made the distinction between the ethic of conviction, based on the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, and the ethic of responsibility, based on consequentialist philosophy, a grandchild of Aristotelian logic. The distinction between the two may help investors to determine their response to developments in Hong Kong.

    10
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    Gavekal Research

    The Death Of Old Hong Kong

    On Monday morning, the streets around Gavekal’s offices in Hong Kong’s Wan Chai district teemed with harried commuters rather than baton-charging police and political protesters. Unfortunately, uncertainty about Hong Kong’s future as a free society will linger longer than the tear gas that had drenched the area a few hours earlier. There is now a fair chance that China’s imposition of a new national security law in Hong Kong will cause a chain...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    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.

    14
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    Gavekal Research

    Saudi's Peso Problem

    Two weeks ago in early May, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency issued an unusual statement. Sama, it insisted, is committed to maintaining the Saudi riyal’s exchange rate peg at SAR3.75 to the US dollar, and has the resources to do so. Stress signals don’t come much clearer.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Beware The Charm Of Monopolistic Tech

    An equally-weighted index of monopolistic "tech" companies is up by a whopping 26% in the last year, whereas an active manager running a portfolio with 30 or 40 stocks would be down about -7% over the same period. The difference in performance may be the "cost" of holding a diversified portfolio with lower risk than a concentrated portfolio.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Europe’s Hamiltonian Moment

    If there was a rational explanation for Monday’s global risk-on rally, it would be the genuinely exciting news from Europe. It is possible—just possible—that the Franco-German proposal for a €500bn coronavirus Recovery Fund announced yesterday will turn out to be the most important historic consequence of the coronavirus.

    14
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    Gavekal Research

    A US Full-Court Press Against China

    The US-China relationship has deteriorated rapidly, and the main reason seems to be that Donald Trump has decided that a “tough on China” approach should be central to his reelection campaign. Acrimony between the two countries is likely to get much worse between now and November, and US actions are starting to spread from technology to finance.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Phase Two Beckons

    Europeans have spent big to freeze their economies as if held in suspended animation since mid-March. On the whole, this plan is working quite well but EU member states must now agree to a post-pandemic plan for demand stimulus if they are to avoid an all-too-predictable double-dip downturn. They will get a shot next week, when the blueprint for a “recovery fund” is unveiled.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    The World Has Changed, Quick! Buy More Of The Same

    As countries around the world, and some US states, are starting to emerge from their enforced Covid-19 hibernation, investors have to choose between one of three potential outcomes. Either the virus re-emerges and causes new lockdowns, the post-Covid-19 world is not growth friendly, or pent-up demand and supportive policies leads to global growth ripping.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Chinese Bond Rally Is Not Over Yet

    China’s bond market is selling off on rising optimism about the nation’s recovery from the Covid-19 lockdown. But Wei argues that this rise in bond yields looks like a false alarm: China’s economy is not about to begin a V-shaped recovery and its central bank is not yet finished with monetary easing. The bond bull market still has some way to run.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Brazil's Burning House

    As President Jair Bolsonaro fuels anti-lockdown protests, Brazil is having a rough Covid-19 crisis. Its public health response has been weak and investors are horrified at the economic costs of such bungling. Fortunately, Brazil’s federal structure does mean the country can handle the crisis in spite of weak central leadership.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Breasting The Trough

    The apparent divergence between the stock market and economic reality continues to widen. Equity investors are focusing on the expected effects of the Federal Reserve’s massive liquidity injections once states emerge from lockdown. The risk to this rosy view is that the easing of restrictions could cause an infection increase so severe that new lockdowns are imposed.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Sovereignty And That German Court Ruling

    Tuesday’s ruling by Germany’s constitutional court on the legitimacy of asset purchases by the European Central Bank hits at the heart of a political project whose ultimate aim has been usurp the sovereignty of historical states in favor of a new super state. I am no lawyer but I have studied political science and the issue now in play is of a fundamental nature.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    The Threat From Turkey

    Turkey increasingly looks like a basket case that may spark a broader move out of emerging markets. Despite its efforts to squeeze short-sellers by stopping banks from swapping currency with foreign counterparties, the lira is hitting new lows against the US dollar. Efforts to sustain the lira with foreign currency borrowed from Turkey's dollarized banking system can't go on indefinitely.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    ‘No Limits’ Now ‘No, Limits’

    Markets have largely taken in their stride Tuesday’s decision by the German Constitutional Court that the European Central Bank exceeded its mandate by launching quantitative easing in 2015. The euro's move against the US dollar and the 10bp uptick in Italian 10-year yields were modest by the standards of recent volatility. This may be overly complacent.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    US Labor And The New Economy

    US states are moving to end stay-at-home orders and slowly resume activity. With some 30mn workers having been laid off, they will do so in an economy that has been profoundly changed by Covid-19. At a macro level, a fairly swift recovery is likely. Yet it will be a painful exercise as structural changes wrought by the pandemic upend the US labor market.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Down -16% And Still 30% Overvalued

    It seems the world has entered a new era, in which the principal function of central banks is to try to prevent markets from going down. So, after the gold standard and the dollar standard, we now appear to have the S&P 500 standard, in which a desperate central bank tries to manage the financial markets.

    16
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    Gavekal Research

    The Truth About Banks And Bonds

    As I elucidated last week Knut Wicksell’s key idea was that in any market economy there are not one, but two key interest rates, whose relative position drives the cycle. The theory makes good sense, but computing the two rates is tricky. My insight is that I don’t need to compute these two rates but instead measure the structural performance of bank equities in each market.

    10
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    Gavekal Research

    The Queen’s Head Remains The Better Long-Term Bet

    In hard times, a nation often feeds off the blood spilled by its martyrs and is re-energized. Undeniably, we now face an unprecedented crisis that is producing heroes and martyrs, especially among healthcare workers who have acted with devotion and honor. But has this created national unity?

    15
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    Gavekal Research

    Italy’s Debt Sustainability Question

    In the short term, Italy’s sovereign spreads are unlikely to be greatly troubled by the decision late Tuesday from Fitch to downgrade the country’s debt rating. In the longer term, however, in the absence of some form of eurozone fiscal union, Italy will remain caught in a vicious debt trap, which must call its continued membership of the single currency into question.

    2
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