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    Gavekal Research

    EM Balance Sheet Vs Income Statement

    Emerging market investors face a dilemma in 2019. Softer relative growth prospects in the US as the initial effects of 2018’s tax cuts wear off, coupled with the easing of the US dollar liquidity squeeze implied by a more dovish Federal Reserve and softer oil price, favor emerging market assets. The question is: how best to implement this view?

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Global Car Industry Catches Chinese Flu

    If the auto industry is a bellwether of global economic health, then much of the world is looking sick. The second half of 2018 was painful for carmakers in all the major auto markets, and 2019 is shaping up to be as bad. Is this just a passing malady that carmakers will soon shrug off, or a chronic condition they will have to manage for years to come?

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Gaming Out Theresa May’s Gamble

    Given that the UK prime minister has apparently outfoxed her opponents, why has the pound fallen back below US$1.30? The obvious reason is that Theresa May’s unexpected wins in the UK parliament last week look to have increased the chances of a disorderly “no deal” rupture. In reality, however, the chances of “no deal” are no higher today than they were a week ago as the EU and UK opposition are yielding to May’s pressure.

    8
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    It’s Not 2015 All Over Again

    The profits of China’s industrial sector are turning down—but as Thomas argues in this piece, a repeat of the traumatic downturn of 2014-15 is not in the cards for 2019. Heavy industry will hold up better this time around, but consumer-facing sectors will do worse. This downcycle will be more broad-based, but less severe, than the last one.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Portfolio Construction In A Malthusian World

    The two key questions posed by economics are: why do things have “value” and—over time—how does that “value” change? Thomas Malthus showed why people value things that are scarce, like jewels or a Monet painting Alternatively, David Ricardo and Joseph Schumpeter, showed why its worth owning something that is useful—a “tool” from which goods and services can be made and sold at a price that exceeds their cost of production.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research Call February 2019

    In the call yesterday, Charles Gave and Cedric Gemehl presented their views on the economic and political situation in Europe. Cedric outlined key risks facing Europe’s economy. If the worst is avoided, he thinks Europe could get a soft landing. Charles took a different view, arguing that the eurozone was now an irretrievably diverging system.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Looser Fed And Tighter Banks

    News flow from the US and beyond over recent months has pointed to an easing of financial conditions. A notable exception has, however, emerged: US commercial banks have stopped loosening lending standards and have started to tighten them—just a touch. I remain constructive, but have gotten more cautious about US risk assets.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Conflicting Signals From The US Labor Market

    The US labor market is sending apparently contradictory signals. On one hand the unemployment rate ticked higher in January. On the other, job creation was much stronger than expected. Will looks behind the latest data points to examine the labor market’s underlying trends, and concludes they spell relatively bullish news for the US economy and risk assets over the coming months.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Politics Of Indian Largesse

    India aspires to be a US$10trn economy by 2030. It’s fine to dream, but first the ruling BJP must win a general election. After recent defeats in three state elections and a resurgent opposition, it faces a tough race. The interim budget on Friday responded to the Congress Party’s leftist populism while presenting a fiscal plan designed not to spook markets.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    A Vital Portfolio Construction Lesson

    I am a rules-based investor, and over the years few financial relationships have been more useful to me in reading the economic cycle than the yield spread between long-dated US corporate bonds and 30-year US treasuries. Going back to the late 1970s, no US bear market has unfolded with key spread being below 200bp. It is now 210bp.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: Europe's Containable Risks

    As China slows and the US expansion limps into its dotage, a heavily export-dependent Europe looks vulnerable to another downturn. The latest growth numbers from Italy and Germany make for especially grim reading. Potential shocks loom in the shape of a hard Brexit, populist discontent in France and Italy and the threat of auto tariffs from the US.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Large Print Giveth, The Small Print Taketh Away

    China’s government has made a cut in personal-income taxes, rushed out in August 2018, a centerpiece of its response to a slowing economy. Additional tax deductions were unveiled in January, but as Ernan explains, the new details are not that bullish for consumer spending. Enforcement is tightening, and some tax breaks will be phased out.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Fed To The Rescue

    It was no surprise on Wednesday that the US Federal Reserve promised to be “patient” about further interest hikes and flexible on the pace and extent of its balance sheet reduction. The Fed’s more dovish stance had been clearly signaled in a series of speeches ahead of yesterday’s policy meeting. As Fed chairman Jay Powell explained, with US inflation data subdued and other major economies slowing, it makes good sense for the Fed to take a “wait...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Long Plateau In Housing Demand

    While many forecasters had expected China’s steel demand to enter long-term decline as housing construction peaks, in fact it has stayed surprisingly strong. In this piece, Rosealea revisits her housing model, and finds it is consistent with recent trends. Construction should peak in 2020-22, so steel demand can stay elevated for a few more years.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Recession Of 2019: Revisited

    Six months ago Charles posited the idea of a global recession starting in and around March 2019. He revisits that idea in this piece and concludes that there is clear evidence of the global system suffering a marked slowdown. Here, he seeks to identify the source of the problem by a process of elimination (spoiler alert, the problem isn’t China).

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Don't Fear Corporate Leverage (Yet)

    With Brexit, the US-China trade war and a synchronous global slowdown, these are anxious times for investors. But apparently, all these concerns pale in comparison with worries about US corporate leverage. According to a BofAML survey this month, corporate indebtedness is the biggest single worry among fund managers. We beg to differ.

    17
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    Gavekal Research

    A Huawei-Scale Problem

    The charges that US prosecutors have now filed against telecom equipment supplier Huawei are similar to those thrown at two other Chinese tech firms last year. The eventual outcome is likely to be similar: the imposition of export controls that will threaten Huawei’s survival and force it to accede to a restrictive deal with the US government.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Favor Local Bonds Over EM Equities

    After a dismal year for emerging market assets in 2018, emerging markets have started 2019 on a positive note, with equities rising 6.5% and local currency bonds up 3% year-to-date. On Friday, Louis looked at shifts in the US dollar, long term US interest rates, credit spreads and the oil price, and concluded they favor emerging market assets through the rest of 2019. Broadly I agree, but I would take a slightly more nuanced stance. The shifts...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Four Prices That Matter

    It is Gavekal’s longstanding mission to develop simple principles that investors can use to navigate complicated financial markets. In this vein, one of our core tenets is that four prices matter more than all others, and together these determine the level of global economic activity and of investor risk appetite. Let us see where they stand as we head deeper into 2019.

    12
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Skirting Recession In Europe?

    This week the IMF has cut its GDP forecasts for European economies exposed to a synchronous global growth slowdown. Nick gauges the probability that core eurozone economies will fall into recession, examines the scope for stimulative policy responses and explores what the slowdown means for Europe’s financial markets.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Germany's Industrial Slump

    With leading indicators in Germany pointing south, and a host of external macro factors looming, things are likely to get worse before they get better. However, much of the potential bad news is already priced into the German stock market. As a result, there is scope for a pick-up in German equities later in the year should the worst of investors’ macro fears fail to materialize.

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Next Liquidity Squeeze On Private Firms

    China’s private firms suffered a big liquidity squeeze in 2018 as regulators cracked down on shadow financing. But in 2019 they must also contend with the threat of another liquidity squeeze: state-owned enterprises hoarding cash and delaying payments. Unless officials force them to stop, SOEs could squeeze another RMB1trn from private firms.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    The Bull Case For US Housing

    As the US government shutdown drags on, US-China tariff talks stutter, the Chinese growth engine slows, global trade slumps and GDP forecasts get cut, the stream of macro-misery in recent days has seemed relentless. On Tuesday, the US National Association of Realtors added its voice to the dirge, reporting that sales volumes for existing homes fell -10% year-on-year to a three year low in December. With new home sales and construction equally...

    10
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    Gavekal Research

    The Future Of Italian Yields

    Since it became clear Rome and Brussels were moving towards a compromise to end their budget stand-off, Italian assets have outperformed. The yield on 10-year BTPs has fallen, narrowing the spread over bunds. But investors should be wary of positioning for a continued contraction; in both the short and long term, Italy’s deficit and debt dynamics are unpromising.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Time For US Curve Steepeners

    Despite the risk-on move of the last four weeks in the US, the two-year to five-year portion of the yield curve remains inverted. And as recent data releases pointing to a slowdown in growth, fears persist that the US economy is heading towards a recession. However, while US growth set to moderate, forecasts of recession are premature.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Not Out Of The Woods Yet

    China’s growth in the fourth quarter slowed to 6.4%. There were some bright spots, notably the resilience of the property market. However, the export sector was weak, and the removal of policy constraints on industry gave a mixed picture. All in all, Beijing’s policy measures so far have at best only cushioned the impact of the slowdown.

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    Mexico 1, Brazil 0

    When Brazil met Mexico in last year’s football world cup, the Brazilian team walked away the victors by two goals to nil. In financial markets too, Brazil has lately been beating Mexico. In recent weeks each country has installed as its president a fiery populist—although they hail from different ends of the ideological spectrum. In Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro is an unabashed right-winger, while his Mexican counterpart Andrés Manuel López Obrador, or...

    8
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Beyond The Government Shutdown

    As the US government shutdown threatens to enter its fifth week, Will looks back at previous shutdowns to weigh the likely impact on America’s economy and financial markets, against the backdrop of an aging economic cycle, flattening yield curve and tighter financial conditions.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Musings On Brexit

    With the UK’s elite intent on frustrating the democratically-expressed will of the British people to quit the EU, the lesson for the rest of the continent is that there can be no legal or peaceful exit from the technocratic super-state. As Charles argues here, this increases the probability of disorderly exits in the future, and therefore greatly heightens European political risk.

    8
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    Gavekal Research

    Trump's Next Trade Target

    Just when the risk from trade politics seemed to be dying down, it’s getting complicated again. Trade talks between the United States and China are in full swing, but just as important are imminent negotiations between the US and the European Union, which are clouded by the US threat to impose tariffs on cars and car parts.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Brexageddon

    It should have been no surprise that sterling rallied after the overwhelming defeat of Theresa May’s Brexit plan. The disorderly “no deal” rupture with Europe rightly terrifies the markets and the business community is now much less likely. As a result, sterling is likely to rise eventually back towards its long term average real exchange rate.

    6
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Incredible Shrinking Current Account

    China once had the world’s largest current-account surplus, but that surplus headed rapidly toward zero in 2018. In this piece, Chen Long unpacks the structural and cyclical factors behind this shift. He doubts China is headed for a persistent current-account deficit just yet, but thinks the smaller surplus will make the currency more volatile.

    6
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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

    Macron Is Muddling Through

    As the economy weakens, yellow-vested agitators show no sign of giving up on their campaign to block President Emmanuel Macron’s effort to change the way France works. I have argued against the increasingly mainstream view that Macron is a busted flush whose efforts to reform an unreformable France are doomed to fail and am sticking with that position.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    A Good News Story From The US

    As the record government shutdown denies Americans vital services and federal workers paychecks, the US has hardly been putting its best foot forward. While we don't expect this political impasse to change the growth trajectory, it does weigh on the market mood. Against such a dour backdrop, we think a good news story from the US economy can be easily missed.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    It's Not All Bad News In Property

    China’s property market keeps delivering bad news: declines in housing sales, land sales and prices have deepened in recent months. But Rosealea sees some positive signs in easing local government policies, lower bank funding costs, and strong momentum in construction. In this piece, she explains why she is not joining the property-market bears.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Video: China In 2019

    Washington and Beijing will likely find some kind of accommodation on trade and China’s economy will suffer a tough first quarter that sees the authorities adopt a range of counter-cyclical measures. In this video interview, Arthur outlines our key China views for 2019 and offers investment recommendations for the renminbi, bonds and the Chinese equity market.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Silly Recommendation

    The euro just celebrated its 20th anniversary to scant fanfare. Hardly surprising, given that it caused a Greek depression, decline in Italy’s private sector GDP and a German current account surplus that has exported deflationary pressure to Europe and beyond. Against this grim backdrop, today’s note will consider whether now is the time to buy eurozone financials.

    0
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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

    The Big Questions For 2019

    The last quarter of 2018 proved to be something of a horror show for most investors and despite this year starting with a firmer tone, the investment landscape looks to have changed in a fairly profound way. In this report, Louis considers the major shifts in the investment environment and asks whether these conditions will persist through 2019.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Beyond The US Dollar-Yen Flash Crash

    The consensus is that last Wednesday’s “flash crash” in the US dollar-yen exchange rate was sparked by a flight to safety in extremely thin trading while Japanese markets were closed for a holiday. Fair enough—but it does not explain why the yen has still strengthened 5% against the US dollar since early October.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    A Cold Winter In China's Job Market

    China’s job market was an early casualty of the US-China trade conflict, with industrial layoffs accelerating to a pace last seen in 2015-6. But Ernan argues that the situation is worse this time, as service-sector employers are being squeezed by tighter regulations. The weaker job market means a worsening outlook for household spending in 2019.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: The Hope-Vs-Despair Smackdown Of 2019

    The massive sell-off in December left global equities on the precipice of a real bear market. Hope and despair are finely poised, but we find a bit more reason for hope. The US and China will both slow, but the US should avoid recession and Chinese growth should stay above 6%. Political and trade-war risk is lower, and liquidity pressures will ease. US equities and EM assets, especially local-currency bonds, both promise positive returns.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    What To Watch In Chinese A-Shares

    Chinese A-shares were the world’s worst-performing major equity market in 2018. For the market to rally in 2019, three factors will need to show signs of clarity and improvement: China’s macro policy direction, liquidity squeezes in the bond and equity markets, and the trade war with the US.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    More Than RRR Cuts Needed To Stabilize Growth

    After the central bank's latest cut in bank reserve requirements, the key question is not whether Beijing will continue to loosen policy, but when its measures will begin to have a visible impact. In this piece, Chen Long argues that it will take several more months of easing before the economy and stock market begin to feel the benefit.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Searching For A European Catalyst

    With 2019 not yet a week old, the eurozone is already looking uncomfortably like the odd man out. With the world’s big three economies heading more deeply into a synchronous slowdown, policymakers in the US and China are showing their readiness to alter course. European policymakers have displayed no comparable flexibility.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    This Century's Suez Crisis

    China’s “Belt and Road” initiative is a clear bid by Beijing to challenge the incumbent imperial power: the US. And in an age when the highest-value commodities are not physical goods, but the binary digits zipping around the world at the speed of light, the battleground of this struggle for dominance will be telecommunication networks.

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    Rollover In The US, Not Recession

    This week’s revenue forecast downgrades from Apple and Delta Air Lines and Thursday’s steep dive in the ISM manufacturing PMI only appeared to confirm what market participants already knew: US growth is rolling over. Yet despite the recent sell-off in equities and the further flattening of the US yield curve, we see no recession on the horizon.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    China And The US Still Hold The Keys To Markets' Fate

    In 2018 liquidity tightening in the US and China combined with trade war fears to make a miserable year for markets. In 2019 the same forces will be at work but the outcomes may differ. The key questions are: can the US and China work out a trade deal? How bad is the Chinese slowdown and how will Beijing respond? And how much will the Fed tighten?

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    The Market Weighing-Machine

    If there is one useful conclusion for investors from the crazy year that has just ended, maybe it is this: as they say in Hollywood, “Nobody knows anything.” The equity market predicted a boom while the bond market predicted recession, and then reversed positions. The consolation for investors should be that the market is a voting machine in the short term, but a weighing machine in the long term.

    2
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