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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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    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.

    0
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    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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    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.

    4
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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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.

    0
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    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.

    4
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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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...

    8
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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...

    3
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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.

    1
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    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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    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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    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 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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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.

    1
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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.

    0
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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.

    6
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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.

    0
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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.

    0
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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.

    2
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    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.

    0
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    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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    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.

    1
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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.

    1
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    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.

    0
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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.

    0
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    Something Has To Give

    Public support for Hong Kong's protest movement has been re-energized by perceived police brutality, the local government offering no political response to the crisis and Mainland authorities delivering mixed, but slightly sinister messages about their next move. This piece assesses the political forces at play and takes a stab at explaining what comes next.

    3
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    The Hong Kong Conundrum

    When I wrote on the Hong Kong dollar peg back in May, there was no inkling that trust between the police and much of Hong Kong’s population would fully break down. Today, Hong Kongers are saying: “We don’t trust the police to do the right thing, or even speak the truth”. This situation causes many clients to ask: "Why has the peg not broken down?"

    5
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    Europe's Political Paralysis

    With the Spanish general election unlikely to produce a proper government, the country looks increasingly ungovernable. For an economy that weathered the financial crisis intact but has chronic productivity problems, this is a worry. However, the result of Europe’s fragmenting political landscape is long-term policy stasis rather than a near-term collapse of the single currency.

    0
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    It's Not 2017 Again In Europe

    Yesterday saw a global risk-on move as investors cheered reports that a US-China trade deal may be in the offing. In Europe, this followed data releases that showed German factory orders picking up and PMIs stabilizing. On first blush, this looks reminiscent of 2017’s recovery. Alas, there are three key reasons to think a rerun may not materialize this time around.

    0
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    Video: In Search Of Policy Traction

    New European Central Bank boss Christine Lagarde has called on European governments to do more on the fiscal front to support eurozone growth. Only Germany has wiggle room within the EU fiscal straitjacket to launch a significant stimulus program. However, political resistance in Berlin to opening the spending taps remains formidable, and may be insurmountable.

    0
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    Time To Embrace The US Consumer

    Whether moving into a fixer-upper or a freshly finished McMansion, most homeowners will splurge on big ticket items to embellish their new abode. With the US housing market looking strong, investors should bet on consumer discretionary—it has the advantage of offering protection if long-dated bond yields move materially higher.

    0
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    India’s Implausible Energy Ambitions

    Narendra Modi’s government has set out ambitious objectives for India’s energy policy, targeting wider access to affordable energy, a greatly increased role for renewables, and stronger national energy security. The trouble is that these aims appear to be contradictory, and the government has yet to set out a coherent plan for implementation.

    0
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    Let The Thousand Cuts Begin

    Was it worth the wait? Markets have been expecting the People’s Bank of China to cut policy rates ever since it introduced a new rates framework in August and promised to lower funding costs. On Tuesday, the central bank finally delivered, rolling over its one-year medium-term lending facility at 3.25%, 5bp below the previous rate of 3.3%.

    0
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    The Asian Electronics Bounce

    With an inventory glut having been worked off, there are tentative signs that Asia’s electronics export cycle is bottoming out. Since tech has accounted for 90% of emerging Asia’s equity returns in the last five years, some beaten-up names may be primed for a bounce. The same could be true of export-sensitive currencies like the Korean won, Singapore dollar and Taiwan dollar.

    0
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    The Knowledge Revolution And Its Consequences

    From Hong Kong to Santiago to Paris, this year has seen protestors rage against out-of-touch political elites. But does anything more than anger connect these apparently disparate movements? Louis argues that the upheavals posed by the ongoing “knowledge revolution” may explain the phenomenon, and offers investment advice on how to survive revolutionary times.

    15
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    Behind The Risk-On

    In recent months, economic data has improved or stabilized, and political risks have receded. But now that equity prices on Wall Street have hit new records and US treasury yields have rebounded from the bottom of their post-2011 trading range, it is worth asking if the move to risk-on conditions is a temporary mood swing, or one supported by economic fundamentals.

    0
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    Gold Signals A System Failure

    To make the point that gold is the only monetary asset that is not someone else’s liability, John Pierpont Morgan used to say that “gold is money, the rest is credit”. For simplicity’s sake, let’s assume that this quip corresponds to reality—the implication is that the relationship between the gold price and the credit system must be full of information.

    4
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    Strategy Monthly: Towards A Dollar Decline

    The last five years have been an era of US dollar strength. That era may now be coming to an end. After the US Federal Reserve halted its balance sheet contraction and last month resumed buying T-bills at a rate of US$60bn a month, the Fed is now printing money faster than the other central banks. As a result, relative liquidity growth now favors US dollar weakness.

    0
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    Easy Money And Robust Growth

    No wonder the S&P 500 closed at a new high yesterday. On the same day the Federal Reserve cut interest rates by 25bp, US GDP growth for 3Q19 came in at a robust 1.9%. For its part, the Fed gave no indication of paring down its new asset purchase program (quantitative easing in all but name). This is bullish for risk assets and bearish for the US dollar.

    0
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    Video: China's Private Financing Woes

    Chinese credit growth picked up in September, which is good news at the margin for private sector liquidity. However, a continued crackdown on shadow finance and private firms’ difficultly rolling over bond obligations will retard capital spending and lead to more bond defaults into next year.

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    A Swedish Canary In The Coal Mine

    Sweden’s Riksbank plans to raise its main policy rate to zero from -0.25%. A relieved governor, Stefan Ingves, said last week it would be a “bonus” to return to parity in December and warned against staying negative for too long. The Swedish recantation follows the European Central Bank’s controversial move last month to further cut rates to -0.5%. Investors should take note because the Swedish canary may be signaling a shift in attitudes to...

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    Where Will Growth Come From Now?

    In the spring of 2003 Gavekal posited that China would become the new locomotive of world growth. But now, the days when China could be counted upon to gear up its balance sheet and pull global growth up by its bootstraps are coming to an end. And as global activity slows investors are asking “where will the growth come from"?

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    China-Bashing In A Political Season

    Signs are growing that the US and China will have a mini-deal on trade ready by the time Trump and Xi meet at the mid-November APEC summit. The key questions are whether opposition from US hardliners could derail the deal at the last moment, and whether the campaign to “decouple” the two economies will be knocked back if there is a deal.

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    US Dollar Under Fire

    The richly-valued US dollar is finally starting to look vulnerable. While still in its post-2015 trading range, the DXY index has given up -1.5% in the last 11 trading days; broader trade-weighted measures have also swooned. A range of factors are now weighing on the US currency and if they persist the unit could see a pronounced decline in the coming months.

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    Video: Playing The Un-inversion

    Having inverted over the summer, the US yield curve has steepened sharply. In the past such a move has often presaged recession—but not always. Twice since the 1960s an inversion and steepening was not followed by recession. Then, as now, the return on invested corporate capital was higher than the cost of that capital.

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    Draghi's Potent Legacy

    Mario Draghi threw the cat among the pigeons at last month’s fiery policy meeting of the European Central Bank by cutting interest rates and cranking up asset purchases. Today’s general council meeting and sign-off by the outgoing president should be quieter, but the circumstances of the baton-handing show how much the ECB’s reaction function changed under Draghi. That legacy poses a big challenge for his successor, Christine Lagarde, but he...

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    Solving India's Water Crisis

    Experts predict that half of India’s demand for water will be unmet by 2030, threatening livelihoods and the country’s development prospects. Yet water scarcity need not be a disaster for India. With more efficient agricultural practices and better management, India has sufficient water resources both to feed itself and keep its economy on track.

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    Culling The Pessimists

    A series of head-spinning flip-flops in the on-again-off-again trade war over the summer has caused US businesses to delay fresh investment. As a result, business surveys have been giving readings consistent with a US recession. Yet it seems likely that any damage wrought by the trade war remains ephemeral—at least hard data suggests this.

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    A Japanese Price Taker

    The yen has long been a fairly reliable indicator of global risk appetite. Over the summer, trade war fears pushed the yen up to ¥105 to the US dollar, before recent cheerier developments saw it weaken again. If the BoJ can deliver on its promise to match other central banks’ easing moves, that weakening trend could be worth following. Alas, the BoJ probably can’t.

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    Three Swing Factors For Chinese Growth

    China’s recent economic figures do not paint a bright picture. Yet some of the problems weighing on growth are moving closer to resolution. So how much of a bounce in the data can we expect from these positive developments? Three possible sources of good news can help answer this question: exports, domestic investment and autos.

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    A Canadian Election

    Today sees Canadians go to the polls to choose a new government. The ruling Liberal Party faces an electoral squeeze, but it is not clear that the outcome of the election will unduly impact Canada’s economic prospects. Louis runs through the outlook for an economy that most people he speaks to are down on.

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    Europe's Brexit Booster

    Boris Johnson has secured a revised Brexit deal and the stage is set for a key Saturday vote in the House of Commons. On balance, there is a 70% chance of the vote passing as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn seems unable to control his Brexit-supporting rebels, while Johnson looks to have persuaded his Brexiteer wing that it could be now or never.

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    Video: The End Of The Trend?

    For the past few years, US treasuries, the US dollar and the oil price have all broadly traded in a range. In fact, the only bankable trend for investors has been the outperformance of US equities, without which global stock indexes would still be trading at 2006 levels. However, there are signs that the investment environment is changing.

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    The Paris Project In A Keynesian Time

    Some time ago, I had gathered a team in Paris to develop a new venture that would apply macro research analysis to portfolio construction in a systematic way. Things are progressing well and I wanted to update readers on the initiative. The common thread is a rejection of forecasting and a reliance on market prices and economic data.

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    The Asian Currency Bounce

    Despite few underlying tensions being settled, the interim US-China trade deal has cheered up investors. The view has been that the US president now wants to bag a political win ahead of next year’s election and move on. This outcome should support trade-dependent Asian currencies—but perhaps not equally.

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    The Age Of Range Trading

    It is a Gavekal adage that 10-year treasury yields, crude oil prices and the US dollar exchange rate are “master prices” that have an outsized impact on economic activity and financial markets. Yet as Louis notes, in recent years, these three prices have shown little by way of a structural trend. In this piece, he seeks to understand the meaning from this range-trading phenomenon.

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    The Fed Goes On The Offensive

    Grocery shoppers get perturbed when they buy produce labeled as “organic” but get something from the agro-industrial complex. Investors, on the other hand, should welcome the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet boost, that was described on Friday as nothing more than “organic” growth. As it turns out, this is a heavily engineered offering by the custodians of money.

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    Modi Shifts From Tub-thumping To Stimulus

    After spending the first few months of his second term on nationalist politics, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is shifting his government’s attention to the economy. The substantial corporate tax cut announced last month was welcome news. However, Modi will have an uphill battle to get the economy moving before ballooning twin deficits begin to bite.

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    Trump’s Unreal Deal With China

    The US-China trade cease-fire shows that President Trump needs a quick deal: facing a soft economy and likely impeachment, he wants to bank a win as soon as possible. The two sides are moving toward a deal in November, but that will not change China's economic model or end US efforts to constrain China's technological rise.

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    Sizing Up The Brexit Risks

    The pound surged after Boris Johnson and Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar achieved a negotiating breakthrough on Thursday over arrangements for the Irish border. The question is: What next? Anatole argues that while these moves still point to a multi-pronged set of outcomes, at least there is now a measurable set of permutations.

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    Watching For Signs Of A US Spillover

    Is the rot spreading? In the eurozone, there are signs that this year’s slump in manufacturing may be beginning to spill over to weigh on activity in the broader economy. Plenty of observers believe the US economy is destined to follow a similar path. Their fears may yet be realized, but so far there is no evidence the US economy is heading that way.

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    Please, Your Majesty, Do Nothing

    Western democracies in the early 1990s stood unchallenged in the battle of big ideas. Alas, everything that has gone wrong in western economies over the last decade or so stems from the lessons that the technocracy took from this victory. Charles considers the mistakes and examines the investment consequences that must now follow.

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    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research Call October 2019

    Vincent outlined EM Asia's "great moderation", as inflation is diverging from other emerging markets, creating opportunities in bonds. Udith argued that Indian growth may be bottoming out but a bad banking picture means that equities may have more downside. Tom addressed the remaking of Asian supply chains in light of the US-China trade war.

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    At Home In The Range

    Almost a month after missile attacks on key Saudi Arabian oil production and processing facilities pushed benchmark global oil prices up by 20% overnight, the market has moved on. Saudi Arabia has defied industry expectations by continuing to supply oil to the market in abundant quantities. The current market pricing reflects that.

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    Video: India's Banking Blues

    A tweet by the Reserve Bank of India caused a bit of a stir last week, saying that the “…Indian banking system is safe and stable and there is no need to panic…”. It was after a small regional bank had been effectively put into receivership. While this doesn't pose a systemic risk, it's another consequence of Indian banks’ decade-old bad loan problem.

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    Back To Balance Sheet Expansion

    On Tuesday, Jay Powell confirmed that the US Federal Reserve will go back to growing its balance sheet once again following its meeting at the end of October. The aim is for the balance sheet to grow gradually along with the economy. While the Fed’s planned move is clearly positive for liquidity growth, it is likely to disappoint investors for two reasons.

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    To Impeachment And Beyond

    What will determine whether the global economic expansion and equity bull market will continue in the year ahead? The political upheavals which dominated in the past three years, such as the trade war, Iran oil sanctions and Brexit, have seemed to subside or become priced in. But new political noise is being generated by the threatened impeachment of President Donald Trump.

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    Hong Kong’s Core Problem

    The Hong Kong government’s stated aim is to drive a wedge between radical protesters who are resigned to jail or worse, and a less committed group that it thinks will be cowed by increased penalties. Initial evidence suggests the strategy is a busted flush. Sunday saw large-scale illegal marches by mask-clad demonstrators before the now predictable violence unfolded.

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    The German Spillover

    Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this year’s slump in manufacturing is how few negative spillover effects it has had on demand in the broader economy—until now. Services PMIs for both the eurozone as a whole and for Germany took a sharp turn south in September. In Germany, the deterioration is making a technical recession all but inevitable.

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    Video: Where The Fed Stands

    Investors are nervous about weak US data and a liquidity squeeze in the US repo markets. They are now looking to the Federal Reserve for reassurance. In this video, Will tells us what policy changes to expect from the Fed at the end of this month and why.

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