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    Gavekal Research

    GE Is More Fish Than Fowl

    There is suddenly a flood of commentary speculating that General Electric is a canary in the proverbial coal mine for the US corporate credit market. With investors focused on the troubled conglomerate’s underfunded pension scheme and ailing power business, GE has seen its credit rating downgraded and become a focal point for broader fears that US corporates have taken on too much debt and bought back too much equity. Without taking a view on GE...

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Credit Availability As An Asset Allocation Tool

    US analyst KX bases his equity calls largely on a Wicksellian model that compares the cost of capital with the returns earned by the corporate sector. We remain comfortable that this “spread” remains favorable for US firms, and so recommend a roughly 70% allocation to equities. Yet even if credit is reasonably priced, there is the question of its availability. For this reason, we watch lending standard measures closely, and just got a benign...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: The Battle For Chinese Tech

    China imports more semiconductors than it does crude oil, highlighting its dependence on foreign technology and know-how. The US recognizes this weakness and is intent on squeezing China’s tech sector before it is able to produce the most advanced chips at home and in scale. For this reason, tech sits at the heart of the US-China tensions.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    This Really May Be The Start Of A Year-End Rally

    Although this week started with a violent sell-off, Anatole argues that the stars are aligned for a year-end equity rally, especially in emerging markets. This is because EMs have sold off not on US interest rate worries but a combination of rising oil prices and heightened political risk. Those headwinds now seem to be abating and beaten up markets could surprise before year-end.

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    London Seminar — October 2018

    At Gavekal’s seminar in London last month Charles Gave and Anatole Kaletsky presented on whether the world is breaking up into three different monetary zones, and whether this is a correction to, or an end to, the long-running global bull market. Micahel Clendenin of Gavekal RedTech explained how they conduct research on the Chinese technology and internet sector.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Hong Kong Seminar — November 2018

    At Gavekal’s seminar in Hong Kong this week, Yanmei Xie, Arthur Kroeber and Will Denyer presented their latest views on China's economy, trade war, and how to approach asset allocation in the US.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A More Timely Wicksellian Tool

    According to my Wicksellian analysis of the US, when the market rate of interest moves above the natural rate (essentially the structural growth rate of corporate profits), then a recession is coming, and investors should exit US equities and load up on treasuries. I now propose an updated and more timely proxy for the "Wicksellian market rate".

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    What's Changed In The Oil Market

    “Sanctions are coming,” proclaimed Donald Trump in a tweet last week, three days before the imposition of the latest US embargo on Iranian oil exports. The oil market was not impressed. Since late September, when crude hit four-year highs, the Brent price has slumped -16.7% from US$86.29 to US$71.91, with WTI falling -19.1%.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Gridlock is Good

    The Democrats have wrested back control of the US House of Representatives, while Republicans have expanded their Senate majority. Hence, the US’s bicameral legislature is set for two years of gridlock. This was the most benign result possible from this midterm election. While largely expected, confirmation is probably positive for risk assets.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Handicapping The Trump-Xi Summit

    As the US prepares to wrap up its Congressional election season, Donald Trump’s administration is sending mixed signals on its China policy. The outcome of the upcoming G-20 meeting between Donald Trump and Xi Jinping is now basically a coin-flip. Either way, argues Arthur, US pressure on China’s technology sector is likely to intensify.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Hot, But Not Too Hot

    It remains unclear if the US is moderating its approach to trade war, but there are other factors to keep equity investors on edge. Friday’s US payroll report showed average hourly earnings rising to a cycle-high of 3.1%, confirming the picture of a tight labor market. Hence, with 10-year treasury yields just below their recent peak of 3.23%, the question is whether the US economy can weather a higher cost of capital. For now, I think the answer...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: Yes, We're Still In A Bull Market

    Anatole and Will believe that continued exposure to US equities makes sense, since underlying corporate profitability remains strong. So long as one avoids the most rate-sensitive sectors, US portfolios should be 70-75% in stocks, with the rest mainly in cash. Moreover, they argue that the period of EM underperformance is now done, and emerging markets are poised for a significant rally.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Has Oil Set Its High For This Cycle?

    With the price of WTI crude oil now back below its 200-day moving average, Louis puts himself in the shoes of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and imagines what sort of leverage he could exert over Donald Trump, what this means for the enforcement of sanctions against Iran, and what that implies for the oil price going forward.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    First Blood In The Long Tech War

    Washington has opened a new front in the US-China economic cold war by slapping controls on exports of all “commodities, software and technology” to Chinese chipmaker Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit. The breath of the national security justification cited for this action escalates the US-China confrontation over technology to a new level.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Beijing Seminar — October 2018

    At Gavekal’s seminar in Beijing last week, Louis-Vincent Gave, Udith Sikand and Chen Long presented their latest views on the turn in global markets, the prospects for emerging markets in the quarters ahead, and on China's policy priorities as it faces down the US in a prolonged rivalry.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    US Macro And The Market

    Coming after another bruising week in the market, which saw the S&P 500 flirting with correction territory, down -9% from its late-September high, Friday’s third quarter US GDP report is heartening. Although 3Q’s quarter-on-quarter annualized growth rate of 3.5% was slower than the 4.2% rate recorded in 2Q, it was still strong relative to the expected 3.3% and compared with the US economy’s structural growth rate. While US growth will...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Buy The Dip

    “Things are fine now, but they are going to get worse.” This is what I hear from commentators on US growth, from corporate managers talking about profit margins, and from Chinese exporters discussing the impact of the trade war. The same could be said of US financial conditions—they are fine now, but as interest rates rise they will deteriorate.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Bolsonaro’s Brazil

    Barring an extraordinary twist, Brazilians will on Sunday elect as president a right-wing tough guy who hints at being a closet economic liberal. He will inherit an economy that is enjoying a cyclical upturn and a reform initiative to social security that is far enough advanced that it can’t reasonably be reversed. For this reason, expect a near term upside for asset values.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    World Trade And A Troubling Signal

    As Donald Trump has ramped up tariffs on US imports from China, investors have understandably grown anxious about the impact on world trade. Few significant effects have shown up in the data so far. Nevertheless the outlook is alarming—although not necessarily in the way many might think.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    The Odd Behavior Of Gold

    Barbarous relic it may be, but I have long looked on gold as a proxy for emerging markets. The logic is that when the emerging market consumer—whether in India, China, Indonesia, Africa or the Middle East—finds himself at the end of the month with extra money in his pocket, he often tends to put that money into gold coins or jewelry. This makes sense if you live in a country with capital controls, or an untrustworthy financial system, under-...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Why China Is Unlikely To Fold

    To many outside observers, China’s economy looks like a house of cards that is vulnerable to collapse should the US push a little harder in its trade actions. Louis is not convinced that this market-focused analysis of China’s situation properly reflects its vulnerability. He thinks the leadership is dug in for a long struggle against Washington.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Consequences Of Khashoggi

    In 1939, Franklin Roosevelt famously dismissed reservations about Nicaragua’s brutal dictator Anastazio Somoza with the comment “he may be a sonofabitch, but he’s our sonofabitch.” In the world of foreign policy realpolitik, to a large degree FDR’s doctrine still holds true. Witness, for example, the verbal contortions that US president Donald Trump and secretary of state Mike Pompeo have been forced to pull off in recent days in order to...

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    Equities In The Late Cycle (Revisited)

    The stock market volatility of the last week, triggered by fears over rising bond yields, emphasizes how participants now accept that the US economy is in the late phase of its cycle. KX argues this is not a reason to flee US equities, but it does demand a more discerning approach.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast

    Louis investigates six of the most incongruous sets of relationships that have held sway this year and offers alternative explanations. In particular, he focuses on the strange case of China’s response to US trade hostility and argues that understanding Beijing’s game plan may hold the key to whether the long US bull market in equities can stay the course.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Time To Rebalance Into Equities

    The S&P 500 is down almost -7% in six days, the biggest drawdown since the -10% decline in the first quarter. It is now below its 200-day moving average, for the first time since April 2nd. Will it bounce back, or is a US equity bear market now upon us? I would bet on the former, but not too aggressively.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Bonds' Failure To Rally

    Given all the bad news for markets this year, one would be forgiven for thinking that US treasuries and German bunds would have been a good investment. But even as emerging markets have sold off and the US dollar has risen against almost every emerging market currency out there, US treasuries (and to a lesser extent bunds) have been an absolute dog of an investment.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research Call October 2018

    In this month’s Research Conference Call Louis-Vincent Gave examined the present bad tidings from markets and asked whether the global bull market faces a denouement. Anatole Kaletsky argued that this sell-off will likely prove to be a temporary setback for emerging markets and that the global bull market may have further to run. However, he warned that the outcome will depend heavily on where the oil price goes from here.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Still Not Interested In US Bonds

    Wednesday saw the second biggest sell-off in US bonds since November 10, 2016, immediately after the US presidential election. The 10-year treasury yield jumped 11bp to 3.16%, its highest since 2011. However, investors should be wary of treating this as a buying opportunity, for a number of reasons.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: Are We Still In A Bull Market?

    At the start of the year, markets seemed poised for a rotation out of US equities into non-US assets. In fact, US equities and cash are the only assets to have delivered positive returns this year. Louis examines the reasons why and concludes that portfolio managers should stay defensive, while looking for buying opportunities in oversold emerging markets, and in European assets in non-euro countries such as the UK, Sweden and Switzerland.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    New Nafta Clears The Way For A China Fight

    The good news is that after months of posturing, President Donald Trump’s administration has cut a deal for a new Nafta, following July's hasty agreement with the EU to defer car tariffs. Trade war on all fronts may now be off the agenda, but conflict with China over trade, investment, technology and geopolitical dominance will only escalate.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Big Lesson From Argentina

    One of the reasons this summer’s sell-off in Argentinian debt was so vicious was that few international banks these days are willing to make markets in such “exotic” bonds, and even fewer are prepared to hold a substantial inventory. As a result, when foreign investors rushed for the exit, there was no market. But as Louis explains in this paper, the problem is hardly unique to Argentina. Markets a lot closer to home could face similar trouble.

    8
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    Gavekal Research

    The Art Of (Trade) War

    Donald Trump’s trade war against China demonstrates that the Washington consensus is dead and buried. This suggests that the world will split into three monetary zones, each with its own anchor currency and risk-free asset class. As a result, the close relationship between the renminbi and the US dollar is a thing of the past and China’s vast current account surplus will become unsustainable. Charles examines what all this means for investment...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Rate Rises And The US Stock Market

    For the first time in the long post-2008 cycle, the US has a positive real interest rate. After Wednesday’s 25bp hike in US rates, at just short of 2.25%, the effective Fed funds rate will now exceed the Federal Reserve’s favored core PCE measure of inflation, which at the end of July stood at 2%. In theory, that could change later Thursday with the release of August PCE data. But with the dot plot suggesting another rate hike this year and...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Does Beijing Really Manage The RMB Against A Basket?

    Possibly the only easy thing about studying China is that Chinese policymakers tend to “say what they do and do what they say”. Take the Chinese exchange rate as an example. From 1998 to 2005, the renminbi’s exchange rate was fixed at CNY8.28 to the US dollar. Then, in 2005, investors were told that the renminbi would be allowed to appreciate gradually and with a controlled daily volatility. When the financial crisis hit, the Chinese exchange...

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Back To A Three-Figure Oil Price

    Oil broke higher on Monday, with the price of Brent decisively breaching US$80/bbl, a level it had repeatedly tested since early May, when the US administration announced it would reimpose sanctions on Iranian exports. The immediate trigger for the break-out was the decision at the weekend by the Opec cartel plus Russia not to increase their formal output target in the near term. At first glance, the market response might appear an over-reaction...

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    The Dissolution Of Chimerica

    The economies of the US and China are by far the world’s largest. Such has been their importance and dependence that the composite phrase “Chimerica” emerged to describe both the integration of supply chains and corporate profitability as well as cultural connections. Today, the single most important question may be: is the foundation on which this Chimerica pillar rested now crumbling?

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Quandary Of Rising Yields

    Imagine that you had been told at the start of this year that equity markets in the likes of Argentina, Turkey and South Africa would fall by as much as half, that the renminbi would slide by -10% against the US dollar and that Chinese and Hong Kong stocks would be back in a bear market. You would probably have assumed that long-dated treasuries would make a great investment. Yet, here we are, with 30-year treasury yields up about 50bp this year...

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    The Message From US Housing Construction

    Wednesday saw a soft US housing data release for August, pointing to a coming weakening in residential construction. With the Fed raising rates and 10-year treasury yields well above 3%, equity investors may sniff late-cycle decay. KX shares such concerns, but advises investors to hold their noses for a while longer.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Digging In For A War Of Attrition

    Donald Trump’s administration has upped the ante in its trade war with China, imposing tariffs on an additional US$200bn of Chinese imports. The tariffs will take effect on September 24 at a rate of 10%, rising to 25% at the beginning of 2019 unless some kind of a deal can be worked out with Beijing. The chances of a deal are vanishingly small.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Towards US Goods Price Deflation

    Emerging economies have spent the last three or four months squirming under the weight of a strong dollar. The effect of such currency strength is now showing up in the US itself, with the price of both consumer goods and imports softening. This deflationary pressure may end up impacting real interest rates, and hence the relative attractiveness of US bonds and equities.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research Call September 2018

    In this month’s research call, Will Denyer explains why he is still recommending a 75% equity exposure in a dedicated US portfolio. His call is based on an asset allocation method with three key components, namely, Wicksellian spreads, relative valuation tools, and a duration tool which shows how to divide a fixed income portfolio between bonds and cash.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Near Term Direction Of The US Dollar

    The US dollar is trading bang on its 50-day moving average, and roughly where it was a year ago. Hence, it is tempting to conclude that it has not done much over the past 12 months. That would, of course, be wrong for the post-April rebound in the dollar explains the summer meltdown in emerging markets. And every investor today stands ready to increase or decrease risk in their portfolios depending on the next tick in the US dollar.

    17
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    Gavekal Research

    Why The US Cannot Win A Trade War

    The US has made a fundamental policy mistake in pursuing a trade war against China. A Keynesian macroeconomic analysis shows that the US will likely be worst affected by the conflict, while China should escape unscathed and several other emerging markets could be clear gainers. This sell-off may be an ideal opportunity to "buy the dip" in EMs

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    The Exit From A Liquidity Squeeze

    If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck. By the same token, if central bank reserves are shrinking, the US dollar is rising, and emerging market currencies are cratering, we probably face a liquidity squeeze. None of this should be surprising, as the drains on US dollar liquidity have come from all directions this year.

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    The Signaling From US Autos

    Even as the US economy fires up on tax cuts and government spending, interest rate-sensitive sectors show signs of rolling over. First it was housing, and now auto sales have slid to the lower end of their range after steadily softening this year. Over the next year, the question is less whether autos can boost growth, as how much they will detract from it. The fact that the Trump administration is still considering significant tariffs on...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    On Getting It Wrong

    Louis went into 2018 with a set of assumptions about how growth and markets around the world would play out. It hasn’t exactly worked out as expected and in this mea culpa he seeks to understand how he got it wrong and what comes next. He concludes that a key driver of the changed investment environment was not so much the strength of the US dollar but China’s decision to allow a renminbi devaluation.

    10
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: A Simple Guide To US Asset Allocation

    We synthesize four years of work on asset allocation and present a model portfolio built around analysis of the cost of and return on capital; the real rate of return on equities, bonds and cash; and the ideal duration of fixed-income holdings. Today we recommend that US portfolios hold 75% in equities, 25% in cash, and shun bonds.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: An Unexpected Investment Environment

    With the exception of US equities, about the only other way most investors could have achieved a positive return this year was to have held US dollar cash. That has made for a very strange investment environment that few people saw coming. In this video interview, Louis reviews the experience of the last eight months and outlines potential scenarios for the remainder of 2018.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Tail Risks That Worry Me

    Yesterday I made the case that emerging markets should be superior performers in a global bull market, which I characterized as the most hated in history. What that analysis left out was the relative prospects of the other big blocks in the global equity universe; namely, Europe and Japan. My core point yesterday was that trade wars do more harm to economies that close their markets than those countries which supply them, and on this score...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Misunderstanding Today’s EMs

    Suppose that, like me, you think the global equity bull market has a few more years to run and hence the sell-off which culminated with Turkish debt being downgraded two weeks ago was a merely a correction. Where are the best opportunities to “buy the dip”? The answer depends on whether you also share my view about the underlying causes of this year’s market setbacks.

    4
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