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    Gavekal Research

    Volatility In A Changed Economy

    It’s been a chastening, if not decisive, month for investors in US equities. The S&P 500 index has recovered ground, but still endured a -4% fall from its September 2 peak. On a historic basis, the drawdown was small but we have not seen many of them in the last 18 months. Bulls hope that having weathered worries about China and the Federal Reserve’s asset purchase taper, the ground has been set for US equities to hit new highs. My aim today...

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    Gavekal Research

    Liquidity And Shortages

    It is possible the US equity market was simply confused on Wednesday, when it rallied after the Federal Open Markets Committee unfurled its communiqué. Or perhaps it was just oversold. Either way, the Federal Reserve revealed itself to be as hawkish as could have been expected. Asset purchases will be tapered “soon” and likely occur at a faster pace than last time around. Interest rates could be hiked next year and the Treasury will soon become...

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    Gavekal Research

    Squeaky Bum Time For The US Economy

    As Covid cases rise in the US, most indicators point to a slowing economy. After August’s payrolls came in weak, activity measures and nowcasting readings have softened, while conditions in leading sectors like housing and autos have worsened. With the Citi US economic surprise index having fallen to -44.6 from close to zero a month ago, forecasters have been caught off guard by the slowdown. As Sir Alex Ferguson, the former Manchester United...

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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: Questions Arise As US Growth Slows

    As renewed Covid outbreaks curtail activity and the labor market starts to normalize, the US economy is no longer generating big upside growth surprises. Will the Federal Reserve defer its retreat from super-easy monetary policy, and what will come of the Biden administration's fiscal strategy?

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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Cryptos, NFTs And CyberPunks

    As investors have flipped between euphoria and dejection over the future of crypto-currencies and related digital assets, prices have had a crazy ride. In this video Will outlines a framework for thinking about valuations. Even if digital art sold as NFTs sticks around, the basic economics of their use case means they probably won't be great stores of value.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Economy And Volatility

    US equities have gone almost 18 months without a double-digit drawdown. Such calm is likely to trouble devotees of Hyman Minsky, who showed that excessively long periods of market stability breeds countervailing episodes of violent instability. The question is what will cause the transition to a more volatile market, or dare I say it, what could trigger a “Minsky moment”?

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    Gavekal Research

    Bottlenecks And Corporate Bond Yields

    It seems that not all parts of the US economy are created equal. As the Delta variant outbreak causes US Covid cases to soar, the service sector is taking a hit. In contrast, the less-exposed manufacturing sector saw job growth in August. The question for investors is how these somewhat conflicting forces impact different asset classes.

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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: How To Hedge Tighter Liquidity

    So far, markets have not panicked over the prospect of the Federal Reserve tapering its asset purchases. But when it comes, the taper will materially tighten global liquidity conditions. In this calm before the storm, investors running global portfolios should focus on their hedges.

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    Gavekal Research

    Investing Through The Taper

    After all the build-up hype, investors seem to have taken Jerome Powell saying that the Federal Reserve may soon be buying less assets in their stride. They have no doubt taken solace from the Fed chair’s promise that tapering does not mean imminent interest rate hikes, or quantitative tightening. So is the great 2021 “taper whimper” done and dusted? Perhaps not, for while the Fed’s expectation management has been slick, in the months ahead...

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    Gavekal Research

    The End Of The Cash Dump

    The US Treasury is running low on cash. Having massively ramped up its holdings of cash between April and July 2020 at the height of the Covid crisis, the Treasury has been running them down again since February 2021. Normally the Treasury aims to hold cash equal to one week of its outgoings, but it has fallen to less than half that amount.

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    Gavekal Research

    Housing’s Different Drivers

    High house prices may be making headlines in the US, but the homebuilding sector faces headwinds. In July, housing starts and building permit issuance for single family dwellings fell -1.7% month-on-month and -4.5%, respectively. Mortgage applications also fell, which points to weaker construction ahead (see chart below). A positive factor for US housing has been the recent decline in long-term treasury yields, yet there are good reasons to...

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    Gavekal Research

    The Taper Is Coming

    In less than two weeks, Jay Powell will get up to make his speech at the annual Jackson Hole gathering of central bankers. Investors should position for a clear signal that in the coming months the US will begin to taper. It is possible, even likely, that the ever-cautious Federal Reserve chief may decide to delay a few weeks, perhaps until the conclusion of the Fed’s next policy meeting on September 22. But his signal is only a matter of time....

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    Gavekal Research

    The Coming Decline In Earnings Growth

    After 453 of the S&P 500’s constituent companies have reported for the second quarter, aggregate earnings are up 99% year-on-year. Much of this jump is attributable to base effects; the second quarter of 2020 was when lockdowns hit hardest. But not all; even stripping out base effects, earnings growth has been strong. This growth is destined to fade over the second half, as the impact of economic reopening and government stimulus abates, and...

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    Gavekal Research

    Video: A Healing US Labor Market

    Since the depths of the pandemic, the US labor market has recovered remarkably quickly. A key question for investors is how long strong job creation can be sustained before upward wage pressure returns. Ahead of Fridays’ payrolls report, Kai Xian outlines the key drivers of the US labor market.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Sobering Signal In Lumber

    Back in May, an internet meme suggested that if you wanted to impress your date by taking them somewhere really expensive, you should go to a lumber yard. No longer, as the price of US two-by-four has since cratered by two-thirds. KX examines what commodity-price moves such as this can tell us about the broader economy.

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    Gavekal Research

    Risks To The Rally

    US equities have ground higher on strong demand, easy monetary policy, and unattractive bond yields. As long as this situation remains, investors should remain moderately overweight US equities. But they should also carefully monitor three key macro risks that could upend this fairly benign investing environment.

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    Gavekal Research

    Strange Times And The Return Of TINA

    Fresh Covid-19 outbreaks, stunning Chinese regulatory actions and worries over global growth are causing US real bond yields to plumb new depths. So what is the humble investor to do? After all, historically tight US credit spreads means corporate credit is unattractive, while equities keep making new highs, pushing the S&P 500 index up 18% year-to-date. The answer may not be that complicated, as current growth data and market pricing...

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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: The State Of Global Growth

    The reflation trade has ebbed in recent weeks as investors have gotten more comfortable with the trajectory of US monetary policy and concerns have risen over the Delta variant of Covid disrupting economic opening. At the same time, China continues to crack down on its high-growth internet sector. Our team assessed the market implications of these trends.

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    Gavekal Research

    Did The Equity Rotation And Bond Sell-Off End In May?

    The arrival of Covid-19 vaccines in November sparked a selloff in bonds and significant outperformance of value stocks, at least until mid-May. Having advised a bias to value stocks and keeping duration short in bond portfolios since last November Will was wrong-footed by the market moves of the past two months. Will the new trend last?

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    Gavekal Research

    A High-Pressure Business Cycle

    The US economy may have suffered one of its biggest ever contractions last year, but at just two months, it was one of the shortest due to aggressive policy reactions that spurred an unlikely economic boom. A worry for investors is that late-cycle stresses now emerging cause this expansion to fade as quickly as it started.

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