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    Gavekal Research

    The Exit From A Liquidity Squeeze

    If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck. By the same token, if central bank reserves are shrinking, the US dollar is rising, and emerging market currencies are cratering, we probably face a liquidity squeeze. None of this should be surprising, as the drains on US dollar liquidity have come from all directions this year.

    7
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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 Research

    On Getting It Wrong

    Louis went into 2018 with a set of assumptions about how growth and markets around the world would play out. It hasn’t exactly worked out as expected and in this mea culpa he seeks to understand how he got it wrong and what comes next. He concludes that a key driver of the changed investment environment was not so much the strength of the US dollar but China’s decision to allow a renminbi devaluation.

    10
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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 Research

    Strategy Monthly: A Simple Guide To US Asset Allocation

    We synthesize four years of work on asset allocation and present a model portfolio built around analysis of the cost of and return on capital; the real rate of return on equities, bonds and cash; and the ideal duration of fixed-income holdings. Today we recommend that US portfolios hold 75% in equities, 25% in cash, and shun bonds.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    An Overdue Tax Cut For Households

    Facing trade conflict with the US and a slowdown in credit growth, China is under pressure to use fiscal policy more aggressively to support the economy. On Friday, the National People’s Congress delivered on at least part of the solution, passing a large cut in personal income taxes. In this piece, Ernan explains the impact of this tax cut.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Tail Risks That Worry Me

    Yesterday I made the case that emerging markets should be superior performers in a global bull market, which I characterized as the most hated in history. What that analysis left out was the relative prospects of the other big blocks in the global equity universe; namely, Europe and Japan. My core point yesterday was that trade wars do more harm to economies that close their markets than those countries which supply them, and on this score...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Misunderstanding Today’s EMs

    Suppose that, like me, you think the global equity bull market has a few more years to run and hence the sell-off which culminated with Turkish debt being downgraded two weeks ago was a merely a correction. Where are the best opportunities to “buy the dip”? The answer depends on whether you also share my view about the underlying causes of this year’s market setbacks.

    4
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Retail Sales Data Enigma, Explained

    This technical note explains why the retail sales growth numbers reported by the National Bureau of Statistics are so much higher than the growth rates one can calculate by comparing this year's sales values with last year's. This is not an effort to cover up bad economic performance by fudging statistics, but the opposite.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Consumer Soldiers On

    Consumer spending has been the ballast of China's economy over the past six years. But this year its resilience has been questioned, thanks to a sharp fall-off in automobile sales and reported growth rates in retail sales that appeared to bear no relationship to the underlying data. Ernan finds that household spending is actually holding up well.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Winter Air Pollution War (Part 2)

    North China is gearing up for big cuts in heavy industry output this winter, in a repeat effort to clean up the skies over Beijing. This campaign will, by constraining supply and raising costs, exert steady upward pressure on metals prices. In the long run, it will encourage producers to move to other regions, redrawing China’s industrial map.

    4
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Clogging China’s Cash Pipeline To Silicon Valley

    In the past years, billions of dollars of Chinese venture capital have poured into US tech firms. This is alarming to the US Defense Department, which believes these investments could lead to a flow of critical technology back to China, eroding the American advantage in fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics, and autonomous vehicles.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Trouble With Monopsonies II: Joan Robinson Versus David Ricardo

    Among the discussion topics at this week’s Jackson Hole meeting of world central bankers will be whether the market power of giant corporations is so great it allows them to hold down workers’ wages at the global level. Charles has no doubt, arguing in this paper that the development of platform companies into labor monopsonies accounts for what has been misunderstood as “secular stagnation”.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    A Step Back From War On All Fronts

    Events of the past few weeks have lowered the risk of the worst-case scenario of a trade-war-on-all-fronts that Arthur laid out earlier this summer. But although officials in both the US and China are eyeing a truce, no bilateral deal can be nailed down until the two countries’ presidents meet in November, after the US midterm elections. That leaves time for the Trump administration’s trade hawks to regain the upper hand.

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    How To Assess The Stresses On EMs

    Emerging market equities are officially in a bear market, with the MSCI EM index down -20% from its January peak. EM-related commodities are also hurting, notably copper which has fallen -18% since June. The central question now is whether one should steer clear of all EM assets, because the rout is general and likely to get worse; or if one should keep an eye out for buying opportunities here and there. With some trepidation, we advise the...

    4
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    A Military Embrace Brings Risks For Technology

    China’s government is making a determined effort to co-opt private technology companies to help modernize its military. The pressure to support this drive, known as “military-civil fusion,” creates new political risks for tech companies and their investors: they could face more Chinese government interference and a political backlash from abroad.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Show Me The Stimulus

    China's data releases for July showed that the easing measures of the last few months have yet to have an impact on the real economy, with industrial value-added, fixed-asset investment and retail sales all slowing. Further monetary easing measures will follow. But as Long argues, they are unlikely to lead to a major increase in credit growth. Instead any stimulus efforts are likely to be financed by an increase in local government bond...

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Turkey Is A Big Fish, But No Whale

    The meltdown unfolding in Turkey is not a surprise (see A Turkish Vortex). However, it does raise the question of where we go from here, and whether the Turkish crisis is a symptom of a change in the investment environment.

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Softening Up On SOE Deleveraging

    China this year ordered central SOEs to bring down their asset-liability ratio down by 2pp by 2020. That might sound like a modest change, but it means doing much more deleveraging in the next two years than in the last two. With policymakers now starting to ease policy, this aggressive hard target for deleveraging will likely become a soft one.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Fire Testing Of Asian Junk

    The strong US dollar, rising oil prices and a gathering trade war have sent capital fleeing from emerging markets. Asian high-yield debt has taken a hit with the benchmark (JP Morgan) index down -3% this year, sparking worries of a self-feeding cycle that ends with a debt crisis. We have taken a fairly constructive view on emerging economies due to their generally non-threatening macro-fundamentals. Hence, with EM asset prices stabilizing it is...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Biggest Question Of The Day

    Should we take Donald Trump literally when he says he wants to eliminate the US trade deficit? In this paper, Louis examines the different ways the US might hope to cut its trade deficit, including its bilateral deficit with China, and explores why the outlook for risk assets depends enormously on the US administration's real aims in launching its international trade war.

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    No Good Choices For China

    China wants to show that it will stand up to US threats to escalate the trade war. Yet Yanmei argues that it has few attractive policy choices. It can neither back down from the confrontation nor retaliate enough to deter the US. With little prospect of a negotiated solution in the near term, Beijing is focused on stabilizing the domestic economy.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    The Bullish Logic Of Trump’s U-Turns

    The news on Wednesday that Donald Trump’s administration is considering imposing tariffs of 25%—rather than 10%—on an additional US$200bn of Chinese goods might appear to be an aggressive escalation of its trade conflict with China. But there is a high probability the proposed tariffs will never be implemented. Trump has a track record of talking tough, only to back down before it comes to the crunch; a pattern of behavior that may help to...

    4
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Will Mergers Become A New Front In The Trade War?

    On July 25, Qualcomm canceled its US$44bn acquisition of NXP Semiconductors after it failed to get approval from Beijing before its self-imposed deadline. In this piece, Matt assesses the big question this failure raises: has China decided to use its merger-review process to punish US companies for the tariffs imposed by the Trump administration?

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    What Will Halt The Renminbi’s Fall?

    The momentum for a weaker renminbi is considerable, with the US ratcheting up its trade war with China and the Chinese government moving to easier fiscal and monetary policies. But Chen Long argues that the renminbi’s downside from current levels may prove limited even though the central bank is unlikely to intervene as much as it did in 2015-16.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: Towards A Global Liquidity Crisis?

    In our latest outlook for global investment strategy, Charles Gave warns that the world may be heading into a dollar liquidity squeeze. There have been seven such scarce-dollar episodes since 1971, and every one produced some big financial accidents. The basic symptom today is that the US is heading into an inflationary boom, while the rest of the world is seeing slower economic growth and weaker asset prices. Investors must be defensive; but...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    No Cause For Celebration

    The US-EU trade truce announced by President Donald Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday is good news for the world economy. Yet it is still far too early to write off global macro risk from a generalized trade war. US tariffs on steel and aluminum imports remain in place, as do the EU’s retaliatory tariffs on US goods; and the threat of American levies on US$335bn in car and car part imports has been...

    1
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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

    Stemming The Tide Of Bond Defaults

    As China’s government shifts economic policy more explicitly into easing mode, will it relieve the growing strains in the corporate bond market? In this piece, Chen Long diagnoses the underlying causes of a recent wave of defaults that have spooked investors, and explains how the government is changing policy to ease that financial stress.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Destination Escalation

    Will we see any break in the escalation of Trump’s trade wars this year—either because one of the targets capitulates and tries to strike a deal with the US, or because blowback within the US against the negative impact of trade wars gets strong enough that Trump needs to beat a tactical retreat? The answer is a firm no, on both counts.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Fair Weather Friend, Or Safe Port In A Storm?

    On Thursday morning in Asia, the Japanese yen was trading at ¥112.7 to the US dollar. At that level the yen is down -7.2% from its late March high, a fall which has erased all its first quarter gains and left the currency exactly flat year-to-date. At first glance this fall might seem surprising, given the degree of nervousness in global markets and the yen’s reputation as a safe haven currency, not to mention its undervaluation relative to...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Don't Fixate On Fixed-Asset Investment

    If you believe China’s official statistics on fixed-asset investment, then capital spending is now collapsing across the country. But you probably shouldn’t believe those numbers, for reasons that Andrew explains in this piece. True growth in investment spending will slow in 2018, but much less catastrophically than the headline data suggest.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: China's Technology Strategy

    China has an ambitious industrial upgrading plan, called Made in China 2025, which targets Chinese leadership in about 30 technological segments. In this video interview Dan explains how the government aims to achieve this, how this plan differs from previous Chinese policy goals, and whether it is likely to succeed.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Time To Get Fiscal?

    China’s latest data reinforce an economic trajectory that is getting worrisome for policymakers, with weaker domestic activity, an escalating trade conflict and a greater-than-expected slowdown in credit growth. Further easing of monetary policy is definitely in the cards, but there is now rising pressure on Beijing to step up fiscal spending.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    The Chinese Juggernaut Will Roll On

    In 2015, I sat down with Sri Lanka’s then-new finance minister. The “teardrop of India” had recently elected a fresh government, kicking out a corrupt president widely regarded as in China’s pocket. Vowing to scrutinize all Chinese deals, the new leaders suspended a massive real estate project in Colombo harbor. “The high costs come from nothing other than corruption, but we do not want taxpayers to pay for the past decisions of a corrupt regime...

    1
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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 Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research Call July 2018

    In this call Arthur Kroeber outlined his view on why President Donald Trump’s trade war is not a bluff, and is likely to escalate ahead of the US midterm elections in November; Andrew Batson explained the macro-level effects caused by all this uncertainty; and Chen Long discussed the market impacts in China and the country’s likely response.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Policy Headwinds For Chinese Stocks

    Chinese equities have finally had a few solid trading sessions after their steep decline in the latter half of June. But the CSI 300 index is still down -14% year-to-date, and betting on a rebound from here looks unwise. A confluence of factors has been pushing down the market—tougher financial regulation, weak data, a falling currency, and the trade conflict with the US. And none of these factors is turning positive, especially with the US...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Recession Of 2019

    Over the last three months, I have become increasingly concerned that a recession will hit the world economy in 2019. In this paper, I shall explain why. My reasoning is simple, and is based on the behavior of an indicator I have long followed, which I call the World Monetary Base, or WMB. Every time in the past that this monetary aggregate has shown a year-on-year decline in real terms, a recession has followed, often accompanied by a flock of...

    17
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Global Rise Of Chinese Smartphones

    Xiaomi and other Chinese smartphone makers are among the first Chinese consumer-goods companies to have gained significant market share outside of China. In this piece, Dan explains where their success has come from and assesses their prospects: Chinese smartphones may not displace Apple and Samsung, but can limit their gains in emerging markets.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A National Security Imperative

    Depending on commodity prices, in any given year China spends between US$250bn and US$400bn on imports of the “big five” commodities it needs to continue growing: oil, iron ore, coal, copper and soybeans. Before it can do that, it must first “earn” those US$250-400bn. Only then can it can turn around and buy the stuff the country needs to ensure its long-term growth.

    10
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    Gavekal Research

    Hard Yards For Emerging Markets

    Emerging markets have been hit by the combined effect of a stronger US dollar, tighter international liquidity and rising trade tensions, causing their currencies to fall more in the last few months than in the 2013 “taper tantrum”. The big fear for EMs is that the end of easy money globally creates a giant margin call. As a firm, we have tended to be upbeat on their prospects in this cycle, and it may be that a huge buying opportunity has...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Trade War And The US Cycle

    How will the US administration’s trade disputes affect the US economic cycle? In the worst case scenario, if Donald Trump follows through on all his threats the disruption to global supply chains could be great enough to push the world economy into recession. At this point, the greatest impact flows from the high degree of uncertainty about future actions.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: The Four Roads Ahead

    The first half of the year was not a great one for global equities, and the second half is clouded by risks: slowing growth, rising inflation, renewed political stress in the eurozone, and most of all the threat of massive protectionism by the United States. Louis Gave offers four scenarios of how things could play out, and Arthur Kroeber explains why it's time to start seriously worrying about a worst-case trade scenario.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    What Could Turn The Tide?

    The global equity bull market is increasingly looking like the German soccer team: old, tired and getting slow, having reached its peak a while back. Even the “captain” of the bull market, the S&P 500, last made new highs five months ago. Since then, the asset classes that have delivered positive returns have been as few and far between as German goals. Year to date, investors have lost money on US investment grade bonds, on emerging debt,...

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The End Of Normal Trade

    The US may have backed down from imposing new restrictions on Chinese investment in the US. But it would be wrong to see this as a de-escalation of the US-China trade conflict. In this piece, Andrew argues that the tariffs taking effect Friday will mark the end of two decades of normal US trade with China, and the return of political uncertainty.

    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 Research

    The End Of Tech Codependency

    The US has backed away from the “nuclear” option of slapping new investment curbs on Chinese firms, but its likely use of export restrictions and tariffs on “strategic” sectors like semiconductors will hit all parts of the supply chain, regardless of nationality. At best chipmakers can expect to muddle through; at worst the industry takes a big hit.

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    How China Can Fight Back In The Trade War

    China is a veteran in economic warfare. As the US prepares to hit China with trade and investment penalties, China can draw on years of experience and an arsenal of regulatory tools to craft a response. The local operations of US companies present a large target. In this piece, Yanmei explains how China is most likely to retaliate against the US.

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    Oil After The OPEC Meeting

    Let us start with a simple reality: assuming the world economy avoids a 2008-type implosion, then global demand for oil should approach 100mn barrels per day by the year’s end. That represents an increase in global demand this year of roughly 1.5mn bpd—more or less the same pace of increase the world has had to deal with in recent years.

    11
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