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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.

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    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.

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    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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    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.

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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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    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.

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    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.

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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.

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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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    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.

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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.

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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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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...

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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.

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    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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Chinese Consumer In 2019

    In her annual review of the Chinese consumer, Ernan analyzes the trajectory of household spending and unearths thematic opportunities in consumer markets. After 2019’s slowdown, consumption should stabilize in 2020 as the labor market improves. Luxury goods and cosmetics are booming, but overseas tourism and traditional retail are weaker.

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    The Hong Kong People Speak

    The last 15 years has seen pro-government parties in Hong Kong rely on voter apathy and division across the democratic camp to often rule the roost. That changed yesterday, with establishment parties getting thumped in local council elections as voters expressed anger at the government’s handling of violent street protests in the last six months.

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    Musings On Trump And Powell

    His detractors will never admit it, but Donald Trump has done much that is good for the US economy. Notably he has reduced corporate taxes and cut red tape, boosting returns on invested capital. But in calling on the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates further, he is not only making a big mistake, he is courting disaster—though not for the reason his critics believe.

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    Video: A Better Outlook For Asia?

    Despite on-again, off-again talks, there are hopes that the US and China can reach an accommodation to avert a full-scale trade war that causes global production chains to be upended. Since the Federal Reserve is again in easing mode, leading to a weaker US dollar, Vincent explains what these developments mean for Asia.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Crackdown On Developer Financing

    China’s financial regulators are squeezing funding for property developers in order to discourage land speculation and cool down property prices. In this piece, Rosealea argues the crackdown has been fairly successful, and does not pose a big risk to construction. Slightly easier demand-side policies will help offset tough supply-side restrictions.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Hong Kong Effect Means A Taiwan Opportunity

    Taiwan's stock market has gained 18.6% year-to-date. This rally will be vulnerable to a heightening of bellicose rhetoric from Beijing prompted by the expected victory of the incumbent China-skeptic Tsai Ing-wen in January’s presidential election. But given the favorable structural and cyclical trends, any sell-off around the election should provide an attractive buying opportunity.

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    Questions On The Changes Of The Past Two Months

    Recent weeks have seen a turn in the investment environment, with global equities outperforming those in the US, cyclicals outperforming growth stocks, a steepening US yield curve and a stall in the US dollar’s rally. Louis recently met with a lot of US clients and outlined his explanation for these shifts. He got some push-back and this report is the product of those deliberations.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Implications Of Hong Kong For China

    Many clients ask how China’s ruling Communist Party, the CCP, will react to what many policymakers in Beijing regard as an intolerable challenge to their authority by protesters in Hong Kong. The answer to this question will have direct implications for the city and its future as China’s international financial center. It will also have implications for the evolution of policy within mainland China itself.

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    Gavekal Research

    There Is A First For Everything

    We live in the 21st century, and if a liquidity injection program by the Federal Reserve doesn’t want to identify as quantitative easing, then we should respect that choice, and call it by whatever name it chooses for itself—even if almost everyone now calls the US$60bn injection “non-QE QE”. However, lost within the debate over naming lies a long list of interesting “firsts”.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Signal In International Liquidity

    Historically, few indicators have been as important for global markets as the amount of US dollar liquidity available outside the US. When this has turned down, trouble has reliably followed. This year, notes Charles, the indicator has again turned negative. But as he explains, all may not be lost.

    5
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Defending The Single Market

    Europe’s leaders are promising a more forceful approach to defending the bloc’s interests. But they do not fully subscribe to the view, widely held in the US, that China is a strategic rival and security threat. What they have been able to agree on, as Lance argues, is the need to protect the EU’s single market against Chinese state capitalism.

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    Gavekal Research

    The US Manufacturing Slump Abates

    US manufacturing output fell -1.5% year-on-year in October to mark its weakest month since December 2015. The worry is that a US manufacturing recession causes such a drag that even well-performing sectors like housing get sucked down as well. The good news is that these production numbers look like a nadir.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Handing Off The Slowdown

    China’s data releases for October showed signs that the global downturn in electronics, and the domestic fall in car sales, are starting to fade. But the bad news is that the property and heavy industry complex is weakening. That combination means roughly stable growth for the moment, reassuring policymakers that their cautious stance works.

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    Saudi, Peak Oil Demand And Aramco

    With the rise of environmental concerns and alternative energy sources, the preoccupation is that peak oil demand could be as few as 10 years into the future. The fear that come the 2030s or soon after, it could be left sitting on 300bn barrels of stranded assets is behind the Saudi Arabian government’s decision to sell shares in its monopoly petroleum producer, Saudi Aramco.

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    Gavekal Research

    Looking Through To US Inflation

    In Congressional testimony yesterday, Jay Powell expressed optimism that US inflation will gradually rise toward the Federal Reserve’s target of 2%. If this is the case then it is reasonable to think that the US central bank could be done with rate cuts in this cycle but some way away from any rate hikes—this points to a Goldilocks of sorts.

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    Video: A Turning Point For The Dollar

    For the last five years, the world has lived with a strong US dollar. That may be about to change. Not only has the Fed turned dovish, its return to balance sheet expansion means it is now printing more money each month than its central bank peers, such as the ECB. This liquidity splurge, coupled with a diminution of dollar-supportive international risks may point to a period of US dollar weakness.

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