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    Gavekal Research

    Reasons To Truly Love Malaysia

    In a bid to lessen currency depreciation pressure, three years ago Malaysia effectively closed down offshore trading in the ringgit. It won the battle but has been losing the war. Its asset markets remain unloved and Malaysia has a higher cost of capital than most regional rivals. Yet the time may be right to look again at Malaysia, at least from a fixed income stance.

    0
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    Legal Is Not The Same As Legitimate

    Democracy is in trouble. Everywhere the cause is the same: a massive conflict between legitimacy and legality. For the last 100 years or more, the split between left and right left anchored the legitimacy of any democratic government. Unfortunately, over the last couple of decades or so, the left has betrayed the people, while the right has betrayed the nation.

    10
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    Video: Where Next Hong Kong?

    Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam today begins a process of civic engagement aimed at bridging the divide between an unpopular government and a diffuse movement that has engaged in 17 weeks of violent protest. Simon discusses whether economic goodies can buy off dissent and assesses the chances of a compromise political settlement.

    0
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    What If The Fed Has Finished Cutting

    What happens to the US equity market if the Federal Reserve has already finished cutting interest rates? Last Friday, Will made the case for a rebound in US growth, but withheld judgement whether it would be driven by real growth or inflation. The prospect raises the very real possibility that the Fed may decide rates have been cut enough.

    9
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    India’s Laffer Curve Gamble

    India’s decision to cut its corporate tax rate from 30% to 22% has spurred a 7% surge in equities as investors bet on new capital spending reigniting a stalled growth cycle. The problem is that even if this fiscal easing spurs more business investment, the consumer side of India’s economy remains stuck in a low gear due to knottier problems.

    0
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    Black Zero Or Green New Deal?

    Investors and environmentalists alike got their hopes dashed on Friday. Their best-case scenario would have seen Berlin invoke a climatic emergency to override fiscal orthodoxy and roll out a stimulative program of green investment. In the event, the measures announced not only fell short of the green lobby’s expectations—they were budget-neutral.

    1
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    Stay Neutral Between Equities And Cash

    As August’s panic has receded, bond yields have risen from their lows. Even so, with the 10-year US treasury yield at 1.77%, the only way bonds can deliver significant upside from here is if the US economy slides into a disinflationary recession. That may yet happen. But it is by no means the most probable course for the US economy.

    0
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    Video: What Next In The Tech War

    Washington views China as a strategic competitor, and the White House has promised a “whole of government” effort to constrain China’s development of key advanced technologies. Dan examines the three ways in which the US is making life difficult for Chinese tech companies, and explores other weapons the US could deploy should the tech war escalate.

    0
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    US Liquidity Is Not The Worry

    Despite this week’s violent US money market judders, the Federal Reserve looks to have a clear plan for managing monetary policy and liquidity conditions. There are many reasons to worry about risk asset pricing, but a shock from the bowels of the US financial system is not among them. In contrast, there are four reasons to stay upbeat about the US liquidity situation.

    2
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    The Industrial Disease (II)

    Last week, Charles examined the decline of the US industrial sector, introducing his “industrial Wicksellian spread” as an indicator of environmental conditions for industry. Now he looks at the probable causes of industrial deterioration, explains why neither monetary nor fiscal policy can help, and uses his toolkit to draw some important conclusions for portfolio investors.

    0
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    The EM Oil Shock That Won't Be

    Three “master” prices tend to dictate price levels in most asset markets—US interest rates, the US dollar and energy prices. A synchronized fall in these three prices usually bodes well for emerging market assets, while a rise bodes ill. Since it is rare for all three master prices to move together, the challenge for investors is to figure out which way the cross currents are flowing. If one master price is making a big move, its effect can...

    0
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    The Cost Of Cleaner Shipping

    Right now, investors concerned about energy prices are focused on the attacks on Saudi Arabia’s processing facilities. But a possible conflict in the Gulf will not be the only emergent factor likely to affect oil prices over the coming months. New rules for cleaner shipping fuels, known as “IMO 2020,” also have the potential to roil global petroleum markets.

    0
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    Reexamining The US Recession Indicator

    I may opine across many topics when writing these missives, but all said and done, I am a rules-based investor. In late 2016 my US recession indicator told me that the US economy was likely to face a recession, yet no such thing happened. As a result, I started to look for an explanation, and only now do I feel that a clear answer is coming into view.

    4
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    Q&A On The Saudi Oil Attacks

    One thing that stands out about the reaction to the weekend’s strikes on Saudi Arabian oil facilities is how muted much of the market response has been. Nevertheless, investors are concerned about what lies ahead. In this report, Louis attempts to answer some of the most prominent questions asked over the last 48 hours.

    2
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    A Saudi Tipping Point?

    Following this weekend's attacks on Saudi Arabian oil installations, the important question has to be whether this proves to be the moment at which investors realize that market expectations have become too far removed from reality. In short, will the attacks shatter the consensus that neither energy prices nor inflation can ever rise meaningfully again?

    7
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    Draghi's Fiscal Gift

    As he pushed interest rates still further into negative territory and announced the resumption of quantitative easing on Thursday, outgoing European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi made clear that he was passing on the baton of policy stimulus—not so much to his successor, but rather to Europe’s finance ministries.

    4
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    The Industrial Disease (I)

    Something ails the industrial sector. Since the 2008 crisis, the growth of US industrial production has failed to keep pace with the growth of the overall US economy. In this paper, Charles examines the industrial sector’s malaise using tools derived from the theories of 19th century Swedish economist Knut Wicksell. His conclusions are disturbing.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Washington, Iran And The Price Of Oil

    This week’s sacking of John Bolton as White House national security advisor triggered a fall in the price of oil as traders concluded the notorious war hawk’s departure paved the way for a relaxation of US sanctions on Iranian oil exports. That may be unlikely; US officials insist their policy of “maximum” pressure on Iran remains in force.

    0
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    US Banks To Shine Again

    Ahead of next week’s Federal Reserve meeting, US bank stocks look set to break out of their 21-month underperformance trend. Investors are betting on a 25bp rate cut, with at least one more to come before December. They are also cheering the rise in long rates globally over the last week or so, which has acted to steepen yield curves. Given that US consumers will benefit from even cheaper money and should brush off whatever the trade war throws...

    0
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    The Three Waves Of Capitalism

    Three great forces drive capitalism and markets: the Schumpeterian, the Ricardian, and the Malthusian. Usually only one dominates at any one time. The flood of capital into tech indicates investors believe that Schumpeterian creative destruction will continue to drive returns over the coming years. But Louis argues that a new wave may be about to take over.

    15
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    Gavekal Research

    Up Against The Limit With The ECB

    German savers face “custody fees” when depositing big sums at the bank, or get clipped 50bp when buying a euro-denominated money market fund. Such outcomes explain why a growing number of economists oppose calls for the European Central Bank to cut rates further and restart quantitative easing when it meets tomorrow.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Asia's Great Moderation

    Emerging market government bonds yield more than rich-world equivalents because investors worry about getting their money back. This higher return on capital can cause a feedback loop of rising foreign debt and diminished financial sovereignty. Yet, with Asia having seemingly crushed inflation, a “great moderation” may reverse that dynamic and usher in a potential re-rating of risk assets.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Danger Of A Dumbbell Portfolio

    Both bond and equity markets are signaling investors' belief that monetary policy will not only stay easy for as far as the eye can see, but actually get easier in the coming weeks and months. But what if they end up getting wrong-footed in their expectations of another wave of interest rate cuts, quantitative easing and other uber-dovish monetary policy measures?

    4
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    The Meaning Of The Iran-China Deal

    Reports that China has signed a long term agreement to buy large quantities of Iranian oil in defiance of US sanctions will weigh on global crude prices and further complicate US-China talks, reducing the chances of a deal before the 2020 US election. In effect, the world is now facing a four-way tug of war over the oil price.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Beijing's Conflicted Easing

    As prospects for a quick resolution of the US-China trade conflict fade, and the data continue to soften, expectations for Chinese growth are getting marked down. As if on cue, the government has sent signals of more decisive policy support for growth. While encouraging, this does not presage a shift in China's macro policy of "selective" easing.

    3
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    Video: Italian Politics Favors Bonds

    Yesterday Italy’s new government took office, the 66th since 1946. Meanwhile, Italian bond yields have reached record lows. Nick attributes this to two factors. First the global bond rally. Second, the shifting winds of Italian politics away from the Euroskeptics to the Europhiles, which bodes well for Italian-European budget negotiations.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    India's Frenetic Inertia

    They say the first step to solving a problem is recognizing that you have one. With its recent moves to shore up sagging growth, Narendra Modi’s new government has finally acknowledged that India’s economy is in trouble. But unless it quickly finds a coherent reform strategy, Modi’s second term could fizzle out into economic failure.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research Call September 2019

    In yesterday’s conference call, Anatole Kaletsky, Will Denyer and Louis-Vincent Gave outlined reasons for recent dramatic moves in bond markets and made arguments for what comes next. Anatole also addressed Brexit developments and Louis discussed the situation in Hong Kong.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Italian Politics And The Bond Market

    On Tuesday, members of Italy’s left wing populist 5-Star Movement lent their support to the formation of a new coalition government with the Democratic Party. The new government, to be led by Giuseppe Conte, technocrat prime minister in the previous coalition, still has to secure a confidence vote in Parliament. But that should go through in the next couple of weeks. If it does, right wing populist Matteo Salvini—Italy’s most prominent...

    0
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    Tariffs Won't Trouble US Consumers

    As US growth has slowed this year, consumer spending has been the economy’s bright spot. Personal consumption expenditure was the principal contributor to growth in the second quarter and July. However, fears are growing that the US consumer will come under increasing pressure in the coming months as the latest round of tariffs go into effect.

    4
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    Strategy Monthly: The Message From Bonds

    Record low bond yields point to a deflationary catastrophe in the making. Yet growth data in the world’s two biggest economies remain decent. Could investors be reacting to a rupture in the international order? Gavekal analysts are not persuaded by such arguments and offer four alternative explanations for the “bond bubble”.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    ‘Do Or Die’ Boris Is Bullish For Sterling

    Considering the political chaos that will descend this week on the UK, it may seem surprising that the pound has bounced back to its trade-weighted level just before Boris Johnson became prime minister. Or maybe it is not too surprising—if a “No Deal Brexit” is the only possible scenario that would justify a further weakening of sterling and other UK assets.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Looking Through The Bond Bubble

    As yields fall to record lows, bond markets seem priced for some sort of global economic calamity. With Europe in dire straits and the US-China trade war remaining live, there is certainly cause for worry. But when things look like they can’t get any worse, Will reckons, they often don’t. As the US growth outlook appears steady, equities and cash are the better bet.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Case Against Recession

    Earlier in August, Charles announced that he was reluctantly joining the US recession camp. His reasoning was based largely on his observation that the long run average growth rate of US corporate profits had fallen to a level that in recent decades has always indicated an economic downturn. I am more optimistic than Charles.

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    The Importance Of Oil

    The world’s fixed income markets are priced for a severe bout of demand destruction and deflation. Yet, outside Europe at least, growth in the world’s major economies continues to tick over. However, could a sudden oil price rise spark an uptick in inflation pressure that triggers an abrupt repricing in which bond yields spike sharply higher?

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Asia Ditches Fiscal Conservatism, Conservatively

    As the external environment darkens, Asian governments are turning on the fiscal spigots—cautiously. Moves announced in recent weeks do not radically move the dial, but they should support growth. For now, monetary policy will remain the main counter-cyclical tool for arresting a downturn in Asia, but recent moves reflect an end to an era of fiscal consolidation.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Beijing Toughs It Out

    After a month of further escalation in the US-China trade war, China’s strategy for the next stage of the dispute is becoming clear. Its leadership now looks committed to a strategy of toughing out trade tensions. This means the prospect of a US-China trade deal is receding, and therefore that global growth will face further headwinds.

    0
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    Buffeted By Deglobalization, Shipping Lines Tack To Asia

    After a sluggish 2018, global shipping lines are again facing choppy seas thanks to Donald Trump's tariffs and slumping trans-Pacific trade. There is, however, a silver lining for carriers with a strong Asian presence; the US-China trade war is spurring a fragmentation of regional supply chains, and that seems set to boost intra-Asian trade.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Yen Dilemma

    Since the beginning of the month, the yen has been one of the few major currencies to strengthen against the US dollar. At the same time, Japanese government bonds have not escaped the global bond rally. This presents the BoJ’s chiefs, who for the last three years have been pursuing a policy of “quantitative easing with yield curve control”, with a problem.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Weathering Trump’s Trade War

    It may be the dog days of summer, but investors got a truckload of news this weekend that points to a bad situation getting worse. Given President Donald Trump’s escalation of tariffs and threat to bar US firms from operating in China, the worry is that his hardline stance spurs a US recession. KX and Will think this is unlikely.

    3
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    Europe’s Victimhood Culture

    The biggest threat to world economic growth today is not the US-China trade war, but German exceptionalism. Even as Germany has suffered the greatest growth downgrades of any major economy, its politicians have obstinately rejected any Keynesian fiscal expansion. Now calls are mounting for a policy U-turn, but Anatole isn’t holding his breath.

    11
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    Gavekal Research

    Making Biarritz Great Again

    Some readers may know that my family is the majority shareholder in Biarritz Olympique Pays Basque, one of France’s oldest rugby clubs. Through this connection, I have had a front-row seat to the organization of the upcoming G7 meeting to be held in Biarritz over the next three days. When the city was chosen, I naively thought this was good news.

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: The Anatomy Of The August Panic

    As more and more government bonds around the world slide into negative yield, investors can draw one of two conclusions: either the world faces an economic meltdown, or there is a buying panic in safe assets. But although there is indeed a synchronous global slowdown in growth, Louis favors the latter explanation.

    0
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    Germany’s Fiscal Firepower

    Uniquely among the world’s big economies, Germany runs a budget surplus, in accordance with the “debt brake” written into its constitution following the 2008-09 financial crisis. This means Berlin could, in theory, deploy considerable fiscal firepower even within the current rules, and a great deal more if it chose to bend or rewrite them.

    1
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    India Macro Update: Hardly A Growth Agenda

    India’s economy is weak across the board, weighed down by lackluster investment, anemic consumption and soft external demand. Deep reforms are needed to unlock the country’s economic potential. In this quarterly report, Udith and Tom offer a check-in on India’s growth outlook, explain why equities may be de-rated further and worry about the bond rally fizzling out.

    0
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    German Banks And The Dollar

    I am certainly no technical analyst, but I do have a good memory. The story of major financial crises can be told with reference to the US dollar’s movements against the euro (and its antecedents). It now looks to have reached a significant juncture, especially with Italy moving toward another period of political instability.

    9
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    The End Of The Panic

    In almost three weeks since the beginning of August, gold is up 5.9% while investors in 10-year US treasuries have gained 4.2%. This is unusual. As Charles has highlighted, the two “anti-fragile” assets of choice seldom skyrocket simultaneously, so markets have been in full-blown panic mode. But what were markets panicking about, and what could boost confidence once again?

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    The Diminishing Market Impact Of Tariffs

    After the US imposed its first major round of tariffs on Chinese goods last September, the S&P 500 sold off by -20%. After the second round went into force, it fell -6.8%. And since President Trump announced a third round, it has sold off by -6.1%. It seems each successive escalation in the trade war is having a smaller impact on the US stock market.

    2
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    When The World Goes To Hell

    Anatole has previously argued that the correlation between inverted yield curves and recessions has very little predictive significance. In this piece he updates that view to argue that inverted yield curves have no predictive significance whatsoever. For this reason, he thinks that equity investors have gotten their reaction to recent developments about right, while bond investors are all in a muddle.

    5
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    Troops On The Border

    Extreme nervousness in global markets can be attributed to a synchronous weakening of growth that has been reinforced by soft data out of Germany and China. This is also a juncture when commentators seem to have concluded that pent up stresses in the global trading and security system have reached a tipping point. On top of these secular worries is the terror that China is about to have a “Tiananmen moment” by violently crushing the two month...

    0
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    Panic Stations

    I always try to be a rules-driven investor. And when the US stock market is down -3% in a day, taking it to -6% from its peak in three weeks, when 10-year US treasury yields have halved in nine months to just 1.55%, and when gold is up 20% in three months, it is a good time to review those rules to see what they can tell me. The answer is: quite a lot.

    0
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    Lessons From The Argentine Shock

    In US dollar terms, Argentina's equity benchmark on Monday fell -48% in a one-day move. The -24% drop in long-dated US dollar-denominated Argentine bonds, a -17% drop in the currency, or the -38% fall in the local equity index will cause pain for certain macro players and dedicated emerging market funds. It should also cause us to ponder a number of questions.

    3
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    The Surge In Anti-Fragile Assets

    The latest round of data releases appears to confirm fears that the world is facing another synchronous global downturn. If so, it will be different from other slowdowns, in that it will not have been caused by rising interest rates or higher energy prices. What’s more, it will be setting in when there is little prospect of a globally coordinated response, when monetary policy appears to have lost traction, and when asset prices are looking...

    3
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    Joining The US Recession Camp

    To listen to current commentary, you would think that US capitalism faced a Marxist end-of-times reckoning. Hence, it is noteworthy that the share of sales going to profits is now falling, while that going to labor is rising. Yet the latest US GDP report is still alarming for what it tells us about the state of the economy.

    0
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    Hong Kong Q&A (Part II)

    The success of Hong Kong’s protesters in shutting down the city’s airport on Monday, talk from Beijing of “terrorism”, and the apparent massing of mainland paramilitary forces across the border from Hong Kong have led to a deluge of questions from clients about what is likely to happen next, and the potential investment implications. In this paper, Louis attempts answers some of the most frequent questions.

    7
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    Asian Currencies Remain A Shock Absorber

    It has often been said that when the US sneezes the rest of the world catches a cold. In Asia, a similar link exists between the behemoth China and other regional economies. Hence when Beijing unexpectedly let the renminbi weaken through CNY7.00 to the US dollar last Monday regional currencies fell by 1.6% in the following five days. They could fall more, however there is unlikely to be a broader contagion to regional asset markets. Asia’s solid...

    0
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    A Trade Equilibrium Of Sorts

    After a week of trade war scares, things have settled down into an equilibrium that is uneasy, but likely to last several weeks. The central question now is whether the new tariff on US$300bn of Chinese exports to the US will go into effect on September 1, or if Trump’s team will find some graceful way to back down from that threat.

    2
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    What Germany Means For Europe

    Even before the US-China trade war escalated last week, Europe stood on shaky ground. We learnt yesterday that German industrial production for June fell -1.5%. Europe’s largest economy faces cyclical and structural challenges, and the question is whether it takes its neighbors down with it.

    0
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    The Death Spiral Of Eurozone Banks

    For months Charles has told anyone who will listen that the real threat to global markets is the slow-motion implosion of the eurozone’s banking system. Each time the region's equity has hit a critical threshold an intervention has caused it to bounce off and delay the reckoning. The size of these rebounds has waned and this time there may be no respite.

    2
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    The Renminbi, Manipulation And The Trade War

    Monday’s actions on the Chinese currency—Beijing’s decision to let the renminbi’s exchange rate weaken past CNY7.00 to the US dollar, and Washington’s decision to label China a currency manipulator—signal that the US and China are close to throwing in the towel on a trade deal. Trade war escalation should now be the base case.

    1
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    The Long Term Impact Of Trump’s Latest Tariffs

    Aftershocks from Donald Trump’s August 1 tweets promising new tariffs on US imports from China continued to reverberate through Asian markets on Monday morning. Most notably, China’s yuan fell by some -1.3%, with the USD-CNY exchange rate breezing unimpeded by the Chinese authorities through the CNY7.00 to the US dollar mark for the first time since early 2008. Equity markets in the region were also hard hit, with Japan down -2% and Hong Kong...

    0
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    The Renminbi Devaluation’s Fork In The Road

    Following the surprise renminbi devaluation of August 2015 policymakers in the world’s major financial powers acted to calm markets in what came to be known as the “Shanghai Agreement” of February 2016. Since then, currency markets have broadly been one big yawn, with little volatility and few opportunities for macro traders to make meaningful money. Is that situation now changing?

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    What Sterling’s Move Tells Us

    The sterling exchange rate is going down and the usual suspects say this is bad news. But the exchange rate is merely a price that helps allocate capital between the economy’s internal and external sectors, and so set the purchasing power of rentiers and entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs do best when the currency is undervalued, while rentiers and consumers win out when it is overvalued.

    2
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    Strategy Monthly: Focus On The Fed, Not On US Tariff Threats

    Trade war fears are once again front and center of investors' minds. But the reduced magnitude of pledged US tariffs indicates that Trump is anxious to avoid damaging the US economy and financial markets. This leaves the focus on the Fed, and how much it is likely to cut interest rates.

    0
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    What The Early End Of QT Means

    As expected, the Federal Reserve cut short term interest rates by 25bp on Wednesday. Less expected the Fed also halted its program of quantitative tightening, effective immediately. The decision to end the program early cancels an expected additional US$70bn contraction in the supply of money. This represents a significant easing.

    4
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    Video: Enter Boris

    In the last week or so, the pound has fallen sharply to a two-and-a-half-year low against the US dollar. That’s all down to the new British government, headed by Boris Johnson, and his "do or die" Brexit campaign. But when a deal is finally struck, Britain’s strong economic fundamentals mean it is well placed for a boost in growth, along with the pound.

    0
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    Sterling’s Information Void

    Since Boris Johnson became prime minister, the UK government’s promise of a “do or die” Brexit has caused sterling to slump -2.9% against the US dollar to about US$1.21. While the chances of Britain actually leaving the EU without a deal remain small, this outcome will remain unclear for some time. That presents risks, but great opportunities for those dealing in sterling.

    0
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    Darwin Or Keynes?

    Keynes advised that at the outset of a recession, policymakers should drive down market interest rates in order to borrow from future demand. Today’s central bankers have adopted this approach as permanent policy. Unfortunately, permanent Keynesianism fatally interferes with the economic Darwinism of creative destruction that propels growth in a capitalist system—with dire consequences.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Shanghai Talks Now A Sideshow

    Trade talks between the US and China resume today after a three-month hiatus. This meeting may or may not pave the way for a deal in the next several months, but it no longer matters much. The global macro risk from the trade conflict has ebbed dramatically. What's important now is the dimensions of the decoupling between the world’s two biggest economies.

    1
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    China’s Hong Kong Gambit

    Following more violent protests in Hong Kong, Beijing reiterated its support for the city’s embattled chief executive in a first-ever press briefing on Hong Kong’s affairs. While the conflict shows no signs of resolution, the example set by Paris shows that Hong Kong can be both a dependable financial center and a hotbed of political dissent.

    0
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    The Downward Revision In US Profits

    Alongside last Friday’s second quarter US GDP release, the BEA issued revisions which wiped out almost all the increase in pre-tax corporate profits since the end of 2016, and much of the post-tax increase. The revisions can be attributed almost entirely to weak top-line growth and rising wage costs. The good news is that the revisions do not sound a recession warning.

    10
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    Unpicking US 2Q GDP

    Second quarter US GDP growth came in at 2.1%, slightly better than expectations. In itself, this headline figure is not especially illuminating. But dig deeper into the various components of 2Q growth, and there are reasons for moderate optimism about the trajectory of the US economy through the second half of 2019.

    4
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    The Most That ECB Easing Can Do

    Mario Draghi fired no new bazooka on Thursday. But the European Central Bank president did signal the deployment of a whole arsenal of monetary weaponry in September. Such a package will cement the transition of the ECB under Draghi into a more active and more actively political institution, with a much more counter-cyclical policy stance.

    2
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    The Effectiveness Of EM Rate Cuts

    An easier Fed stance suggests that the US dollar is unlikely to trend significantly higher from its present levels. The prospect of limited US dollar upside frees Asian central banks from the necessity of defending their exchange rates, and gives them leeway to support growth by cutting interest rates. However, the impact of rate cuts on both growth and asset prices will vary among Asian EMs.

    2
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    The Choice Confronting Investors

    With US$13.5trn of bonds on negative yields, Germany’s sovereign curve in negative territory out to 20 years, and G7 yields lower than in the 2008 crisis, the euro crisis, or 2016, when the world expected China to collapse, there are two possibilities. Either the world is facing low growth and inflation forever, or the bond market is in the final phase of an almighty bubble.

    5
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    Healthchecking Boris Johnson’s Britain

    On Wednesday, “colorful” former journalist, television comedian and London mayor Boris Johnson will achieve a long-held ambition when he moves into Number 10 Downing Street to replace the hapless Theresa May as the United Kingdom’s new prime minister. Judging from the headlines, Johnson is taking over an economy on the brink of a painful slowdown, if not already actually in recession.

    0
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    The Future Of Big Tech

    Big Tech is in the US government’s cross-hairs. Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple face probes into their behavior, and legislation is in the works to clip their wings. The question for investors is: How serious will the stand-off with the government get and will a prolonged downturn in tech spark a broader decline in the US equity market?

    0
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    Fiscal Crisis Averted, At A Cost To Liquidity

    On Monday, the White House and Congressional leaders reached a tentative agreement to raise US government spending caps and suspend the debt ceiling for two years. Assuming the deal is passed by Congress in the next few days, a fiscal crisis will be averted this year. But before investors breathe a sigh of relief and bet on a rally, it should be noted that one near term effect of the agreement could be an acute liquidity drain as the Treasury...

    8
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    STAR Is Born

    Trading on the world's newest stock market board got off to a predictably volatile start on Monday, when Shanghai's STAR market opened for business. But while that was entirely foreseeable, the reaction of regulators will be less predictable, and will send important signals on the long-term liberalization of China’s stock markets.

    4
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    La Garde Meurt Mais Ne Se Rend Pas

    Surrounded at Waterloo and asked to lay down his arms, General Cambronne of Napoleon’s Imperial Guard replied: “La garde meurt mais ne se rend pas”. This translates as “The guard may die, but it does not surrender”. A saying that could apply to the new ECB head is: “The president’s term may end, but the institution does not yield to conventional monetary policies”.

    0
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    Video: Korea's Coping Strategy

    No other G20 economy is as exposed to global trade tensions as Korea. With its heavy dependence on semiconductor manufacturing, Korea has proved vulnerable both to the US-China economic cold war, and to long-running disputes between Seoul and Tokyo. As a result, exports have cratered and economists have slashed their Korean growth forecasts.

    0
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    Housing Points To Solid US Growth

    US mortgage applications fell in the week ended July 12, compared with the week before. But do not be misled by the latest week-on-week decline in this high frequency data series. In year-on-year terms, mortgage applications for home purchases have been rising consistently since the beginning of 2019, pointing to a rise in housing construction over the coming months.

    0
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    No Time To Be Chicago Trained

    Technocrats globally are under the cosh from populist politicians who have tired of doing the sensible thing. In the developed world, checks and balances have insulated most big agencies, but the story is different in developing economies. The worry is that they are lurching off onto a development track that ends with fiscal blowouts and currency debasement.

    0
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    Why This Time Is Different

    The evolution of the yield curve over the last four months—an inversion after a series of Federal Reserve interest rate hikes, followed by a rapid steepening—has been characteristic of the early stages of the last four US recessions. However, investors worried that the US economy may already be in recession can relax.

    4
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    Brexit And The UK Trade Deficit

    The UK has long run a large goods trade deficit with its main trading partners. However, Charles argues that this ”deficit” should really be seen as two different deficits; one is with the world excluding the eurozone, and the other with the eurozone itself. Splitting them makes sense as they have different origins and react to different forces.

    1
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    Boris Johnson And The Pound

    With Boris Johnson’s almost inevitable enthronement as British prime minister only a week away, it is a good time to review the recommendation to buy sterling and sell UK government bonds which I first made in January, and repeated in April and again in late May.

    1
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    Normalizing Tech Disruption

    Investors have been cheered by the US and China deescalating a trade dispute that has focused on China’s use of US technology. So what to make of a stand-off between two US allies in North Asia that could disrupt highly integrated technology supply chains? Could this action reflect the normalization of trade sanctions being used in bilateral disputes?

    0
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    Video: Modi's Second Term Challenges

    Indian prime minister Narendra Modi faces some daunting economic challenges in his second term. As Udith explains in this interview, the biggest is to create new jobs India needs. In the coming decades, India must generate some 10mn new jobs every year simply to provide employment for the cohort of young Indians set to enter the workforce.

    0
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    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research Call July 2019

    In yesterday’s Gavekal Research conference call, Louis-Vincent Gave, Anatole Kaletsky and Arthur Kroeber conducted a mid-year review of the investment environment and outlined their expectations for the rest of the year onward.

    0
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    Look For Just One-And-Done

    In Congressional testimony on Wednesday, Jay Powell cooed just like the dove investors want him to be. The Fed chairman dispelled any lingering doubts that either the end-June trade truce between the US and China or June’s strong US payrolls number will dissuade the Fed from cutting interest rates at the end of July.

    0
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    France's Industrial Resilience

    France is bucking the downturn in European—and global—industry. In May, French industrial production confounded expectations by rising an impressive 4% year-on-year. And crucially, French industry is creating jobs again after a brutal 17-year contraction. Cedric examines the reasons for France’s industrial health.

    3
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    Return Of The Widowmaker

    If shorting Japanese government bonds is the ultimate widowmaker, calling the top of the gravity-defying Hong Kong property market cannot be far behind. The International Monetary Fund, for example, has been warning about the dangers of an unsustainable bubble since 2010. Now suspicions are growing that the stopped clock’s hour may finally be at hand.

    2
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    Foreigners And The Deepening Of Indian Finance

    India’s new government delivered a careful budget last Friday, preferring to keep a veneer of fiscal rectitude than to prioritize growth and jobs with heavy spending. Yet there was one exception amid the caution: for the first time, India is set to issue sovereign debt in foreign currency. This is an intriguing development for foreign investors wanting exposure to India while avoiding currency risk.

    0
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    Emerging Markets After The Trade War

    Emerging markets did nicely out of the rumor, less well from the fact. As hopes grew through June for some form of trade détente between the US and China, EM assets staged a broad rally. Similarly, EM currencies pushed broadly higher, on the back of a wider US dollar softness. Over the last week, however, EM equities and currencies have pulled back.

    0
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    Anti-Fragile Assets As A Diversifier

    Last July Charles wrote a piece warning of a recession in the non-US OECD economies during 2019. Today, he runs an update on that thesis and seeks to refine his safety-first portfolio using assets which contain “anti-fragile” properties.

    4
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    Three Messages From The Markets

    Last week’s market action confirmed three longstanding ideas that I have been presenting to clients. Firstly, there's no sign of a US recession. Secondly, bond market "signals" no longer convey useful information about economic growth prospects. Thirdly, there's no conflict between bearish bonds and bullish equities—they tell different stories.

    0
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    An Investment Thesis For The 2020s

    A look back at the last 50 years shows that the dominant conviction among investors at the end of each decade about what would drive markets over the following decade was invariably wrong. With this in mind, and on the basis that avoiding losers is easier work than picking winners, Louis asks what beliefs dominate investors’ minds today, and how they are likely to be proved wrong in the 2020s.

    12
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    The Direction Of The Dollar

    The US dollar’s strength over the last year or so has been attributed in large part to expectations that the US administration would impose additional tariffs on imports from China. So, with those expectations on hold following last week’s agreement to resume trade negotiations, you might think the US dollar should be falling.

    0
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    Video: What Is Libra, And Will It Work?

    Facebook will have an uphill battle trying to convince consumers to adopt its announced digital currency, libra. As it will be backed by a basket of assets denominated in different currencies, the prices of goods and services will be more volatile in libra than in existing local currencies, even in emerging markets. This volatility will deter consumers from making the switch.

    0
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    Betting Against The Gods Is Now Impossible

    Recently I made my usual remark to a European client about the stupidity of negative interest rates. My host told me a sobering story. He manages a pension fund and received a call by a regulator who said funds shouldn't hold too much cash because it's risky. Rather, they should buy long-dated bonds, regardless of the fact they're sure to lose money.

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