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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    China Property: Steady As She Goes

    China’s property sector is clearly on the mend, but the recovery is slow and steady rather than meteoric. Policy makers probably welcome the modest rebound in transactions and prices, which should lead an uptick in broader economic growth later this year. But they remain vigilant about containing sharp rises in house prices, which could spark social discontent. So Beijing’s property policy will almost certainly stay on its present course, with...

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    China Macro Chartbook Aug 2012 - The Art Of Easing

    Our quarterly chartbook reviews and interprets China’s major economic indicators in convenient graphical form. Main points in the latest edition include:

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Electricity Conundrum, Revisited

    Growth in China’s industrial economy has clearly slowed this year—but growth in electricity production is not just slowing, it is flat-lining. In June, output of electricity grew by precisely 0% YoY, after meager gains of 2.7% in May and 0.7% in April. Over the same period, industrial value-added has been growing by around 9% YoY. This apparent disconnect has prompted incredulity and doubt among many observers of the Chinese economy: is it...

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    Gavekal Research

    Mongolia Takes The Slow Train

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    Gavekal Research

    Mongolia Takes The Slow Train

    Mongolia’s transition from Soviet vassal state to fledgling democracy has the potential to open up its vast mineral resources and shift global commodity markets. But it is not easy to realize that potential, because of Mongolia’s tricky geopolitical position. Mongolia’s government is keen to avoid dependence on either Russia or China.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    DragonWeek - Houses and Jobs

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    Fathom China

    Profile: Sany Heavy Industry: Coping With Collapse

    Good luck taking a snapshot anywhere in China without framing a bulldozer, excavator or crane. China’s 20-year construction orgy has meant boom times for makers of construction equipment, who have grown accustomed to 20% annual growth. Leading the way is Sany Heavy Industry, a spunky private company that has made dollar billionaires of its four entrepreneurial founders by producing many kinds of big outdoor construction machinery. But with...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    China's Unconventional Gas: Frack Or Famine?

    “Unconventional gas”—natural gas extracted from coal seams or relatively impermeable shale or tight rock formations—has already become a buzzword for the new decade. And with good reason: cheap shale gas in the US and coal seam gas in Australia are pushing down electricity costs and pushing up the supply of gas available for exports, portending big changes in the US economy and global gas markets.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    The Horribly Crowded Chinese Trade

    China’s economy is clearly slowing both structurally (as the potential growth rate falls from 11% to 7%) and cyclically (we estimate sequential GDP growth is now a bit over 6%, thanks to weak investment spending). The question for equity investors is what impact does this downshift have for the overall market?

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    Gavekal Research

    Unlocking Mongolia's Treasure Chest

    Commodity prices boom when supply cannot respond fast enough to rapidly escalating demand. Those booms are destroyed when enough new capacity emerges to restore market balance. The past decade’s boom in prices of metals and minerals has been driven by China’s apparently insatiable demand, and has yet to be dented by a sufficiently large response on the supply side. Mongolia could change all that: its plans for developing world-scale, low-cost...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    DragonWeek - Better Things Are On The Way

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    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Arresting China's Slowdown

    Months of subpar growth readings from China have now been capped with an unsurprisingly weak figure for 2Q12 GDP, which was up just 7.6% YoY. It was the third time in the past three years that quarterly GDP growth has fallen below the magic figure of 8%. This is yet another piece of evidence, if any more were needed, that China’s potential growth rate has come down from its historic 10%. But with inflation declining rapidly and other signs of...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The High Cost Of Children

    While loosening the one-child policy is certainly desirable in terms of simple fairness, it might not have as big an impact on China’s demographics as some assume. This is because family planning policies are no longer the main driver of the low birth rate. Economic concerns are much more prominent, as many Chinese women will tell you.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    From Skinflints To Splurgers

    On summer evenings, once every other week, central Beijing grinds to a halt. Around the Workers’ Stadium—erected in 1959 to mark the 10th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic—the gray capital turns green, as thousands of Beijing Guo’an soccer fans throng the streets. More than 40,000 emerald-shirted supporters regularly watch Guo’an, the Chinese Super League’s best-supported team. In most respects, the scene is unremarkable: any...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Fixing China's Monetary System

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    Gavekal Research

    Not All Central Banks Are Created Equal

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    No Rush To Rebalancing

    The current slowdown in China’s growth, for all the hand-wringing it has occasioned, is hardly unanticipated. What else could follow the extraordinary stimulus-driven boom of 2009-10? But the dip is more than a simple cyclical downturn: it is the start of a transition to slower trend growth rates that China will undergo over the next decade. Since the high GDP growth of the past 20 years has come disproportionately from rapid investment growth,...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Life Returns To China's Property Sector

    China’s recent economic numbers have been broadly disappointing—with the notable and very important exception of property. In May listed developers reported month-on-month sales increases ranging from 19% to 44%; even year-on-year figures rose as high as 20% to 30%. The momentum has continued in June, with many developers now having achieved 50% of their respective sales targets by mid-year. Weekly sales volume in the top 40 cities rebounded...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    DragonWeek - Freeing Up Financial Flows

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    China Housing & Construction Review 2012

    Confused by China’s housing market? You are not alone. But fear not, our regular overview of housing and construction covers the fundamentals needed to understand the market in a convenient visual form. How much does real estate matter for China’s economic growth? Does urbanization really drive the housing market? Who buys housing in China, and how can they afford it? What drives the construction cycle? How does government policy affect the...

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    Gavekal Research

    Arthur Presents At Our June 26, 2012 NY Seminar

    At our recent seminar in New York, Arthur discussed why anecdotal evidence of China's economic strife does not necessarily reflect the bigger picture. Those interested can see his presentation attached.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Chance For Change

    Sometime 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 this country for the next several years. At the Party Congress a combination of term limits 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. The...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Go East Young Bond Buyer

    In the past, when markets were in risk aversion-mode, Asian assets suffered, often in magnified terms. The chart on the following page underlines how even Asian investment-grade bonds become assets-non-grata in times of financial panic. Yet in the past few weeks, equities are holding up, and regional bonds have seen some support—despite the fact that risk-off mode remains firmly in place with the EMU mess still unresolved, China numbers still...

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    Gavekal Research

    China Loosens QFII Rules

    When Thomas Jefferson remarked that “the natural progression of things is for liberty to yield and governments to gain ground,” he probably did not have China in mind—even if the Middle Kingdom had spent the previous centuries concentrating ever more power into the hands of one emperor, and would spend the next two doing the same. But once all the power is concentrated into one man’s hands, then Thomas Jefferson’s rule no longer applies and the...

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Finally, A Piece Of The Pie

    It has long been conventional wisdom that China’s millions of private enterprises face great difficulty in getting financing, as the state-owned banks prefer to lend their friends in large state firms. What lending private entrepreneurs can get is from shady sources at punishingly high interest rates, and can be withdrawn at the first sign of trouble. Yet this caricature has not kept up with the rapidly changing reality. The truth is that the...

    8
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    DragonWeek - Power Prices And Bank Margins

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    0
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    Gavekal Research

    "Yambo" Takes A Shot At the HK$ Peg

    In a paper this week that laid out alternatives to the Hong Kong dollar peg, ex-central bank head Joseph Yam characterized the city’s leaders as lacking the courage and foresight to upset the status quo. Few would argue with this assessment. Yet to be fair, sticking to what has worked in the past also shows a degree of modesty which is rare in government. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) is one of the few Asian central banks that has not...

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Not As Bad As We Thought

    May’s economic data was better than we expected, particularly as PBC’s pre-emptive interest rate cut last Thursday appeared to signal increased official concern about the pace of growth (see China Rate Cut Signals Reform). Growth in all the major activity indicators, including industrial value added, fixed asset investment and retail sales, picked up slightly in May compared with April, while exports and imports accelerated more. Meanwhile,...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    China Rate Cut Signals Reform

    Comment on China’s 25bp interest rate cut has mostly focused on the impact on short-term growth prospects. This misses the point. The true significance of yesterday’s announcement lay in the loosening of restrictions on both lending and deposit rates. Interest rate liberalization—a crucial part of the effort to make growth sustainable and balanced—is clearly under way, although progress will be slow and incremental.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Conventional Wisdom vs The March Of Events

    Over the past few months, we have had one of our young, intrepid analysts, Gavin Bowring, run around Asia and report from places investors do not always hear about. Gavin has penned missives from Inside a North Korean “SEZ”, explained how Bank Indonesia Bets On Growth, detailed The Window of Opportunity in the Philippines as well as The Reforms in Myanmar. Over the coming months, he will publish a couple of pieces on Mongolia and Vietnam....

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Telescope Versus The Microscope

    There is more than the usual amount of disagreement about China’s economic prospects at the moment. More notable than the accustomed battle between bulls and bears is a split between those focusing on the top-down macro picture, which is not terrible, and those who highlight ugly reports of businesses shutting down and borrowers scrambling for cash.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ Q2 2012 - Books

    China’s spectacular economic rise over the past decade has generated a great deal of strategic anxiety in foreign capitals and particularly in Washington DC. A thriving cottage industry has sprung up around trum*peting the ominous import of China’s military build-up and Beijing’s supposed intent to remake or upset the world order. Many such fore*casts—often driven by bureaucratic imperatives to justify ever-larger defense budgets—rely on...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ Q2 2012 - Auto industry competitiveness

    In January 2012, violent protests erupted at Changhe Automobile’s factory in Jiangxi province. Two thousand workers downed tools and raised fists in an attempt to block plans by Chang’an Automotive, Changhe’s much larger parent company, to move all production of Suzuki-branded cars from Jiangxi to its main car factory in Chongqing, 1,000 km away. The protest came just two years after the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) hailed...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ Q2 2012 - Private firms

    For years, China’s vibrant private sector firms have faced all sorts of dis­crimination: difficulty getting bank loans, high interest rates on the loans that are available, extortion by corrupt officials, outright nationalization, bans from investing in certain sectors, and rapacious competition from subsidized state-owned enterprises (SOEs). Despite all this, the private sector has steadily increased its share of economic output. But many...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ Q2 2012 - Consumer demographics

    On summer evenings, once every other week, central Beijing grinds to a halt. Around the Workers Stadium—erected in 1959 to mark the 10th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic—the gray capital turns green, as thousands of Beijing Guo’an football fans throng the streets. More than 40,000 emerald-shirted supporters regularly watch Guo’an, the Chinese Super League’s best-supported team. In most respects, the scene is unremarkable: any...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ Q2 2012 - Labor Force

    China’s population is aging. After more than three decades of force­ful family-planning policies, including the one-child policy, the share of children and young adults in China’s population is shrinking. At the same time, the population growth rate has slowed and people are living to much older ages. Conventional wisdom holds that this dramatic demo­graphic shift bodes ill for China’s economy: a growing labor shortage will damage...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ Q2 2012 - Capital Markets

    After a whirlwind start, is Guo Shuqing’s reform tornado blowing out? No. The new chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) continues to push ahead with long-needed policies to re-ener­gize China’s stock market. The plan to allow foreign companies to list on a new international board may have stalled—but that was always going to be hard to sell to China’s nationalistic leaders, and was of dubious value in any case. Instead,...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ Q2 2012 - Property

    For the past two years, the broad of aim of China’s restrictive property poli­cies has been simple—to make housing more affordable. The government’s approach has been to squeeze demand at the top of the market and boost supply at the bottom. Have these measures succeeded? For the vast major­ity of native urbanites, the answer is yes. In 2010, the price-to-income ratio in big cities exceeded nine; this year it should fall to near seven. The major...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ Q2 2012 - Metals Man: Screwing Up In Foreign Climes

    When China launched its “Go Out” policy in 1999, leaders hoped state-owned enterprises (SOEs) would snap up valuable foreign assets and transform themselves into successful multinationals. In the mining sec*tor, China’s national champions have become powerful international investors—yet they have also wasted billions of dollars on ill-conceived projects, often exacerbated by poor management. To take three examples, the cost of CITIC Pacific’s...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ Q2 2012 - Chinese Exports

    As any casual visitor to the “Made in China” aisles in Wal-Mart or Car­refour can attest, China’s prosperity has relied heavily on the export of cheap consumer goods to rich countries. But the image of China’s export­ers as a phalanx of sweatshops churning out T-shirts and toys for Ameri­can and European shoppers is outdated. Most of the growth in Chinese exports now comes from industrial goods—earth movers, telecoms net­work gear, construction...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ Q2 2012 - Economic Survey

    China’s economy continued to slow noticeably in the early part of 2012. Headline GDP growth of 8.1% year on year in the first quarter, down from 8.9% in the final quarter of 2011, was lower than market forecasts—though close to our own more modest expectations. In quarter-on-quarter terms, annualized real growth probably slowed to 6-7% in the first quarter from around 9% in the second half of 2011. On either metric, this was China’s weakest GDP...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    DragonWeek - Weak Currency, Weak Growth

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    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ: Demographics

    Profound demographic changes are redrawing the parameters of China’s future. These changes have already begun to affect the Chinese economy, and pose a serious risk to future economic growth, social harmony and political stability. How serious are the demographic challenges facing China, and what can be done to lessen their impact?

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Demographic Transition: Racing Toward The Precipice

    China’s demographic bullet train is racing into the unknown. Its carriages are already full, but more passengers squeeze in every minute. Most are not young, productive workers, but older travelers who cannot pay for their ride. No one knows where the train will stop, nor whether it will arrive safely.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ Q2 2012 - Family-planning policy

    For thousands of years, Chinese women were expected to raise large families. In the 1950s and 60s, this cultural expectation became national policy: as Mao Zedong called for “more people, more power,” China’s population surged from around 400m to 700m. Yet that all changed in the 1970s, as tough family-planning policies were introduced to curb excessive population growth. These policies hardened into the biggest demographic experiment of all...

    0
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    Fathom China

    CEQ Q2 2012 - Sany Heavy Industry

    If you still think China’s role in global trade is to produce all the stuff at Wal-Mart, then it is time to reconsider. Last year, heavy industry accounted for 39% of China’s exports, up from 29% a decade earlier, and Chinese heavy industrial products increasingly challenge the status quo in international markets. Nowhere is this more the case than in construc*tion equipment, where a spunky private enterprise called Sany Heavy Industry just...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Dim Sum On A Diet

    The “dim sum” bond market has been one of the world’s hottest since China stepped up development of this overseas renminbi fixed-income platform. Last year saw issuance soar to US$14bn, nearly triple the amount in 2010, and this year began with similar momentum. More recently enthusiasm has waned, which is hardly surprising, given the storms blowing through global markets. But it seems fair to ask whether expectations for this burgeoning market...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Great Affordability Question

    For the past two years, the broad aim of China’s restrictive property policies has been simple: to make housing more affordable. The government’s approach has been to squeeze demand at the top of the market and boost supply at the bottom. Have these measures been successful? For the vast majority of native urbanites, the answer is yes. In 2010, the price-to-income ratio in big cities exceeded 9; this year it should fall to near 7. The major...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Still Waiting For China's Grain Drain

    Many analysts and investors think China is on the brink of massive and sustained corn imports. The nation is running out of the land, water and farmers needed to produce large quantities of the grain, they say. And while official statistics show steadily rising domestic corn harvests, they think those rosy figures are probably manipulated. The conclusion seems simple: China must soon import lots of corn, and world markets will shake.

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    DragonWeek - Wanted: Private Sector Investment

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