E.g., 19-02-2020
E.g., 19-02-2020
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    Gavekal Research

    The Long Term Risks That Matter, And Those That Don’t

    In the third paper of his series about the risks that threaten asset markets in both the short and long run, Anatole turns his attention to four longer term risks that are widely discussed—and even more widely misunderstood. Investors should worry about demographics and climate change, although not for the reasons many believe. In contrast, they can sleep relatively easily about debt and productivity growth.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Don't Count On Oil To Fall Further

    Nowhere in markets has the impact of the Wuhan flu made itself felt as forcefully as in the oil price. The price of Brent crude has fallen -24% in just four weeks to US$54.58/bbl on Wednesday morning in Asia on fears of massive demand destruction in disease-hit China. WTI has fallen by a similar amount. This slide has great immediacy for investors in the energy sector.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Cardiac Arrest In India’s Body Economic

    Bad debts are clogging the arteries of India’s financial system. Two policy developments at the end of 2019 raised hope of recovery. A Supreme Court judgment set a precedent for resolving bankruptcies more quickly. And the insolvency code was extended to cover non-bank financial companies. However, the reality is that India’s financial system could worsen before it gets better, especially if the government goes ahead with a mooted finance bill.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Expensive And Vulnerable

    Few major economies and markets are more exposed to a possible Middle Eastern conflict than heavily oil-import-dependent India. However that's not the only thing likely to trouble investors in India this year—with the economy misfiring, Narendra Modi spending political capital on his Hindu-nationalist agenda rather than structural reforms, and local equities looking uncomfortably expensive.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Oil Again

    Less than two weeks after the price of oil briefly spiked to a four-month high on fears of a war between the US and Iran, crude has again been looking bid on trouble in the Middle East. This time, the bulk of Libyan shipments have been cut off amid the country’s civil war, while in Iraq anti-government protests have reportedly caused two minor fields to curtail production.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    How Sturdy Are The Zeitgeist's Five Pillars?

    The investment zeitgeist can be thought of as a set of assumptions that investors hold about structural growth drivers, key prices and policy approaches. An investment manager should understand what makes up the zeitgeist and how it is changing. Louis outlines five foundational pillars that he considers integral to the current situation.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    India Macro Update: Stuck In A Rut

    After India’s economic growth rate slumped to a six-year low in the third quarter, the government of Narendra Modi is throwing fiscal caution to the winds in an attempt to juice up growth. Some form of recovery is likely over the coming quarters, but any loss of confidence among the foreign investors will leave asset prices vulnerable to hefty losses in US dollar terms.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Asia's Currency Manipulators

    The US decided on Tuesday to drop its designation of China as a currency manipulator. Beyond the short term politics of US-China bilateral relations, the Treasury's report was also notable for the countries named on its “monitoring list” of potential currency manipulators. Among emerging Asia’s economies, these included Korea, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Embrace The EM Rally, Selectively

    Washington and Tehran are dialing down the geopolitical tensions, at least for now. The US and China are about to sign a trade deal. Big central banks are spraying around liquidity. And the mighty US dollar is looking mortal. The fact that emerging markets have underperformed US equities the last five years surely points to a burst of catch-up growth? Yes and no.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    India’s Implausible Energy Ambitions

    Narendra Modi’s government has set out ambitious objectives for India’s energy policy, targeting wider access to affordable energy, a greatly increased role for renewables, and stronger national energy security. The trouble is that these aims appear to be contradictory, and the government has yet to set out a coherent plan for implementation.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Solving India's Water Crisis

    Experts predict that half of India’s demand for water will be unmet by 2030, threatening livelihoods and the country’s development prospects. Yet water scarcity need not be a disaster for India. With more efficient agricultural practices and better management, India has sufficient water resources both to feed itself and keep its economy on track.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Why Aren’t Markets Pricing In Global Reflation?

    Back in October, when the Fed said it would start expanding its balance sheet at the same time as the ECB and BoJ, Louis reasoned that powerful forces were aligning for a global reflation trade. A little over two months later, markets have ripped higher, but the reflation trade has not materialized quite as anticipated. In this paper, Louis examines why not, and asks what conditions will be needed for it to come good in 2020.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Carry Is Still King In Asia

    With the Federal Reserve firmly set in easing mode and the US heading into an unpredictable election season, there are good reasons to think the US dollar could be set for a period of weakness. A key beneficiary could be Asian currencies, which as a group are down about -10% against the global reserve currency in the last five years.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    India’s Laffer Curve Gamble

    India’s decision to cut its corporate tax rate from 30% to 22% has spurred a 7% surge in equities as investors bet on new capital spending reigniting a stalled growth cycle. The problem is that even if this fiscal easing spurs more business investment, the consumer side of India’s economy remains stuck in a low gear due to knottier problems.

    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

    India's Frenetic Inertia

    They say the first step to solving a problem is recognizing that you have one. With its recent moves to shore up sagging growth, Narendra Modi’s new government has finally acknowledged that India’s economy is in trouble. But unless it quickly finds a coherent reform strategy, Modi’s second term could fizzle out into economic failure.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    India Macro Update: Hardly A Growth Agenda

    India’s economy is weak across the board, weighed down by lackluster investment, anemic consumption and soft external demand. Deep reforms are needed to unlock the country’s economic potential. In this quarterly report, Udith and Tom offer a check-in on India’s growth outlook, explain why equities may be de-rated further and worry about the bond rally fizzling out.

    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

    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

    Modi Shifts From Tub-thumping To Stimulus

    After spending the first few months of his second term on nationalist politics, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is shifting his government’s attention to the economy. The substantial corporate tax cut announced last month was welcome news. However, Modi will have an uphill battle to get the economy moving before ballooning twin deficits begin to bite.

    8
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    Gavekal Research

    The Asian Currency Bounce

    Despite few underlying tensions being settled, the interim US-China trade deal has cheered up investors. The view has been that the US president now wants to bag a political win ahead of next year’s election and move on. This outcome should support trade-dependent Asian currencies—but perhaps not equally.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Canadian Election

    Today sees Canadians go to the polls to choose a new government. The ruling Liberal Party faces an electoral squeeze, but it is not clear that the outcome of the election will unduly impact Canada’s economic prospects. Louis runs through the outlook for an economy that most people he speaks to are down on.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    India Macro Update: Post-Landslide Lethargy

    After the victory party, Narendra Modi’s reelected government's focus is shifting to structural reform, but Udith and Tom have fairly low expectations that this will materialize anytime soon and hold a cautious view on Indian risk assets. Such an environment should offer a reasonable outlook for government bonds.

    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

    India After The Victory Party

    After Narendra Modi’s landslide victory in India’s general election, the economic issues that must be tackled quickly are stacking up. Tom runs through the Indian leader’s inbox and concludes that the scale of the short term problems he faces rules out a 2014-style euphoric run-up in Indian equity.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    At Home In The Range

    Almost a month after missile attacks on key Saudi Arabian oil production and processing facilities pushed benchmark global oil prices up by 20% overnight, the market has moved on. Saudi Arabia has defied industry expectations by continuing to supply oil to the market in abundant quantities. The current market pricing reflects that.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Asia's Great Moderation

    Emerging market government bonds yield more than rich-world equivalents because investors worry about getting their money back. This higher return on capital can cause a feedback loop of rising foreign debt and diminished financial sovereignty. Yet, with Asia having seemingly crushed inflation, a “great moderation” may reverse that dynamic and usher in a potential re-rating of risk assets.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Foreigners And The Deepening Of Indian Finance

    India’s new government delivered a careful budget last Friday, preferring to keep a veneer of fiscal rectitude than to prioritize growth and jobs with heavy spending. Yet there was one exception amid the caution: for the first time, India is set to issue sovereign debt in foreign currency. This is an intriguing development for foreign investors wanting exposure to India while avoiding currency risk.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The EM Oil Shock That Won't Be

    Three “master” prices tend to dictate price levels in most asset markets—US interest rates, the US dollar and energy prices. A synchronized fall in these three prices usually bodes well for emerging market assets, while a rise bodes ill. Since it is rare for all three master prices to move together, the challenge for investors is to figure out which way the cross currents are flowing. If one master price is making a big move, its effect can...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Taiwan’s Manufacturers Rethink Reliance On China

    Could Taiwan be a winner in the US-China trade war? As Dan reports in this piece, US tariffs have succeeded in getting major contract manufacturers of electronics to shift jobs out of China, some of which are going to Taiwan. But this trend is not enough to end Taiwan’s dependence on Chinese growth, or its vulnerability to Chinese competition.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Asia Ditches Fiscal Conservatism, Conservatively

    As the external environment darkens, Asian governments are turning on the fiscal spigots—cautiously. Moves announced in recent weeks do not radically move the dial, but they should support growth. For now, monetary policy will remain the main counter-cyclical tool for arresting a downturn in Asia, but recent moves reflect an end to an era of fiscal consolidation.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    India Macro Update: Pre-Election Jitters

    In India, all eyes are focused on May’s general election. In the lead-up, the government has turned on the spending spigots and the central bank has obliged with a recent surprise interest rate cut. However, in this quarterly update Udith and Tom argue that such measures may not be enough to restart the stalled capital spending cycle.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    India's Acceleration Phenomenon

    As China’s market grows more mature, multinationals and investors are increasingly looking to households in emerging economies elsewhere to deliver the next big growth surge in demand for consumer goods and services. Above all they are pinning their hopes on India. With a population of 1.3bn, most aged under 30, and a GDP forecast by the International Monetary Fund to expand by 7.4% in 2019, India is easily the world’s fastest-growing major...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Surge In Anti-Fragile Assets

    The latest round of data releases appears to confirm fears that the world is facing another synchronous global downturn. If so, it will be different from other slowdowns, in that it will not have been caused by rising interest rates or higher energy prices. What’s more, it will be setting in when there is little prospect of a globally coordinated response, when monetary policy appears to have lost traction, and when asset prices are looking...

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Awaiting India's Electoral Boost

    Two recent events have changed the calculus for investors in India. First, the ruling BJP took an electoral battering in three heartland states, imperiling its bid for general re-election. Second, in December the government appointed a new RBI governor. Investors can expect looser fiscal and monetary policies as the BJP pulls out the stops to ensure victory.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    EMs Hit The Trade Wall

    It is not clear if the latest trade actions launched by the US against Mexico and India form part of coherent plan. Such moves do signal that the US-centered multilateral trading system is hanging by a thread. This upending of the post-WWII order is especially bad news for trade-dependent emerging economies.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Effectiveness Of EM Rate Cuts

    An easier Fed stance suggests that the US dollar is unlikely to trend significantly higher from its present levels. The prospect of limited US dollar upside frees Asian central banks from the necessity of defending their exchange rates, and gives them leeway to support growth by cutting interest rates. However, the impact of rate cuts on both growth and asset prices will vary among Asian EMs.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    India Macro Update: Post-Rout Uncertainty

    India is beset with economic problems that range from a deepening credit crunch, a worrying stand-off between the government and central bank and a capital spending cycle that has never really gotten going. Yet despite these challenges, the economy keeps chugging along and should hit 7.5% growth in the current fiscal year. In this quarterly macro update, Udith and Tom consider the outlook in light of political uncertainty ahead of next year’s...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    No Time To Be Chicago Trained

    Technocrats globally are under the cosh from populist politicians who have tired of doing the sensible thing. In the developed world, checks and balances have insulated most big agencies, but the story is different in developing economies. The worry is that they are lurching off onto a development track that ends with fiscal blowouts and currency debasement.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    From Trade War To Decoupling

    Trade talks between the US and China will resume this week after a three-month hiatus, but how much do they really matter? In this piece, Arthur argues that the macro risk from the US-China trade conflict has ebbed to almost zero. What’s important now is to understand the dimensions of the decoupling between the world’s two biggest economies.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    An Investment Thesis For The 2020s

    A look back at the last 50 years shows that the dominant conviction among investors at the end of each decade about what would drive markets over the following decade was invariably wrong. With this in mind, and on the basis that avoiding losers is easier work than picking winners, Louis asks what beliefs dominate investors’ minds today, and how they are likely to be proved wrong in the 2020s.

    12
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    Gavekal Research

    Can Vietnam Eat China's Lunch?

    Vietnam has the potential to be a big winner from the US-China trade war as companies move manufacturing out of an increasingly high-cost China. This trend can be seen in sharply rising foreign investment and fully occupied export-focused industrial parks. Yet the issue is how to deal with bottlenecks that impede the path to high value-added activities.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    India's Soft Approach To Hard Money

    A key reason to hold Indian risk assets in recent years has been the presence of a strong government willing to incur short-term political pain in return for longer-term economic gain. Yet, with the Reserve Bank of India fighting the finance ministry over bank regulation policies that may crimp growth ahead of a national election, this premise looks shaky. The partially independent central bank has faced political attack before, but this is...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The End Of The Smartphone S-Curve

    Smartphones are a maturing industry. Sales in China, the US, Europe and Japan are declining, and demand growth in India and Africa is not fast enough to drive a new surge in global sales. The industry is hoping that 5G and foldable phones will trigger a fresh upgrade cycle. But neither will drive a significant increase of sales in the near term.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    India Macro Update: A Mixed Masala

    As public spending is cranked up ahead of an election that is expected to be held next spring, India should be able to sustain its current level of economic growth for a while yet. However, the rate of expansion has likely passed the high water mark for this cycle, argue Udith and Tom in this quarterly update.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Libra's Monetary Challenge

    Facebook has 2.7bn users and 90mn companies operating on its various platforms. Perhaps more than any other non-state player, it has the resources, reach and data trove to launch a global currency. Will is not convinced and tackles the issue by asking what benchmarks the new Libra currency will need to hit if it is to become a widely-used medium of exchange.

    8
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    Gavekal Research

    The Severity Of India’s Rout

    It has been a torrid month for Indian markets. Equities have tanked by -7%, the rupee has dropped to all-time lows, and a new crisis is emerging in the financial sector. Liquidity is tightening in the money markets, threatening the survival of several non-bank financial companies and raising the prospect of contagion risk that could spill over to the rest of the financial system and lead to a broader economic slowdown. The rout in emerging...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Driving The Bond Bubble—The Sum Of All Fears

    For the past 30 odd years, President Donald Trump has opposed free trade and argued that foreign producers should face tariffs. Yet the market responds with shock each time the US threatens new tariffs. By the same token, almost every central banker today is saying they (i) want to see higher inflation, (ii) will stop at nothing until inflation picks up, and (iii) once inflation duly appears, they will likely let it ramp up. So how does the...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Harder Times For European Luxury

    It is conceivable that some European industries may benefit from the trans-Pacific economic cold war, picking up business lost to their US and Chinese competitors as a result of the worsening tensions. But one sector that will not benefit is the European equity investor’s favorite: luxury goods. European luxury goods companies now face tougher times ahead.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Dreaming Of A Better India

    In a year’s time, 900 million Indians will be eligible to go to the polls in India’s general election. Two-thirds of them are likely to cast a vote, including 200 million aged under 30. Youth politics in India matters as nowhere else: the world’s biggest democracy has nearly as many young voters as the rest put together. So what do young Indians want, and who will they vote for?

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