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    Gavekal Research

    Heading For The Med

    “Sell in May and go away,” has long been a popular adage in Europe, a continent renowned for its predilection for long summer holidays by the Mediterranean. Last year, however, “sell in May” would have proved disastrous as an investment strategy. This year too investors should treat the old saw with circumspection.

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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: French-Language Webinar, May 2021

    As the US and Europe begin to emerge from the pandemic, Louis assesses the key relationships in global markets, Cedric asks whether Europe will have a summer this year and what the economic effects will be and Didier presents the “Yellow Jacket” multiplier, as he introduces a new asset allocation tool.

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    Gavekal Research

    Fighting Europe’s Headwinds

    Last Thursday, Nick Andrews and I argued that Europe’s economic recovery is set to defy dire predictions. The fly in the ointment, we argued, was a weakening in Europe’s hitherto robust manufacturing sector. Such concerns deepened on Friday, as more evidence emerged of slowing industrial activity. So does this headwind need to be taken more seriously?

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    Gavekal Research

    Europe Surprising On the Upside

    Europe may not yet have the pandemic in the rear-view mirror but infection rates in most countries are falling, vaccinations are surprising on the upside and a full opening of most services this summer seems likely. Since expectations for the eurozone remain constrained, there is a good chance that its yield curves soon steepen and the single currency strengthens.

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    Gavekal Research

    Covid’s Legacy Of Corporate Debt

    Covid-19 will leave a legacy of debt—corporate as well as sovereign. An increase in borrowing has raised fears: both of a wave of job-destroying corporate bankruptcies if government support is withdrawn, and of the creation of a legion of zombie companies if it is not. Cedric examines the situation in France, which accounted for half of the eurozone’s increase in corporate debt last year, and finds the true picture is less alarming than it first...

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    Gavekal Research

    The Eurozone’s Sub-Surface Slack

    At first glance, with the unemployment rate down from a peak of 8.7% last September, it looks as if the degree of slack in the eurozone’s labor market may be small by historical standards. However, a look at the level of employment (including employees and self-employed) shows that employment is down by 3.1mn compared with the pre-pandemic baseline.

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    Gavekal Research

    Living With The Next Covid Wave

    Global markets are looking ahead to a post-pandemic world, but Covid-19 is still very much with us. Globally, new infection rates have risen sharply since late February, reversing their earlier decline. In the last few weeks, the US has experienced an alarming uptick in infections. The European Union is struggling to contain its latest Covid wave, which in several major countries compares with November’s for severity. And across the developing...

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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: The Macro And Market Implications Of Europe’s Pandemic Response Shambles

    As the European Union’s vaccination program stumbles from one misstep to another, investors are being forced to put back their expectations for European economic recovery, while a procurement scandal in Germany raises the probability that the pandemic will have a long-term effect on the EU’s political landscape. Anatole, Cedric and Nick examined the near-term market impact and long-term economic policy implications.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Future’s Clear, The Future’s Green

    Europe’s Green parties used to be denigrated by their political opponents as “watermelons”: green environmentalists on the surface, red hard-leftists beneath. In Germany, this attempt to marginalize the Greens by associating them with the discredited revolutionary socialists of 50 years ago failed dismally. Having established their credibility in regional politics, notably in Germany’s third richest state of Baden-Württemberg, where they have...

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    Gavekal Research

    How Bad Is Europe’s Vaccine Problem?

    The Covid news from Europe only seems to lurch from bad to worse. The suspension by several European Union countries of distribution of AstraZeneca's Covid vaccine over possible side-effects threatens to disrupt the EU’s vaccination programs and damage public confidence in vaccines in general. So how bad are things likely to get?

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    Gavekal Research

    The Yield Curve Control That Dare Not Speak Its Name

    A year ago today, European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde said “we are not here to close spreads”. With a fair amount of water having flowed under the bridge since then, the spread between 10-year Italian BTP’s and bunds has fallen from 261bp to just 94bp. So when on the anniversary of that proclamation, she said the “ECB is not doing yield curve control”, one could be forgiven for demurring.

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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: Europe And The Politics Of Exiting The Pandemic

    Europe is at a strange juncture, as governments remain committed to massive fiscal and monetary support and refuse to rush into any economic reopening before Covid vaccinations are deployed. Yet despite this collective risk aversion, Italy has appointed a new technocratic government run by Mario Draghi that looks to have broad political support and a fairly radical plan for change. Our team explored Europe's exit from the pandemic and asked...

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    Gavekal Research

    No Exit

    “We are not here to close spreads,” proclaimed European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde last March. “This is not the function or the mission of the ECB.” After the market took her at her word, Lagarde hastily back-tracked, and the ECB duly spent the following months doing exactly what Lagarde had said it would not.

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    Gavekal Research

    Draghi’s Reform Plan And Asset Prices

    Newly installed as Italy’s prime minister at the head of a broad coalition, on Wednesday Mario Draghi outlined an ambitious agenda of structural reforms. Notably, the former European Central Bank chief wants to oversee a root-and-branch overhaul of Italy’s tax system, while investing in the education system and streamlining public administration. His first task will be to steer Italy through the pandemic. But beyond that, Draghi’s plans could...

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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: Europe’s Troubled Trajectory

    For the eurozone, it seems everything went wrong at the end of 2020—and things have only got worse at the beginning of 2021. Unfortunately, hopes for recovery are pinned on a vaccination program which has been late to start, slow to gather speed, and beset by problems. Nevertheless, despite this gloomy prognosis, there will still be opportunities for investors.

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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: French-Language Webinar, January 2021

    With Europe being hit hard by a second wave of Covid-19 and facing fresh lockdowns, Charles and Cedric assessed the outlook for the region’s growth and inflation in both the short and medium term. The webinar also focused on portfolio construction work being done by our Paris team: quantitative head of research Didier and Charles trained their sights on behavioral finance and suggested a route map for managing money in a “post-Keynesian” world.

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    Gavekal Research

    Where Europe Went Wrong

    Mass vaccination programs were always going to suffer teething troubles. But the rollout of Covid vaccination campaigns in European Union countries has been especially slow and troubled compared with the UK and US. This has left investors wondering about the reasons for the vaccine underperformance, whether it will persist and what the economic impact might be.

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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: Europe’s Cruel Winter

    As the pandemic intensifies across Europe growth prospects in the first quarter are dimming, but investors are focused on a potential economic reopening by the spring. In yesterday’s webinar, Anatole Kaletsky, Nick Andrews and Cedric Gemehl discussed whether markets are overly optimistic since the European Union seems to have botched its vaccine procurement strategy.

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    Gavekal Research

    Towards Stealth Debt Cancellation

    The grand panjandrums of the European Central Bank meet Thursday amid growing calls for them to cancel the vast sums of eurozone member governments’ debt they have bought over the last year. There is zero chance they will formally agree to any debt cancellation, but the ECB may do so by stealth.

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    Gavekal Research

    Europe’s New Political Cycle

    After a six-month respite, European political risk is back on the radar screen. Last Wednesday, ministers from the Italia Viva of former prime minister Matteo Renzi walked out of Italy’s cabinet in a dispute over how EU Covid recovery funds should be spent, leaving the coalition government of prime minister Giuseppe Conte scrabbling to survive. On Friday, the cabinet of Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte resigned over a scandal involving the over-...

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    Gavekal Research

    Europe’s New Lockdowns

    On Tuesday, Germany followed the United Kingdom by imposing fresh restrictions on activity and movement that in effect amount to a new lockdown comparable—and in some areas even stricter—than the anti-coronavirus shutdown imposed over the second quarter of last year. With infection rates across Europe stubbornly high despite the controls already in place, and with fears mounting about the spread of new viral strains, the risk is high that other...

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    Gavekal Research

    The Return Of European Inflation

    After averaging 1.2% YoY in 2019, the eurozone’s “harmonized” inflation rate went negative and settled at an abysmal -0.3% YoY in the last three months. Other price indicators have underwhelmed, as shown by the eurozone’s Citigroup inflation surprise index wallowing below -20%. In the US, by contrast, the same measure jumped back into positive territory after August. So what gives?

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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: Global Investment Roundtable, December 2020

    The US equity market is seeing a switch from the winners of the pandemic like technology and online retail, to the beaten-up losers such as travel plays. At the same time, hopes for a strong economic recovery in 2021 are juicing up value stocks. Similar dynamics are being seen in other major markets. Our team of analysts discussed what happens next, and what’s in store in 2021.

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    Gavekal Research

    The ECB And Euro Strength

    In the last couple of days the euro has broken higher against the US dollar. The last time the euro hit US$1.20, European Central Bank officials led by president Christine Lagarde emerged to talk the currency down, worried that euro strength would import deflation and erode European competitiveness. The question now is whether the ECB will again come out to jawbone the euro lower.

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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: Europe And The Second Wave

    European markets were ebullient earlier this week on news that an effective Covid-19 vaccine may be approved for use early next year. In the meantime, regional lockdowns aimed at curbing the escalating pandemic threatens Europe's economic recovery. This all but guarantees loose monetary and fiscal policy for the foreseeable future. In yesterday's webinar Nick and Cedric discussed how this shakes out for investors.

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    Gavekal Research

    Limits To EU Solidarity

    This week, Hungary and Poland vetoed the European Union’s €750bn recovery fund in a fit of pique at a new mechanism that will stop money going to “bad boy” states deemed to impede the rule of law. With southern Europe waiting for EU cash to support its post-Covid recovery, the two eastern bloc countries hope to force a compromise that will stop outside interference in their domestic affairs. The issue tops the agenda of today’s EU leaders’...

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    Gavekal Research

    After Consolidation, A Further Rerating

    Given the violence of Monday’s rotation-driven rally on soaring hopes of an early coronavirus vaccine rollout, it is small surprise that equity markets are now giving back some of those gains. Expectations are still high that developed economies will be able to begin vaccination programs as early as the first quarter of next year. But the intervening days have given investors a keener appreciation of the challenges involved. Meanwhile, the...

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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: US Election & Global Investment Roundtable (in French)

    Charles Gave, Louis-Vincent Gave, Didier Darcet and Cedric Gemehl delved into the results of the US election, and discussed the latest impact of Covid-19 on the global economy and markets. Additionally, they presented Gavekal’s latest research on portfolio construction.

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    Gavekal Research

    Europe’s Bitter Winter

    Just a couple of weeks ago there were still reasons to be sanguine about the damage that rising coronavirus infections would inflict on Europe’s economy and financial markets. Today those reasons are looking a good deal thinner. Europe’s near term trajectory increasingly resembles a “W-shaped” recovery.

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    Gavekal Research

    No Fiscal Panacea

    It’s been a big week in Europe’s debt capital markets. The European Union sold €17bn of bonds for its SURE job support program and Italy issued €8bn of 30-year bonds yielding 1.76%. The strength of demand was an encouraging sign, given the outsize role that debt-funded government stimulus will have to play in driving the eurozone’s economic recovery from the Covid crisis.

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    Gavekal Research

    Europe Battens Down

    Having remained sanguine over recent weeks as coronavirus infection rates in Europe mounted, on Thursday investors sat up and paid attention. After the French government imposed a 9:00pm curfew on Paris and eight other cities, and after the German government tightened restrictions on Covid hotspots including Berlin and Frankfurt, the euro Stoxx index fell -2.2% during Thursday’s session. Clearly as infection rates have risen, and governments...

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    Gavekal Research

    Counting Europe’s Zombies

    Usually when an economy contracts, corporate bankruptcies go up. This time is different. In European countries, bankruptcies in the second quarter—the low point of the lockdown-induced economic collapse—were down by anywhere between -16% and -33% in year-on-year terms. By suspending normal bankruptcy regulations and offering generous liquidity assistance, European governments successfully prevented their lockdowns from causing a mass wave of job...

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    Gavekal Research

    A Dove With Ammunition

    Hawks want the European Central Bank to wind down its monetary stimulus once the immediate Covid crisis is over. On Wednesday, ECB president Christine Lagarde poured a large bucket of cold water over that idea. Speaking in Frankfurt about the central bank’s current strategy review, she made clear that the ECB regards deflation, not inflation, as the main monetary risk, and opened the door to a symmetric inflation target going forward. In the...

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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: Europe In The Second Wave

    Yesterday Cedric Gemehl, Nick Andrews and Anatole Kaletsky joined Tom Holland to discuss what's going on in Europe. Topics ranged from how the economy is fairing in the second wave of the outbreak, what that means for asset prices, and also where Brexit fits into all this.

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    Gavekal Research

    Lockdown-Lite

    A series of controls have been announced by European countries in reaction to sharp increases in the numbers testing positive for the Sars-CoV-2 virus.This has raised fears of renewed lockdowns and economic havoc. But it appears European policymakers are opting for a lockdown-lite approach to public health restrictions in order to minimize the economic damage.

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    Gavekal Research

    Riding Europe’s Second Wave

    The latest Covid figures from Europe make sobering reading, with countries including France, Spain and others seeing pronounced second waves of new cases. Equity markets, however, have reserved judgment. Yes, the rebound that started in mid-March has been stalled for the last two months as infections have mounted. However, European markets have not sold off significantly, despite this month’s US volatility. And an examination of the opposing...

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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: Global Investment Roundtable (in French), Sept 2020

    In a turbulent economic environment, Louis sought to identify assets with “anti-fragile” qualities; Cedric deciphered the message from European markets; Didier Darcet refreshed refresh an old Gavekal framework with “Four Quadrants 2.0” and Charles moderated the discussion.

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    Gavekal Research

    Better Days For Europe’s Domestic Plays

    It is hardly surprising that euro strength is generally bad for European exporter stocks and good for domestically-focused firms; or that exporter-heavy markets, like Germany, tend to lag at such moments. We saw this in 2017, when the euro rose almost 12% against the dollar between April and August, spurring a -2.4% fall in the DAX and a 0.7% gain in the broad Eurostoxx. So how to explain this year’s topsy-turvy markets, where the sprightly DAX...

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    Gavekal Research

    Europe's Covid-19 Loan Drag

    In response to the Covid-19 crisis, central banks in Europe have shoveled money to banks in a bid to have them deliver liquidity to stressed companies. A worry is that this new debt binge will weigh down corporate balance sheets for years to come, and limit growth. These concerns are probably overdone.

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    Gavekal Research

    Europe Stares Down A Second Wave

    Europe beat back the Covid-19 outbreak in March and April with decisive responses and reaped the benefit by reopening its economy in the early summer. Now, however, the price of fun in the sun has come due, with a rising case count that has led Britain’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, to label it Europe’s “second wave”. In response to rising infections in Spain, the UK has reimposed quarantine rules on returning travelers from the country, while...

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    Gavekal Research

    The EU And The Bond Markets

    The European Union’s decision last week to issue an additional €750bn of debt in its own name has profound implications for the euro-denominated bond markets. Firstly, the decision will mark the emergence of the EU (or more specifically the European Commission) as a major—and relatively attractive—issuer, on a par with sizable European sovereigns. Secondly, EU supranational issuance will be a stabilizing force in the market, reducing the risk...

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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: The Direction For Europe

    Anatole Kaletsky, Cedric Gemehl and Nick Andrews joined Louis Gave to talk about what lies in store for the European Union in light of Tuesdays agreement on a €750 billion Covid-19 recovery fund.

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    Gavekal Research

    Europe's Deal

    Most of the attention paid to the European Union’s recovery fund deal, secured in the early hours of Tuesday morning, focused on how much of the agreed €750bn would be distributed as grants and how much as loans. That’s understandable. Haggling over this balance was one of the main reasons the talks dragged on into their fifth day. But as far as investors are concerned, the relative size of grants and loans is among the least significant aspects...

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    Gavekal Research

    Germany's Moment

    Could this be Germany’s moment? The prospect of a disgruntled Italy walking away from the European Union spurred a German move towards new burden-sharing arrangements, but the conditions have been brewing within Germany for a few years as it became clear that its old export-led development model was cooked. Such existential fears are driving a newly creative approach to Europe at a time when the EU’s biggest economy may be set to benefit from...

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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: A New European Dawn?

    Yesterday Nick and Cedric presented on the topic of their latest Strategy Monthly: A New European Dawn. In this they argue that Europe is finally embracing fundamental reform that should change the investment environment. Anatole offered his take on why the European Union is heading in a “Hamiltonian” direction.

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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: A New European Dawn?

    European nations have managed to lay the ground for a putative fiscal union. In a change of tack, Germany has changed tack by embracing demand management policies. Its new approach should drive a more balanced and domestically-focused recovery that may lift the eurozone-wide return on invested capital. Nick and Cedric argue that this changed dynamic is likely to attract foreign capital and lift the euro against the US dollar.

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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: Global Update (French), June 2020

    In yesterday's webinar for our Francophone audience, Charles and Louis Gave, Cedric Gemehl and Didier Darcet updated viewers on their views of asset markets and government responses to the economic calamity caused by Covid-19.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Club Med’s Cruel Summer

    France, Italy and Spain suffered the deepest contractions in their economic activity in the first quarter and through April. Yet government programs have successfully supported both business cash flows and household incomes. Beyond the immediate bounce-back from lockdown, however, their economic trajectories are set to diverge.

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    Gavekal Research

    From A Tax To A Subsidy

    There will be some hard bargaining ahead when the European Union’s 27 heads of government meet by video conference Friday in an attempt to thrash out details of the bloc’s proposed €750bn recovery fund. German chancellor Angela Merkel is urging a quick deal. But with the “frugal four” countries led by Dutch premier Mark Rutte holding out for strict conditions, a final agreement could yet take several months, with the fund unlikely to start...

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    Gavekal Research

    Europe’s Big Guns

    If the worry was that European Central Bank activism was threatened by German judicial chastisement, Christine Lagarde yesterday showed no sign of being cowed. The Pandemic Emergency Purchase Program was topped up to an almost bazooka-qualifying €1.35trn from €750bn and extended a further six months to June 2021. The move added fuel to the rally in euro assets. Rightly so.

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