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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.

    0
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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.

    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 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 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.

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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.

    3
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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.

    0
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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?

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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...

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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.

    2
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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...

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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...

    3
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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.

    0
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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.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The French Resistance

    While most of the rest of Europe, including Germany, has run into stiff headwinds from the slowdown in global demand, the French economy has continued to trundle along largely untroubled, with growth closely in line with potential. Cedric argues France’s economy will continue to grow in steady, if unspectacular, fashion over the medium term.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Japan's Fiscal Engagement

    Japan's upward revision to GDP growth yesterday was taken as a bad omen. It suggests that shoppers went on a spree before the October 1 tax rise, and tougher times may follow. This explains why the government unfurled a big emergency fiscal stimulus last week. On the face of it, this should be negative for the yen, yet other forces are likely to keep the currency range-bound.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Why The Private Liquidity Crisis Isn't Over

    The multi-year liquidity squeeze for Chinese private-sector firms continues, despite repeated promises from policymakers to resolve the issue. In this report, Thomas explains how Beijing’s tight grip on financial risk has stymied efforts to alleviate China’s beleaguered private sector—and why this lending crunch will persist through 2020.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Rentier's Paradise

    For East Asia’s emerging economies, these are the best and the worst of times. Bad news can be seen in slowing trade, deglobalization effects and China’s structural slowdown rendering the commodity “super cycle” a memory. Yet they also benefit from good policy choices, contained energy costs and favorable liquidity conditions. Indonesia is the prime example of this low-growth, low-inflation new normal.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Parsing Payrolls And The Fed

    November’s employment figures show that the US jobs market is slowing, but the slowdown is gradual and not sufficient to worry investors to any significant degree about an impending recession. Nor, with inflation expectations subdued, do recent jobs data give the Federal Reserve reason to act either one way or the other at this week’s policy meeting.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Upside-down Europe

    Ever since the European debt crisis Germany has outperformed the rest of Europe thanks to booming external demand, while the rest of the continent suffered from a restrictive policy mix. However, lately these conditions seem to be reversing, with Germany suffering from a collapse in its crucial auto industry. Cedric discusses this shift and outlines the implications for investors.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Safety Rope On The Wall Of Worry

    Markets are heading into the end of 2019 on a broadly constructive note. Yet there are daunting risks hanging over 2020. And although a number of these risks may be of modest probability, the impact on portfolios should they arise will be great. This means investors are to an extent climbing a wall of worry. Fortuitously, there is a safety rope to hand.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Pitfalls Of Beijing’s AI Strategy

    The Chinese government has made artificial intelligence a national development priority and is dedicating huge resources to the task. Yet, as Lance explains in this report, the effort is suffering from mismanagement, wasteful provincial competition and difficulty retaining skilled workers.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Is Energy Uninvestible?

    Who would have thought at the time of the September attacks on Saudi that the oil sector would perform so dismally in the weeks after? This has been in line with a longer term underperformance, which has led many investors to dismiss the energy sector as uninvestible. Louis examines some of the arguments underlying this belief, and comes to an intriguing conclusion.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Carry Is Still King In Asia

    With the Federal Reserve firmly set in easing mode and the US heading into an unpredictable election season, there are good reasons to think the US dollar could be set for a period of weakness. A key beneficiary could be Asian currencies, which as a group are down about -10% against the global reserve currency in the last five years.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    India Macro Update: Stuck In A Rut

    After India’s economic growth rate slumped to a six-year low in the third quarter, the government of Narendra Modi is throwing fiscal caution to the winds in an attempt to juice up growth. Some form of recovery is likely over the coming quarters, but any loss of confidence among the foreign investors will leave asset prices vulnerable to hefty losses in US dollar terms.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The New Champion Of Monetary Conservatism

    The People’s Bank of China and the Bundesbank have never been known to be close. But Yi Gang, the Chinese central bank governor, is starting to sound German in his views on monetary policy. He argues that negative interest rates and quantitative easing have been a failure, and China must stick with conventional policy and positive rates.

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Back Door Is Still Closed

    A slew of new government policies has boosted market expectations for China’s infrastructure spending in 2020. But Rosealea counsels caution: while new measures have opened the “front door” of approved funding a bit wider, more important is that the “back door” of shadow financing remains firmly closed. A big rebound in public works is unlikely.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Long Slow Road To German Fiscal Expansion

    To read the media headlines, you would either think that Germany’s coalition government is on the brink of collapse, or that Europe’s largest economy is on the eve of a massive fiscal expansion. The headlines are exaggerated. Yes, at the weekend the coalition’s SPD partner did elect a duo of free-spending leftists as its new leaders. But the government is likely to survive intact for its remaining two years. And although political thought in...

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Learn To Stop Worrying And Love The Pound

    Sometimes, markets just get things wrong. Since early January investors have been panicking about a “no deal” Brexit, and I have been urging clients to buy sterling. Not because I became less gloomy about the damage that will be done to Britain by any form of Brexit, but because a “no deal” rupture is the one version of Brexit that can be confidently ruled out.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: Risk Assets In 2020

    World stock markets have enjoyed a solid couple of months as geopolitical risks have abated and the manufacturing slowdown appears to have leveled off. With major central banks all printing money simultaneously for the first time since the financial crisis, and fiscal policy easing at the same time, there are good reasons to believe the rally will be sustained into 2020.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    An American Intervention

    After easily passing both houses of Congress, Donald Trump had little choice but to sign bills dictating the US government’s treatment of Hong Kong. Its significance will be determined by Beijing’s response, and for now that is likely to stay focused on achieving an interim trade deal that delivers a roll-back on US import tariffs.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Seminar Series Multimedia — Fall 2019

    Partners and analysts present their core ideas for the big economic regions and global markets heading into the year-end and looking forward to 2020.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Earningless Equity Rally

    In the third quarter, US macro-level domestic earnings fell -1.9% year-on-year. Behind this squeeze lies a weak sales picture tied to trading uncertainty and a rise in wages. In the near term, both factors could intensify. Yet there is nothing especially new in weak US profits and a ripping equity market. There are, in fact, three reasons to think this situation can be sustained.

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    How To Get Comfortable With Chinese Equities

    The inclusion of Chinese onshore equities in global indexes has catalyzed a wave of interest from global investors. But for foreign investors to really get comfortable with Chinese stocks, Thomas argues, they need to grasp the many issues not addressed by index inclusion such as volatility, leverage, regulatory risk and corporate governance.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Upside Of Downing Tools

    A year after the eruption of the gilet jaune protests forced Emmanuel Macron to scrap planned fuel tax increases, the French president is facing fresh opposition to his program of structural reforms.On December 5, a coalition of labor unions is promising to down tools in an “unlimited” strike against the government’s proposed overhaul of France’s state pension systems.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The VIX, Fragility And Indexation

    At the same time as US stock markets ascended to all-time highs on Monday, the VIX volatility index fell to its lowest close in more than a year. In and of itself, this decline in the VIX should hardly be a great surprise given the Fed's liquidity expansion. But as part of a longer term pattern, this policy-driven decline in stock market volatility is deeply troubling.

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