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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Pitfalls Of Beijing’s AI Strategy

    The Chinese government has made artificial intelligence a national development priority and is dedicating huge resources to the task. Yet, as Lance explains in this report, the effort is suffering from mismanagement, wasteful provincial competition and difficulty retaining skilled workers.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Is Energy Uninvestible?

    Who would have thought at the time of the September attacks on Saudi that the oil sector would perform so dismally in the weeks after? This has been in line with a longer term underperformance, which has led many investors to dismiss the energy sector as uninvestible. Louis examines some of the arguments underlying this belief, and comes to an intriguing conclusion.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    The New Champion Of Monetary Conservatism

    The People’s Bank of China and the Bundesbank have never been known to be close. But Yi Gang, the Chinese central bank governor, is starting to sound German in his views on monetary policy. He argues that negative interest rates and quantitative easing have been a failure, and China must stick with conventional policy and positive rates.

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Back Door Is Still Closed

    A slew of new government policies has boosted market expectations for China’s infrastructure spending in 2020. But Rosealea counsels caution: while new measures have opened the “front door” of approved funding a bit wider, more important is that the “back door” of shadow financing remains firmly closed. A big rebound in public works is unlikely.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    An American Intervention

    After easily passing both houses of Congress, Donald Trump had little choice but to sign bills dictating the US government’s treatment of Hong Kong. Its significance will be determined by Beijing’s response, and for now that is likely to stay focused on achieving an interim trade deal that delivers a roll-back on US import tariffs.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Seminar Series Multimedia — Fall 2019

    Partners and analysts present their core ideas for the big economic regions and global markets heading into the year-end and looking forward to 2020.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    How To Get Comfortable With Chinese Equities

    The inclusion of Chinese onshore equities in global indexes has catalyzed a wave of interest from global investors. But for foreign investors to really get comfortable with Chinese stocks, Thomas argues, they need to grasp the many issues not addressed by index inclusion such as volatility, leverage, regulatory risk and corporate governance.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Chinese Consumer In 2019

    In her annual review of the Chinese consumer, Ernan analyzes the trajectory of household spending and unearths thematic opportunities in consumer markets. After 2019’s slowdown, consumption should stabilize in 2020 as the labor market improves. Luxury goods and cosmetics are booming, but overseas tourism and traditional retail are weaker.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Hong Kong People Speak

    The last 15 years has seen pro-government parties in Hong Kong rely on voter apathy and division across the democratic camp to often rule the roost. That changed yesterday, with establishment parties getting thumped in local council elections as voters expressed anger at the government’s handling of violent street protests in the last six months.

    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

    The Hong Kong Effect Means A Taiwan Opportunity

    Taiwan's stock market has gained 18.6% year-to-date. This rally will be vulnerable to a heightening of bellicose rhetoric from Beijing prompted by the expected victory of the incumbent China-skeptic Tsai Ing-wen in January’s presidential election. But given the favorable structural and cyclical trends, any sell-off around the election should provide an attractive buying opportunity.

    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 Research

    The Implications Of Hong Kong For China

    Many clients ask how China’s ruling Communist Party, the CCP, will react to what many policymakers in Beijing regard as an intolerable challenge to their authority by protesters in Hong Kong. The answer to this question will have direct implications for the city and its future as China’s international financial center. It will also have implications for the evolution of policy within mainland China itself.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    There Is A First For Everything

    We live in the 21st century, and if a liquidity injection program by the Federal Reserve doesn’t want to identify as quantitative easing, then we should respect that choice, and call it by whatever name it chooses for itself—even if almost everyone now calls the US$60bn injection “non-QE QE”. However, lost within the debate over naming lies a long list of interesting “firsts”.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Signal In International Liquidity

    Historically, few indicators have been as important for global markets as the amount of US dollar liquidity available outside the US. When this has turned down, trouble has reliably followed. This year, notes Charles, the indicator has again turned negative. But as he explains, all may not be lost.

    5
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Defending The Single Market

    Europe’s leaders are promising a more forceful approach to defending the bloc’s interests. But they do not fully subscribe to the view, widely held in the US, that China is a strategic rival and security threat. What they have been able to agree on, as Lance argues, is the need to protect the EU’s single market against Chinese state capitalism.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Handing Off The Slowdown

    China’s data releases for October showed signs that the global downturn in electronics, and the domestic fall in car sales, are starting to fade. But the bad news is that the property and heavy industry complex is weakening. That combination means roughly stable growth for the moment, reassuring policymakers that their cautious stance works.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Something Has To Give

    Public support for Hong Kong's protest movement has been re-energized by perceived police brutality, the local government offering no political response to the crisis and Mainland authorities delivering mixed, but slightly sinister messages about their next move. This piece assesses the political forces at play and takes a stab at explaining what comes next.

    3
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Weakening Bite Of US Tech Sanctions

    US sanctions on Chinese technology companies have grown progressively less effective since the US government used them to take down ZTE. Huawei has refused to collapse, and other targeted firms are not too troubled. In this piece, Dan explains why export controls, once the kiss of death, are becoming just another operational challenge.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    The Hong Kong Conundrum

    When I wrote on the Hong Kong dollar peg back in May, there was no inkling that trust between the police and much of Hong Kong’s population would fully break down. Today, Hong Kongers are saying: “We don’t trust the police to do the right thing, or even speak the truth”. This situation causes many clients to ask: "Why has the peg not broken down?"

    5
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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

    Autos Are Getting Back On The Road

    China’s industrial slowdown is not just about exports. The deep downturn in auto sales accounts for about half of the slowdown in GDP growth since 2018, Thomas estimates. Things are now starting to look less bad, and the growth drag is heading back toward zero. But autos are still not about to deliver a big boost to growth or commodity demand.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Let The Thousand Cuts Begin

    Was it worth the wait? Markets have been expecting the People’s Bank of China to cut policy rates ever since it introduced a new rates framework in August and promised to lower funding costs. On Tuesday, the central bank finally delivered, rolling over its one-year medium-term lending facility at 3.25%, 5bp below the previous rate of 3.3%.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Knowledge Revolution And Its Consequences

    From Hong Kong to Santiago to Paris, this year has seen protestors rage against out-of-touch political elites. But does anything more than anger connect these apparently disparate movements? Louis argues that the upheavals posed by the ongoing “knowledge revolution” may explain the phenomenon, and offers investment advice on how to survive revolutionary times.

    15
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Security Rules Are Decoupling Technology

    Presidents Trump and Xi may be edging toward a trade deal, but trust between the US and China has not been restored. As Lance explains in this piece, China’s bureaucracy is ramping up its already-restrictive security rules on technology hardware, software and data flows. This push will ensure some decoupling of China’s tech sector from the US.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Behind The Risk-On

    In recent months, economic data has improved or stabilized, and political risks have receded. But now that equity prices on Wall Street have hit new records and US treasury yields have rebounded from the bottom of their post-2011 trading range, it is worth asking if the move to risk-on conditions is a temporary mood swing, or one supported by economic fundamentals.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: China's Private Financing Woes

    Chinese credit growth picked up in September, which is good news at the margin for private sector liquidity. However, a continued crackdown on shadow finance and private firms’ difficultly rolling over bond obligations will retard capital spending and lead to more bond defaults into next year.

    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 Research

    Where Will Growth Come From Now?

    In the spring of 2003 Gavekal posited that China would become the new locomotive of world growth. But now, the days when China could be counted upon to gear up its balance sheet and pull global growth up by its bootstraps are coming to an end. And as global activity slows investors are asking “where will the growth come from"?

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    China-Bashing In A Political Season

    Signs are growing that the US and China will have a mini-deal on trade ready by the time Trump and Xi meet at the mid-November APEC summit. The key questions are whether opposition from US hardliners could derail the deal at the last moment, and whether the campaign to “decouple” the two economies will be knocked back if there is a deal.

    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.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Three Swing Factors For Chinese Growth

    China’s recent economic figures do not paint a bright picture. Yet some of the problems weighing on growth are moving closer to resolution. So how much of a bounce in the data can we expect from these positive developments? Three possible sources of good news can help answer this question: exports, domestic investment and autos.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: The End Of The Trend?

    For the past few years, US treasuries, the US dollar and the oil price have all broadly traded in a range. In fact, the only bankable trend for investors has been the outperformance of US equities, without which global stock indexes would still be trading at 2006 levels. However, there are signs that the investment environment is changing.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Paris Project In A Keynesian Time

    Some time ago, I had gathered a team in Paris to develop a new venture that would apply macro research analysis to portfolio construction in a systematic way. Things are progressing well and I wanted to update readers on the initiative. The common thread is a rejection of forecasting and a reliance on market prices and economic data.

    8
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Case Of The Mysterious Vanishing Statistics

    Problems with China’s economic statistics are often blamed on falsification by local officials. But they are not the only ones causing trouble. In this piece, Thomas and Ernan document how central government agencies, including the National Bureau of Statistics and the central bank, have recently stopped publishing some important data series.

    0
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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.

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    Trump’s Unreal Deal With China

    The US-China trade cease-fire shows that President Trump needs a quick deal: facing a soft economy and likely impeachment, he wants to bank a win as soon as possible. The two sides are moving toward a deal in November, but that will not change China's economic model or end US efforts to constrain China's technological rise.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research Call October 2019

    Vincent outlined EM Asia's "great moderation", as inflation is diverging from other emerging markets, creating opportunities in bonds. Udith argued that Indian growth may be bottoming out but a bad banking picture means that equities may have more downside. Tom addressed the remaking of Asian supply chains in light of the US-China trade war.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Banks Still At Risk

    The first wave of Chinese bank failures will not be the last. Over the summer, three smaller Chinese banks had to receive official assistance to continue operating. The problems that brought down those banks were not isolated issues, and there are other smaller banks still at risk. This report identifies the most troubled institutions.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Belt And Road Slims Down

    China is still signing up more countries for its Belt and Road Initiative, but money for Xi Jinping’s signature foreign policy is getting tighter. Growth in China’s overseas lending has ground to a halt, and overseas construction projects are declining. In this piece, Tom explains why a slimmer Belt and Road has become an economic necessity.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Hong Kong’s Core Problem

    The Hong Kong government’s stated aim is to drive a wedge between radical protesters who are resigned to jail or worse, and a less committed group that it thinks will be cowed by increased penalties. Initial evidence suggests the strategy is a busted flush. Sunday saw large-scale illegal marches by mask-clad demonstrators before the now predictable violence unfolded.

    6
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The China Inc. Annual Report 2019

    In the latest edition of his annual chartbook, Thomas outlines the fundamentals of China’s corporate sector. The latest downcycle in sales and profits was less severe than previous episodes, but private firms are still suffering from financial strains. The anemic bounce in credit growth points to little recovery in profits or capex in 2020.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Greater Good Versus Individual Liberty

    Yesterday Hong Kong's streets were again the stage for violent clashes between protesters and police. At the heart of the conflict is a showdown between the shared identity in Hong Kong shaped by the common law system inherited by the British and the common narrative in China emphasizing the "greater good" over individual liberties.

    8
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: An Asian Repricing

    Asian inflation has decoupled from other emerging market regions and may be settling at a new permanently lower level. At the same time, lower Asian inflation also reflects weak capital spending and slower economic growth due to the global trade downturn. The best way to play this new low-inflation, low-growth era is with regional bonds.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    US-China Impressionism

    It is sometimes said that getting a clear view of Chinese policy is impossible; the best you can hope for is an “impressionist” picture of what broadly is going on. Increasingly it looks as if this impressionism is catching. As if understanding China wasn’t hard enough, lately figuring out US policy towards Beijing has become a lot more complicated.

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Macro Update: The Return Of Selective Easing

    After a rocky few months of trade troubles, disappointing data and hawkish policy, China has shifted back to a more decisive focus on growth-supporting measures. This move should help support markets and the economy through end-2019. But as Andrew explains in this chartbook, the boost from this cautious “selective easing” is still limited.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Where Next Hong Kong?

    Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam today begins a process of civic engagement aimed at bridging the divide between an unpopular government and a diffuse movement that has engaged in 17 weeks of violent protest. Simon discusses whether economic goodies can buy off dissent and assesses the chances of a compromise political settlement.

    0
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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

    Video: What Next In The Tech War

    Washington views China as a strategic competitor, and the White House has promised a “whole of government” effort to constrain China’s development of key advanced technologies. Dan examines the three ways in which the US is making life difficult for Chinese tech companies, and explores other weapons the US could deploy should the tech war escalate.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Waiting For Rate Cuts

    Markets are now primed for China’s central bank to lower the policy rate in the new loan-pricing system it unveiled in August. In this piece, Andrew explains how these rate cuts will work, why they are different from the rate cuts of the past, and why these moves will not mean any change in the central bank’s current strategy of “selective easing.”

    0
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