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    Gavekal Research

    Hong Kong's Non-Greek Problem

    As Europe struggles with its Herculean public debt load and the economic pain of austerity, here in Asia it is possible to go along to a lunch-time talk and hear governments being tongue-lashed for accumulating fiscal surpluses. Franklin Lam, a former managing director at UBS and the founder of HKGolden50, a “non-profit local research organization,” presented just such a view last week at the Foreign Correspondents Club in Hong Kong.

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    Gavekal Research

    Floods and the Thai Investment Landscape

    Despite the extent of the Thai flood damage, often described as a slow moving tsunami, the SET however is up +7% since October 1st (and virtually flat in November, a very tough month for Asian assets). The reason for this resilience, is because the flooding has impacted on the revenues of only a very few of listed Thai companies. Indeed, despite total economic losses arising from the floods amounting to THB400-500bn (or 4-5% of GDP), the worst...

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    Gavekal Research

    Shareholders vs. the People

    Observers may find it puzzling that China’s government is investigating two leading telecom operators for anti-monopoly practices, given that it was the state that handed them their protected franchises Indeed, from a shareholder’s point of view, it might seem more relevant to investigate why monopolies in such a rapidly-expanding sector as broadband can have earnings volatility that looks like this:

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    Gavekal Research

    Turning Japanese

    We dedicated a portion of the latest Monthly Chart Book to comparative demographics. In particular, we looked at the "prime worker ratio", or the ratio of people aged 20-59 to those 60+. This ratio is a significant determinant of long-term growth rates: if a country has a lot of people of prime working age and relatively few retirees, its tends to get higher growth rates.

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    Gavekal Research

    Don't Despair About Asia

    This year has been a difficult one for Asian fund managers. The US economy has struggled up until very recently, and the EMU crisis keeps getting worse no matter what politicians do. Meanwhile, the Asian economies have weathered this economic landscape surprisingly well (see A Different Asian Sell-Off). But contrary to what is suggested by the diverging economic fundamentals, most Asian markets have underperformed the OECD. Thus, it is not...

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    Gavekal Research

    An Update on French Bank Bond Holdings

    The common view in France is that French banks obeyed the Bercy and held their positions on GIPSI bonds through the storms of the past year. But based on 2Q11 data released yesterday from the French central bank, this seems to be way off the mark. Indeed, it seems that French banks have been selling GIPSI bonds massively from as early as 4Q10.

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    Gavekal Research

    Daily - Battle of Wills as Beijing Squeeze Property Sector

    The rally in Chinese stocks that began last month essentially represents a bet that Beijing will get worried about the economic slowdown, start loosening and cave in on its battle of wills against the property developers. To some extent, this was the right bet. Despite public proclamation that “inflation remains the number-one priority,” the latest credit data would indicate that Beijing is easing up a bit (see Monday’s Daily—The Start of a New...

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    Gavekal Research

    Daily - The Problem With Technocrats

    The replacement in Greece and Italy of elected heads of governments with career EU technocrats (ECB in the case of Greece, Federal Trade Commission in the case of Italy) raises a number of questions:

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    Gavekal Research

    The RMB Trade Settlement Multiplier

    Hong Kong banks have been among the world’s best-performing in the past two years, and this is in no small part due to increasing integration with the mainland financial system. Not only does China provide an increasing proportion of HK banks’ revenues and profits, but Hong Kong is now capturing business in RMB settlement and financial products that was previously restricted to China.

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    Gavekal Research

    Daily - No More Road to Kick the Can Down?

    One of the many questions concerning the European economy in the past year is whether the relative strength of the Northern countries will pull the drowning southern nations to safer ground. With bond yields flaring up, banks in paralysis, equity markets battered and yet the Euro still not providing any relief through a significant external devaluation, the simple answer to this question would appear to be “no.” However, perhaps the safety boats...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Chongqing's Public Housing Predicament

    China’s government is trying to fix the housing market—again. As it struggles to address a huge shortage of low-income housing and the rising discontent of urban residents with housing prices, the government has promised to build tens of millions of units of subsidized or “social” housing. The core of this program is a new model of public rental housing, which officials increasingly prefer to older programs of subsidized owner-occupied housing.

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    Gavekal Research

    Monthly Strategy Chart Book - USA: A Two-Speed Economy

    In the short term, it looks like the US will avoid recession once again. But there is the risk that the recovery could prove fairly anemic or short lived. The bigger question is what are the structural sources of growth that can get the US back on track to its long-term average growth rate of 3% plus?

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    Gavekal Research

    Daily - The Start of a New Credit Cycle in China?

    Markets have clearly been expecting an imminent easing cycle in China, and thus investors may feel a partial victory after the latest batch of monthly lending data showed that China's banks increased the pace of their lending in October. New lending for all of 2011 now looks likely to be above the Rmb7.2 trn figure we had anticipated, and closer to Rmb7.5 trn (see chart p. 2). Does this mean China's policymakers, after preaching the...

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    Gavekal Research

    A Q&A on EMU Procedure and the ECB's Powers

    With the EMU crisis deepening, we have received a number of technical questions on the ECB and EMU rules. We thought other clients might be interested in the exchange below:

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    Gavekal Research

    A World Financed by Equity Instead of Debt

    Everyone agrees that there is too much debt in the world. But what exactly does this mean? Every dollar of debt represents a dollar of someone’s savings and investment. So do we really mean that there has been too much saving and investment in recent years? In China maybe, but surely not in the Western world.

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    Gavekal Research

    Where Do We Hide?

    As our regular readers know, we have been arguing that the US currency is now very undervalued, especially against the Euro and the commodity currencies of the world. In our view, the US current account will almost certainly continue narrowing for the next two years:

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    Gavekal Research

    Weathering the Crisis Through a European Barbell

    The huge uncertainties in the EMU have understandably paralyzed many European investors this year—and as the Italian and French crises illustrate, the fear factor is here to stay. It is possible, however, for investors to structure portfolios which not only provide shelter from the fallout, but produce very reasonable returns.

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    Gavekal Research

    Good and Bad Bubbles

    As we have often argued, there are two kinds of bubbles and two ways to finance them. The best kind of bubbles take place in productive assets (canals, railways & the internet) and are financed primarily by equity. When these bubbles burst it is of course very painful for the equity holders, but when it is all said and done, the world is still left with more productive assets and the banking system is still relatively intact.

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    Gavekal Research

    Daily - The Doomsday Machine Part Deux?

    In the midst of the Lehman crisis, we wrote about the The Doomsday Machine Unleashed in which banks, under mark-to-market rules, were forced to sell assets into a fire sale, thus perpetuating a cycle of doom. In other words, the incompetence of regulators gravely aggravated an already deadly situation. Most rational actors would think lessons had been learned here—yet amazingly, three years later, European policymakers may be setting in motion...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    DragonWeek - Oct 2011 Data

    DragonWeek: an opinionated weekly guide to China's economic news

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