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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    DragonWeek - Yet MOR debt

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    Gavekal Research

    Why Dim Sum Bonds Is The Place To Be

    The three year dim-sum bond issued by Ford Motor Company is currently yielding around 3.7%. Compare this to Ford’s US dollar bond—with a 1.9% yield—and it is hard to avoid the conclusion that renminbi bonds are basically discounting approximately 180 basis points of Chinese currency depreciation a year for the next three years. But is this likely? After all:

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    Gavekal Research

    European Seminar Presentations - With Anatole, Charles, Francois And Andrew

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    China Macro Chartbook Nov 2012 - Finding The Bottom

    The worst of the economic slowdown is over, as most growth indicators have steadied.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    DragonWeek - Banks Versus Bonds

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    Gavekal Research

    Asia's Equity Dispersion Stretched

    Sun drenched southern economies do not always do worse than their more regimented northern neighbors. Just look at Asia where the heavily-industrialized, and more export-orientated north has struggled since early 2011, while the ASEAN markets have had their best streak since the late 1990s Asian crisis. A dollar invested in the ASEAN markets in early 2011 would have generated 29 percentage points more return than one invested up north. But with...

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    Gavekal Research

    Politics And The HKD Peg

    Currency regimes are ultimately political constructs, and that is especially true of Hong Kong’s linked exchange rate system. The HKD link to the greenback was adopted in 1983 to stem a financial panic after Britain and China began discussions over the future of the then crown colony. In the intervening period the system has weathered a change of sovereignty, speculative attacks, and after the late 1990s Asian crisis a 70% fall in property...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Chartbook: The Future Of China's Investment

    In this presentation, delivered to clients at our seminar in London last week, Andrew summarizes our core arguments on the changing role of investment in China’s economy. We think the government’s modest stimulus efforts this year are not the result of political infighting, but instead a considered decision. China is increasingly aware of the structural constraints on its ability to stimulate growth, limits that mean investment growth will be...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    DragonWeek - Profits Firm, Wages Steady

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Just One Word: Metals

    Every once in a while, there’s a really easy answer to a question about China. Even more rarely, there’s an easy answer to two questions about China. It’s almost unheard of for two questions to have one and the same easy answer. But today is a lucky day, and we are happy to present a single word that solves two puzzles that have bedeviled investors all year.

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    Gavekal Research

    Will China Spur An Asian Rally?

    Overseas appetite for Chinese assets has been firing up Hong Kong this month. Capital inflows have forced the de facto central bank to twice intervene in order to alleviate appreciation pressure on the Hong Kong dollar. This hot money surge looks to be the result of investors betting on a stabilisation in the China growth outlook and improved domestic liquidity conditions—Chinese H-shares, quoted in Hong Kong are almost 8% higher on the month...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Deleveraging Deferred

    Growth may be stabilizing, but does a debt crisis loom? Despite an extended slowdown, China’s government has resisted calls to stimulate the economy through aggressive monetary easing. A big reason is concern about the quantity of debt built up during the 2009 stimulus. Last year we argued that China’s gross debt is not absurdly high—but the 41pp increase in the debt/GDP ratio 2009-10 was worrisome. A period of deleveraging was clearly called...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    DragonWeek - Slower And Steadier All Around

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    Gavekal Research

    Mexico Rebounds-But Has It Overshot?

    Everyone loves a comeback story. These days we are getting one from Mexico. After China’s WTO entry in 2001, Mexico’s geographic advantage was no match against the sheer quantity and variety of goods that China’s low-cost industrial leviathan could send sailing across the Pacific, often carried on a massive fleet of state-owned ships. But in the past couple of years, Mexico has started to regain market share in US imports—and apparently at China...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Storm Is Passing Over

    Earlier this week Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao previewed the Q3 economic data, telling his audience that “currently there are some positive changes in the economy, and growth is stabilizing.” Lo and behold, the data published by the National Bureau of Statistics on Thursday showed exactly that: while headline GDP growth continued to slow in Q3, many indicators for September steadied or improved slightly. There are not yet convincing signs that a...

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    Gavekal Research

    RMB: More Volatility, Less Direction

    Whither the renminbi? Movements in China’s currency have become more difficult to understand lately. For much of the first half of this year the unit depreciated, reversing a trend established in 2005 of annual 5% appreciation against the US dollar. But in the last couple of months it has trended up sharply, reaching a 19-year high of 6.25 against the dollar.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    From Cheesecake To Broccoli: China's New Diet

    This year the conversation about the Chinese economy’s sharp slowdown has degenerated into an increasingly irrelevant debate. Bears alternately claim that China is collapsing, or that it is only supported by government stimulus that will lead to a bigger collapse later. Beleaguered bulls promise that recovery is just around the corner, when a renewed government stimulus will finally take effect. Both the bears and bulls are wrong, because they...

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    Gavekal Research

    China And India's Outperformance

    One of our fears in the days that followed the QE3 announcement (see The Markets Since QE3) was that a lot of ‘weak hands’ would get ‘sucked in’ to purchasing risk assets; i.e. fairly uncommitted investors who nonetheless felt that, because of the Fed’s unorthodox actions, the risk of sitting on the sidelines was simply too great. Our concern was that if markets failed to sustain upside momentum, such investors would likely be the first to rush...

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    Gavekal Research

    China Is Changing Fast

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    DragonWeek - Consumers And The Cycle

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Rise Of The Middling

    The gap between a thriving coast and a backward interior has been a fixture of China’s geography for decades, and led to many doubts about whether the country is capable of sustaining a broad-based consumer economy. While the nation’s average income has been rising steadily, that average was nearly a mathematical fiction—an imaginary midpoint between the high wages earned in the coastal provinces with thriving export sectors and the low wages...

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    Gavekal Research

    What China Needs Is Inflation

    China has famously managed to keep a remarkably tight lid on inflation during two decades of furious economic growth. But these days policymakers probably see inflation as more of a friend than a foe. Producer prices have dropped hard for many goods, especially in heavy industry, and until this process is halted corporate margins will continue to crumple.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Retail: No More Cherry-Topped Dung

    The shiny, Singapore-invested CapitaMall Xizhimen in Beijing, locally known as the “Three Humps” for the distinctive shape of its roof, seems an unlikely place to indulge a taste for coprophagia. But every day hundreds of young consumers flock to the mall’s Modern Toilet Restaurant to scoff dishes served in carefully crafted, feces-shaped lumps. Customers who order an ice cream sundae can enjoy the novel experience of tucking into a chilled turd...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Postcards From The Edge Of Sichuan

    We recently spent a few days meeting local residents and officials in a fairly poor rural county in the south of Sichuan province. The place we will call County X has a total population of around half a million people, most of whom are officially designated as farmers, though an increasing number are clustering in the bustling county seat. Our key observations from this time at China’s grassroots include the following:

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    Gavekal Research

    Europe And The Chinese Consumer

    It would be easy to conclude that the good times are over for European consumer-good retailers in Asia. Investors recently felt a chill autumnal breeze after Burberry, the British retailer of spiffy trench coats and scarves, issued a profit warning based on lower Chinese “gift giving”. Concerns are centred on a slowdown after a brief period when Chinese shoppers seemed to rule the world. These fears are overdone since European retailers are...

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    Gavekal Research

    Our Currency And Your Problem

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Playing To The Whistle

    Does China play by the rules? This question has hovered over the country ever since it joined the World Trade Organization in late 2001, a move that symbolized its commitment to following shared rules of the game for the world economy. And in the first few years after its WTO entry, China enjoyed a honeymoon. Only one case was filed at the WTO challenging a Chinese regulation, and it was resolved quickly. But as China’s role in the world economy...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    DragonWeek - The Best Laid Plans

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    Gavekal Research

    A Spoke In The China Consumption Wheel

    China’s export-oriented network of large modern ports and shiny new highways is quite different from the country’s fragmented, territorial and inefficient internal distribution system. This dichotomy in part reflects the stark contrast between China’s openness on trade versus its deeply entrenched protectionism in domestic markets. Yet efficiency gains in domestic services are crucial if China is to achieve the broad productivity enhancements...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Natural Gas: Dreams Of Plenty

    Our natural gas sector report—organized into three sections examining the industry’s structure, value chain, and policy environment—aims to educate investors both on the large opportunities and equally large uncertainties presented by China’s push to use more of this clean-burning fuel. The main conclusions include:

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    Gavekal Research

    China Rides The Nationalist Tiger

    Will a tiny group of islands really drag the world’s second- and third-largest economies into conflict? The unresolved dispute between China and Japan over a cluster of islands, known as the Diaoyu to the Chinese and Senkaku in Japan, has long been a pretext for both governments to rally nationalist sentiment. The long-running quarrel generally involves a lot of angry rhetoric and the occasional symbolic gesture but not much else. But with China...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    DragonWeek - Promises, Promises

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    Gavekal Research

    Asian Equities: Export Victims & National Champions

    In recent years a winning investment strategy in developed markets has been to own global “export champions” over domestically-focused firms that we have labelled “national victims” (see Europe’s Three-Tier Equity Market). The export champs prosper principally because they have transposed their profitable business models to fast growing emerging markets. The victims, by contrast, generally toil in regulated industries, suffer from residing in...

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    Gavekal Research

    Mongolia: A Run For The Exits?

    Is Mongolia at risk of missing the resource bonanza? At one level the question is absurd for a country with the world’s largest single copper deposit and huge reserves of coking coal. Consider the fact that Mongolia’s world class projects are located close to the border of commodity-hungry China and it truly appears to be a lucky economy. However, Mongolia needs foreign capital and know-how to extract this bounty. The problem is that a newly...

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    Gavekal Research

    China Is Changing: Get Used To It

    The latest round of Chinese economic news prompted predictable reactions. Pessimists gloated that the slowdown in industrial production and investment continues. Optimists jumped on the publication of a mass of infrastructure project approvals by the state planning agency as proof that a stimulus-led recovery is imminent. Pessimists retorted that the new stimulus simply shows China hasn’t kicked its fatal addiction to capital intensive growth.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Welcome To The Chinese Business Cycle

    Over the last few years, China has not had business cycles: it has had policy cycles. Economic ups and downs were driven almost entirely by high-level policy, and understanding which way the government wanted the economy to go was, more or less, all you needed to know. Most observers, including ourselves, thus expected the government’s switch to pro-growth policies in October 2011 to have steadied the economy by now. This has not happened,...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    DragonWeek - Hope Springs Eternal

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    Gavekal Research

    Robots Ignore The Business Cycle

    In a world of stagnant demand and excess production capacity it is nice to find a contrarian tale. But at a time when many industrial economies face downward pressure on wages it is perhaps ironic that the production of labor-saving devices is a major bright spot. Robot sales for 2011 leapt 38% by volume terms and 46% by value according to the latest data from the industry’s main trade association. Moreover, a big chunk of the increase came from...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The New Balance Of Risks

    While the struggle between the competing economic visions of John Maynard Keynes and Friedrich Hayek rages on in the West, the eastern front of this battle has long been quiet. In China, the victory of Keynesian ideas has been near-complete: it is hard to think of another government that has so feared the costs of unemployment and economic slack, and worked so assiduously to support continued growth in aggregate demand. The consequences have...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ Q3 2012 - Books: Consumer clichés

    There are two types of China book written by Westerners for Western consumption. The better type describes Chinese people as individuals, and does not seek to draw crude generalizations about more than a billion people. The other type portrays Chinese people as an undifferentiated mass, but then presumes to explain how these people think and feel. A classic device is to shoehorn everyone in this large and complex land into a single, neat...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ Q3 2012 - Dairy industry: What life for milk after melamine?

    What is China’s least successful industry? That ignominious prize goes to the dairy sector, after a stunning reversal of fortune. Just five years ago, China’s dairy farmers and milk processors looked set to turn a nation with no tradition of consuming dairy products into one of milk slurpers and yogurt guzzlers. Between 2000 and 2007, Chinese milk production quadrupled and consumption doubled. China appeared to be following the lead of other...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ Q3 2012 - Film industry: Mandarins and moguls

    When China’s leader-in-waiting, Vice President Xi Jinping, paid a Valentine’s Day visit to Los Angeles, he romanced Hollywood with two watershed promises: a deal allowing American studio films greater access to China’s booming movie market, and approval of a joint-venture studio between DreamWorks Animation and three Chinese media companies. Xi, a self-professed Hollywood fan, agreed to allow 14 US-made 3D and large-format films into China on...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ Q3 2012 - Leadership transition: The chance for change

    This fall, a meeting of the elite of the Chinese Communist Party will briefly allow the outside world a glimpse of its inner workings, as it names the small group of people who will run China for the next several years. At the Party Congress a combination of term and age limits will force the retirement of most of the current leadership, including President and Party General Secretary Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao. Party Congresses often mark...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ Q3 2012 - Agricultural investments: Rice diplomacy

    “Land grabbing” has become something of a buzzword in recent years. Powerful, land-scarce countries such as China are accused of buying up farmland in poor countries, and shipping the agricultural produce back home to feed their own populations. As much of the land grabbing reportedly occurs in famine-hit regions of Africa, the practice has understandably attracted widespread condemnation. In 2011, Germany’s Africa policy chief Günter Nooke...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ Q3 2012 - Manufacturing in Nigeria: Lagos—the new Shenzhen?

    Analysts and policy wonks obsess over the implications for global commodity markets of a rapidly developing China, and what this means for resource-rich African countries. Yet the most important economic trend in China’s relationship with petroleum giant Nigeria has nothing to do with oil. Far more noteworthy is the growing number of Chinese manufacturing firms that have opened factories in Africa’s second-largest economy, which boasts a...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ Q3 2012 - Infrastructure in Angola: Winners and losers

    Its brightly painted tower blocks can be seen from miles away, a sweep of color amid dusty scrubland. Spanning 5,000 hectares with some 750 individual apartment buildings, more than a dozen schools and over 150 retail units, the New City of Kilamba is the largest new residential development in Angola. When completed, this suburb on the outskirts of Luanda is designed to house up to half a million people. The scale is beyond anything locals have...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ Q3 2012 - China in Africa: Investors, not infesters

    China’s growing engagement in Africa remains a hot topic among diplomats, investors and aid agencies. Around the time of the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China Africa Cooperation (Focac) in November 2006, a stylized picture of Chinese engagement emerged. China was widely portrayed as a newcomer in Africa, desperate to gain access to African natural resources. China’s aid program was believed to be enormous, and largely devoted to propping up...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ Q3 2012 - China-Africa relations: Complex, not malign

    China’s relations with African countries have been front-page news for nigh on a decade. Many reports focus on China’s quest for African natural resources and the implications this has for energy security in the West. Critical reports accuse Chinese policy banks of offering no-strings-attached loans that stymie the efforts of the international community to keep unpalatable African regimes in check. They fault China’s “neo-colonial” state-owned...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ Q3 2012 - Capital Markets

    For the past few issues, we have praised the bold attempts by Guo Shuqing, the chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), to revive China’s ailing stock markets. Guo, who took over as chief securities regulator last autumn, has worked tirelessly to make the exchanges in Shanghai and Shenzhen more open and robust. But the market stubbornly refuses to reward him: the CSI 300 Index, which tracks the top 300 companies across both...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ Q3 2012 - Property: Encircling the cities from the countryside

    Drive around the edge of any large Chinese city and you will see block after block of urban-style flats. Many of these are built on state-owned urban construction land and are recorded in urban construction data. But an unknown number are built on rural construction land—officially owned by village collectives, not the state—and are not counted as part of the urban housing market. Many of these flats are occupied by rural hukou holders who have...

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