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    Gavekal Research

    La Garde Meurt Mais Ne Se Rend Pas

    Surrounded at Waterloo and asked to lay down his arms, General Cambronne of Napoleon’s Imperial Guard replied: “La garde meurt mais ne se rend pas”. This translates as “The guard may die, but it does not surrender”. A saying that could apply to the new ECB head is: “The president’s term may end, but the institution does not yield to conventional monetary policies”.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Korea's Coping Strategy

    No other G20 economy is as exposed to global trade tensions as Korea. With its heavy dependence on semiconductor manufacturing, Korea has proved vulnerable both to the US-China economic cold war, and to long-running disputes between Seoul and Tokyo. As a result, exports have cratered and economists have slashed their Korean growth forecasts.

    0
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    Housing Points To Solid US Growth

    US mortgage applications fell in the week ended July 12, compared with the week before. But do not be misled by the latest week-on-week decline in this high frequency data series. In year-on-year terms, mortgage applications for home purchases have been rising consistently since the beginning of 2019, pointing to a rise in housing construction over the coming months.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Huawei’s Path To Survival

    The future of Huawei, China’s most successful electronics manufacturer, has looked bleak ever since the US put it on an export blacklist in May. But with the Trump administration proving willing to soften its export controls, and companies being able to find loopholes in them, it now looks like Huawei has a decent chance to survive.

    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

    The Fallout From Baoshang Bank

    The takeover of Baoshang Bank in May was China’s biggest bank failure in at least a decade. But the People’s Bank of China managed the ensuing market jitters well, once again proving itself to be an effective financial firefighter. Still, Baoshang’s failure does confirm that the era of rapid, unregulated growth for China’s smaller banks is over.

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Two Cheers For Unbalanced Growth

    China’s economy ended the second quarter on a high note, with industry and exports doing better than expected in June. The data reassured markets that the government’s macro policy stance—which has been quite conservative—is justified. But as Andrew argues in this piece, growth is being driven mainly by property, and can slow further.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Why This Time Is Different

    The evolution of the yield curve over the last four months—an inversion after a series of Federal Reserve interest rate hikes, followed by a rapid steepening—has been characteristic of the early stages of the last four US recessions. However, investors worried that the US economy may already be in recession can relax.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Brexit And The UK Trade Deficit

    The UK has long run a large goods trade deficit with its main trading partners. However, Charles argues that this ”deficit” should really be seen as two different deficits; one is with the world excluding the eurozone, and the other with the eurozone itself. Splitting them makes sense as they have different origins and react to different forces.

    1
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    Boris Johnson And The Pound

    With Boris Johnson’s almost inevitable enthronement as British prime minister only a week away, it is a good time to review the recommendation to buy sterling and sell UK government bonds which I first made in January, and repeated in April and again in late May.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Normalizing Tech Disruption

    Investors have been cheered by the US and China deescalating a trade dispute that has focused on China’s use of US technology. So what to make of a stand-off between two US allies in North Asia that could disrupt highly integrated technology supply chains? Could this action reflect the normalization of trade sanctions being used in bilateral disputes?

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Modi's Second Term Challenges

    Indian prime minister Narendra Modi faces some daunting economic challenges in his second term. As Udith explains in this interview, the biggest is to create new jobs India needs. In the coming decades, India must generate some 10mn new jobs every year simply to provide employment for the cohort of young Indians set to enter the workforce.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research Call July 2019

    In yesterday’s Gavekal Research conference call, Louis-Vincent Gave, Anatole Kaletsky and Arthur Kroeber conducted a mid-year review of the investment environment and outlined their expectations for the rest of the year onward.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Look For Just One-And-Done

    In Congressional testimony on Wednesday, Jay Powell cooed just like the dove investors want him to be. The Fed chairman dispelled any lingering doubts that either the end-June trade truce between the US and China or June’s strong US payrolls number will dissuade the Fed from cutting interest rates at the end of July.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Beijing's Backdoor Into Europe

    The new enthusiasm of some European countries for China’s infrastructure-building Belt and Road Initiative has raised alarm across the continent. Brussels fears China is buying influence in Europe’s periphery, sowing disunity and threatening democracy. Our latest in-depth DeepChina report explains the real story of China’s influence on Europe.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    France's Industrial Resilience

    France is bucking the downturn in European—and global—industry. In May, French industrial production confounded expectations by rising an impressive 4% year-on-year. And crucially, French industry is creating jobs again after a brutal 17-year contraction. Cedric examines the reasons for France’s industrial health.

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    Gavekal Research

    Return Of The Widowmaker

    If shorting Japanese government bonds is the ultimate widowmaker, calling the top of the gravity-defying Hong Kong property market cannot be far behind. The International Monetary Fund, for example, has been warning about the dangers of an unsustainable bubble since 2010. Now suspicions are growing that the stopped clock’s hour may finally be at hand.

    2
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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

    Emerging Markets After The Trade War

    Emerging markets did nicely out of the rumor, less well from the fact. As hopes grew through June for some form of trade détente between the US and China, EM assets staged a broad rally. Similarly, EM currencies pushed broadly higher, on the back of a wider US dollar softness. Over the last week, however, EM equities and currencies have pulled back.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Emissions Mess In Autos

    China’s auto market is still locked in the worst downturn in its history. In this report, Ernan explains how the government’s rushed transition to new vehicle-emissions standards worsened that downturn, and why it hasn’t reversed course. Though an end-year recovery for auto sales is still likely, 2019 will be a second bad year for the industry.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Anti-Fragile Assets As A Diversifier

    Last July Charles wrote a piece warning of a recession in the non-US OECD economies during 2019. Today, he runs an update on that thesis and seeks to refine his safety-first portfolio using assets which contain “anti-fragile” properties.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Three Messages From The Markets

    Last week’s market action confirmed three longstanding ideas that I have been presenting to clients. Firstly, there's no sign of a US recession. Secondly, bond market "signals" no longer convey useful information about economic growth prospects. Thirdly, there's no conflict between bearish bonds and bullish equities—they tell different stories.

    0
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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

    The Direction Of The Dollar

    The US dollar’s strength over the last year or so has been attributed in large part to expectations that the US administration would impose additional tariffs on imports from China. So, with those expectations on hold following last week’s agreement to resume trade negotiations, you might think the US dollar should be falling.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Future Of Forced Technology Transfers

    As China and the US restart their trade talks, negotiators face a daunting list of issues to resolve. One of the stumbling blocks is the US allegation of “forced technology transfer.” In this piece, Dan explains what China is doing to address the problem, how that might not be enough—and why forced transfers of technology don’t even always work.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: What Is Libra, And Will It Work?

    Facebook will have an uphill battle trying to convince consumers to adopt its announced digital currency, libra. As it will be backed by a basket of assets denominated in different currencies, the prices of goods and services will be more volatile in libra than in existing local currencies, even in emerging markets. This volatility will deter consumers from making the switch.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Betting Against The Gods Is Now Impossible

    Recently I made my usual remark to a European client about the stupidity of negative interest rates. My host told me a sobering story. He manages a pension fund and received a call by a regulator who said funds shouldn't hold too much cash because it's risky. Rather, they should buy long-dated bonds, regardless of the fact they're sure to lose money.

    14
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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

    The Meaning Of The EU's New Lineup

    After three days of intense maneuver and counter-maneuver, on Tuesday the European Union’s heads of government announced their choice of names to lead the EU’s central institutions for the coming years. The result is a remarkable clean sweep for the favored candidates of French president Emmanuel Macron.

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Housing Policy Turns Cautious

    Housing policy in China has taken a cautious turn, with policymakers more concerned about potential overheating in prices than worried about a downturn in sales and construction. In this piece, Rosealea explains how this shift is playing out through cuts in housing subsidies and changes to local policies, and evaluates the risks to the market.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    An Asymmetric Opportunity In BTPs

    The yield on 10-year BTPs has fallen below 2% for the first time since Italy’s populist government took office, yet investors continue to demand high premiums to hold Italian debt. Given that the cost of servicing this debt has fallen, and upcoming ratings reviews, there is a likelihood that BTP yields will converge further towards Portuguese and Spanish yields.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Hong Kong Revolts

    Twenty two years ago Britain handed back Hong Kong to China under the “one country, two systems” formula. Since then, the July 1 anniversary has seen the public demonstrate against the loss of freedoms This year’s escalation saw a hard core of protesters occupy and vandalize the local parliament. This is a key moment in Hong Kong’s era of dissent.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: Should We Believe Equities, Or Bonds?

    Record-high US equity prices seem hard to reconcile with the message sent by the lowest bond yields since 2016. Should investors hunker down due to the inverted yield curve, or jump aboard the equity bandwagon? In fact, both markets may be right in their own way.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Focus Turns To The Fed

    After the de-escalation of the US-China economic cold war at the weekend’s G20 summit in Osaka, all eyes are now on the US Federal Reserve, following policymakers’ recent indications that they are ready to cut interest rates. It could be argued that the trade war ceasefire reduces economic risk, and therefore will leave the Fed less inclined to loosen policy. But the Fed’s primary focus is on inflation expectations, and the degree to which they...

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Macro Update: Trade Truce, Growth Tremors

    It was a rocky second quarter for China, with trade tensions escalating and then easing, and domestic growth disappointing. In his latest chartbook, Chen Long assesses the current lay of the land. The growth slowdown is not over yet as macro policy has stayed relatively cautious, but easing trade tensions should boost equities and the currency.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Story Behind Low US Volatility

    When Donald Trump declared his trade war against China in the spring of 2018, investors could have been forgiven for expecting the resulting uncertainty and additional economic friction to add both to US equity market and GDP growth volatility. In fact, equity market volatility has generally been low, and US economic growth has remained stable.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Video: What Drives Chinese Equities

    Chinese equity markets are up around 26% for the year. Yet there has been no recovery in earnings growth, and the trade war and shaky domestic economic momentum continue to loom. The reason for the market optimism is expectations of supportive government policies, whether or not those expectations are valid.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Cold War Interglacial

    It is now almost certain that presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping will restart trade talks at the G20 summit in Osaka this weekend. Moreover, discussions in Washington suggest that there is a good chance these talks will result in a deal in the next few months. Our core scenario now is that macro risk from an escalating trade war is receding. There are also signs that the US and China could negotiate a truce on Huawei, lifting the apparent...

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    Trade War II, The Dollar And Gold

    After the opening Twitter salvo in "Trade War II" by Donald Trump in May, markets have reacted quite differently from "Trade War I" in the spring of 2018. This time, the Federal Reserve is sounding more dovish, US bond yields have fallen back to 2%, the dollar seems to be rolling over, and gold and EMs are doing well. This raises the question whether the investment environment is changing before our eyes.

    9
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    Gavekal Research

    Can Vietnam Win The Trade War?

    Vietnam is being touted as the big winner of the US-China trade war as companies shift their supply chains toward the low-cost export powerhouse. In the long term that is likely. In the short term, however, an improved export performance may be partly down to Chinese exports being routed through Vietnam to escape US detection.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    The Iran Wildcard

    Of the many risks besetting investors right now, the hardest to assess is the confrontation between the US and Iran. Should tensions escalate into a shooting war, the consequences would be far-reaching and severe. However, looking beyond the bellicose rhetoric there are reasons to believe that the balance of probability still weighs against a marked escalation.

    1
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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

    What Gold Is Telling Us

    Over the last few weeks long bond yields collapsed, which in turn led to a collapse in something called “inflation expectations”. Now, inflation expectations are a very useful indicator built by very clever PhDs. The main purpose of this indicator appears to be to persuade investors that they should buy bonds just when they really should be selling them.

    5
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Liquidity Improves, But Not For All

    China’s policymakers are pushing banks to offer more financing to private-sector firms, trying to solve their liquidity squeeze. In this piece, Thomas inspects the data for the effects of that push, and finds that new credit is flowing mainly to the largest and smallest firms. The mass of medium-sized private firms are still in a tough spot.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Keeping China In Play

    Next week’s big event will be the G-20 leaders’ meeting in Osaka, where presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping will sit down to figure out whether their stalled trade negotiations can be re-started. It is quite likely that trade talks will get back on track, but quite unlikely that a deal can actually be struck before the end of the year.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: China's Three Vulnerabilities

    Even if Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping leave the G-20 meeting in Osaka next week with a trade deal in hand, the broader rivalry will continue. In this extensive video interview Louis identifies three ways in which China is vulnerable to US pressure and explains how this may impact investors.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    How To Play The Fed Tease

    After the Federal Reserve’s two-day policy meeting, chairman Jay Powell told the market what it wanted to hear. Policymakers see rising risks and stand ready to cut interest rates, but there is no reason to panic—just yet. Real growth is solid, which is good for earnings, but inflation pressures are muted, allowing the Fed to be more accommodative.

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    Rebalancing Won't Rescue China

    As China hunkers down for an extended trade conflict with the US, it is sending reassuring signals about its ability to withstand the pressure. Officials argue the economy has “rebalanced” away from external to domestic demand, so it is less vulnerable. In this piece, Andrew explains how this misreads the role of exports in longer-term growth.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Investing For A New Cold War

    Earlier this year, Louis and Charles published a book whose main thesis was that an era of globalization is ending and the world is breaking into three separate economic zones.The question Louis addresses in this piece is how investors should play this macro shift. Those strategies that did best over the last decade are unlikely to outperform in the next period.

    10
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    Gavekal Research

    The ECB After Draghi

    At the ECB's annual shindig in Portugal this week, two questions matter. Given negative interest rates and capital key constraints over asset purchases, how does the ECB fight the next downturn? And who will replace Mario Draghi? His successor must be politically cunning if they are to persuade Europe’s leaders that monetary policy is reaching its limits, and fiscal policy must take the strain.

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