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    Gavekal Research

    Culling The Pessimists

    A series of head-spinning flip-flops in the on-again-off-again trade war over the summer has caused US businesses to delay fresh investment. As a result, business surveys have been giving readings consistent with a US recession. Yet it seems likely that any damage wrought by the trade war remains ephemeral—at least hard data suggests this.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Canadian Election

    Today sees Canadians go to the polls to choose a new government. The ruling Liberal Party faces an electoral squeeze, but it is not clear that the outcome of the election will unduly impact Canada’s economic prospects. Louis runs through the outlook for an economy that most people he speaks to are down on.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: The End Of The Trend?

    For the past few years, US treasuries, the US dollar and the oil price have all broadly traded in a range. In fact, the only bankable trend for investors has been the outperformance of US equities, without which global stock indexes would still be trading at 2006 levels. However, there are signs that the investment environment is changing.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Paris Project In A Keynesian Time

    Some time ago, I had gathered a team in Paris to develop a new venture that would apply macro research analysis to portfolio construction in a systematic way. Things are progressing well and I wanted to update readers on the initiative. The common thread is a rejection of forecasting and a reliance on market prices and economic data.

    8
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    Gavekal Research

    The Age Of Range Trading

    It is a Gavekal adage that 10-year treasury yields, crude oil prices and the US dollar exchange rate are “master prices” that have an outsized impact on economic activity and financial markets. Yet as Louis notes, in recent years, these three prices have shown little by way of a structural trend. In this piece, he seeks to understand the meaning from this range-trading phenomenon.

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    The Fed Goes On The Offensive

    Grocery shoppers get perturbed when they buy produce labeled as “organic” but get something from the agro-industrial complex. Investors, on the other hand, should welcome the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet boost, that was described on Friday as nothing more than “organic” growth. As it turns out, this is a heavily engineered offering by the custodians of money.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Trump’s Unreal Deal With China

    The US-China trade cease-fire shows that President Trump needs a quick deal: facing a soft economy and likely impeachment, he wants to bank a win as soon as possible. The two sides are moving toward a deal in November, but that will not change China's economic model or end US efforts to constrain China's technological rise.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Watching For Signs Of A US Spillover

    Is the rot spreading? In the eurozone, there are signs that this year’s slump in manufacturing may be beginning to spill over to weigh on activity in the broader economy. Plenty of observers believe the US economy is destined to follow a similar path. Their fears may yet be realized, but so far there is no evidence the US economy is heading that way.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Please, Your Majesty, Do Nothing

    Western democracies in the early 1990s stood unchallenged in the battle of big ideas. Alas, everything that has gone wrong in western economies over the last decade or so stems from the lessons that the technocracy took from this victory. Charles considers the mistakes and examines the investment consequences that must now follow.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research Call October 2019

    Vincent outlined EM Asia's "great moderation", as inflation is diverging from other emerging markets, creating opportunities in bonds. Udith argued that Indian growth may be bottoming out but a bad banking picture means that equities may have more downside. Tom addressed the remaking of Asian supply chains in light of the US-China trade war.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    At Home In The Range

    Almost a month after missile attacks on key Saudi Arabian oil production and processing facilities pushed benchmark global oil prices up by 20% overnight, the market has moved on. Saudi Arabia has defied industry expectations by continuing to supply oil to the market in abundant quantities. The current market pricing reflects that.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: India's Banking Blues

    A tweet by the Reserve Bank of India caused a bit of a stir last week, saying that the “…Indian banking system is safe and stable and there is no need to panic…”. It was after a small regional bank had been effectively put into receivership. While this doesn't pose a systemic risk, it's another consequence of Indian banks’ decade-old bad loan problem.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Back To Balance Sheet Expansion

    On Tuesday, Jay Powell confirmed that the US Federal Reserve will go back to growing its balance sheet once again following its meeting at the end of October. The aim is for the balance sheet to grow gradually along with the economy. While the Fed’s planned move is clearly positive for liquidity growth, it is likely to disappoint investors for two reasons.

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    To Impeachment And Beyond

    What will determine whether the global economic expansion and equity bull market will continue in the year ahead? The political upheavals which dominated in the past three years, such as the trade war, Iran oil sanctions and Brexit, have seemed to subside or become priced in. But new political noise is being generated by the threatened impeachment of President Donald Trump.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Where The Fed Stands

    Investors are nervous about weak US data and a liquidity squeeze in the US repo markets. They are now looking to the Federal Reserve for reassurance. In this video, Will tells us what policy changes to expect from the Fed at the end of this month and why.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Echoes Of 2000 Strike A False Note

    First there was the WeWork IPO failure and a string of other flops. Now the S&P 500 has slumped -3% in just two days, leaving the index down -4.6% from its July high. As a result, nervous investors are wondering whether the US may be seeing the beginning of the bursting of a bubble, just as in 2000. Are the fears justified?

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    US-China Impressionism

    It is sometimes said that getting a clear view of Chinese policy is impossible; the best you can hope for is an “impressionist” picture of what broadly is going on. Increasingly it looks as if this impressionism is catching. As if understanding China wasn’t hard enough, lately figuring out US policy towards Beijing has become a lot more complicated.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Quantifying Trade War Risk

    Investors seem to have grown somewhat blasé about the US-China trade war lately. Over 12 months after the outbreak of hostilities, the S&P 500 is up 2.2% year-on-year. Part of the reason for this nonchalance appears to be a belief that US growth and domestic profits are invulnerable to any escalation of the conflict. This belief may be mistaken.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Legal Is Not The Same As Legitimate

    Democracy is in trouble. Everywhere the cause is the same: a massive conflict between legitimacy and legality. For the last 100 years or more, the split between left and right left anchored the legitimacy of any democratic government. Unfortunately, over the last couple of decades or so, the left has betrayed the people, while the right has betrayed the nation.

    10
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    Gavekal Research

    What If The Fed Has Finished Cutting

    What happens to the US equity market if the Federal Reserve has already finished cutting interest rates? Last Friday, Will made the case for a rebound in US growth, but withheld judgement whether it would be driven by real growth or inflation. The prospect raises the very real possibility that the Fed may decide rates have been cut enough.

    9
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    Gavekal Research

    Stay Neutral Between Equities And Cash

    As August’s panic has receded, bond yields have risen from their lows. Even so, with the 10-year US treasury yield at 1.77%, the only way bonds can deliver significant upside from here is if the US economy slides into a disinflationary recession. That may yet happen. But it is by no means the most probable course for the US economy.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: What Next In The Tech War

    Washington views China as a strategic competitor, and the White House has promised a “whole of government” effort to constrain China’s development of key advanced technologies. Dan examines the three ways in which the US is making life difficult for Chinese tech companies, and explores other weapons the US could deploy should the tech war escalate.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    US Liquidity Is Not The Worry

    Despite this week’s violent US money market judders, the Federal Reserve looks to have a clear plan for managing monetary policy and liquidity conditions. There are many reasons to worry about risk asset pricing, but a shock from the bowels of the US financial system is not among them. In contrast, there are four reasons to stay upbeat about the US liquidity situation.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Industrial Disease (II)

    Last week, Charles examined the decline of the US industrial sector, introducing his “industrial Wicksellian spread” as an indicator of environmental conditions for industry. Now he looks at the probable causes of industrial deterioration, explains why neither monetary nor fiscal policy can help, and uses his toolkit to draw some important conclusions for portfolio investors.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Cost Of Cleaner Shipping

    Right now, investors concerned about energy prices are focused on the attacks on Saudi Arabia’s processing facilities. But a possible conflict in the Gulf will not be the only emergent factor likely to affect oil prices over the coming months. New rules for cleaner shipping fuels, known as “IMO 2020,” also have the potential to roil global petroleum markets.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Reexamining The US Recession Indicator

    I may opine across many topics when writing these missives, but all said and done, I am a rules-based investor. In late 2016 my US recession indicator told me that the US economy was likely to face a recession, yet no such thing happened. As a result, I started to look for an explanation, and only now do I feel that a clear answer is coming into view.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Q&A On The Saudi Oil Attacks

    One thing that stands out about the reaction to the weekend’s strikes on Saudi Arabian oil facilities is how muted much of the market response has been. Nevertheless, investors are concerned about what lies ahead. In this report, Louis attempts to answer some of the most prominent questions asked over the last 48 hours.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    A Saudi Tipping Point?

    Following this weekend's attacks on Saudi Arabian oil installations, the important question has to be whether this proves to be the moment at which investors realize that market expectations have become too far removed from reality. In short, will the attacks shatter the consensus that neither energy prices nor inflation can ever rise meaningfully again?

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    The Industrial Disease (I)

    Something ails the industrial sector. Since the 2008 crisis, the growth of US industrial production has failed to keep pace with the growth of the overall US economy. In this paper, Charles examines the industrial sector’s malaise using tools derived from the theories of 19th century Swedish economist Knut Wicksell. His conclusions are disturbing.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Washington, Iran And The Price Of Oil

    This week’s sacking of John Bolton as White House national security advisor triggered a fall in the price of oil as traders concluded the notorious war hawk’s departure paved the way for a relaxation of US sanctions on Iranian oil exports. That may be unlikely; US officials insist their policy of “maximum” pressure on Iran remains in force.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Putting The Squeeze On Tech

    The Trump administration has shown the world that it is willing and able to inflict severe pain on China’s top technology firms. But can the US really squeeze China hard enough to cut it off from global R&D, or stop all advances by Chinese companies? In this piece, Dan argues that the US can slow China’s technological progress—but not stop it.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Three Waves Of Capitalism

    Three great forces drive capitalism and markets: the Schumpeterian, the Ricardian, and the Malthusian. Usually only one dominates at any one time. The flood of capital into tech indicates investors believe that Schumpeterian creative destruction will continue to drive returns over the coming years. But Louis argues that a new wave may be about to take over.

    15
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    Gavekal Research

    The Danger Of A Dumbbell Portfolio

    Both bond and equity markets are signaling investors' belief that monetary policy will not only stay easy for as far as the eye can see, but actually get easier in the coming weeks and months. But what if they end up getting wrong-footed in their expectations of another wave of interest rate cuts, quantitative easing and other uber-dovish monetary policy measures?

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    The Meaning Of The Iran-China Deal

    Reports that China has signed a long term agreement to buy large quantities of Iranian oil in defiance of US sanctions will weigh on global crude prices and further complicate US-China talks, reducing the chances of a deal before the 2020 US election. In effect, the world is now facing a four-way tug of war over the oil price.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research Call September 2019

    In yesterday’s conference call, Anatole Kaletsky, Will Denyer and Louis-Vincent Gave outlined reasons for recent dramatic moves in bond markets and made arguments for what comes next. Anatole also addressed Brexit developments and Louis discussed the situation in Hong Kong.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Tariffs Won't Trouble US Consumers

    As US growth has slowed this year, consumer spending has been the economy’s bright spot. Personal consumption expenditure was the principal contributor to growth in the second quarter and July. However, fears are growing that the US consumer will come under increasing pressure in the coming months as the latest round of tariffs go into effect.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: The Message From Bonds

    Record low bond yields point to a deflationary catastrophe in the making. Yet growth data in the world’s two biggest economies remain decent. Could investors be reacting to a rupture in the international order? Gavekal analysts are not persuaded by such arguments and offer four alternative explanations for the “bond bubble”.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Looking Through The Bond Bubble

    As yields fall to record lows, bond markets seem priced for some sort of global economic calamity. With Europe in dire straits and the US-China trade war remaining live, there is certainly cause for worry. But when things look like they can’t get any worse, Will reckons, they often don’t. As the US growth outlook appears steady, equities and cash are the better bet.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Case Against Recession

    Earlier in August, Charles announced that he was reluctantly joining the US recession camp. His reasoning was based largely on his observation that the long run average growth rate of US corporate profits had fallen to a level that in recent decades has always indicated an economic downturn. I am more optimistic than Charles.

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    The Importance Of Oil

    The world’s fixed income markets are priced for a severe bout of demand destruction and deflation. Yet, outside Europe at least, growth in the world’s major economies continues to tick over. However, could a sudden oil price rise spark an uptick in inflation pressure that triggers an abrupt repricing in which bond yields spike sharply higher?

    0
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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.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Weathering Trump’s Trade War

    It may be the dog days of summer, but investors got a truckload of news this weekend that points to a bad situation getting worse. Given President Donald Trump’s escalation of tariffs and threat to bar US firms from operating in China, the worry is that his hardline stance spurs a US recession. KX and Will think this is unlikely.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: The Anatomy Of The August Panic

    As more and more government bonds around the world slide into negative yield, investors can draw one of two conclusions: either the world faces an economic meltdown, or there is a buying panic in safe assets. But although there is indeed a synchronous global slowdown in growth, Louis favors the latter explanation.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    German Banks And The Dollar

    I am certainly no technical analyst, but I do have a good memory. The story of major financial crises can be told with reference to the US dollar’s movements against the euro (and its antecedents). It now looks to have reached a significant juncture, especially with Italy moving toward another period of political instability.

    9
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    Gavekal Research

    The End Of The Panic

    In almost three weeks since the beginning of August, gold is up 5.9% while investors in 10-year US treasuries have gained 4.2%. This is unusual. As Charles has highlighted, the two “anti-fragile” assets of choice seldom skyrocket simultaneously, so markets have been in full-blown panic mode. But what were markets panicking about, and what could boost confidence once again?

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    The Diminishing Market Impact Of Tariffs

    After the US imposed its first major round of tariffs on Chinese goods last September, the S&P 500 sold off by -20%. After the second round went into force, it fell -6.8%. And since President Trump announced a third round, it has sold off by -6.1%. It seems each successive escalation in the trade war is having a smaller impact on the US stock market.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    When The World Goes To Hell

    Anatole has previously argued that the correlation between inverted yield curves and recessions has very little predictive significance. In this piece he updates that view to argue that inverted yield curves have no predictive significance whatsoever. For this reason, he thinks that equity investors have gotten their reaction to recent developments about right, while bond investors are all in a muddle.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Panic Stations

    I always try to be a rules-driven investor. And when the US stock market is down -3% in a day, taking it to -6% from its peak in three weeks, when 10-year US treasury yields have halved in nine months to just 1.55%, and when gold is up 20% in three months, it is a good time to review those rules to see what they can tell me. The answer is: quite a lot.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Lessons From The Argentine Shock

    In US dollar terms, Argentina's equity benchmark on Monday fell -48% in a one-day move. The -24% drop in long-dated US dollar-denominated Argentine bonds, a -17% drop in the currency, or the -38% fall in the local equity index will cause pain for certain macro players and dedicated emerging market funds. It should also cause us to ponder a number of questions.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    The Surge In Anti-Fragile Assets

    The latest round of data releases appears to confirm fears that the world is facing another synchronous global downturn. If so, it will be different from other slowdowns, in that it will not have been caused by rising interest rates or higher energy prices. What’s more, it will be setting in when there is little prospect of a globally coordinated response, when monetary policy appears to have lost traction, and when asset prices are looking...

    3
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