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    Gavekal Research

    A Japanese Price Taker

    The yen has long been a fairly reliable indicator of global risk appetite. Over the summer, trade war fears pushed the yen up to ¥105 to the US dollar, before recent cheerier developments saw it weaken again. If the BoJ can deliver on its promise to match other central banks’ easing moves, that weakening trend could be worth following. Alas, the BoJ probably can’t.

    1
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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

    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

    Europe's Brexit Booster

    Boris Johnson has secured a revised Brexit deal and the stage is set for a key Saturday vote in the House of Commons. On balance, there is a 70% chance of the vote passing as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn seems unable to control his Brexit-supporting rebels, while Johnson looks to have persuaded his Brexiteer wing that it could be now or never.

    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.

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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 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

    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.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Fed Goes On The Offensive

    Grocery shoppers get perturbed when they buy produce labeled as “organic” but get something from the agro-industrial complex. Investors, on the other hand, should welcome the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet boost, that was described on Friday as nothing more than “organic” growth. As it turns out, this is a heavily engineered offering by the custodians of money.

    0
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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

    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

    Sizing Up The Brexit Risks

    The pound surged after Boris Johnson and Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar achieved a negotiating breakthrough on Thursday over arrangements for the Irish border. The question is: What next? Anatole argues that while these moves still point to a multi-pronged set of outcomes, at least there is now a measurable set of permutations.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Watching For Signs Of A US Spillover

    Is the rot spreading? In the eurozone, there are signs that this year’s slump in manufacturing may be beginning to spill over to weigh on activity in the broader economy. Plenty of observers believe the US economy is destined to follow a similar path. Their fears may yet be realized, but so far there is no evidence the US economy is heading that way.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Please, Your Majesty, Do Nothing

    Western democracies in the early 1990s stood unchallenged in the battle of big ideas. Alas, everything that has gone wrong in western economies over the last decade or so stems from the lessons that the technocracy took from this victory. Charles considers the mistakes and examines the investment consequences that must now follow.

    2
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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 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

    Video: India's Banking Blues

    A tweet by the Reserve Bank of India caused a bit of a stir last week, saying that the “…Indian banking system is safe and stable and there is no need to panic…”. It was after a small regional bank had been effectively put into receivership. While this doesn't pose a systemic risk, it's another consequence of Indian banks’ decade-old bad loan problem.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Back To Balance Sheet Expansion

    On Tuesday, Jay Powell confirmed that the US Federal Reserve will go back to growing its balance sheet once again following its meeting at the end of October. The aim is for the balance sheet to grow gradually along with the economy. While the Fed’s planned move is clearly positive for liquidity growth, it is likely to disappoint investors for two reasons.

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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

    To Impeachment And Beyond

    What will determine whether the global economic expansion and equity bull market will continue in the year ahead? The political upheavals which dominated in the past three years, such as the trade war, Iran oil sanctions and Brexit, have seemed to subside or become priced in. But new political noise is being generated by the threatened impeachment of President Donald Trump.

    0
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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 Research

    The German Spillover

    Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this year’s slump in manufacturing is how few negative spillover effects it has had on demand in the broader economy—until now. Services PMIs for both the eurozone as a whole and for Germany took a sharp turn south in September. In Germany, the deterioration is making a technical recession all but inevitable.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Where The Fed Stands

    Investors are nervous about weak US data and a liquidity squeeze in the US repo markets. They are now looking to the Federal Reserve for reassurance. In this video, Will tells us what policy changes to expect from the Fed at the end of this month and why.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Echoes Of 2000 Strike A False Note

    First there was the WeWork IPO failure and a string of other flops. Now the S&P 500 has slumped -3% in just two days, leaving the index down -4.6% from its July high. As a result, nervous investors are wondering whether the US may be seeing the beginning of the bursting of a bubble, just as in 2000. Are the fears justified?

    2
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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

    The Upside For Europe

    The euro is trading at its weakest against the US dollar since May 2017. Whether it falls further from here or finds support around current levels to establish a base for a rebound will depend mainly on whether Europe’s economic performance continues to deteriorate, or whether upside surprises are likely in the months ahead.

    1
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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 Research

    Quantifying Trade War Risk

    Investors seem to have grown somewhat blasé about the US-China trade war lately. Over 12 months after the outbreak of hostilities, the S&P 500 is up 2.2% year-on-year. Part of the reason for this nonchalance appears to be a belief that US growth and domestic profits are invulnerable to any escalation of the conflict. This belief may be mistaken.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Reasons To Truly Love Malaysia

    In a bid to lessen currency depreciation pressure, three years ago Malaysia effectively closed down offshore trading in the ringgit. It won the battle but has been losing the war. Its asset markets remain unloved and Malaysia has a higher cost of capital than most regional rivals. Yet the time may be right to look again at Malaysia, at least from a fixed income stance.

    0
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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

    Legal Is Not The Same As Legitimate

    Democracy is in trouble. Everywhere the cause is the same: a massive conflict between legitimacy and legality. For the last 100 years or more, the split between left and right left anchored the legitimacy of any democratic government. Unfortunately, over the last couple of decades or so, the left has betrayed the people, while the right has betrayed the nation.

    10
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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 Research

    What If The Fed Has Finished Cutting

    What happens to the US equity market if the Federal Reserve has already finished cutting interest rates? Last Friday, Will made the case for a rebound in US growth, but withheld judgement whether it would be driven by real growth or inflation. The prospect raises the very real possibility that the Fed may decide rates have been cut enough.

    9
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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

    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

    Black Zero Or Green New Deal?

    Investors and environmentalists alike got their hopes dashed on Friday. Their best-case scenario would have seen Berlin invoke a climatic emergency to override fiscal orthodoxy and roll out a stimulative program of green investment. In the event, the measures announced not only fell short of the green lobby’s expectations—they were budget-neutral.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Stay Neutral Between Equities And Cash

    As August’s panic has receded, bond yields have risen from their lows. Even so, with the 10-year US treasury yield at 1.77%, the only way bonds can deliver significant upside from here is if the US economy slides into a disinflationary recession. That may yet happen. But it is by no means the most probable course for the US economy.

    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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    Gavekal Research

    US Liquidity Is Not The Worry

    Despite this week’s violent US money market judders, the Federal Reserve looks to have a clear plan for managing monetary policy and liquidity conditions. There are many reasons to worry about risk asset pricing, but a shock from the bowels of the US financial system is not among them. In contrast, there are four reasons to stay upbeat about the US liquidity situation.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Industrial Disease (II)

    Last week, Charles examined the decline of the US industrial sector, introducing his “industrial Wicksellian spread” as an indicator of environmental conditions for industry. Now he looks at the probable causes of industrial deterioration, explains why neither monetary nor fiscal policy can help, and uses his toolkit to draw some important conclusions for portfolio investors.

    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 Research

    The Cost Of Cleaner Shipping

    Right now, investors concerned about energy prices are focused on the attacks on Saudi Arabia’s processing facilities. But a possible conflict in the Gulf will not be the only emergent factor likely to affect oil prices over the coming months. New rules for cleaner shipping fuels, known as “IMO 2020,” also have the potential to roil global petroleum markets.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    After The Summer Of Discontent

    The poor economic indicators for August make it obvious why China’s government got ahead of the data release and signal renewed support for growth in early September. That means more incremental policy measures are coming, which will help sentiment. And the drag on growth from the auto sector should also reverse toward the end of 2019.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Reexamining The US Recession Indicator

    I may opine across many topics when writing these missives, but all said and done, I am a rules-based investor. In late 2016 my US recession indicator told me that the US economy was likely to face a recession, yet no such thing happened. As a result, I started to look for an explanation, and only now do I feel that a clear answer is coming into view.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Q&A On The Saudi Oil Attacks

    One thing that stands out about the reaction to the weekend’s strikes on Saudi Arabian oil facilities is how muted much of the market response has been. Nevertheless, investors are concerned about what lies ahead. In this report, Louis attempts to answer some of the most prominent questions asked over the last 48 hours.

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