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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ Q2 2013 - Vietnam

    “Follow America and save the country; follow China and save the Party.” This saying, ubiquitous in Vietnam, distills the geopolitical dilemma facing its ruling Communist Party. Forty years after the last American troops left Vietnam, the Party thatwon independence and unified the nation has lost much of its legitimacy. No amount of harking back to the virtues of Ho Chi Minh and his comrades canrestore its élan nor, it seems, root out systemic...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ Q2 2013 - Trade Relations

    Do Aseanand China enjoy a special economic relationship? Many policy makers in Southeast Asia, pointing to the tidal waves of trade roaring across the SouthChina Sea, believe the answer is self-evident. Trade with Asean has surged morethan 10-fold since China’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in2001, reaching US$401 bn in 2012. China is Asean’s largest trading partner—ahuge export market, especially for commodities and processing...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ Q2 2013 - Regional Geopolitics

    Deng Xiaoping used to say that the foreign policy breakthrough he was most proud ofwas not the full normalization of China’s relations with the United States.Neither was it the dramatic improvement of his country’s relations with Japan.It was, he told his advisers, the revolution in how China was seen by countriesin Southeast Asia. In the 1980s, Deng’s shrewd diplomacy helped China transformitself from a deadly enemy of its southern neighbors to...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ Q2 2013 - Capital Markets

    It’s all change atthe securities regulator. After less than a year and a half in the job, GuoShuqing is off to Shandong to become deputy Party chief. Stepping into thevacant seat is the ex-chairman of the Bank of China, Xiao Gang. Why Guo hasmoved on is far from clear. Did his reformist agenda upset too many people—orwas he frustrated by the obstacles in his way? We simply do not know. Whetherhis successor will pursue similar policies is also...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ Q2 2013 - Property

    Something strange is going on in China’s property market. Sales have soared in big citiessince the final quarter of 2012, but construction growth remains anemic (see “Economicsurvey” on p3). The weak numbers suggest that we can no longer rely on sales todrive construction starts, and also point to a structural shift towards slowingdemand. This leaves one central question: if demand remains healthy in China’s70 largest cities, as the official...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ Q2 2013 - Retail

    China’s consumerdata in the first quarter were poor. Year-on-year real urban consumption growthdropped to a measly 4.7%, down from 6.2% in the last quarter of 2012, depressedby slowing real disposable income growth. A number of retail sectors and goods,notably expensive restaurants and luxury watches, were hit particularly hard.One obvious explanation for the spending squeeze was, simply, slower economicgrowth. But the government’s much-...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ Q2 2013 - Metals Man: Slower Burning

    In November 2011, the price of standard-grade coal delivered to ports in Bohai Bay—the key benchmark price for coal in China—peaked at a record Rmb853 per ton. Yet within six months it had plunged below Rmb650, where it remains today. For years, China’s coal prices rode high on strong demand from power stations, steel mills and cement plants, which the country’s coal mines were unable to satisfy. The collapse in coal prices reflected two things...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ Q2 2013 - Economic Survey

    The first few months of 2013 delivered two important pieces of news about China’seconomy: the recovery is weak, and the new leadership is committed tostructural reform. GDP growth cooled to 7.7% year on year in the first quarter,a disappointment after the rebound to 7.9% in the last quarter of 2012. Whilethe worse-than-expected GDP figure may have been affected by some one-off issues,it is nonetheless clear that the recovery in housing sales did...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    DragonWeek - A Respite For Japan

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    China: How Close To Credit Meltdown?

    One of the worries most frequently expressed by clients these days is whether China is in the midst of a credit bubble that could lead either to financial crisis or a dramatic slowdown in growth. Fitch Ratings’ excellent China financial sector analyst has sounded a warning that credit growth is dangerously unsustainable, and the IMF yesterday concluded its annual review of the Chinese economy with a warning that credit pressures are rising and...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Chartbook: Upgrading China's Export Machine

    China’s new premier says he wants to “upgrade” the nation’s economy. To do so successfully, he will have to ensure China’s exporters can keep on making ever more higher-value and higher-technology goods. In this chartbook, Andrew assesses the challenges China faces in completing the next round of upgrades to its export machine.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    DragonWeek - Locating The Consumer Boom

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    Gavekal Research

    China's Waning Coal Era

    Today’s People’s Daily report that Beijing city will eliminate all large scale coal boilers within the city center by 2015 is another sign of the shifting winds in global commodity and asset markets. The move is certainly a self-interested one on the part of China’s new leaders, who breathe the same filthy air as the proletariat when they leave the carefully filtered confines of their private compound in Zhongnanhai.

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    Gavekal Research

    It's The Volatility That Matters

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    After Wealth Products' Rise, A Fall?

    It has been a challenge to keep up with the explosive growth of China’s wealth management products (WMPs; in Chinese, licai chanpin), the retail investment products that offer savers higher returns than traditional bank deposits. As more and more banks have jumped on the WMP bandwagon in order to attract and retain depositors, the total size of bank WMPs outstanding has grown to Rmb7.1 trn as of end-2012, from Rmb4.6 trn in 2011. Regulators have...

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    Gavekal Research

    Five Corners (22 May 2013)

    In the latest Five Corners biweekly review of global economics and investment:

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    Gavekal Research

    Hail The New Marginal Oil Producer

    Since mid-April oil has pointedly outperformed metals. While diggers have been beaten up on concerns about Chinese demand and potential large-scale supply responses, the drillers have been given something of a pass. We would argue this is a miscalculation since the oil sector faces similar structural challenges to the rest of the commodities complex. In particular, new supply responses will apply downward pressure on prices for years to come—a...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    DragonWeek - A Turn To The Supply Side

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Finding Investment's Future

    China’s investment growth is slowing, but that slowdown is not equally distributed. The huge investment surge of the past decade was primarily driven by a domestic housing boom, which in turn demanded big investment in industrial capacity to supply construction materials. But the volume of property construction will see at best very modest growth in coming years, as the growth in domestic housing supply is reaching a plateau (see Reaching The...

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    Gavekal Research

    Weaker For Longer

    China’s economic indicators for April confirmed that the weak recovery in Q1, and especially March, was not simply a blip. While growth in industrial value-added and other manufacturing indicators did tick up somewhat, the improvement was quite modest given the extremely low base set by the slowdown in April 2012. Credit continues to be very loose and housing sales are still doing very well, but these traditional leading indicators are taking...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    DragonWeek - Mixed Signals On Capital Flows

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    China Restructuring Monitor

    Everyone agrees that China needs to reform—but how will we know if they are really doing it? Andrew and Joyce have come up with a set of useful quantitative measures of whether or not structural change is actually happening in the Chinese economy. This concise presentation uses just 10 charts to show what market prices and economic data are telling us about China’s progress toward a new growth model.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    China's Self-Imposed Revolution

    Are China’s leaders efficient technocrats who can rule without the messy impediments of democracy, or hapless bureaucrats ensconced in a corrupt system they cannot change? Many foreign admirers prefer the former picture, but within China the corrupt-bureaucrats image is ever more widely held. Former Premier Wen Jiabao stoked popular cynicism by repeatedly making grand, sweeping statements about the urgency of economic and political reform, and...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    DragonWeek - Finding The Excess Infrastructure

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Reform Sails Against The Wind

    China’s ship of state now has a new captain and first mate. Their first mission is to rethink and restructure a government that has enormous influence over every aspect of the economy, and yet has great difficulty in meeting its promises to the public. So what kind of helmsmen will they prove to be?

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    Gavekal Research

    Commodities: This Is Structural

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Myanmar Dilemma

    Follow the old Burma Road from Mandalay through the rolling hills to China’s southwest border, and you will catch glimpses of narrow strips of freshly dug farmland, scattered with white marking posts. Underneath the deep-red earth lie twin pipelines, each a meter in diameter, that will carry oil and natural gas 1,000 km from Myanmar’s western coast to the Yunnan border town of Ruili, and then on to the provincial capital of Kunming.

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    Gavekal Research

    Implied Assumptions

    Financial markets operate on a number of implied assumptions about growth, policy direction and other factors. Experience tells us that these assumptions often turn out to be erroneous. The goal of this paper is simply to test the rationality of the current set of assumptions.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Chartbook: Learning To Spend

    In this presentation, recently delivered to clients at our seminars in Europe, Tom lays out our views on consumer spending in China. To summarize: consumption has already started to take over from investment as the main driver of China’s growth, though this is more because investment has slowed sharply than because consumption has accelerated. But the population of Chinese with discretionary spending power is now quite large, and urban incomes...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    DragonWeek - Where Is All The Credit Going?

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    China's Local Debt Fears Return

    The surprising re-acceleration of credit growth in China—total credit grew at a 22% pace in the first quarter, against just a 9.6% rise in nominal GDP—is drawing attention again to the role of local governments. Growth-obsessed local agencies have been turning in large numbers to the dodgy “shadow” finance markets to borrow money for new infrastructure projects. With this borrowing coming so soon after the 2009 splurge on debt-funded...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Powering Up Price Reform

    After a decade of largely incremental and grudging progress on energy and resource price reform, China’s new leaders are now saying all the right things. President Xi Jinping has made a high-profile call for a “Beautiful China,” reinforcing official concern over environmental damage and the waste of energy. And the government agenda announced at the annual legislative session had strong language on price reform, including calls to reform natural...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    How Many More Times

    China’s growth has disappointed, again. GDP rose just 7.7% YoY in Q1, slowing from the 7.9% in Q4; in sequential terms, the slowdown was even worse, to an annualized 6.6% QoQ from 8.2%. The weak growth figure caught most observers, including ourselves, off guard, as a cyclical recovery—albeit a modest one—looked clearly underway as of the end of 2012. And with this unexpected soft patch in growth coming so soon after the last soft patch in 2Q12...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    DragonWeek - The Bumpy Road To Rebalancing

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    Gavekal Research

    Ratings And Reform In China

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    China's Lending Landmark

    China’s state-dominated banking system has hit a turning point. Its state-owned banks have long done business by lending money primarily to companies owned by other bits of the state. This is no longer a fair characterization. Based on official figures, we estimate that outstanding loans to private-sector businesses surpassed those to state-owned enterprises for the first time in 2012. By the end of the year, we think 31% of total bank loans, or...

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    Fathom China

    Profile: Subsidies: Public Funds For Private Firms

    Everyone knows that the Chinese government subsidizes companies. We tend to think those subsidies go mainly to state-owned firms. In reality, though, lots of private companies feed at the public trough. Today’s investigation by our friends at Fathom China found that 45 out of 50 big Chinese private firms listed in Hong Kong or New York enjoyed subsidy support, usually from local governments and generally to support capital investment. A few...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Welcome To The Middle Class

    Does China have a middle class? For most practical purposes, the answer has long been simply no. The people earning what is a middle income in China did not make nearly enough to afford the material trappings of the stereotypical Western middle class—those who spend their days in an SUV ferrying the kids from soccer practice to the mall while worrying about the mortgage. But SUVs, malls and mortgages are all a familiar part of Chinese urban life...

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    Gavekal Research

    Asia's Underperformance

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    DragonWeek - What Goes Around, Comes Around

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Two Messages From China's Two Meetings

    In seminars held over the past week in Asia, Andrew discussed two main messages conveyed at recent political gatherings in China, including this month’s National People’s Congress, where the reins of power were handed to next-generation leaders. China’s new leaders have endorsed plans to achieve two top objectives necessary for economic rebalancing: maintaining growth in household income and consumption, and improving the productivity of capital.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    DragonWeek - Cutting Red Tape

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    Gavekal Research

    A Brief Overview Of Global Equities

    As we never tire of pointing out, equity bull markets rest on three pillars: attractive valuations, decent economic growth, and excess liquidity (to push valuations higher). Looking at global markets on the basis of these three pillars, we find that:

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    Gavekal Research

    The Investment Implications Of A Greying China

    There is a good reason why demographic shifts usually unfold at a glacial pace. In the absence of pandemics, war or famine, changes in fertility or mortality levels are a slow moving affair. The outlier is China which, in the 1970s, embarked on the biggest demographic experiment of all time: the one-child policy. Fast forward a couple of generations and, as the 2010 census showed, China’s population growth has lately been slowing far more...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    China's Welfare State: Mission Accomplished?

    China has received no shortage of well-meaning advice from economists in recent years, and on one point there has been surprising unanimity. Since at least 2005, the International Monetary Fund and similar bodies have been urging China to create a social safety net that will ease households’ worries about providing for the future, and thereby get them to save less. The resulting boost to consumption should in theory help the economy move away...

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    DragonWeek - New Team, Same Problems

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    Gavekal Research

    US Wage Growth Is Back!

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    Gavekal Research

    Crazy, But Not That Crazy

    Every so often we get worried calls from readers who have just seen a press report on “ghost cities” and wonder whether we have changed our minds and now agree that the Chinese property bubble is about to burst. The latest spate of calls followed a very scary piece by the US television program 60 Minutes featuring footage of miles upon miles of empty apartment blocks and shopping malls in Zhengzhou, Tianjin and Ordos.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Walking The Tightrope

    Is China’s growth too weak or too strong? Commentary on the confusing economic data for the first two months of 2013 has been understandably divided. Deciphering the signals is not helped by the usual distortions in the data from the Chinese New Year holiday. On the minus side, the key indicator of industrial value-added slowed unexpectedly, and retail sales were disappointing, an apparent casualty of Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign. On...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    DragonWeek - Faster Or Better Urbanization?

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