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E.g., 11-05-2021
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    Gavekal Research

    Ricardian Growth Is Fragile, Schumpeterian Growth Is Anti-Fragile

    Capitalism works well when activity is undertaken using David Ricardo’s law of comparative advantage and Joseph Schumpeter’s process of creative destruction. The difference between the two is that comparative advantage is subject to an ultimate limit, while the action of invention and reinvention through creative destruction is constrained only by the human mind.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Post-Brexit Britain

    Some long-term investors do seem to be worried that a breakup of the United Kingdom could add another element of uncertainty to what I described last year as the “triple whammy” of Brexit, Covid and the British Treasury’s surprising flirtation with tax increases and premature fiscal tightening. It now appears, however, that only one of these concerns is really justified.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    The Global Pivot To The Indo-Pacific

    The Indo-Pacific is at the heart of global geopolitics today. The US, UK, and European Union are all shifting their attention east. Tom argues that the new treatment of the Indian and Pacific Oceans as a single, connected space reflects a key shift in managing China’s regional power. The impact will be felt in both strategic and economic terms.

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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: Global Investment Roundtable, May 2021

    Joe Biden's enormous fiscal initiatives mark a potential sea change in the US government’s role in the economy. They may yet get watered down as the US president negotiates with more conservative members of his party, but tax and spend is clearly the new mantra in Washington DC. The question for investors is what this means for assets in the US and around the world.

    0
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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.

    0
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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?

    0
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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.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Taxing Capital

    Next week Joe Biden will set out plans to double the rate of capital gains tax for Americans making over US$1mn a year. The president’s proposal is the latest element of his initiative to levy higher taxes, from one direction or another, on the elusive earnings of multinational corporations and wealthy individuals in order to help fund higher government spending. Whatever the political merits of Biden’s plan, his multi-pronged approach will be...

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    Gavekal Research

    Discontinuity Risk In A Bipolar World

    For the first time in generations, the world now has two economic poles—the US and China. And they are following diametrically opposed monetary and fiscal policies. US policy is as Keynesian as you can get, while China has read the book on Wicksell and is turning restrictive. This divergence is the single most important challenge investors face today.

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    Gavekal Research

    Trading The Vaccination S-Curve

    Vaccination programs around the world have gotten off the ground at widely varying speeds. But everywhere they tend to follow a similar S-curve trajectory. While most countries are still in the early stages of their vaccination programs, a very few are in their late stages, where the S-curves begin to flatten. Their experience provides an investible roadmap.

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    Gavekal Research

    Doom Loop? What Doom Loop?

    Ahead of the European Central Bank’s meeting this Thursday, there has been the usual chatter about what the ECB can do to alleviate stresses in the eurozone’s financial markets. This is unsurprising, given that Covid infection rates remain stubbornly high in several of the bloc’s leading economies, and that peripheral spreads have widened in recent weeks, with the Italian 10-year spread over bunds increasing by some 10bp.

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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: Asset Allocation Amid Low Interest Rates

    Charles Gave likes to say he is a rules-based investor, and he’s never been short of ideas. In this webinar, Charles and Gavekal TrackMacro’s Didier Darcet presented their latest work on portfolio construction, including a tool to help fixed-income managers to get satisfactory returns despite punitively low yields.

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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: Global Investment Roundtable, April 2021

    In the long years between the 2008-09 financial crash and the 2020 Covid crisis the US stock market massively outperformed equities in the rest of the world. In recent quarters, however, the US market has lost its edge. Yesterday, Louis, KX and Udith weighed the merits of ex-US equities versus US stocks in a post-pandemic world.

    0
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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.

    0
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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

    Strategy Monthly: The Case For Ex-US Equities

    The US trade deficit cycle suggests the world is heading towards a protracted period of US dollar depreciation. With valuations outside the US relatively attractive, and deglobalization meaning ex-US equities will offer greater diversification benefits in future, investors should consider increasing their exposure to ex-US equities.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Abundance And Shortages

    Over decades, investors have gotten used to living in a world of plenty, in which capital, labor, commodities and knowledge have all been in abundant supply. Today, however, while the world remains awash with cheap capital, there are signs that the supplies of labor, commodities and—most ominously of all—knowledge may be facing tightening constraints. In this paper, Louis asks whether, after years of abundance, the world may be facing a...

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    Gavekal Research

    Yield Differentials Matter—For Now

    As the first quarter draws to a close, the US dollar has confounded December’s bearish consensus expectations by generating a positive total return versus the euro of 3.8%. As Louis and Will and KX explained last week, in retrospect the US dollar’s performance over the last three months is not that surprising. The question now is: how long will these near-term factors persist?

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    When Will Borders Reopen?

    Even as a new Covid wave sweeps across Europe, the European Union has gotten to work on a Digital Green Certificate to allow resumption of travel, within the bloc and beyond. Health passports that securely document vaccines and test results for travelers are key to opening up borders again. But as Tom explains, getting countries to agree on rules and standards will be a painful slog.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Rewind To Look Ahead

    There has hardly been a single piece of news in the last three months that could have been construed as euro-bullish. And yes, the euro has weakened. But given the newsflow, it is remarkable that the euro is not down a whole lot more. So, considering the newsflow and the 200bp spread between 10 year treasuries and bunds, why hasn’t the US dollar rallied more?

    2
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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...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Extent Of Turkish Contagion Risk

    After four and a half months in which Turkish central bank governor Naci Ağbal had raised policy rates and restored a measure of confidence in the Turkish lira, on Saturday Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan fired Agbal and replaced him with a loyalist who has echoed the president’s conviction that higher interest rates lead to higher inflation.

    1
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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

    When Currencies Misbehave

    In recent days, investors have had to absorb a series of troubling headlines from Europe, yet news that should be either bearish for the euro or bullish for the dollar failed to keep the euro from gaining last week. Meanwhile, the yen continues to grind lower. Why is that, and what does the inability of the dollar to rally tell us about the future?

    6
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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.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Updating The Malthusian Constraint

    In June 2019, I argued that big shifts in the US economy and financial markets largely result from changes in the relative price of energy. If oil prices are rising faster than nominal GDP, this points to energy shortages and more of the economy’s value-added going as the “miners’ rent”. This situation points to rising inflation and contracting price/earnings ratios.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: Global Investment Roundtable, March 2021

    As Covid-19 vaccinations are cranked up and Congress gets ready to dole out stimulus measures, US growth expectations have risen along with inflation concerns. In response, bonds have sold off and equity markets have shuddered. In our monthly global investment roundtable, Gavekal partners discussed this confluence of events and addressed what it means for risk assets.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Problem With Europe’s Inflation

    Later this year, eurozone consumer price inflation should hit its highest level in more than a decade. We found out on Tuesday that February’s consumer prices rose by 0.9% year-on-year, and more price hikes are in the works. Alas, this is not the type of inflation that the European Central Bank has been seeking to engineer for the best part of a decade.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: The Threat Of Rising Inflation And Yields

    The roll-out of vaccines in the US is upending the investment environment, as the focus shifts beyond the pandemic to full-throttled economic recovery. With both monetary and fiscal policy set to remain loose, nominal growth could soon rip. Hopes for “normalization” have driven up inflation expectations and freaked out bond investors. Those getting fixed interest are right to be unnerved, as production capacity is fairly tight, inventories are...

    0
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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.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Can Covid Vaccines Cure The Pound?

    The British pound has been the strongest major currency so far this year, contrary to Anatole’s expectations at the end of 2020. In this piece he outlines three reasons for sterling’s outperformance, but maintains that in the long term the pound will be forced lower.

    5
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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...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Discussion On Treasury Yields

    In recent days, long-dated US treasury yields have made a clear move higher. Unless there’s a violent turnaround in the coming days, February will mark the seventh consecutive month of flat-to-negative returns for treasuries This is an important development, with potentially far-reaching investment implications. Anatole and Louis discuss the outlook for yields, and the consequences for asset prices.

    11
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    Gavekal Research

    Optimization And Fragility

    I have played rugby for most of my life, but in recent years I have seldom been injured. This is because I have grown heavier and slower. It is the guys who are fast and agile that tear knee ligaments and strain hamstrings. Why do I bring this up? Because investors need to ask whether the global economy is a slow but resistant lumbering beast of burden. Or is it a finely-tuned machine in danger of spinning off its axis? Gavekal has touched on...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    China Versus The Anglosphere

    Beijing’s ability to weaponize its global trade power is concentrating minds from Washington to Canberra. On Tuesday it was reported that China has proposed controls on the production and export of rare earths. This threat is the latest example of why reducing critical dependence on Chinese trade is now a strategic priority for many countries, in particular those in the Anglosphere.

    13
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    Gavekal Research

    The Long Bond Bait And Switch

    Ultra-long bond issuance is back in vogue in Europe. This month Spain has sold €5bn of 50-year bonds at a yield of 1.45%, while Belgium snapped out a 50-year issue at 0.69%. In January it was France, which sold a 50-year at 0.59%. Next up is likely to be Italy, which is expected to take advantage of the tightening in spreads following the appointment of Mario Draghi as prime minister (see Draghi’s Return) to come to market with a 50-year of its...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Vaccines, Efficacy And Variants

    Despite volumes of new information and the lightning creation of vaccines promising a path out of the pandemic, uncertainty remains. Almost daily we are bombarded with a mix of good news (the vaccines work really well!) and bad (new mutations resist vaccines!) that make it hard to know whether we should rejoice or despair. This note provides a framework for assessing these persistent uncertainties.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    A Canary Chirps

    In late January, just as the GameStop squeeze was beginning to attract attention, Louis advised investors “to keep European banks on their screens.” As the canary in the coal mine of global financial markets, eurozone banks would signal broader trouble ahead if they continued to fall. But if they rebounded, it would be a sign the global inflation trade was back on (see Third Time The Charm?).

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: Uncharted Territory And Portfolio Construction

    Charles has sought to codify his many investment rules into a rigorous portfolio construction framework, which includes identifying periods when returns stop being normally distributed and move into the "tails". Right now markets could be going through a phase change, and in this webinar, he explained why. He was joined by Didier, who who heads the quant team in Paris, and Louis.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Six Reasons To Stay Bullish

    Is the recent speculative mania the beginning of the end of the post-2009 bull market in stocks? Or is it only the end of the beginning? Anatole argues that today’s speculation is reminiscent of the later stages of dot-com bubble, but he remains a confirmed bull on global equities. In this paper he offers six reasons why this is no contradiction.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Real Effect Of The Vaccine Row

    The fiasco of Europe’s vaccination plan and Brussels’ retreat from its standoff with the UK and AstraZeneca have has caused the euro to weaken. While this reaction makes sense, the euro is, in fact, unlikely to fall much more against sterling, while the euro-dollar exchange rate will depend on how politicians behave in Washington, more than bureaucrats in Brussels.

    4
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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.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Vaccine Slippage

    It is looking likely that most countries will miss their Covid-19 vaccination targets for 2021. This creates a risk of slower than expected economic growth, especially in Europe which take half a year to emerge from its double-dip recession. Moreover, any activity dependent on international travel or large-scale gatherings will remain severely depressed until well into 2022.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    What The VIX Spike May Mean

    On Tuesday, Louis noted that among ill tidings for global equity markets was a rollover in European bank stocks. I want to build on this idea using portfolio construction work done by our Paris team and specifically the insight that when the VIX exceeds a critical threshold, markets globally tend to seize up.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: The UK — At The Center Of The Maelstrom

    It’s been an especially stormy start to the year for the United Kingdom, which finds itself at ground zero for the spread of a new and highly infectious strain of the coronavirus, even as it struggles to cope with withdrawal from the European Union’s single market and customs zone. Yet the UK’s financial markets are performing relatively respectably year-to-date as investors focus on the UK’s strong vaccination performance and look ahead to the...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Supply-Chain Risks For The Covid Vaccine

    The race to vaccinate the world in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic will be one of the most complex projects ever attempted. Most developed economies aim to fully vaccinate their adult population by year’s end. Dan outlines the manufacturing and logistical challenges involved the vaccine rollout

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Third Time The Charm?

    Wherever you look, it seems there are signs of market froth, and evidence abounds that we are in an environment of “more money than fools”. Yet amid all these signs, one is especially troubling: last year US investor margin debt rose by a record US$200bn. This is sobering because the two previous record-setting peaks in margin debt growth did not end well.

    1
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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.

    7
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