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E.g., 29-02-2020
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    Gavekal Research

    The Fourth Horseman?

    It is unlikely Xi Jinping has spent much time studying Christian eschatology. But if he has, the Chinese president might be forgiven for thinking that after (trade) war, conquest (in Hong Kong) and famine (African swine fever), he now has to deal with the fourth horseman of the Apocalypse: Death (in the unwelcome shape of the Wuhan coronavirus).

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    Gavekal Research

    Playing The ECB Strategic Review

    When a government agency announces a “strategic review”, the presumption is that some knotty issue is being kicked into the long grass. That was the vibe yesterday when Christine Lagarde kicked off the European Central Bank’s year-long navel gazing exercise. In this case, however, investors would do well not to check out entirely from ECB watching.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Video: On Target In China?

    In 2015 the Chinese government set out its 13th five-year plan, with economic and social targets that it aimed to hit by the end of 2020. The five-year plans are important because the government derives legitimacy from improving people’s livelihoods. The Dragonomics team has examined seven such targets and their impact on the economy.

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    Gavekal Research

    Italy Gets Interesting Again

    After almost five months of calm, there is a quickening in Italian politics. Luigi Di Maio yesterday stepped down as head of the governing Five Star movement as it faces the prospect of a drubbing in a regional election this weekend. The man most likely to capitalize on his troubles is Matteo Salvini, whose Lega Party is the most popular in Italy, polling 30-35%. The result may be more volatility in Italian assets, but a return to crisis...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    A-shares Beyond Wuhan Volatility

    Although the Wuhan coronavirus has the potential to whipsaw Chinese equities in the near term, it makes sense to assess the prospects for China’s A-share market this year should the current nervousness quickly abate. Thomas argues that market sentiment is likely to turn favorable provided the virus is contained given the trade war truce, easing deflationary pressure and a profit cycle upturn.

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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.

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    Gavekal Research

    Lessons From Last Time Around

    Beijing shops have sold out of high-spec surgical masks, scared customers are stockpiling medicines, and financial markets are looking shaky. The parallels between the current coronavirus outbreak and the 2003 epidemic of Sars are obvious. But there are also important differences, especially in the backdrop against which today’s outbreak is occurring.

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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.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Year Of Many Targets

    2020 is a big year for China’s central planners. Beijing has set a wide range of targets to be achieved by the year’s end, and the policies enacted to meet these objectives have had far-reaching effects. In this report, the Dragonomics team examines seven such targets, the policies implemented to reach them, and the consequences for China’s economy.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Dark Side Of A Strong US Economy

    The US’s growth outlook has been bolstered by easy financial conditions and trade deals being reached with China and its near neighbors. Yet, those prospects are also hampered by a tight labor market that threatens corporate profits. What recent data releases highlight is both the enduring strength of the US economy and niggling late-cycle factors that could yet undo it.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Better Lucky Than Good

    China’s government has done its part to steady the economy and markets: it has agreed to a rather one-sided trade deal with the US, and softened the tone of its financial de-risking campaign. But December’s data show that good luck has mattered more: turns in the autos and electronics cycles are what’s really behind the stabilization of growth.

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    Gavekal Research

    Video: US Autos Ride Again

    A range of cyclical and structural factors have conspired to hit US auto sales in recent years. But with the US labor market remaining in rude health and US monetary policy being loosened, that may be about to change. The impact could be positive for US growth and for risk assets, argues KX in this interview.

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    Gavekal Research

    Chickens Coming Home To Roost

    French workers last weekend won a reprieve from the government’s plan to nudge the retirement age higher, but that does not mean they can breathe easy, thinking their financial futures are secured. With much of pension assets invested in government bonds, an interesting question is what the return will be of a 10-year constant duration OAT in the next decade.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Post-Election Upside For Taiwan

    Contrary to investor fears, the victory of Chinaskeptic Tsai Ing-wen in last weekend’s Taiwanese presidential election is unlikely to lead to a marked further deterioration of cross-straits relations between Taipei and Beijing. With that risk off the table, explains Vincent, the coast is clear for an improving electronics cycle to support the local stock market.

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    Gavekal Research

    A Tough Ask On Trade, Trouble Brewing On Tech

    The story we’ve been telling for the past few months is that the conclusion of the US-China trade deal will reduce global macro risk in 2020, but tech-specific risk will still be an issue because of continued efforts by the US to constrain the rise of China’s technology sector and in particular Huawei. This week’s news buttressed that story: the trade deal was signed; but at the same time several US agencies are on the verge of tightening...

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    Gavekal Research

    Reasons To Catch A Swedish Knife

    After Sweden's Riskbank in October said it would end negative interest rates as the dangers from the policy outweighed the waning advantages, the krona rose 5.3% against the euro and 3.8% against the US dollar until the end of the year. Since then, however, the unit has slumped -1.2% on a trade-weighted basis. This looks to be a good chance to buy the dip.

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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.

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    Gavekal Research

    Causes And Consequences Of Hong Kong Dollar Strength

    Last summer, as Hong Kong’s police seemed set to run out of tear gas, betting against the Hong Kong dollar peg seemed like a safe bet. It hasn’t exactly worked out that way, and in recent weeks the Hong Kong dollar has strengthened to the strong side of its limited trading band. In this piece, Louis explains why.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Defense Drives US Decoupling

    Although US President Donald Trump has called a truce in his trade war with China, the strategic tensions in the US-China relationship still remain. Therefore, as Lance explains in this piece, the US defense sector is already taking concrete steps to reduce its reliance on China for some products with direct military applications.

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    Gavekal Research

    The European Recovery Lives, Just

    On the face of it, Germany’s industrial slump is still worsening. The worry has been that a cratering of Europe’s industrial economy proves bad enough to reverse the “internal” recovery spurred by super-easy monetary policy. In fact, such a contagion is unlikely in 2020 and the eurozone should see overall growth stabilize at around its potential level.

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    Gavekal Research

    A Qualified Bull On US Equities

    US unemployment is at its lowest in half a century. Yet for investors, the strength of the US jobs market is far from an unalloyed good. The biggest macro risk to the bull market in US equities this year is a sharp rise in inflation. And such a rise in inflation could have two probable causes: a steep rise in energy prices, or a marked rise in labor costs.

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    Gavekal Research

    Credit Spreads: Not Worth The Risk

    US corporate bonds had a great run in 2019, and have started 2020 on a strong note. Both investment grade and high yield indexes rose by around 14% last year, with credit spreads contracting substantially in the fourth quarter to approach their narrowest for this cycle. However, as US corporate leverage has risen, considerable latent risks have accumulated in the system.

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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Taiwan Chooses, Hong Kong Reacts

    Taiwan goes to the polls on Saturday in a presidential election where pro-independence incumbent Tsai Ing-wen looks like a shoo-in against the more China-friendly Kuomintang candidate. Tsai is unlikely to push China’s red lines and cross-strait relations should not be imperiled. Vincent also addresses the related issue of Beijing replacing its top representative in Hong Kong with a senior apparatchik.

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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research Call January 2020

    The past few weeks have seen Chinese policymakers signaling clearly that the campaign of selective easing begun last year will be carried on into 2020 even as growth continues to slow. With trade war risk lowered, and the electronics and auto sector cycles bottoming out, the outlook for equity and bond markets is fairly benign.

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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

    Ten Bears That Could See Off Goldilocks In 2020

    With interest rates low, and growth that is neither too hot nor too cold, Anatole remains firmly in the “Goldilocks lives on” camp. But while a continued bull run is the most probable outcome for 2020, bears still lurk in the shadows. In this paper Anatole identifies the 10 main macroeconomic, political and sector risks that could derail markets in 2020.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Mortgage Rate Reset

    China’s central bank is moving forward with its interest-rate reforms, ordering mortgages to be reset based on the new loan prime rate. Rosealea explains that this shift will make monetary policy more transparent and effective by re-linking mortgage rates to official policy rates, but it does not herald a cycle of major cuts in mortgage rates.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Message Behind The Missiles

    At very first glance, the Iranian missile attack on two US airbases in Iraq early Wednesday might appear to confirm worst case fears that the US and Iran are heading irreversibly towards all-out war. However, a preliminary examination of the information available suggests there are still solid reasons to believe that the tensions can be de-escalated, and that outright conflict can be avoided.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: China's Balancing Act Gets Easier

    In 2019, investors were cowed by the US-China trade war and Chinese policymakers’ efforts to balance growth and financial stability. This year, these factors will weigh less heavily: the US and China are set to ink a trade deal, while China is shifting more toward growth-supporting policies. Such a combination is mildly bullish for both Chinese bonds and equities.

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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.

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    Gavekal Research

    Gold Beyond The Iran Crisis

    Gold has ripped higher in the last two days, climbing 3% since Friday. But that price spike cannot compensate for the undeniable fact that the last 10 years have been a tough decade for the yellow metal. So, what can we expect from gold going forward?

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Dispassionate View Of The Iran Crisis

    To judge by the tone of the media coverage and much of the analysis since Friday, the world is teetering on the brink of an apocalyptic war in the Middle East between the US and Iran. But a dispassionate examination of the US-Iran confrontation indicates that the probability of an all-out shooting war between the two sides remains small. As a result, while markets are right to price in an elevated risk premium following Friday’s strike, the...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Echoes Of 2017

    Global markets began 2020 on a bullish note, with the US S&P 500 climbing to a fresh record close, up a chunky 4.3% over the last month. Indeed, the US monetary backdrop at the start of 2020 is reminiscent of that in early 2017, a year which saw the S&P 500 climb 19.4%. History may not repeat this year, but there are good reasons to believe it may yet rhyme.

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    Gavekal Research

    What The Trade Deal Won't Change

    President Trump has confirmed he will sign his trade deal with China on January 15, and the PBOC has reinforced its tilt to more dovish policies. This combination of events means the macro factors that drove December’s rally—a receding trade war and a global easing of monetary policy—are still in place for January, if increasingly priced in.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Surprises Of 2019

    As the year draws to a close, Louis has decided to review the key events of 2019 that he either didn’t see coming, or whose ramifications he under estimated. Such events could cast a long shadow in the coming quarters as their impact on markets may not yet be fully digested.

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    Gavekal Research

    Active Versus Passive

    Back in 2003, low interest rates were creating problems for pension funds and insurance companies which could not find enough high-quality bonds offering a decent interest rate. Not to worry, said Wall Street banks, which began to package up real estate-based bonds of varying quality; the best tranches got a triple-A stamp from the credit rating agencies, yet they miraculously offered a higher yield than other top-notch bonds. We all know how...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Nonsense Anatole, Boris Deserves Three Cheers

    In 2017, as the Brexit negotiations between London and Brussels got going in earnest, I wrote a paper explaining why the European Commission’s officials and their counterparts across the continent were going to do everything in their power to make the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union as difficult as they possibly could (see May’s Misguided Brexit Speech). And over the next two years, they did just that.

    10
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    Gavekal Research

    Bolsonaro’s Hard Choices

    Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro has achieved notable wins during his first year in office. He has secured social security reform, overseen deregulation and secured a draft regional trade deal with the European Union. His problem is that growth remains tepid and events are moving against him, especially a US-China trade deal that may hurt Brazilian farmers.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Audio — Gavekal Research Call December 2019

    In the final Gavekal Research Conference Call of the year Louis-Vincent Gave, Anatole Kaletsky, Arthur Kroeber and Will Denyer reviewed the current investment environment and outlined their expectations for 2020.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Boris's Bearish Brexit

    We now know why markets reacted so nervously to Boris Johnson’s election landslide last Thursday. The lack of follow-through after that evening’s exit poll and the retreat when trading resumed on Friday morning was suspicious. But there were no clear explanations until Monday evening, when everything became clear. At 10.30pm Downing Street restated Johnson’s promise to finish negotiating a new UK-European Union trade deal within 12 months and...

    1
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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

    The Repo Paradox

    Following the US dollar liquidity squeeze and repo rate spike in mid-September—an event which went on to trigger hearty liquidity injections from the Federal Reserve—the market has been on the lookout for new stressors in the US dollar money markets. There were concerns of renewed stress on Monday as the Treasury sucked up an estimated US$84bn on the settlement of new debt issues and through the receipt of corporate taxes. US money market rates...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Stable Growth Without Undue Stimulus

    China's latest economic figures show continued growth into the end of this year. In this report, Thomas outlines how these data points, combined with the fragile US-China trade truce, might give Chinese policymakers the space they need to achieve their goal of maintaining stable growth without resorting to excessive stimulus.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Trade War’s Uneasy Truce

    The “phase one” US-China trade deal announced last week still has some hoops to pass through before it becomes real: completion of a bilingual legal text and formal signing in January. Still, both sides have incentives to avoid the economic damage from further tariff escalation, so the deal will almost surely come into force. The agreement falls far short of achieving the US goal of forcing China to change its state-led economic system; instead...

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    Gavekal Research

    Is Brexit The Midwife To A New Investment Environment?

    With the confirmation of a conservative victory in the UK election, and a long awaited trade deal between the US and China, the pieces are falling into place for a weakening of the US dollar and a continuation of the global reflation trade. Already, both sterling and the euro have strengthened in response to the reports of a Tory victory.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Our 2019 Holiday Reading List

    “So many books,” lamented the late Frank Zappa, “so little time.” For readers wondering which of the 130mn books published since the invention of the printing press they should curl up with over the coming break, hopefully Gavekal’s annual holiday reading picks may help.

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    Gavekal Research

    Towards A Green Supply Shock

    The “European Green Deal” announced with much fanfare on Wednesday was long on ambitious targets, short on implementation details about how they will be achieved. The lack of detail leaves investors to ask how Brussels’ green deal will affect the continent’s growth prospects. Here it is possible to set out some pointers.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: India’s Economic Malaise

    India’s economy has slowed down dramatically from around 8% growth a little over a year ago to 4.5% in the most recent quarter. Udith reckons the primary causes of this are domestic factors, as the financial system has continued to struggle while the policy response is too weak to be effective. The risk for the rupee is to the downside.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Scenarios For 2020

    Beijing has been largely successful in balancing a response to China’s economic slowdown with a need to continue its financial cleanup, but how sustainable is this delicate status quo? In this report, Andrew lays out different scenarios and the likelihood of policymakers being able to maintain their “selective easing” strategy through 2020.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    What Would Volcker Do?

    Paul Volcker, who died this week aged 92, leaves a legacy of public service with a backbone. He managed the monetary affairs of the world’s leading economy during its post-WW2 nadir, and so his perspective on conducting monetary policy in times of political turmoil is without match.

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