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E.g., 22-05-2019
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    Gavekal Research

    Modi And The Markets

    Indian markets are pricing in a victory by the ruling BJP in this year’s general election, a six-week process of mindboggling complexity that started on April 11. But while this will be the most likely single outcome when results are announced on May 23, nothing is a foregone conclusion under India’s unpredictable first-past-the-post system.

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    Crisis And Opportunity In Kashmir

    India and Pakistan engaged in air-to-air combat yesterday, raising the prospect of war between the two nuclear powers. Markets fell only marginally but are vulnerable if the conflict escalates, which for the moment looks unlikely. If Modi keeps his nerve, the crisis could put the BJP on a sure path to victory in May’s general election, heralding a rally in Indian asset prices.

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    The Politics Of Indian Largesse

    India aspires to be a US$10trn economy by 2030. It’s fine to dream, but first the ruling BJP must win a general election. After recent defeats in three state elections and a resurgent opposition, it faces a tough race. The interim budget on Friday responded to the Congress Party’s leftist populism while presenting a fiscal plan designed not to spook markets.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Awaiting India's Electoral Boost

    Two recent events have changed the calculus for investors in India. First, the ruling BJP took an electoral battering in three heartland states, imperiling its bid for general re-election. Second, in December the government appointed a new RBI governor. Investors can expect looser fiscal and monetary policies as the BJP pulls out the stops to ensure victory.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    India's Soft Approach To Hard Money

    A key reason to hold Indian risk assets in recent years has been the presence of a strong government willing to incur short-term political pain in return for longer-term economic gain. Yet, with the Reserve Bank of India fighting the finance ministry over bank regulation policies that may crimp growth ahead of a national election, this premise looks shaky. The partially independent central bank has faced political attack before, but this is...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Severity Of India’s Rout

    It has been a torrid month for Indian markets. Equities have tanked by -7%, the rupee has dropped to all-time lows, and a new crisis is emerging in the financial sector. Liquidity is tightening in the money markets, threatening the survival of several non-bank financial companies and raising the prospect of contagion risk that could spill over to the rest of the financial system and lead to a broader economic slowdown. The rout in emerging...

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    Gavekal Research

    The Chinese Juggernaut Will Roll On

    In 2015, I sat down with Sri Lanka’s then-new finance minister. The “teardrop of India” had recently elected a fresh government, kicking out a corrupt president widely regarded as in China’s pocket. Vowing to scrutinize all Chinese deals, the new leaders suspended a massive real estate project in Colombo harbor. “The high costs come from nothing other than corruption, but we do not want taxpayers to pay for the past decisions of a corrupt regime...

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    Gavekal Research

    In Sweeps The Monsoon

    The summer monsoon lashed across southwest India yesterday, just a few hours after the central bank announced its first interest-rate hike in more than four years. With oil prices stoking inflation and foreign portfolio flows pouring out of the country, the Reserve Bank of India followed the lead of other emerging markets battling the global US dollar squeeze. Yet the darkest storm clouds are now political, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi...

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    Gavekal Research

    A Very Indian Budget

    New Delhi swung into election mode yesterday, a full 15 months before the election. Finance minister Arun Jaitley pledged his budget for 2018-19 would build a “New India,” but it was really a populist ploy to buy votes. After a tough economic year and a disappointing election result in Modi’s home state of Gujarat, the ruling BJP needed to shore up its core support.

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    Gavekal Research

    Indian Politics And The Cycle

    Despite its soaring equity markets, India had a sticky year in 2017. Quarterly GDP growth dipped below 6% in the summer, laid low by disruptive reforms, bad debt, anemic credit and weak private investment (see India’s Economic Funk). The outlook for 2018 is healthier: the twin shocks from demonetization and the introduction of a goods and sales tax have largely dissipated, consumption has rebounded, and manufacturing is accelerating. Feeble...

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    Gavekal Research

    India’s Economic Funk

    India’s economy is in a cyclical funk, weighed down by rising bad debt, anemic credit and falling private investment. Growth is at its slowest for three years after weakening for five successive quarters to 5.7%, with little sign of an imminent pick up. Even foreign portfolio investors, who have poured more than US$26bn into India this year betting on its strong macro fundamentals, are beginning to waver. With the general election in 2019 now on...

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    Gavekal Research

    A New World Order In The Making

    It’s all too easy to laugh at the BRICS group, a motley crew of five developing nations with little in common other than the fact that they’re (mostly) big and not yet rich. The term has been mocked as a “Bloody Ridiculous Investment Concept”. So why do the BRICS themselves take it so seriously?

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    Gavekal Research

    The Indian Summer

    Tomorrow India will roll out its most important economic reform since the early 1990s. The Goods and Services Tax will transform the country’s 29 states, which run semi-autonomous fiscal systems, into a single market. Backed by strong fundamentals, Modi’s reform agenda is playing well with investors: MSCI India is up 19% this year, foreigners are piling into Indian bonds, and FDI is at record levels. Yet, look closer and a weaker economy emerges...

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    Gavekal Research

    India Gets Serious About Its Banks

    Indian equities delivered the best returns of any emerging market in 1Q17, as the economy rebounded from November’s demonetization debacle. With manufacturing expanding for three straight months, consumer demand returning to normal levels, and the BJP’s decisive victory in state elections boosting sentiment, MSCI India surged by 17%. Growth in the fiscal year to March 31 likely topped 7%, enabling India to retain its crown as the world’s fastest...

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    Gavekal Research

    China’s Asian Dream

    China’s “Asian Dream” is to restore its position as the undisputed regional power. Trump’s decision to bin the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would have anchored the US presence in Asia, brings China a step closer. While Trump’s sidekicks huff about wielding a bigger stick in the South China Sea, China is transforming the facts on the ground.

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    Gavekal Research

    India’s Budget: A Fine Balance

    After the fiasco that followed India’s move in November to scrap large denomination banknotes, yesterday’s budget was carefully calibrated to reassure jumpy markets. With the IMF estimating that the monetary bloodletting will drain 1pp off growth this fiscal year, doubts have resurfaced over India’s ability to realize its economic potential. The good news for nervous investors is that India remains wedded to fiscal responsibility. The bad news...

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    Gavekal Research

    Video: A Coming US-China Trade War?

    In this video interview Arthur explains how a US-China trade war may play out and the implication for capital outflows from China

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    Gavekal Research

    Video: The Dissonance In US-China Relations

    Once Donald Trump occupies the White House he is sure to take aim at China in the form of new tariffs, anti-dumping actions and the labeling of the country as a currency manipulator. What is unclear is whether such actions reflect a tough negotiating stance, or instead a fundamental shift in the strategic equation. In this video interview, Arthur explains why the mixed messages coming out of Washington have the potential to spark a dangerous...

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    Gavekal Research

    Modi Finds His Mojo

    India, according to its many skeptics, will never change. It is too messy, too unwieldy—perhaps too democratic—to emulate China as an engine of global growth. For all the hoopla that greeted Narendra’s Modi election in 2014, very little changed for the better in Modi’s first two years in charge: his new government failed to pass its “big bang” reforms, banks stopped lending, and investment slumped. Critics accused Modi of being all talk and no...

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    Gavekal Research

    India’s Great Leap Forward

    India, finally, is on course to become a genuine economic power. Calling it a “Treaty of Rome” moment goes too far, but India’s Goods and Services Tax could prove nearly as significant as the agreement that created the European common market. India has been a strong political state for nearly 70 years, but its fragmented economy prevents goods and many services from moving freely within its borders. The GST promises to create a genuinely common...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    A Storm Brews In The South China Sea

    Beijing declared it “null and void,” but the verdict of the international tribunal in The Hague is clear: there is no legal basis for China’s maritime claim over the South China Sea. Beijing now faces a choice: does it find a face-saving way of lowering tensions, or does it risk military conflict by actively asserting its territorial interests? It is quite possible that Beijing does yet not know itself, and will wait to respond to international...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    The Enemy Of My Enemy Is My Friend

    The British prime minister was not the only one thwarted by a vote last week. Despite Narendra Modi’s personal efforts and heavyweight backing from Washington, India failed in its attempt to join the 48-country Nuclear Suppliers Group. It was a bruising setback for Modi, who has spent two years energetically trying to boost India’s global clout. Yet the result itself was less significant than the US support for India in the face of Chinese...

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    Gavekal Research

    South China Sea Risks

    In the next few weeks the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague will likely rule in favor of the Philippines in its dispute with China over territorial claims in the South China Sea. Beijing’s reaction will show to what extent China is prepared to defy international law to defend what it claims are “core interests”.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    India’s Significant Step Forward

    When Narendra Modi took over as Indian leader nearly two years ago, he promised to deliver higher growth by making the world’s most bureaucratic large economy more business friendly. It has been a hard slog, with a slew of failures along the way: the BJP-led government’s attempts to push through tax, land and labor reforms have all been hobbled by opposition in parliament. But with the passing of a new bankruptcy code last week the fog of...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Upside In India

    The biggest immediate problem is that corporate India is not investing. Private businesses are over-leveraged and economic demand is weak. Hamstrung by US$130bn of bad loans, India’s state banks aren’t lending. The government has made little headway on the long-running debate over how to clean up their overstretched balance sheets.

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    Gavekal Research

    No Savior On The New Silk Road

    Over the last year China has stepped up its efforts to build an informal empire in Asia. This “One Belt, One Road” initiative has the potential to boost regional development and strengthen China’s geopolitical heft. But in the shorter term, can Beijing’s grand plan absorb China’s industrial overcapacity and revive commodity demand? Sadly, no.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    The Limits Of Xi Jinping’s Grand Plan

    As China’s growth slowdown deepens, making even the government’s reduced growth target of 6.5% a year for the rest of this decade look less and less realistic, policymakers are increasingly pinning their hopes on Beijing’s much-touted “Belt and Road Initiative”. Not only do they hope that the plan to build new trading networks across Central Asia and the Indian Ocean will boost China’s flagging exports, but that the demand for commodities and...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Fallacy Of Containment

    Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hailed this week’s deal on the Trans-Pacific Partnership as evidence that “the curtain is finally rising on a new Asian century.” The TPP is the biggest trade agreement for 20 years, its 12 members accounting for a full 35% of global trade (see The Big Winner From The TPP). Yet it is hard to get excited about a trade deal that deliberately leaves out the world’s biggest trading nation: China. The TPP is designed...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Goose Stepping Into Isolation

    China’s military parade to celebrate victory over Japan 70 years ago will be lapped up by a patriotic nation that revels in shows of national strength. But rather than winning it new friends, China’s military chest-thumping is only scaring its neighbors into the arms of the US. The parade reflects not strength but a chronic lack of self-confidence.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Spat In The Spratlys

    It is typhoon season once again in the South China Sea. Last May, China ignited a storm of violent protest across Vietnam when it started drilling for oil off the Vietnamese coast. This year the squall is further south in the disputed waters of the Spratly Islands, where the US has demanded that China halt its land reclamation efforts. Ordered to leave the area by the Chinese military last week, a US Navy surveillance aircraft ignored the...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Sino-Indian Powerhouse?

    Next week the leaders of the world’s two biggest emerging economies will meet for talks in Beijing. Together, China and India have a population of 2.6bn—36% of the global total—and a GDP exceeding US$12trn. They share a border nearly 4,000km long. Yet China trades more with Thailand than with its most populous neighbor, and there are eight times as many flights between Beijing and Bangkok per week as there are between Beijing and Delhi. The weak...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    One Belt, One Road, One Grand Strategy

    In what can only be described as a triumph for Chinese financial diplomacy, some 48 countries had defied US disapproval to sign up for Beijing’s new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank by yesterday’s deadline. The applicants included not only Europe’s big four economies, but staunch US allies such as Saudi Arabia, geopolitical rivals like India, and even Taiwan, which China does not recognize as a separate country.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Where Has The Modi Magic Gone?

    India has fallen out of favor with investors lately. Over the last four weeks, the Nifty stock index has dropped 4.6%, a fall that included eight consecutive sessions of declines, the market’s longest losing streak in more than 18 months. Investors blamed the collapse of lofty valuations following poor earnings results, with the fall exacerbated by rising tensions in the Middle East. But critics of India’s government say the problems go deeper....

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    A Petty And Short-Sighted Hissy Fit

    The UK’s decision to join China’s new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is turning into a diplomatic triumph for Beijing and a disaster for Washington. France, Germany and Italy say they will follow the UK’s lead. South Korea and Australia, which the US urged not to sign up when the bank was established last October, are reconsidering. Even Japan, the most stalwart US ally in Asia, is rumored to be wavering.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Stay Long The Renminbi

    With the Federal Reserve expected to raise interest rates, Europe seemingly about to embrace quantitative easing, and Japan’s economy still in the doldrums, the US dollar’s rise looks unstoppable. But for investors seeking a longer term store of value, the Chinese renminbi is a surer bet.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    China's Geostrategic Ambition

    Xi Jinping is making good on his promise to restore China’s position on the world stage. On Monday, China agreed to slash tariffs on high-tech imports, breaking almost 18 months of deadlock with the US over how to update the WTO’s Information Technology Agreement. In coming to terms, China showed it is willing to work with the US in support of multilateral trade frameworks. But China’s President Xi also used his chairmanship of this year’s Asia-...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    The Hangover From China's Urbanization Boom

    As China’s leaders in recent weeks have laid out an ambitious agenda for market-driven economic reforms, one element has been strangely lacking: urbanization. Premier Li Keqiang made this his signature issue during his years as deputy to the former premier, and has frequently talked up the potential for urbanization to drive China’s future growth. Yet a coherent urbanization policy has been nowhere to be found, as Li’s desire for a healthier,...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Time For China To Be Bold

    Communists are good at delivering pomp and circumstance, but not so good at articulating their vision. Next month, at the fusty-sounding Third Plenary Session of the 18th Chinese Communist Party (CPC) Central Committee, China’s leaders will set the direction of economic policy for the coming decade. Much of the language that emerges will prove opaque, but a careful reading should give us a better idea of whether the new leadership will honor its...

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