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    Gavekal Research

    Time And Risk

    The financial world is organized around two axes: time and risk. If some authority manipulates the time axis, the effect will be to compromise the risk axis. This is not an abstract formulation. It has the potential to threaten portfolios and the solvency of major institutions.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Q&A On The Coronavirus Situation

    Louis spent last week meeting with clients in the US and discussions centered on the coronavirus situation. His starting point is that the Chinese authorities now have every incentive to overstate, rather than understate, the severity of the viral outbreak. He explores the impact on growth in the rest of the world and asset price movements.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    The Risk Of Falling Behind The Epidemic Curve

    China’s government was slow off the mark in responding to the initial outbreak of the new coronavirus. Although the government is now fully mobilized to fight the outbreak, it risks falling behind the curve again—this time in responding to the economic damage wrought by its extended shutdown of normal life and business activity.

    4
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Lingering Impact On Property

    While the 2003 SARS outbreak had only a transitory impact on China’s housing market, the 2020 coronavirus episode is proving to be much more serious. In this piece, Rosealea argues that the big hit to housing sales will leave developers short of cash and limit their ability to keep projects going. This points to a lingering drag on construction.

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    Gavekal Research

    Back To Work, Not Back To Normal

    China’s businesses are starting to get back to work, but the economy is still very far from normal. On Monday, the extended holiday declared by the government to help contain the coronavirus outbreak came to an end (except in Hubei province). But most businesses still face great difficulty in resuming their normal activities.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Quant View Of The Wuhan Virus

    There is now enough data on the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus to permit a useful quantitative analysis of its likely evolution. In this paper, Didier notes that while the spread of the virus continues to accelerate, the “jolt” of that acceleration is now slowing. This suggests the outbreak is likely to peak by early March.

    11
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Long And Short Of The Wuhan Flu

    There is now enough information available to begin to make useful judgments about both the short term and long term impact of the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak. In this extensive analysis, Arthur examines the health risks posed by the virus, its economic impact, and likely political fallout.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    How Sturdy Are The Zeitgeist's Five Pillars?

    The investment zeitgeist can be thought of as a set of assumptions that investors hold about structural growth drivers, key prices and policy approaches. An investment manager should understand what makes up the zeitgeist and how it is changing. Louis outlines five foundational pillars that he considers integral to the current situation.

    4
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Year Of Many Targets

    2020 is a big year for China’s central planners. Beijing has set a wide range of targets to be achieved by the year’s end, and the policies enacted to meet these objectives have had far-reaching effects. In this report, the Dragonomics team examines seven such targets, the policies implemented to reach them, and the consequences for China’s economy.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Mortgage Rate Reset

    China’s central bank is moving forward with its interest-rate reforms, ordering mortgages to be reset based on the new loan prime rate. Rosealea explains that this shift will make monetary policy more transparent and effective by re-linking mortgage rates to official policy rates, but it does not herald a cycle of major cuts in mortgage rates.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Is Brexit The Midwife To A New Investment Environment?

    With the confirmation of a conservative victory in the UK election, and a long awaited trade deal between the US and China, the pieces are falling into place for a weakening of the US dollar and a continuation of the global reflation trade. Already, both sterling and the euro have strengthened in response to the reports of a Tory victory.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Our 2019 Holiday Reading List

    “So many books,” lamented the late Frank Zappa, “so little time.” For readers wondering which of the 130mn books published since the invention of the printing press they should curl up with over the coming break, hopefully Gavekal’s annual holiday reading picks may help.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Crackdown On Developer Financing

    China’s financial regulators are squeezing funding for property developers in order to discourage land speculation and cool down property prices. In this piece, Rosealea argues the crackdown has been fairly successful, and does not pose a big risk to construction. Slightly easier demand-side policies will help offset tough supply-side restrictions.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Questions On The Changes Of The Past Two Months

    Recent weeks have seen a turn in the investment environment, with global equities outperforming those in the US, cyclicals outperforming growth stocks, a steepening US yield curve and a stall in the US dollar’s rally. Louis recently met with a lot of US clients and outlined his explanation for these shifts. He got some push-back and this report is the product of those deliberations.

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Financing Squeeze Spreads To Corporate Bonds

    The corporate bond market was once promoted as a better way to finance China’s private firms. Instead, as Xiaoxi explains in this piece, it has turned into another source of financial pressure. The corporate bonds of private firms are now maturing faster than they can issue new ones, creating a financing squeeze that could last through 2021.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Housing & Construction Review 2019

    China’s property market has held up surprisingly well in 2019, but will that strength last? In her annual chartbook, Rosealea examines key market trends and explains the outlook for 2020. Flexible policy can probably continue to avoid a deep decline in housing sales, but construction activity and materials demand are almost certain to slow.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Bills Come Due In Tianjin

    On paper, the northern port city of Tianjin was once the richest place in China. But now its financial center lies empty, its statistics have been exposed as falsified, and the local government and firms are close to running out of cash. In this report, Ernan explains why Tianjin’s long-running problems have finally burst into the open.

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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.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    This Old House

    China’s government has launched a new program to renovate older residential compounds, which some are touting as a massive new investment stimulus. As Rosealea explains in this piece, such hopes are misplaced. But the new spending will help cushion the impact of the cutbacks of the subsidies delivered through the slum redevelopment program.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Beijing's Conflicted Easing

    As prospects for a quick resolution of the US-China trade conflict fade, and the data continue to soften, expectations for Chinese growth are getting marked down. As if on cue, the government has sent signals of more decisive policy support for growth. While encouraging, this does not presage a shift in China's macro policy of "selective" easing.

    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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    Gavekal Research

    Hong Kong Q&A (Part II)

    The success of Hong Kong’s protesters in shutting down the city’s airport on Monday, talk from Beijing of “terrorism”, and the apparent massing of mainland paramilitary forces across the border from Hong Kong have led to a deluge of questions from clients about what is likely to happen next, and the potential investment implications. In this paper, Louis attempts answers some of the most frequent questions.

    7
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Read My Lips: No Housing Stimulus

    The world’s major economies are seemingly united on the need for a fresh round of stimulus—except for China. And hopes for a more aggressive approach were dashed by the latest Politburo meeting, which declared that China would not boost the housing market to revive growth. In this piece, Andrew explains what’s behind China’s policy stance.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    China’s Hong Kong Gambit

    Following more violent protests in Hong Kong, Beijing reiterated its support for the city’s embattled chief executive in a first-ever press briefing on Hong Kong’s affairs. While the conflict shows no signs of resolution, the example set by Paris shows that Hong Kong can be both a dependable financial center and a hotbed of political dissent.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Housing Policy Turns Cautious

    Housing policy in China has taken a cautious turn, with policymakers more concerned about potential overheating in prices than worried about a downturn in sales and construction. In this piece, Rosealea explains how this shift is playing out through cuts in housing subsidies and changes to local policies, and evaluates the risks to the market.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Change In The Market Mood

    Thursday was an ugly day for global equity markets, with losses that brought total returns on US equities almost back to their January 2018 level, and non-US equities to the brink of bear market territory. It is hard to shake the feeling that the investment environment has changed. What lessons should we draw from the tumultuous trading session?

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    The Case Of The Missing Inflation: The Changing Demographic Picture

    Demography, it is said, is destiny. If so, then the finger of destiny may be pointing at a more inflationary future for the world economy. Louis reviews the slow shifts in demographic profile which govern trends in consumption and savings, and so propel the forces of inflation and deflation over the very long term.

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    Beijing's Most Effective Trade Tool

    In response to the escalation of the US-China trade war, Chinese policymakers are likely to step up their easing measures. This should help support domestic demand. But as Chen Long argues in this piece, the effect of policy easing, coupled with the impact of increased tariffs on China’s exports, will add to downward pressure on the renminbi.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Series: The Case Of The Missing Inflation

    As the Federal Reserve launched the second round of its quantitative easing, the fear was that the Fed’s unorthodox monetary policy would ignite a new round of inflation throughout the world, with dramatic effects on asset prices. After all, most asset prices are driven by the interaction of inflation and economic activity. But inflation failed to materialize, and even fell from more than 3% globally in 2010 to negative territory in 2015. These...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Q&A On The Hong Kong Dollar Peg

    The recent publication of a letter on the future of the Hong Kong dollar peg by Gavekal’s good friend Kyle Bass has triggered a flood of questions on the topic from clients. Now, Louis admits that there may be some home bias to this conviction that the Hong Kong dollar peg is not under threat. But in this paper, he sets out his answers.

    3
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Property Cycle Perks Up

    China’s property market data has been surprising on the upside. Thanks to easier credit and looser administrative restrictions, sales volumes picked up in March and prices rose. In this paper, Rosealea examines whether the upturn can last, and assesses what it means for land sales, construction activity, materials prices and the broader economy.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Sunset Of Housing Subsidies

    China’s local governments are cutting back their slum redevelopment plans, which points to lower government subsidies for housing in 2019. As a result, Rosealea argues, housing sales are likely to have a deeper decline this year, although Beijing will manage the phase-out of subsidies with a careful eye on how it affects the market.

    7
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    It’s Not 2015 All Over Again

    The profits of China’s industrial sector are turning down—but as Thomas argues in this piece, a repeat of the traumatic downturn of 2014-15 is not in the cards for 2019. Heavy industry will hold up better this time around, but consumer-facing sectors will do worse. This downcycle will be more broad-based, but less severe, than the last one.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Long Plateau In Housing Demand

    While many forecasters had expected China’s steel demand to enter long-term decline as housing construction peaks, in fact it has stayed surprisingly strong. In this piece, Rosealea revisits her housing model, and finds it is consistent with recent trends. Construction should peak in 2020-22, so steel demand can stay elevated for a few more years.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    It's Not All Bad News In Property

    China’s property market keeps delivering bad news: declines in housing sales, land sales and prices have deepened in recent months. But Rosealea sees some positive signs in easing local government policies, lower bank funding costs, and strong momentum in construction. In this piece, she explains why she is not joining the property-market bears.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    China And The US Still Hold The Keys To Markets' Fate

    In 2018 liquidity tightening in the US and China combined with trade war fears to make a miserable year for markets. In 2019 the same forces will be at work but the outcomes may differ. The key questions are: can the US and China work out a trade deal? How bad is the Chinese slowdown and how will Beijing respond? And how much will the Fed tighten?

    4
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Housing & Construction Review 2018

    China’s property market has had a record-breaking run, but where is it headed next? In this concise chartbook, Rosealea delivers her annual overview of the key drivers of housing sales and construction activity and explains the outlook for 2019. An overdue correction in sales is coming, but construction should hold up relatively well.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Policy Constraint From Property

    The hot property market is one of the major constraints on Chinese policymakers’ freedom to stimulate: surging prices and construction do not need more juice. In this piece, Rosealea explains why more decisive stimulus is very unlikely before the property market weakens significantly, and even then will not be as large as in previous cycles.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Hidden Leverage In Hong Kong

    Last month, for the first time in 12 years, Hong Kong banks raised their prime lending rates. This increase, coming at a time when the Hong Kong government has pledged to boost housing supply, has prompted fears that rising mortgage rates and falling home prices could expose a dangerous accumulation of hidden leverage in the local property market.

    1
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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

    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 Dragonomics

    The Property Slowdown That Wasn't

    While China’s government is talking tough about containing its frothy property market, the market does not appear to be listening. Housing sales are still growing, price rises are accelerating and construction activity is robust. In this piece, Rosealea explains why property has outperformed, and updates her outlook for the rest of 2018.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Choosing The Trajectory For Household Debt

    Regulators and investors are getting more concerned about China’s household debt after its sharp rise in recent years. In this piece, Chen Long breaks down the rise in leverage and explores the policy options. It would be plausible and prudent for China to now slow the buildup of household debt—but this may not mesh with the easing of policy.

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Housing Inventories Hit Bottom

    The long decline in China’s housing inventories—the key factor driving the recovery in construction—now seems to have ended. After falling in 2015, 2016 and 2017, housing inventories are now on pace to end 2018 slightly higher. In this piece, Rosealea explains why this change will not spell the end of the construction cycle just yet.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Biggest Winners In Real Estate

    China’s real-estate developers are getting hammered in stock and credit markets. But the largest of these firms are well-placed to ride out current strains, and are the main beneficiaries of accelerating consolidation and government policy. As the Chinese property market matures, the winners are likely to be a small group of the largest companies.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    A Rethinking Of Housing Subsidies

    China's government, worried about continued rapid growth in housing prices, is now reconsidering a major program for subsidizing housing sales. As Rosealea explains, this policy change shows the government is still more focused on curbing frothy housing prices than on boosting growth, and will weigh on housing sales in the rest of 2018.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Property Tightening Is Back

    Chinese government policy for the property market is turning tighter, a shift that will weigh on housing sales and construction activity in the rest of 2018. But Rosealea cautions against overreacting, arguing that the downcycle in property is still likely to be a shallow one, and that policy will loosen again once market conditions weaken.

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Trade Wars: A China Expert Roundtable

    Last week’s sharp equity market sell-off followed the US effectively threatening China with a trade war. In this report, Arthur, Long and Andrew address China’s capacity to strike back and explore what it means for the relationship between the world’s two biggest economies.

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Cold Weather, Hot Data

    China’s first data release of 2018 delivered a couple of surprises, with a big jump in industrial value-added and a pickup in real-estate investment. But neither amounts to a convincing signal that the economy is actually re-accelerating. The most likely outcome is still a moderate growth slowdown driven by a shallow downcycle in property.

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Property Tax Is Back

    A property tax is back on the Chinese government’s agenda: after being postponed in 2017, the long-discussed tax was brought up again at this week’s legislative session. The draft law could come in 2018, with actual taxes being levied by late 2019 at the earliest. But Rosealea expects this to be largely a non-event for the property market.

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