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    Gavekal Research

    Time To Embrace The US Consumer

    Whether moving into a fixer-upper or a freshly finished McMansion, most homeowners will splurge on big ticket items to embellish their new abode. With the US housing market looking strong, investors should bet on consumer discretionary—it has the advantage of offering protection if long-dated bond yields move materially higher.

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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: Towards A Dollar Decline

    The last five years have been an era of US dollar strength. That era may now be coming to an end. After the US Federal Reserve halted its balance sheet contraction and last month resumed buying T-bills at a rate of US$60bn a month, the Fed is now printing money faster than the other central banks. As a result, relative liquidity growth now favors US dollar weakness.

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    Gavekal Research

    Easy Money And Robust Growth

    No wonder the S&P 500 closed at a new high yesterday. On the same day the Federal Reserve cut interest rates by 25bp, US GDP growth for 3Q19 came in at a robust 1.9%. For its part, the Fed gave no indication of paring down its new asset purchase program (quantitative easing in all but name). This is bullish for risk assets and bearish for the US dollar.

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    Gavekal Research

    US Dollar Under Fire

    The richly-valued US dollar is finally starting to look vulnerable. While still in its post-2015 trading range, the DXY index has given up -1.5% in the last 11 trading days; broader trade-weighted measures have also swooned. A range of factors are now weighing on the US currency and if they persist the unit could see a pronounced decline in the coming months.

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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Playing The Un-inversion

    Having inverted over the summer, the US yield curve has steepened sharply. In the past such a move has often presaged recession—but not always. Twice since the 1960s an inversion and steepening was not followed by recession. Then, as now, the return on invested corporate capital was higher than the cost of that capital.

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    Gavekal Research

    Culling The Pessimists

    A series of head-spinning flip-flops in the on-again-off-again trade war over the summer has caused US businesses to delay fresh investment. As a result, business surveys have been giving readings consistent with a US recession. Yet it seems likely that any damage wrought by the trade war remains ephemeral—at least hard data suggests this.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Fed Goes On The Offensive

    Grocery shoppers get perturbed when they buy produce labeled as “organic” but get something from the agro-industrial complex. Investors, on the other hand, should welcome the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet boost, that was described on Friday as nothing more than “organic” growth. As it turns out, this is a heavily engineered offering by the custodians of money.

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    Gavekal Research

    Watching For Signs Of A US Spillover

    Is the rot spreading? In the eurozone, there are signs that this year’s slump in manufacturing may be beginning to spill over to weigh on activity in the broader economy. Plenty of observers believe the US economy is destined to follow a similar path. Their fears may yet be realized, but so far there is no evidence the US economy is heading that way.

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    Gavekal Research

    Back To Balance Sheet Expansion

    On Tuesday, Jay Powell confirmed that the US Federal Reserve will go back to growing its balance sheet once again following its meeting at the end of October. The aim is for the balance sheet to grow gradually along with the economy. While the Fed’s planned move is clearly positive for liquidity growth, it is likely to disappoint investors for two reasons.

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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Where The Fed Stands

    Investors are nervous about weak US data and a liquidity squeeze in the US repo markets. They are now looking to the Federal Reserve for reassurance. In this video, Will tells us what policy changes to expect from the Fed at the end of this month and why.

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    Gavekal Research

    Echoes Of 2000 Strike A False Note

    First there was the WeWork IPO failure and a string of other flops. Now the S&P 500 has slumped -3% in just two days, leaving the index down -4.6% from its July high. As a result, nervous investors are wondering whether the US may be seeing the beginning of the bursting of a bubble, just as in 2000. Are the fears justified?

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    Gavekal Research

    Quantifying Trade War Risk

    Investors seem to have grown somewhat blasé about the US-China trade war lately. Over 12 months after the outbreak of hostilities, the S&P 500 is up 2.2% year-on-year. Part of the reason for this nonchalance appears to be a belief that US growth and domestic profits are invulnerable to any escalation of the conflict. This belief may be mistaken.

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    Gavekal Research

    What If The Fed Has Finished Cutting

    What happens to the US equity market if the Federal Reserve has already finished cutting interest rates? Last Friday, Will made the case for a rebound in US growth, but withheld judgement whether it would be driven by real growth or inflation. The prospect raises the very real possibility that the Fed may decide rates have been cut enough.

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    Gavekal Research

    Stay Neutral Between Equities And Cash

    As August’s panic has receded, bond yields have risen from their lows. Even so, with the 10-year US treasury yield at 1.77%, the only way bonds can deliver significant upside from here is if the US economy slides into a disinflationary recession. That may yet happen. But it is by no means the most probable course for the US economy.

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    Gavekal Research

    US Liquidity Is Not The Worry

    Despite this week’s violent US money market judders, the Federal Reserve looks to have a clear plan for managing monetary policy and liquidity conditions. There are many reasons to worry about risk asset pricing, but a shock from the bowels of the US financial system is not among them. In contrast, there are four reasons to stay upbeat about the US liquidity situation.

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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research Call September 2019

    In yesterday’s conference call, Anatole Kaletsky, Will Denyer and Louis-Vincent Gave outlined reasons for recent dramatic moves in bond markets and made arguments for what comes next. Anatole also addressed Brexit developments and Louis discussed the situation in Hong Kong.

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    Gavekal Research

    Tariffs Won't Trouble US Consumers

    As US growth has slowed this year, consumer spending has been the economy’s bright spot. Personal consumption expenditure was the principal contributor to growth in the second quarter and July. However, fears are growing that the US consumer will come under increasing pressure in the coming months as the latest round of tariffs go into effect.

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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: The Message From Bonds

    Record low bond yields point to a deflationary catastrophe in the making. Yet growth data in the world’s two biggest economies remain decent. Could investors be reacting to a rupture in the international order? Gavekal analysts are not persuaded by such arguments and offer four alternative explanations for the “bond bubble”.

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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Looking Through The Bond Bubble

    As yields fall to record lows, bond markets seem priced for some sort of global economic calamity. With Europe in dire straits and the US-China trade war remaining live, there is certainly cause for worry. But when things look like they can’t get any worse, Will reckons, they often don’t. As the US growth outlook appears steady, equities and cash are the better bet.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Case Against Recession

    Earlier in August, Charles announced that he was reluctantly joining the US recession camp. His reasoning was based largely on his observation that the long run average growth rate of US corporate profits had fallen to a level that in recent decades has always indicated an economic downturn. I am more optimistic than Charles.

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    Gavekal Research

    Weathering Trump’s Trade War

    It may be the dog days of summer, but investors got a truckload of news this weekend that points to a bad situation getting worse. Given President Donald Trump’s escalation of tariffs and threat to bar US firms from operating in China, the worry is that his hardline stance spurs a US recession. KX and Will think this is unlikely.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Diminishing Market Impact Of Tariffs

    After the US imposed its first major round of tariffs on Chinese goods last September, the S&P 500 sold off by -20%. After the second round went into force, it fell -6.8%. And since President Trump announced a third round, it has sold off by -6.1%. It seems each successive escalation in the trade war is having a smaller impact on the US stock market.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Long Term Impact Of Trump’s Latest Tariffs

    Aftershocks from Donald Trump’s August 1 tweets promising new tariffs on US imports from China continued to reverberate through Asian markets on Monday morning. Most notably, China’s yuan fell by some -1.3%, with the USD-CNY exchange rate breezing unimpeded by the Chinese authorities through the CNY7.00 to the US dollar mark for the first time since early 2008. Equity markets in the region were also hard hit, with Japan down -2% and Hong Kong...

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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: Focus On The Fed, Not On US Tariff Threats

    Trade war fears are once again front and center of investors' minds. But the reduced magnitude of pledged US tariffs indicates that Trump is anxious to avoid damaging the US economy and financial markets. This leaves the focus on the Fed, and how much it is likely to cut interest rates.

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    Gavekal Research

    What The Early End Of QT Means

    As expected, the Federal Reserve cut short term interest rates by 25bp on Wednesday. Less expected the Fed also halted its program of quantitative tightening, effective immediately. The decision to end the program early cancels an expected additional US$70bn contraction in the supply of money. This represents a significant easing.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Downward Revision In US Profits

    Alongside last Friday’s second quarter US GDP release, the BEA issued revisions which wiped out almost all the increase in pre-tax corporate profits since the end of 2016, and much of the post-tax increase. The revisions can be attributed almost entirely to weak top-line growth and rising wage costs. The good news is that the revisions do not sound a recession warning.

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    Gavekal Research

    Unpicking US 2Q GDP

    Second quarter US GDP growth came in at 2.1%, slightly better than expectations. In itself, this headline figure is not especially illuminating. But dig deeper into the various components of 2Q growth, and there are reasons for moderate optimism about the trajectory of the US economy through the second half of 2019.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Future Of Big Tech

    Big Tech is in the US government’s cross-hairs. Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple face probes into their behavior, and legislation is in the works to clip their wings. The question for investors is: How serious will the stand-off with the government get and will a prolonged downturn in tech spark a broader decline in the US equity market?

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    Gavekal Research

    Fiscal Crisis Averted, At A Cost To Liquidity

    On Monday, the White House and Congressional leaders reached a tentative agreement to raise US government spending caps and suspend the debt ceiling for two years. Assuming the deal is passed by Congress in the next few days, a fiscal crisis will be averted this year. But before investors breathe a sigh of relief and bet on a rally, it should be noted that one near term effect of the agreement could be an acute liquidity drain as the Treasury...

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    Gavekal Research

    Housing Points To Solid US Growth

    US mortgage applications fell in the week ended July 12, compared with the week before. But do not be misled by the latest week-on-week decline in this high frequency data series. In year-on-year terms, mortgage applications for home purchases have been rising consistently since the beginning of 2019, pointing to a rise in housing construction over the coming months.

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    Gavekal Research

    Why This Time Is Different

    The evolution of the yield curve over the last four months—an inversion after a series of Federal Reserve interest rate hikes, followed by a rapid steepening—has been characteristic of the early stages of the last four US recessions. However, investors worried that the US economy may already be in recession can relax.

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    Gavekal Research

    Look For Just One-And-Done

    In Congressional testimony on Wednesday, Jay Powell cooed just like the dove investors want him to be. The Fed chairman dispelled any lingering doubts that either the end-June trade truce between the US and China or June’s strong US payrolls number will dissuade the Fed from cutting interest rates at the end of July.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Direction Of The Dollar

    The US dollar’s strength over the last year or so has been attributed in large part to expectations that the US administration would impose additional tariffs on imports from China. So, with those expectations on hold following last week’s agreement to resume trade negotiations, you might think the US dollar should be falling.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Focus Turns To The Fed

    After the de-escalation of the US-China economic cold war at the weekend’s G20 summit in Osaka, all eyes are now on the US Federal Reserve, following policymakers’ recent indications that they are ready to cut interest rates. It could be argued that the trade war ceasefire reduces economic risk, and therefore will leave the Fed less inclined to loosen policy. But the Fed’s primary focus is on inflation expectations, and the degree to which they...

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    Gavekal Research

    The Story Behind Low US Volatility

    When Donald Trump declared his trade war against China in the spring of 2018, investors could have been forgiven for expecting the resulting uncertainty and additional economic friction to add both to US equity market and GDP growth volatility. In fact, equity market volatility has generally been low, and US economic growth has remained stable.

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    Gavekal Research

    Libra's Monetary Challenge

    Facebook has 2.7bn users and 90mn companies operating on its various platforms. Perhaps more than any other non-state player, it has the resources, reach and data trove to launch a global currency. Will is not convinced and tackles the issue by asking what benchmarks the new Libra currency will need to hit if it is to become a widely-used medium of exchange.

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    Gavekal Research

    How To Play The Fed Tease

    After the Federal Reserve’s two-day policy meeting, chairman Jay Powell told the market what it wanted to hear. Policymakers see rising risks and stand ready to cut interest rates, but there is no reason to panic—just yet. Real growth is solid, which is good for earnings, but inflation pressures are muted, allowing the Fed to be more accommodative.

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    Gavekal Research

    Don't Worry About The US Consumer

    There is a schizophrenic quality to commentary on the health of the US consumer. On the bright side, sentiment readings are cheery and the labor market is generally solid. Yet on the other hand, Cassandras point to rising credit card delinquency rates, and weakness in sales of autos and homes as early signals of a recession. So what gives?

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    Gavekal Research

    Recession Risk Mispriced

    US treasury yields are up from their 21-month low touched earlier this week, but the market is still priced for recession. Sure, the trade war uncertainty is negative for risk assets. But there are good reasons to believe that the US economy will continue to grow, albeit at a modest rate. As a result, piling into treasuries at current yields is a dangerous move.

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    Gavekal Research

    Trump's War And Our Problem

    In the seven decades after World War II, the most powerful nation in the world could be relied on to defend and promote free trade among nations. Then came President Donald. J Trump. Now it’s conceivable that Trump’s goal is to shake up the old rules-based system.

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    Gavekal Research

    An Ugly Trade War And An Inverted Yield Curve

    Will a trade war boost US growth and inflation, or instead cause a deflationary recession? The bond market is basically saying that a trade war will dent US growth and force the Federal Reserve into easing. Bear with my two-handed explanation, but there are also good reasons why it could also boost nominal growth.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Message In Market Dispersion

    Economic events create winners and losers. It is too early to say with confidence how the current US trade and technology confrontation with China will play out, or whether US tariffs on imported autos and the threatened retaliation will go into force. But it is possible to tell how great investors believe the potential disruption is likely to be.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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    Gavekal Research

    Inflation Is The Real Risk

    Happy days seem to be here again as risk assets soar on a dovish Federal Reserve and better growth outlook. Yet, investors should take note. The Fed has three official mandates; namely, to keep inflation low and stable, keep unemployment down, and keep interest rates low and stable. Yet among those “equals”, the first is thought to be bearing down on inflation.

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    Gavekal Research

    A New Look At The Housing Market

    When the US slides into recession, it generally does so because of a contraction in investment, either in the corporate sector or in the housing market. Today, returns on capital invested in housing exceed the cost of capital, signalling a positive outlook for US residential investment, construction, house prices, and the shares of homebuilders.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research Call April 2019

    In yesterday’s Gavekal Research Conference Call, Will Denyer and Udith Sikand addressed the changing US dollar liquidity environment, and its impact on markets.

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    Gavekal Research

    Play A Longer US Cycle With Small Caps

    After a wobble late last year, the US economy looks to be stabilizing. The Atlanta Fed has revised up its estimate for 1Q19 GDP growth to 2.1%, while more timely indicators such as mortgage applications, PMI readings and durable goods orders indicate a steadying of the ship.The question is how to play this development.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: A New Liquidity Environment

    The prospect of easier liquidity conditions helped make 1Q19 one of the best ever quarters for US equities. Confirmation of the Federal Reserve’s newly dovish policy stance means that US equities should continue to do well through 2019. Other big winners in this environment may be equities in northeast Asian emerging markets that do not rely on Chinese commodity demand.

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