E.g., 07-12-2019
E.g., 07-12-2019
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    Gavekal Research

    An American Intervention

    After easily passing both houses of Congress, Donald Trump had little choice but to sign bills dictating the US government’s treatment of Hong Kong. Its significance will be determined by Beijing’s response, and for now that is likely to stay focused on achieving an interim trade deal that delivers a roll-back on US import tariffs.

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    The Hong Kong People Speak

    The last 15 years has seen pro-government parties in Hong Kong rely on voter apathy and division across the democratic camp to often rule the roost. That changed yesterday, with establishment parties getting thumped in local council elections as voters expressed anger at the government’s handling of violent street protests in the last six months.

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    Something Has To Give

    Public support for Hong Kong's protest movement has been re-energized by perceived police brutality, the local government offering no political response to the crisis and Mainland authorities delivering mixed, but slightly sinister messages about their next move. This piece assesses the political forces at play and takes a stab at explaining what comes next.

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    Hong Kong’s Core Problem

    The Hong Kong government’s stated aim is to drive a wedge between radical protesters who are resigned to jail or worse, and a less committed group that it thinks will be cowed by increased penalties. Initial evidence suggests the strategy is a busted flush. Sunday saw large-scale illegal marches by mask-clad demonstrators before the now predictable violence unfolded.

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    Video: Where Next Hong Kong?

    Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam today begins a process of civic engagement aimed at bridging the divide between an unpopular government and a diffuse movement that has engaged in 17 weeks of violent protest. Simon discusses whether economic goodies can buy off dissent and assesses the chances of a compromise political settlement.

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    Troops On The Border

    Extreme nervousness in global markets can be attributed to a synchronous weakening of growth that has been reinforced by soft data out of Germany and China. This is also a juncture when commentators seem to have concluded that pent up stresses in the global trading and security system have reached a tipping point. On top of these secular worries is the terror that China is about to have a “Tiananmen moment” by violently crushing the two month...

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    China’s Hong Kong Gambit

    Following more violent protests in Hong Kong, Beijing reiterated its support for the city’s embattled chief executive in a first-ever press briefing on Hong Kong’s affairs. While the conflict shows no signs of resolution, the example set by Paris shows that Hong Kong can be both a dependable financial center and a hotbed of political dissent.

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    Hong Kong Revolts

    Twenty two years ago Britain handed back Hong Kong to China under the “one country, two systems” formula. Since then, the July 1 anniversary has seen the public demonstrate against the loss of freedoms This year’s escalation saw a hard core of protesters occupy and vandalize the local parliament. This is a key moment in Hong Kong’s era of dissent.

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    The Threat To Hong Kong

    On Sunday, a million Hong Kongers protested a planned law change that will let individuals be extradited to face trial in China, the city’s biggest political protest in more than 15 years. On Monday, the city’s equity benchmark rose 2%. The betting is that this political furor will pass. But the broader context puts the city at risk of becoming collateral damage in the US-China confrontation.

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    The Winding Road To Vassalage

    No one much likes Theresa May’s compromise deal that would leave Britain as a rule-taking, semi-detached appendage to the European Union. That, however, is the most likely outcome after the UK cabinet yesterday approved an exit deal that sets up a November 25 summit, where EU leaders will be asked for their assent. Shortly afterwards, the UK parliament will have its say, and despite challenging math in the House of Commons a “national interest”...

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    Who Needs A Government?

    What would it take to make you put more risk on the table in the final month of a year that has generally produced decent investment returns? It helps to have a synchronized global economic recovery that relies on multiple engines of growth and a US-tested monetary policy framework that seems to work as advertised. Yet the potential for disappointment, starting with US tax reform, appears to be growing. Add to that list an outbreak of political...

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    A Less Flexible Britain

    Yesterday saw the release of robust UK retail sales data for April that reversed a weakening trend and pointed to still strong consumers. So it was notable that on a day that confirmed British economic resilience despite attendant uncertainties, Prime Minister Theresa May effectively renounced free market policies that long have been core tenants of the Conservative Party credo.

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    Thailand’s Transition

    Perhaps the one thing that Thailand’s polarized political tribes have agreed on in recent times is that the passing of their (generally) popular king would mark a pivotal moment of transition. King Bhumibol Adulyadej, 88, who died yesterday was a steady presence who stopped violent political struggles from morphing into a general civil conflict. The concern is that this restraint now goes out of the window, as opponents to the royalist...

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    Staring Into The Abyss

    Since Rodrigo Duterte became president of the Philippines in May, he has sanctioned the extra-judicial killing of some 3,600 petty criminals and drug users, graphically insulted the US president, favorably compared himself to Hitler, and threatened to switch his country’s allegiance to China and Russia. As he has ripped up behavioral norms for democratic heads of state, investors have yanked out at least US$500mn of capital over the last two...

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    The German Banking Problem

    These are not happy times for Europe’s commercial bankers. The adoption of negative interest rates may have averted the slide into a deflationary abyss, but the policy has hit lending margins, and with them profits. Exhibit A is Deutsche Bank, the dominant financial institution in Europe’s largest and most dynamic economy. Deutsche, whose market value has shrunk to just US$14bn, has problems of its own making in the US, yet its plight has been...

    1
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    The Return Of US Fiscal Policy

    More than three years after the world fretted about the US economy falling off a “fiscal cliff”, there is suddenly much talk of government spending being used to gin up growth. Whatever their many differences, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump favour a fiscal expansion, with a focus on upgrading the US’s aging infrastructure stock. At the same time Federal Reserve officials, led by Janet Yellen and John Williams, are arguing for more fiscal...

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    The Flow Through To EM Equities

    These are strange times for investors with bond yields in big developed markets plumbing new depths on dark concerns about never ending deflation and stagnation. Yet in a clearly related development, US equities are making new highs while corporate- and emerging market-bonds continue to rally.

    2
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    Australia, The Next Shoe To Drop

    Central bankers are ditching managerial gradualism in their monetary policy communication and are getting serious. Switzerland, Denmark, India and now Canada have all made surprise interest rate moves in recent days—okay, the European Central Bank continues to drip-feed its every thought to friendly journalists, but the sheer scale of the adjustment taking place in relative global prices means that policymakers must respond swiftly to events....

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    Europe Not EMs At The Vortex

    In the summer of 1998, Russia’s financial crisis stemmed from the oil price plunge that followed the Asian financial crisis. Today the worry is that Russia’s fall is causing a cycle of contagion which could pull down even decently managed emerging economies. Unusually, this collapse is happening just as the world’s biggest asset allocators prepare to effectively shut up shop. It is rare to get a full blown crisis over year-end simply because...

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    Our Holiday Reading List

    For the third year we are publishing a year-end books round-up. The topics covered by the 17 books in our compendium include hardy Gavekal perennials such as economics, politics and the effect of technological transformation on modern life. In addition Charles considers ancient Rome’s decline due to its apparent embrace of socialism over liberalism. Louis kicks us off with a look at the roots of our most basic human urges.

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    Oil And Contagion

    So much for the gentle year-end that looked to be in store after the swift recovery from October’s sell-off. Investors now face an acute dilemma as oil demand estimates get scaled back and the energy complex howls: does the effective tax cut delivered to oil consumers outweigh the effects of capital destruction and rising bad debt that must result from a 40% fall in prices? US equity investors have mostly cheered the onset of $2 a gallon...

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    An Irish Outlier?

    The Irish economy looks to be making a faster than expected recovery from its grim 2010 nadir. Growth is running at an annualized 6.5% which is more reminiscent of the “Celtic tiger” era than the grinding recession conditions still typical in Southern Europe. Ireland seems sure to emerge as a paradigmatic case study between the rival policymaking camps of so called Austerians and those advocating more conventional Keynesian responses. But for...

    4
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    5C Overview: Volatility RIP

    Having weathered fears of depression, a systemic euroland failure and most recently the specter of deflation, investors can be excused for their insouciant attitude to risk. We may not be in sunlit uplands, but for the first time since 2008 the global growth trajectory looks fairly secure and the big central banks have their monetary policy settings in sync. Hence, it is not surprising that volatility across most asset classes is making new lows...

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    Why Thailand Is The Odd Man Out

    In the mid-1990s Thailand’s over-built and excessively geared economy provided a clear early warning signal for the troubles about to engulf the rest of emerging Asia. But having now suffered two military coups in eight years Thailand is less a bellwether than a regional outlier that seems to have given up serious development in favor of a struggle to subdivide existing wealth and power. The good news from Asia is that ascendant political...

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    What Ails The Dollar

    A curious brew of cheap money, a grinding cyclical recovery and “new economy” verisimilitude has helped drive Wall Street to new highs. And yet even as equity investors have scaled the wall of worry, the dollar has remained uninspired. The unit arguably started a structural upswing in 2008 but the recent performance has been lackluster with the DXY index at the bottom of its trading range.

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    Asia Ducks The EM Crisis

    Janet Yellen’s first proper outing on the international stage is set for this weekend when she attends the G20 finance ministers shindig in Australia. She will encounter grumpy emerging market counterparts who blame fickle US monetary policy for capital outflow that has sent growth tumbling. This is likely all the EMs will agree upon since it is increasingly clear that this is not a generalized crisis of big developing economies, but a shake-out...

    1
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    Shoot The Fed Watchers

    Fed watchers have rarely been in such demand as the art of divining the language, tone and likely psychological motivations of the actors on the stage reaches new levels of silliness. In contrast to his oblique and strategically ambiguous predecessor, Ben Bernanke promised a transparent, plain speaking and supposedly rather dull Federal Reserve. As things turned out, we are back pondering the etymological distinction between adjectival forms....

    3
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    The Other Emerging Markets Story

    Investors have had a harsh reminder of the risks presented by high growth developing economies with rudimentary financial systems. And yet for every manager who tells us that they will never again take the call of a Singapore or Sao Paulo-based equity broker, we cannot but feel that the current gloom is overdone. Indeed, we are seeing encouraging signs of reforms that could serve as the basis for the next phase of EM growth.

    1
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    Europe’s Control Engineers

    “Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind,” so said Rudyard Kipling. When central bankers meet next month for the annual Jackson Hole shindig, they can ruminate on their success being increasingly dictated less by what they do, than what they say. Take the European Central Bank and Bank of England which in recent months have been fairly taciturn next to a loquacious Federal Reserve. Yet, by yesterday verbalizing forward...

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    Portugal Goes Rogue?

    Nothing so disturbs a disciplinarian teacher as the prospect of a model pupil turning into the class rebel. With Portugal’s center-right coalition government seemingly on the brink of collapse, such are the fears in Brussels and Berlin. Lisbon has pushed through painful structural reform, stuck to fiscal austerity and in the process improved a chronic trade deficit. Hence, the fallout from Portugal going rogue and rejecting the Troika medicine...

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    A New Global Growth Story

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    Five Corners (19 June 2013)

    In the latest Five Corners biweekly review of global economics and investment:

    0
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    Not Deja Vu Again In Asia

    For plenty of Asia watchers there is an uncomfortable familiarity with the boom conditions that have gripped Southeast Asia in recent years. Capital is pouring into the region, risk premiums have collapsed and domestic demand is galloping ahead. Manila suddenly has aspirations to be a financial “hub,” Thailand has just racked up a record trade deficit and even Anwar Ibrahim, the enfant terrible of Malaysian politics is back, suggesting he can...

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    Politics And The HKD Peg

    Currency regimes are ultimately political constructs, and that is especially true of Hong Kong’s linked exchange rate system. The HKD link to the greenback was adopted in 1983 to stem a financial panic after Britain and China began discussions over the future of the then crown colony. In the intervening period the system has weathered a change of sovereignty, speculative attacks, and after the late 1990s Asian crisis a 70% fall in property...

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    Euro Choices Are Getting Starker

    As has become painfully obvious, we have now moved to the next chapter of the euro crisis. Southern Europe’s vulnerable bond markets are again under pressure (Spanish 10y yields have risen to 6.2%, and the Italian counterparts are at 5.9%), European equity markets have sold off brutally and EMU bank stocks have now fallen to the lowest level since late 1987.

    10
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    Regime Change Threat For HK Developers

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