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    Gavekal Research

    Winners And Losers In India’s Dying Democracy

    As India’s economy has weakened, so too have its democratic foundations. Since Narendra Modi’s reelection victory in 2019, “the world’s largest democracy” has flirted with despotism. State institutions have been co-opted, freedoms repressed and minorities attacked. But a handful of listed companies—especially those run by tycoons with personal ties to Modi—are thriving.

    15
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    Gavekal Research

    A Mile In MbS’s Shoes

    Steve Martin once said “before you criticize a man, walk a mile in his shoes. That way, when you do criticize him, you’ll be a mile away and have his shoes”. In this piece Louis takes a stroll in Mohammed bin Salman’s shoes to see what issues Saudi Arabia has faced recently, and outlines four scenarios that affect energy prices and geopolitics.

    0
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    The High Cost Of Free Money, Revisited

    It’s now more than 10 years since Charles published a seminal paper titled The High Cost Of Free Money, in which he argued that free-market capitalism could not function properly without a free-market-determined cost of capital. Today it’s clear that capital markets, at least, can continue to operate, but Charles argues this has created very little new wealth.

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    Internet Platforms Versus Policy Darlings

    China’s offshore internet platform stocks saw fresh falls in Asia on Monday morning after reports that the Chinese authorities will break up Ant Group’s Alipay business. In recent weeks, some investors have been advocating a rotation to “safer” segments of China’s tech sector, such as hardware companies favored by policymakers. But Thomas writes, these carry risks of their own.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: The Economics Of Germany's Election

    Ahead of Germany’s election in a couple of weeks, the center-left Social Democratic Party has recently climbed up the polls to eclipse the previously dominant Christian Democratic Union. If the polling is right, the SPD is likely to form a coalition government with Germany’s smaller parties. Nick breaks out the tea leaves to see what a political shift is likely to mean.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Webinar: Understanding China's Regulatory Crackdown

    Even by China’s high standards, 2021 has seen an extraordinary amount of government intervention in the economy, as top leader Xi Jinping moves aggressively to implement his vision of national greatness. In this webinar our China team assess the impact on the economy and markets, and discuss what could cause this crackdown to pause or reverse.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A British Fix To Housing

    For decades, urban England has had an under-supplied and over-bought housing market. UK governments of all political stripes have tried and failed to unblock building pipelines. Britain is hardly alone in having seen home prices rocket due to pandemic effects, but there was a grim inevitability to UK home prices rising 13% in the last year. Yet, at the same juncture, there is evidence that a mixture of decent policymaking and smart market...

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Next Level Of Activist Government

    Even by China’s high standards, 2021 has seen an extraordinary level of active government intervention in the economy. With foreign investors spooked and growth slowing, how much longer can it go on? In this chartbook, Andrew takes stock of the many aspects of the current policy activism and assesses the prospects for a course correction.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    India Macro Update: A Shaky Recovery

    India is enduring a shaky, stop-start recovery. Headline GDP growth in the April-June quarter came in at a stellar 20%, but base effects are distorting the true picture. The biggest risk for investors, argue Udith and Tom, is an uncertain monetary environment. As the Fed readies to taper its asset purchases, both exports and the bond market are vulnerable to disruption.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Economy And Volatility

    US equities have gone almost 18 months without a double-digit drawdown. Such calm is likely to trouble devotees of Hyman Minsky, who showed that excessively long periods of market stability breeds countervailing episodes of violent instability. The question is what will cause the transition to a more volatile market, or dare I say it, what could trigger a “Minsky moment”?

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Covid, Markets And What Happens Next

    Over the last 18 months, Covid developments have been a key driver of financial market performance. Louis contends that this period can be split into four distinct phases. In this piece, he asks whether we are now entering a fifth phase. To do this he weighs up both encouraging and concerning developments within the pandemic and economic policy choices that flow from them.

    6
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    What Kind Of Easing Cycle?

    It’s been clear for a couple of months now that China has begun a monetary easing cycle. What has been less clear is what kind of easing cycle will happen under the central bank’s new “cross-cyclical” policy framework. The PBOC’s guidance indicates it could start cutting rates this year, but will try to keep credit growth next year roughly flat.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    The Split In Emerging Markets

    Animals can apparently sense impending storms and so take evasive action. Low-flying birds, sneezing cats, croaking frogs, huddled sheep and sedentary cows are all said to indicate the onset of heavy rain. In global finance, emerging markets are most exposed to sudden climatic shifts and have learned the hard way that it is unwise to be exposed when a tempest strikes. The issue today is the Federal Reserve’s well-telegraphed intention to dial...

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Bottlenecks And Corporate Bond Yields

    It seems that not all parts of the US economy are created equal. As the Delta variant outbreak causes US Covid cases to soar, the service sector is taking a hit. In contrast, the less-exposed manufacturing sector saw job growth in August. The question for investors is how these somewhat conflicting forces impact different asset classes.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    How Markets Multiply Subsidies

    China’s government has vast ambitions for its industrial policy, yet it spends surprisingly little on subsidies and tax breaks. Instead, it relies on domestic capital markets for funding. In this piece, Thomas explains how markets can multiply those initial subsidies into much larger spending in the government’s favored industrial sectors.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Europe’s Taper Decision

    To taper, or not to taper is the question for the European Central Bank at Thursday’s policymaking meeting. The market seems to think that monthly bond purchases will soon be lowered by about €20bn to €80bn, as shown by 10-year German bund yields rising 14bp in the last two weeks. Economic output in the eurozone is back near pre-pandemic levels and consumer price inflation in August spiked to 3%. There have even been putative sightings of the...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: The Implications Of Afghanistan

    In the same week that the US military completed its chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, President Joe Biden outlined a more contained doctrine for US foreign policy. In this video interview, Yanmei argues against a declinist view of the Kabul dash for the exit, contending that the longer-term impact may be a much-needed reset of the American imperial project.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Most Worrying Shortage

    The world’s most traded commodity, semiconductors, is running scarce, the price of the second-most important commodity, oil, is grinding higher, and the cost of moving things around the world is soaring. All this would be worrying enough, but ask any businessperson in North America or Europe about their biggest constraint, and the answer is likely to be staffing.

    9
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    How To Create A High-Yield Bond Market

    China’s central bank has now endorsed the creation of a domestic high-yield bond market in an attempt to reverse the increasing exclusion of private-sector borrowers from existing debt markets. In this piece, Xiaoxi outlines how financial regulators are trying to increase both the supply of and demand for high-yield corporate bonds.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Problem Lurking In Malaysia

    Until a few weeks ago, Malaysia had not had a proper prime minister since the eve of the pandemic. The new incumbent emerged out of a messy negotiation and oversees a weak coalition that could easily fracture. For investors, the worry is a steady deterioration of Malaysia’s fiscal fundamentals in a trend that is being seen across non-China emerging Asia.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Earnings Top Out

    China’s non-financial listed companies reported strong sales, profit and capital expenditure growth for Q2. Thomas explains why listed earnings should decelerate into Q3 as the housing cycle turns down and export demand moderates. High retained earnings and low funding costs will continue to support capex, but appetite is likely to weaken.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Coming Slowdown In Europe’s New Orders

    European equities have had a stunning 10 months, returning 46% since the beginning of November 2020 and outperforming even the MSCI US. This performance has been driven by expectations of strong earnings growth— supported by buoyant demand and full order books. Peering ahead, however, there are good reasons to look for the pace of new orders to slow.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: How To Hedge Tighter Liquidity

    So far, markets have not panicked over the prospect of the Federal Reserve tapering its asset purchases. But when it comes, the taper will materially tighten global liquidity conditions. In this calm before the storm, investors running global portfolios should focus on their hedges.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Flows Favor A Weaker Renminbi

    The renminbi has been strong in 2021, with the central bank largely tolerating a steady march higher in the trade-weighted CFETS index. But this trend will turn in coming months, as inflows of foreign currency on both the current and capital accounts decline. With the PBOC easing as the Fed prepares to taper, the renminbi will weaken modestly.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Long Shadow Of Canada’s Election

    Canada’s federal elections rarely make headlines. This may be because whoever wins, the outcome is usually much the same. However, Canada’s September 20 election may cast a shadow that falls beyond the country’s borders. This is because, to a large extent, the election will be a referendum on Covid policies.

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    Who Is Copying Who?

    When China joined the WTO in 2001, western governments hoped that closer economic integration would pull China towards a more democratic system of governance. Yet two decades on, that hasn’t happened. In fact, argues Louis, recent years have seen governments in the West increasingly infringe on individual liberties for the benefit of the common good.

    17
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    Gavekal Research

    Investing Through The Taper

    After all the build-up hype, investors seem to have taken Jerome Powell saying that the Federal Reserve may soon be buying less assets in their stride. They have no doubt taken solace from the Fed chair’s promise that tapering does not mean imminent interest rate hikes, or quantitative tightening. So is the great 2021 “taper whimper” done and dusted? Perhaps not, for while the Fed’s expectation management has been slick, in the months ahead...

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    The Evolution Of China Risk

    It has been a busy summer for China watchers, with rapid shifts in underlying risks. With that in mind, a quick recap of recent events, and where those leave investors, might make sense. Let me start with the obvious increased risks:

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    China’s Interest In Afghanistan

    The western media have been full of warnings over the last week about how the US loss in Afghanistan is China’s gain, with Beijing poised to step into the vaccuum left by Washington’s withdrawal. But while China is anxious to protect its own security, it has no wish to bury itself in the graveyard of emires and will be extremely circumspect about pouring large investments into such a volataile country.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Never-Ending Chip Shortage

    Nine months after the world’s carmakers began to complain about difficulties sourcing the silicon chips they need to make their automobiles, it is becoming clear these shortages are not just the result of short-lived disruptions. Sure, the pandemic has played havoc with global hardware supply chains. But Covid is worsening underlying shortcomings baked into the semiconductor manufacturing industry. This means there will be no early end to the...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Drivers Of The Regulatory Crackdown

    What is driving China’s regulatory crackdown on internet and other companies, and what will happen next? In this piece, Ernan explains how four overlapping political campaigns by top leader Xi Jinping are behind the upheaval of recent months, and how those campaigns will guide the government’s enforcement priorities in coming years.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    How Equities Cured The Summertime Blues

    Now that equity prices have resumed their habit of setting almost daily new records, and true believers in the “buy on dips” mantra have been amply rewarded yet again, it seems worth recalling the causes of the stock market’s mini-panic in mid-July. To be more precise this was a micro-panic, lasting just five days, from July 14 to 19. What happened in those five days to rattle investors?

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Tapering The Frontier’s Prospects

    On Monday, the International Monetary Fund began disbursing a record US$650bn of its hard currency-like reserve asset to aid stressed sovereign borrowers. Since the plan was first officially mooted in March, financing costs have fallen sharply in frontier economies. The worry now is that this respite reflects the calm before a storm, which will hit when the Federal Reserve dials back its quantitative easing program.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Developers Feel The Squeeze

    The steady drumbeat of tightening on China’s property developers is taking its toll on construction activity. In this report, Rosealea explains why this weakness in construction will not unduly worry policymakers and should even help them achieve their goal of reducing steel production. Developers will therefore continue to feel the squeeze.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Germany’s Changing Political Colors

    Questioned by opinion pollsters, most Germans say the campaign ahead of the country’s September 26 federal election is dull. Yet those same opinion polls now point to the most wide-open election race in recent history. In the last few weeks, support for the center-left social democratic SPD has surged, even as the popularity of the center-right conservative CDU/CSU has slumped and the Greens have stalled.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The End Of The Cash Dump

    The US Treasury is running low on cash. Having massively ramped up its holdings of cash between April and July 2020 at the height of the Covid crisis, the Treasury has been running them down again since February 2021. Normally the Treasury aims to hold cash equal to one week of its outgoings, but it has fallen to less than half that amount.

    6
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Building A Science Superpower

    As China’s global rivalry with the US intensifies, it has focused strongly on improving science and technology. This push is not just about prestige, but also reflects a recognition that it can’t always lag behind the US in creating novel ideas. For this piece, Dan interviewed 22 scientists to evaluate the capabilities of China’s science system.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Getting The Macro Right But The Market Wrong

    In December 2020, I published a report arguing that the US economy was about to enter an inflationary boom. Things went as expected through the first quarter, but after the Fed began to talk about tightening policy at some indeterminate point in the future, the portfolio I had been recommending has done very poorly. In short, I have been wrong.

    4
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Huarong Comes Up For Air

    Huarong Asset Management announced in a press conference on Wednesday that it had reached a recapitalization agreement with government-backed investors. In this Quick Take, Wei and Xiaoxi explore the consequences for Huarong investors and the government’s wider battle against the implicit guarantee.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Housing’s Different Drivers

    High house prices may be making headlines in the US, but the homebuilding sector faces headwinds. In July, housing starts and building permit issuance for single family dwellings fell -1.7% month-on-month and -4.5%, respectively. Mortgage applications also fell, which points to weaker construction ahead (see chart below). A positive factor for US housing has been the recent decline in long-term treasury yields, yet there are good reasons to...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Asia’s Asset Quality Problem

    Economies with low vaccination rates across emerging Asia are tightening their restrictions on activity once again. So far, the economic and financial impact of the latest cycle of restrictions has been cushioned by exports and government support, but domestic demand remains depressed, private sector balance sheets have sustained damage and bank asset quality is deteriorating.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Taper Is Coming

    In less than two weeks, Jay Powell will get up to make his speech at the annual Jackson Hole gathering of central bankers. Investors should position for a clear signal that in the coming months the US will begin to taper. It is possible, even likely, that the ever-cautious Federal Reserve chief may decide to delay a few weeks, perhaps until the conclusion of the Fed’s next policy meeting on September 22. But his signal is only a matter of time....

    3
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Loan Demand Becomes A Problem

    China’s restrictions on borrowing by the property sector and local governments are proving so effective that total demand for credit is weakening. It now looks like loan growth could undershoot official expectations in the remaining months of 2021, which is raising pressure on the PBOC to cut reserve requirements or policy rates.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Saigon, Mosul Or Suez?

    The images of US diplomats scrambling onto jets at Kabul airport, of Afghan refugees fleeing to Iran, Pakistan and Tajikistan, and of the Taliban entering Kabul with barely a shot fired are disturbing viewing. For investors, the question is which is the closest historical parallel. The flying helicopters and evacuated embassies recall Saigon in 1975. The speed of the humiliation evokes the 1956 Suez Crisis. And the images of the Taliban parading...

    7
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    A Bumpy Slowdown

    Chinese economic data weakened across the board in July as disruptions caused by extreme weather exacerbated the country’s wider economic slowdown. In this report, the Dragonomics team explain why policymakers are expected to offer limited support in H2, support which will likely be insufficient to counteract the slowdown in exports and property.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Where There Is A Risk Of A Wage-Price Spiral

    After the United Kingdom released data on Thursday showing GDP grew 4.8% quarter-on-quarter in the second quarter, markets are now pricing in a near-100% chance of a rate hike by mid-June next year. In the event, 2Q21 GDP growth was a shade below the Bank of England’s forecasts. And unlike the US, the UK’s output remains below its prepandemic baseline—by 4.4%. Nevertheless, because of a contraction in the UK’s pool of potential labor following...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Coming Decline In Earnings Growth

    After 453 of the S&P 500’s constituent companies have reported for the second quarter, aggregate earnings are up 99% year-on-year. Much of this jump is attributable to base effects; the second quarter of 2020 was when lockdowns hit hardest. But not all; even stripping out base effects, earnings growth has been strong. This growth is destined to fade over the second half, as the impact of economic reopening and government stimulus abates, and...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Don't Count On An Infrastructure Boost

    With China’s government sounding more worried about growth, hopes are rising that infrastructure spending will get a boost in coming months. In this piece, Wei explains why new funding for projects will be slow to arrive. More of a boost will come by early 2022, but the upside will still be modest by historical standards.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Understanding Asia’s New Monetary Order (Part II)

    Last month, Charles reviewed the efforts China has made to build an alternative to Asia’s US-dollar-based trading system. Today, he peers into the future, and looks at what China is doing, not just to offer an alternative to the US dollar or euro, but to build a new monetary order for Asia.

    3
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Delta Stress Test

    The rapid spread of the Delta variant across China is posing the biggest challenge yet to the government’s zero-tolerance policy toward Covid-19. In this report, Ernan explains why officials are confident in the policy and will likely keep it in place for the indefinite future—at the cost of depressed travel and consumer services.

    8
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