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    Gavekal Research

    As The Crisis Ebbs, Will Europe Turn Japanese?

    The China-induced crisis of recent weeks was noteworthy for being a major global risk-off event that, for once, was not made in Europe. Indeed as markets crumbled on Monday the euro soared. Europe’s graduation from weak link to quasi safe haven is not so surprising given the patch-up job done on Greece and a gathering cyclical recovery—private sector credit growth in the eurozone for July was a fairly perky 0.7% YoY. The question is whether the...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Real Message From Oil

    Violent swings in oil prices are destabilizing economies and financial markets worldwide. When the oil price halved last year, from US$110 to US$55 a barrel, the cause was obvious: Saudi Arabia’s decision to increase its share of the global oil market by expanding production. But what accounts for the further plunge in oil prices in the last few weeks—to lows last seen in the immediate aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis—and how will...

    18
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    Gavekal Research

    Who Benefits From The Fall Of Europe’s Export Champions?

    Panic in the emerging world has reverberated back to the European equity markets through the de-rating of high quality exporters. What we call “export champions” get more than half of their sales from outside Europe and account for about half of Europe’s market value within broad indices. Yet the travails currently faced by this group have not resulted in Europe’s domestically-focused “national victims” outperforming. Instead, it is the “...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    How To Build A Reserve Currency

    A store of value, a unit of account and a medium of exchange—these are the three essential characteristics of any proper currency. Needless to say a reserve currency must possess all three. But they are far from enough. A reserve currency must have at least six other attributes too, as Jacques Rueff and Robert Triffin did so much to establish.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Modest Eurozone Growth May Be Enough To Lift Markets

    Eurozone economic growth disappointed in the second quarter, coming in at 0.3% quarter-on-quarter, compared with the expected 0.4%. At 1.2%, the year-on-year growth rate was the highest since 2011, but it remains too weak for comfort. For equity investors, it is crucial that gross domestic product grows strongly enough for corporate profits to rise significantly (see What A Few Decimals Of GDP Growth Could Change). Happily, corporate earnings...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Cutting The Tail Of The Dog

    When docking the tail of a dog there are (in theory at least) two ways by which the offending appendage can be removed: it can be amputated with a single incision, or instead sliced incrementally so that the poor creature barely notices its loss. The same logic applies to economic policymakers when a “tough” decision has to be made. The Thatchers of this world go for a single chop, while the likes of Hollande or Chirac will always plump for...

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Bankrolling The Eurozone Recovery

    Europe’s banking sector has been catching the eye with 18 out of the 31 banks in the STOXX Europe 600 reporting positive earnings surprises and almost all beating sales targets. It may be too early to declare Europe's banking sector as being off to the races after a seven year nightmare that started in August 2007, but we see three big trends in the results.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Growth & Markets Monthly (August 2015) – by Pierre Gave

    Our latest monthly indicators look to have taken on a somewhat schizophrenic character. On the growth side, our main indicator of global economic activity is perking up, implying a stronger second half of the year. But our diffusion index of OECD leading indicators is clearly heading south, as are commodities. A similarly bifurcated story can be seen on the risk-appetite side. Our velocity indicator has registered improvement and short term...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    The Good News In EU Investment

    When the stimulative effects of the weak euro and the fall in oil prices fade from the picture, what will sustain Europe’s growth? At first glance it is unlikely to be investment. Structural reforms were meant to cut the costs of doing business, increasing returns on capital and so providing firms with both the confidence and the resources to expand production. Yet a glance at the headline numbers suggests things haven’t worked out that way. In...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Three Ugly Charts

    I would never claim to be an accomplished technical analyst, but I do know how to use a ruler when looking at charts of prices in the markets.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Five Corners (July 29): The Slowdown In Trade

    Overview: After years in which the world’s major governments have been busy manipulating prices, Charles Gave finds it astonishing that anyone should be surprised by the current slowdown in global trade.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    5C Overview: Why The Surprise At Slowing Trade?

    I am afraid I am rapidly turning into Gavekal’s resident bear—asleep half the time, grumpy the rest. In particular, I am amazed how some people have suddenly discovered that world trade is going nowhere, and that they are so bamboozled by this strange pattern. Where exactly have they been for the last 15 years?

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    5C Europe: The Re-Domestication Of European Trade

    Since 2009, European exports have gone from strength to strength. As the rest of the world shook off the effects of the financial crisis, European Union exporters found themselves well-positioned to benefit both from the US recovery and from the rise of the emerging market middle classes. What is more, as deflation set in, Southern European economies directed more capital and marketing resources into their export sectors, reinforcing the...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    How Much Upside For UK Gilt Yields?

    Eight years after the UK last raised interest rates, several members of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee are dusting off their hawkish hats. Yesterday’s MPC minutes revealed growing concerns about inflationary pressure, even though consumer inflation was at zero in June. No rate hike is expected before the first quarter of next year, but with the UK economy set to move into a new, more productive, growth phase, it is worth asking...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Good News From Greece

    Greece has reopened its banks, paid its dues to the European Central Bank and cleared its arrears with the International Monetary Fund. After five years of pan-European economic depression and the near-death experience in Greece this month, can we finally say that the euro crisis is over? The conventional answer is definitely not. According to the vast majority of political commentators and economists, ranging from left-wing Keynesians such as...

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    The End Of An Empire

    Economic growth derives from one of two sources. Either it comes from a rationalization of talent, which we call Ricardian growth, or it comes from new inventions, which we call Schumpeterian growth. Of the two, Ricardian growth is easier to achieve. As barriers to trade, to the movement of people, or to the free flow of capital are dismantled, inefficiencies get squeezed out and growth can soar. Bearing this in mind, it is obvious that the...

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Five Corners (July 15): Deflation Redux

    Overview: When governments interfere with the price discovery mechanism, most people believe the inevitable result is runaway inflation. On the contrary, argues Charles Gave, official manipulation of prices threatens to plunge us all into deflation. United States: Tan Kai Xian examines the marked divergence between goods prices and services prices and ponders what it means for the overall US inflation outlook. Europe: As the eurozone inches its...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Greece, Europe And The Equity Market

    After days of intense Greek psychodrama, with François Hollande playing the good cop and Angela Merkel the bad, Europe has once again served up a compromise. The deal reached yesterday imposes on Greece an even tougher plan than the one rejected by its people nine days ago. No doubt each of us will have a different take on what the agreement will mean for the future of Europe—and of Greece. However, surely everyone will agree with the late...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Broken Trust

    Charles likes to say that people are more likely to change their spouses than change their banks. The Greek crisis has tested this adage to the limit. For five years now, Greek banks have endured a “bank jog” of deposits out of the domestic banking system and into mattresses, foreign accounts and even bitcoins. Amazingly, however, some €130bn in household and business deposits have stayed put. But should Greek banks re-open in the near future,...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    5C Europe: Rising Above Bedlam

    While the world has focused on the bickering and brinksmanship of the Greek bailout negotiations, activity in the rest of the eurozone has quietly been picking up pace. Economic confidence is close to its highest level in nearly three years and the composite PMI reached a four-year high of 54.2 in June. More to the point, having plunged into deflation last year, partly because of the second half’s economic soft patch and partly because of the...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Europe's Democratic Divide

    Voters, it would seem, pose a clear and present danger to the eurozone. Syriza’s success in last weekend’s “Greferendum” shows there is only so much conventional medicine that electorates will take before looking for miracle cures. The party’s rise has mirrored the fall in Greek living standards since the financial crisis and the failure of Troika bailout packages to turn the country around. It has been useful to label Greece as “exceptional”...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Osborne’s Budget: Good For The UK, Bad for UK Assets

    After May’s surprise election victory for David Cameron’s Tories—which proved yet again that Britain is a naturally conservative country— expectations were running high for the first truly Conservative budget in the UK for almost 20 years. Yesterday, George Osborne duly delivered an impressive relaunch of British conservatism for the 21st century, in a speech self-consciously modeled on Benjamin Disraeli’s famous “One Nation” budget speeches,...

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Europe’s Debt-Deflation Dynamic

    Amid all the talk of contagion and demonstration effects emanating from Athens, there is a straight forward question that concerns investors whose domain spreads beyond the lapping shores of the Mediterranean: is the Greek crisis, at its root, inflationary or deflationary? Given talk of new currencies being launched, the obvious fear concerns inflation. I would demur and suggest that a deflationary shock is unfolding. This matters especially for...

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    The Eurozone Is Not On The Brink

    When totally wrong-footed by an astonishing event that embarrassingly contradicts one’s expectations, it is tempting to seek refuge in high-flown metaphors and literary allusions, especially if this embarrassing turn of events happens in Greece. But rather than distracting attention with references to Pyrrhic Victories, Siren Voices and Labours of Hercules, let me get straight to the point and admit that my predictions about the Greek referendum...

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    A Brighter European Dawn

    The political and economic reality is that a 40-year old political neophyte from a “peripheral” European economy has taken the eurocrats to the cleaners. It is clear that the Greek populace knew exactly what was coming and extracted €89bn of “good money” from an exceptionally incompetent European Central Bank. This pool of liquid funds should prove a key support for the next year or two, and with Greece running a primary budget surplus the...

    14
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    Gavekal Research

    Growth & Markets Monthly (July 2015)

    With the drama in Athens casting a pall over markets, what is the message from the Gavekal dashboard of economic and risk indicators? Overall, reasonably positive. Our main growth indicator suggests that the momentum of economic activity should pick up in the second half of the year. If correct, this would mark a repeat of the pattern seen in the last few years. Still, given the uncertainty associated with the Greek situation, there has been a...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Five Corners (July 01): Manufacturing Machinations

    Overview: Charles Gave argues that the manufacturing sector remains the last bastion of proper economic data in the US, and the message being sent is not good. United States: Tan Kai Xian somewhat demurs from Charles and argues that the US manufacturing sector is unlikely to be the fountainhead of the next US recession. Europe: Central Europe has emerged as the manufacturing powerhouse of Europe at the expense of France and the southern...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Germany Is The Real Risk

    As the Greek crisis apparently reaches its climax it strikes me as odd that the default response is to seek refuge in “safe” German assets. If, as appears quite likely, the flawed euro-system really is heading into the next phase of its denouement, then German assets are the soft underbelly of the system, and they are likely to suffer most. Here is why:

    13
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    Gavekal Research

    Greferendum And The Markets

    Contrary to most of this morning’s headlines, the astonishing weekend events in Greece will almost certainly prove bullish for risk assets around the world and especially in Europe. The European market mayhem triggered by Alexis Tsipras’ bizarre referendum announcement (which Greek officials only found out about through Twitter in the midst of a negotiating session with the Troika in Brussels) seems reminiscent of the panics about US politics...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    5C Europe: Central Europe Takes All

    Let’s start with a shocking figure: almost 80% of the additional value-adding activity created by the EU industrial sector in the last 10 years took place in Germany (47%), Austria (4%) and central and eastern European economies (28%). This obviously exceeds the weight of these countries in Europe’s economy (27%). But why has the locus of manufacturing shifted so radically and rapidly to Central Europe?

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The UK’s Sweet Spot

    Is the UK economy running out of steam? Growth slowed to just 0.3% quarter-on-quarter in the first three months of this year. That was the slowest for more than two years, and a reminder that while businesses have employed more workers, headline productivity growth has all but stalled. The fear now is that with the tightening labor market pushing up wages, poor productivity will lead to slower real growth, making it harder for the UK to attract...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Hedging The Unknown

    As Athens and its creditors inch painfully towards a deal that should see the release of fresh bailout funds, the probability that Greece will be unceremoniously ejected from the eurozone is diminishing. Grexit has never been Gavekal’s core scenario, however I have long held the view that while the chances of a Greek exit may have been relatively small, the damage it would have inflicted on financial markets would have been disproportionately...

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Why Athens Has No Choice

    The main actors in the Greek crisis seem happy to choreograph an ending with this week’s “last ditch” negotiations to be followed on Monday by a “final” summit of European Union leaders. Adding to the theatre, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will today meet Vladimir Putin in St Petersburg, where talks will presumably focus on the basis for co-operation and financial support between the two nations in the event of Grexit. Our view remains...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Greek Default Would Trigger Regime Change, Not Grexit

    As Greece moves inexorably towards default, the big news from the markets is not contagion but the opposite—the remarkable lack of response in the euro exchange rate ($1.125 today compared to $1.123 the day before January’s Greek election) and sovereign bond spreads in the Club Med (BTP-bund spread today is 150bp, against 120bp on January 23). Is this just a case of investor complacency and wishful thinking, like the period prior to Lehman? Or...

    16
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    Gavekal Research

    Five Corners (June 17): Bond Market Shakeout

    Overview: Charles Gave argues that the lack of market-making capacity in the financial sector means that the next big market move could be highly disorderly. United States: 10-year Treasuries look overvalued on a fundamental basis, but don’t expect an immediate correction says Tan Kai Xian. Europe: German bond yields have had a roller coaster ride of late so François Chauchat checks in to reassess their valuation anchors. China: From a standing...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    5C Overview: Efficiency, Capital And Bond Market Spreads

    In the “good old days” much of the capital deployed in financial markets was devoted to making markets work better. Until the mid-1980s investment banks were often partnerships whose capital was directly owned by the partners. On occasions when a disorderly market emerged that capital was “put to work”, sometimes for just a few minutes—profitability was very high. Such capital was often “owned” by a family such as the Rothschilds, Barings or...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    5C Europe: A Quick Tour Of Bund Valuation Anchors

    With 10-year Bund yields collapsing to almost 0% and then surging to 1% in a few months, the German bond market seems to have lost its valuation anchor. The launch of a massive quantitative easing operation by the European Central Bank, and then the violent unwinding of positions by investors who had front-run this program explains most of these erratic moves. But, after the storm, are German bonds cheap or expensive? We make a quick tour of the...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    From Farce To Irrelevance

    The good news is that a Greek default, which has become more likely after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ provocative rejection of what he described as the “absurd” bailout offer by Greece’s creditors, no longer poses a serious threat to the rest of Europe. The bad news is that Tsipras does not seem to understand this. To judge by Tsipras’ belligerence, he firmly believes that Europe needs Greece as desperately as Greece needs Europe. This is the...

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Oil At Its Ceiling, Not Floor

    With oil prices rebounding strongly this week, despite the non-event of last Friday’s meeting of the Organization Of Petroleum Exporting Countries, it seems appropriate to re-examine the case for cheaper oil that we have been presenting since late last year. Specifically, our view in December that US$50/bbl was more likely to be a ceiling than a floor for the Brent oil price in the long term has been contradicted by market actions of recent...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Protect And Survive

    Bond yields keep rising, emerging markets are softening and key cyclical stocks have taken a bath. The more I look at the global situation the more I am convinced that both economies and markets are reaching a point of transition. And as that old sage Yogi Berra said: “When you come to a fork in the road, take it!”

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    The Other Reason To Avoid Turkey

    Investors had long priced in the risk that the ruling AK Party of Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan could win a two-thirds majority in last Sunday’s parliamentary election, a result that would have allowed the president to reinforce his constitutional powers at the expense of parliament. What they failed to price in was the risk that the AKP could fail even to win a simple majority. In the event, that is exactly what happened, leaving Turkey facing...

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    The Death Throes Of The Bond Bubble

    What should we conclude from the jump in bond yields that has transfixed investors in every market around the world since late April, when a disappointing German auction started the sudden rout? The simplest answer, and probably the best one, is “not much”. Like the US taper tantrum of May 2013 and the brief bump in Japanese bond yields a few months earlier, when the Bank of Japan got serious about quantitative easing, the present market...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    The Eurozone Recovery Hardens

    On the one hand there is increasing optimism about the eurozone’s cyclical recovery and diminished concerns over sovereign risk linked to the Greek crisis. On the other hand, there are rising concerns about a stuttering US economic recovery, as shown by yesterday’s release of weak factory orders for April. Markets are playing catch-up to the shifting economic sands and risk calculus. Bund yields yesterday jumped 17bps to 0.71%—narrowing the...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Five Corners (3 June): Shifting Capital Flows

    Overview: Louis Gave traces China’s rejection of planned economy shibboleths over the last 30 years and contends that Beijing is charging full tilt toward the final frontier: the liberalization of capital itself. United States: With the strength of the US dollar favoring imports over US-made goods, the US current account balance is set to deteriorate. This, argues Will Denyer and Tan Kai Xian, will mean a bigger supply of US dollar liquidity in...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A British-Style Recovery For France?

    France looks to have emerged from three years of stagnation after growing at a better than expected 0.6% QoQ in 1Q15. The improved mood can be seen in consumer confidence being up near a five year high. Given that the euro slid more than 20% against the dollar in the last year while Brent crude fell 40%, this should not really come as a huge surprise. Rather, the question is if these better numbers mean the French economy is about to stop...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Greeks Inch Toward Surrender

    The Greek situation rumbles on without resolution after a weekend that saw more posturing, but no deal between Athens and the Brussels group. The message from European Union leaders is that Greece must bow, and while Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras remains defiant, it was noteworthy that his interior minister indicated a willingness to cede ground on Syriza’s anti-austerity program. As this messy endgame plays out, the question facing jaded...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Growth & Markets Monthly (June 2015)

    This month saw a clear deterioration of our growth indicators. The pattern of the last few years with a weaker than expected first half of the year appears to be holding up. The question is whether 2015 will see the habitual pick-up in the second half of the year? On the inflation front, things remain quiet. US breakeven inflation rates, which looked as if they may have been breaking upwards last month, are now heading south again. Given the...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    5C Europe: The Euro Financial Spinning Top

    Read any “International Economics 101” text book and European economies are often still described as being less reliant on the financial sphere than their “Anglo-Saxon” counterparts. Such a view is in serious need of an update as capital flows have been at the heart of the eurozone system. Absent a fiscal union, and given still fairly low labor mobility, “financial velocity” has been essential to the sustenance of the single currency area. When...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Animal Spirits And The Revival Of European Finance

    Despite escalating worries over Grexit and a soft patch in US growth, the first quarter of 2015 saw a pleasing stabilization in the eurozone, driven by improved consumption (see More Air In The Reflation Balloon). The question is whether such green shoots can weather a more than 35% rebound in Brent crude since January, and a 4% rise in the euro since mid-March. The case for Europe being able to resist such headwinds relies in large part on a...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Return Of European Political Risk

    A surprising facet of the post-2010 euro crisis period has been the degree to which the political center in the European Union has held. Despite record unemployment in the struggling South, extremist movements have mostly been contained to the fringes. So it is ironic that just as the long anticipated cyclical recovery arrives, the political tide looks to be turning the other way. Voters in this weekend’s Spanish regional elections gave the...

    1
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