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    Gavekal Research

    Far From Priced In

    Asian markets switched to risk-off mode Monday as investors reacted to further coronavirus news outside of China. Yet in onshore markets, investors are optimistic that the economy will quickly normalize as the spread of the virus comes under control, and that the central bank will provide policy easing. Neither belief looks well-founded at the moment.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Risk Of Falling Behind The Epidemic Curve

    China’s government was slow off the mark in responding to the initial outbreak of the new coronavirus. Although the government is now fully mobilized to fight the outbreak, it risks falling behind the curve again—this time in responding to the economic damage wrought by its extended shutdown of normal life and business activity.

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    Gavekal Research

    Back To Work, Not Back To Normal

    China’s businesses are starting to get back to work, but the economy is still very far from normal. On Monday, the extended holiday declared by the government to help contain the coronavirus outbreak came to an end (except in Hubei province). But most businesses still face great difficulty in resuming their normal activities.

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    Gavekal Research

    It’s Not The Disease, It’s The Treatment

    The economic costs of the Wuhan virus are not simply a function of how deadly it is, but of the measures China’s government takes to contain it—which have rapidly escalated to an unprecedented severity. The shutdown of normal travel and business now in place across much of China is certain to deliver a hit to growth in the first quarter of 2020.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Better Lucky Than Good

    China’s government has done its part to steady the economy and markets: it has agreed to a rather one-sided trade deal with the US, and softened the tone of its financial de-risking campaign. But December’s data show that good luck has mattered more: turns in the autos and electronics cycles are what’s really behind the stabilization of growth.

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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research Call January 2020

    The past few weeks have seen Chinese policymakers signaling clearly that the campaign of selective easing begun last year will be carried on into 2020 even as growth continues to slow. With trade war risk lowered, and the electronics and auto sector cycles bottoming out, the outlook for equity and bond markets is fairly benign.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Mortgage Rate Reset

    China’s central bank is moving forward with its interest-rate reforms, ordering mortgages to be reset based on the new loan prime rate. Rosealea explains that this shift will make monetary policy more transparent and effective by re-linking mortgage rates to official policy rates, but it does not herald a cycle of major cuts in mortgage rates.

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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: China's Balancing Act Gets Easier

    In 2019, investors were cowed by the US-China trade war and Chinese policymakers’ efforts to balance growth and financial stability. This year, these factors will weigh less heavily: the US and China are set to ink a trade deal, while China is shifting more toward growth-supporting policies. Such a combination is mildly bullish for both Chinese bonds and equities.

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    Gavekal Research

    What The Trade Deal Won't Change

    President Trump has confirmed he will sign his trade deal with China on January 15, and the PBOC has reinforced its tilt to more dovish policies. This combination of events means the macro factors that drove December’s rally—a receding trade war and a global easing of monetary policy—are still in place for January, if increasingly priced in.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Scenarios For 2020

    Beijing has been largely successful in balancing a response to China’s economic slowdown with a need to continue its financial cleanup, but how sustainable is this delicate status quo? In this report, Andrew lays out different scenarios and the likelihood of policymakers being able to maintain their “selective easing” strategy through 2020.

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    Gavekal Research

    The New Champion Of Monetary Conservatism

    The People’s Bank of China and the Bundesbank have never been known to be close. But Yi Gang, the Chinese central bank governor, is starting to sound German in his views on monetary policy. He argues that negative interest rates and quantitative easing have been a failure, and China must stick with conventional policy and positive rates.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Handing Off The Slowdown

    China’s data releases for October showed signs that the global downturn in electronics, and the domestic fall in car sales, are starting to fade. But the bad news is that the property and heavy industry complex is weakening. That combination means roughly stable growth for the moment, reassuring policymakers that their cautious stance works.

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    Gavekal Research

    Let The Thousand Cuts Begin

    Was it worth the wait? Markets have been expecting the People’s Bank of China to cut policy rates ever since it introduced a new rates framework in August and promised to lower funding costs. On Tuesday, the central bank finally delivered, rolling over its one-year medium-term lending facility at 3.25%, 5bp below the previous rate of 3.3%.

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    Gavekal Research

    Three Swing Factors For Chinese Growth

    China’s recent economic figures do not paint a bright picture. Yet some of the problems weighing on growth are moving closer to resolution. So how much of a bounce in the data can we expect from these positive developments? Three possible sources of good news can help answer this question: exports, domestic investment and autos.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Macro Update: The Return Of Selective Easing

    After a rocky few months of trade troubles, disappointing data and hawkish policy, China has shifted back to a more decisive focus on growth-supporting measures. This move should help support markets and the economy through end-2019. But as Andrew explains in this chartbook, the boost from this cautious “selective easing” is still limited.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Waiting For Rate Cuts

    Markets are now primed for China’s central bank to lower the policy rate in the new loan-pricing system it unveiled in August. In this piece, Andrew explains how these rate cuts will work, why they are different from the rate cuts of the past, and why these moves will not mean any change in the central bank’s current strategy of “selective easing.”

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    After The Summer Of Discontent

    The poor economic indicators for August make it obvious why China’s government got ahead of the data release and signal renewed support for growth in early September. That means more incremental policy measures are coming, which will help sentiment. And the drag on growth from the auto sector should also reverse toward the end of 2019.

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    Gavekal Research

    Beijing's Conflicted Easing

    As prospects for a quick resolution of the US-China trade conflict fade, and the data continue to soften, expectations for Chinese growth are getting marked down. As if on cue, the government has sent signals of more decisive policy support for growth. While encouraging, this does not presage a shift in China's macro policy of "selective" easing.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Dimensions Of Decoupling

    Whatever happens next in the US-China trade conflict, it’s clear that ties between the two nations have undergone a fundamental reset. Some “decoupling” will definitely occur as a result, and indeed has already begun. In this chartbook, Andrew and Lance explore how US-China decoupling could play out in flows of goods, money, people and ideas.

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    Gavekal Research

    Beijing Toughs It Out

    After a month of further escalation in the US-China trade war, China’s strategy for the next stage of the dispute is becoming clear. Its leadership now looks committed to a strategy of toughing out trade tensions. This means the prospect of a US-China trade deal is receding, and therefore that global growth will face further headwinds.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Read My Lips: No Housing Stimulus

    The world’s major economies are seemingly united on the need for a fresh round of stimulus—except for China. And hopes for a more aggressive approach were dashed by the latest Politburo meeting, which declared that China would not boost the housing market to revive growth. In this piece, Andrew explains what’s behind China’s policy stance.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Fallout From Baoshang Bank

    The takeover of Baoshang Bank in May was China’s biggest bank failure in at least a decade. But the People’s Bank of China managed the ensuing market jitters well, once again proving itself to be an effective financial firefighter. Still, Baoshang’s failure does confirm that the era of rapid, unregulated growth for China’s smaller banks is over.

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Two Cheers For Unbalanced Growth

    China’s economy ended the second quarter on a high note, with industry and exports doing better than expected in June. The data reassured markets that the government’s macro policy stance—which has been quite conservative—is justified. But as Andrew argues in this piece, growth is being driven mainly by property, and can slow further.

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    Gavekal Research

    Rebalancing Won't Rescue China

    As China hunkers down for an extended trade conflict with the US, it is sending reassuring signals about its ability to withstand the pressure. Officials argue the economy has “rebalanced” away from external to domestic demand, so it is less vulnerable. In this piece, Andrew explains how this misreads the role of exports in longer-term growth.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Who Wants A New Long March?

    Since the collapse of the US-China trade talks, the public position of both sides has hardened. Top leader Xi Jinping’s call for a “new Long March” was widely taken as a sign he is ready for a protracted standoff with the US. But support for such a stance is not universal, as the surprising public comments of Huawei chairman Ren Zhengfei suggest.

    4
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Stabilization At Risk

    China’s economic data for April came in rather worse than the too-good-to-be-true indicators for March. As Andrew explains in this report, the April figures do not actually show a serious deterioration, and property is still holding up. But the stabilization in growth is now under threat from a more protracted trade conflict with the US.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Xi's Pivot To The Private Sector

    The improved economic outlook for China in 2019 owes a lot to an effective stimulus and progress toward a trade deal. But it has also been driven by top leader Xi Jinping’s surprising political pivot from champion of state enterprises to patron of the private sector. In this piece, Andrew examines how sincere Xi’s new stance will prove to be.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    That Wasn't So Bad, Actually

    China watchers have been bracing themselves for some ugly economic indicators in January and February. Yet the first official data for 2019 were not actually that bad. As Andrew explains, the economy is clearly slowing, but it’s not going into an uncontrolled dive. The government’s moderate policy response is thus still on track to steady growth.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research Call March 2019

    In this research conference call, Andrew Batson and Chen Long discussed the improving outlook for the Chinese economy in 2019 and the implications for financial markets. Confirmation that the government is both willing and able to support growth has ignited an equity rally, while expectations of further easing measures still support bonds.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Stability, Beijing-Style

    After a decade of rapid growth in debt, China’s government claims to be pursuing a different course. At this year’s legislative session, leaders dialed back growth targets, and pledged to control leverage and instead use fiscal policy to steady growth. Neither pledge can be taken at face value: growth will stabilize this year, but leverage will expand.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Still Waiting For Stimulus

    At the moment it seems there is only one question about China that people care about: when will the government move more aggressively to stimulate growth? With most economic indicators slowing in September, the time when the government will need to change course is getting closer. But, as Andrew explains in this piece, it is not here yet.

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Economy On The Eve Of Trade War

    The number eight is traditionally a lucky number for Chinese. Exporters could be forgiven for not believing in that tradition: 2018 looks like it will join 1998 and 2008 as a year in which exports suffer a major shock. In this piece, Andrew evaluates the state of the economy as the US prepares more tariffs, and how China can manage the impact.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Don't Fixate On Fixed-Asset Investment

    If you believe China’s official statistics on fixed-asset investment, then capital spending is now collapsing across the country. But you probably shouldn’t believe those numbers, for reasons that Andrew explains in this piece. True growth in investment spending will slow in 2018, but much less catastrophically than the headline data suggest.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research Call July 2018

    In this call Arthur Kroeber outlined his view on why President Donald Trump’s trade war is not a bluff, and is likely to escalate ahead of the US midterm elections in November; Andrew Batson explained the macro-level effects caused by all this uncertainty; and Chen Long discussed the market impacts in China and the country’s likely response.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The End Of Normal Trade

    The US may have backed down from imposing new restrictions on Chinese investment in the US. But it would be wrong to see this as a de-escalation of the US-China trade conflict. In this piece, Andrew argues that the tariffs taking effect Friday will mark the end of two decades of normal US trade with China, and the return of political uncertainty.

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    Gavekal Research

    China Comes Off The Boil

    Chinese growth surprised on the upside in the early part of the year, but Andrew thinks that a gradual loss of altitude is now unfolding. This is mainly due to slowing property market activity, which increasingly displays late-cycle characteristics. This adjustment should not pose a major risk to other major economies, so long as other global factors do not become disruptive.

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Seizing The Moment For Artificial Intelligence

    As the US and China try to position themselves for technological leadership, both are now focusing on artificial intelligence. In this piece, Andrew answers the questions of the moment: What is artificial intelligence anyway? Why does China seem to be doing so well in artificial intelligence? And how should we think about this US-China rivalry?

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Keeping Credit Growth On Track

    China’s central bank has tweaked monetary policy to soften the slowdown in credit growth. The RRR cut continues its strategy of managing liquidity to limit the economic impact of the campaign against financial risk. Other data for March still point to a moderate growth slowdown in 2018, particularly given the continued strength in property.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Trade Wars: A China Expert Roundtable

    Last week’s sharp equity market sell-off followed the US effectively threatening China with a trade war. In this report, Arthur, Long and Andrew address China’s capacity to strike back and explore what it means for the relationship between the world’s two biggest economies.

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Cold Weather, Hot Data

    China’s first data release of 2018 delivered a couple of surprises, with a big jump in industrial value-added and a pickup in real-estate investment. But neither amounts to a convincing signal that the economy is actually re-accelerating. The most likely outcome is still a moderate growth slowdown driven by a shallow downcycle in property.

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Meaning Of ‘High-Quality’ Growth

    According to Xi Jinping, China’s high-speed growth is over, and it is pursuing “high-quality” growth instead. With today’s publication of official targets for 2018, the real impact of that rhetorical change is getting clearer. In practice, the focus on “quality” will not end pressure to deliver economic growth, nor reduce government intervention.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Reviewing The Risks For 2018

    After a solid performance in 2017, worries about China have broadly receded, and our view is that 2018 should see continuity in economic policy and only a moderate slowdown in growth. In this piece, Andrew assesses the state of four major risks to this sanguine outlook, based on the latest economic data and a flurry of recent policy statements.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Reconstruction Of The Administrative State

    The clear message from the Communist Party Congress is that Xi Jinping has political primacy for the foreseeable future. But what does Xi want to do with all his power? In this piece, Andrew summarizes three of the more concrete policy trends Xi signaled at the Congress. Behind all three is a drive to strengthen the apparatus of the Party-state.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Unmixing The Signals Of The Industrial Cycle

    China’s business cycle indicators are sending mixed signals in 2017: PMI surveys show a steady acceleration, even though housing is cooling, while the official indicator of industrial value-added has been strangely volatile. In this piece, we clear up the confusion, and show that industry is indeed tracking the gradual slowdown in construction.

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Housing Slowdown Stays Contained

    China’s housing downturn is here: September data showed nationwide property sales declining for the first time since 2015. But the government’s attempt to cool sales and prices while limiting the impact on the real economy is working. While growth will certainly slow further, this manageable slowdown will not require policy to loosen anytime soon.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The New Era Of Chinese Socialism

    In his first term, Xi Jinping has been nothing if not ambitious. So it is not surprising that, in a speech to mark the start of his second term, he announced a series of ambitious goals. It is more surprising that, in Xi’s “new era” of Chinese socialism, the pursuit of national greatness will no longer be centered around economic growth.

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Straight On Through The Party Congress

    China’s economic data for August confirmed that growth has stepped down a bit in the third quarter. The long-anticipated slowdown is for real, but is also still quite gradual. Andrew argues that policymakers will be comfortable with this situation, and that we should not expect a big change of direction after the Party Congress in October.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Taking Stock Of The Investment Cycle

    Investment drives China’s growth, but the state of the investment cycle is now being obscured rather than revealed by the most closely followed indicator of capital spending, fixed-asset investment. In this piece, Andrew updates his model of monthly real growth in gross fixed capital formation, and draws three conclusions from its signals.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Regional Bottom Line For Growth

    China’s 2016 stimulus likely provided enough momentum to ensure GDP growth in 2017 will meet the 6.5% target. But on closer examination the stimulus looks as much a rescue operation for troubled regions as a shift in national policy. This interpretation implies that the political drivers of Chinese policymaking are different from what most commentators believe.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    What Is The Signal In The Renminbi’s Surprising Strength?

    Over the past week and a half, the renminbi has appreciated 1.1% against the US dollar in the onshore market, and 1.5% offshore, where the PBOC has also engineered a spike in short-term interest rates. It seems China wants to send a signal about the renminbi, but markets are having trouble decoding what it is. Andrew outlines three possible strategies the central bank may be following.

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