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    Gavekal Research

    The Case Against TIPS, From An Inflation Worrier

    Jerome Powell made it clear on Wednesday that the Federal Reserve is not even ready to talk about tapering its asset purchases. Understandably, most questions from journalists ran something like: “Why so, given the strong economic data?”. When it comes to inflation, there is a similar disconnect between the Fed and the bond market, with big implications for investors.

    5
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Antitrust Net Widens

    China’s antitrust crackdown on its internet sector is just getting started. Earlier this month, regulators brought in 34 major internet platforms and made clear that abusive business practices will no longer be tolerated. In this report, Ernan explains why firms still focused on trying to outwit the system could suffer disproportionately.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Towards A Sustainable Boom?

    With a shoot-the-lights-out number universally expected when the US reports first quarter GDP data this week, Tan Kai Xian looks at the drivers propelling growth to determine whether US performance is sustainable, or just a flash in the pan. As a number of risks continue to loom large on the radar screen, in this video interview he assesses the implications of US growth for investors in risk assets.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Europe Surprising On the Upside

    Europe may not yet have the pandemic in the rear-view mirror but infection rates in most countries are falling, vaccinations are surprising on the upside and a full opening of most services this summer seems likely. Since expectations for the eurozone remain constrained, there is a good chance that its yield curves soon steepen and the single currency strengthens.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Curing The Coal Addiction

    China’s reliance on coal is a major hurdle to its goal of reaching carbon neutrality by 2060. The country is gradually improving its energy mix; however, despite these efforts, Rosealea argues that China’s appetite for coal and continued dependence on the energy-intensive construction complex mean that its green transition will be slow and painful.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Renter’s Housing Market?

    When GDP for 1Q21 is released on Thursday, the US economy will be shown to be booming. An exception to this cheery trend is the US residential property market, which, having led the recovery, now looks pretty anemic. The worry is that a pronounced housing downturn could even choke off the broader recovery.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Low Rates Are Socially Regressive

    Policymakers around the world believe that ultra-low rates are good for growth, and are therefore good for standards of living among the poorest in society. Charles has long argued this view is a fallacy. In this paper he demonstrates that under ultra-low interest rates, the poor get poorer in real terms. This has both political and investment implications.

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    Two EM Headwinds Intensify

    Emerging market investors face two worrying developments. First, there is the risk that India’s new wave of infections could be repeated in other developing countries struggling to vaccinate their populations. Second, there are concerns that the brightest spot in EMs—Asian electronics exports—is now jeopardized by the worsening shortage in semiconductors.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: The Rise Of Regulatory Risk In China

    Risk is alive and well in China even amid a record economic recovery. Antitrust authorities are turning their attention to the rest of China's internet platforms, financial regulators are taking a tougher line and Chinese equity markets are looking a bit wobbly. In yesterday's webinar, our panel of China analysts discussed the latest regulatory developments and their implications for markets.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Taxing Capital

    Next week Joe Biden will set out plans to double the rate of capital gains tax for Americans making over US$1mn a year. The president’s proposal is the latest element of his initiative to levy higher taxes, from one direction or another, on the elusive earnings of multinational corporations and wealthy individuals in order to help fund higher government spending. Whatever the political merits of Biden’s plan, his multi-pronged approach will be...

    13
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Macro Update: Calling The Peak

    China’s post-Covid recovery continues, but Q1 should be the peak of the cycle. The strength of the rebound has given policymakers confidence to focus on longer-term issues; the result is a multi-dimensional tightening of policy. In the latest edition of our regular chartbook, the Dragonomics team explains the outlook for the economy and markets.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Discontinuity Risk In A Bipolar World

    For the first time in generations, the world now has two economic poles—the US and China. And they are following diametrically opposed monetary and fiscal policies. US policy is as Keynesian as you can get, while China has read the book on Wicksell and is turning restrictive. This divergence is the single most important challenge investors face today.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: A Global Minimum Corporate Tax Rate Is Coming

    With Joe Biden in the White House, international proposals for a global minimum corporate tax rate are back on the table. In this video interview, Yanmei Xie and Udith Sikand weigh the probability of agreement on a global tax rate, assess the degree of resistance, and look at who will really end up bearing the burden of higher effective corporate tax rates.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Covid’s Legacy Of Corporate Debt

    Covid-19 will leave a legacy of debt—corporate as well as sovereign. An increase in borrowing has raised fears: both of a wave of job-destroying corporate bankruptcies if government support is withdrawn, and of the creation of a legion of zombie companies if it is not. Cedric examines the situation in France, which accounted for half of the eurozone’s increase in corporate debt last year, and finds the true picture is less alarming than it first...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Trading The Vaccination S-Curve

    Vaccination programs around the world have gotten off the ground at widely varying speeds. But everywhere they tend to follow a similar S-curve trajectory. While most countries are still in the early stages of their vaccination programs, a very few are in their late stages, where the S-curves begin to flatten. Their experience provides an investible roadmap.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Quest For Semiconductor Sovereignty

    China is using the best-funded industrial policy in history to engineer greater self-reliance in semiconductors. Ambition and a big checkbook, however, do not guarantee success. In this DeepChina report, Dan argues that Chinese chip firms will increase their market share in some segments, but will not make it to the technological frontier.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    1994 All Over Again?

    Consider a flash back to 1994, when financial markets were mostly driven by what happened in the US, Europe and Japan. Europe was unable to tighten monetary policy while Japan was in a debt-driven deflationary bust. The US raised interest rates and sparked a seven-year bull market in the US dollar. Today, it is China which surprises everyone with a tightening.

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Next Move In Bond Yields

    Where are China’s government bond yields headed next? Policy and economic fundamentals point downward, but local investors fear rising inflation and leverage could still push yields up. In this piece, Wei argues the risk of a spike in yields is fading, and that any upward move would in any case be a buying opportunity.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Doom Loop? What Doom Loop?

    Ahead of the European Central Bank’s meeting this Thursday, there has been the usual chatter about what the ECB can do to alleviate stresses in the eurozone’s financial markets. This is unsurprising, given that Covid infection rates remain stubbornly high in several of the bloc’s leading economies, and that peripheral spreads have widened in recent weeks, with the Italian 10-year spread over bunds increasing by some 10bp.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    India’s Giant Problem

    Having recorded 261,000 Covid infections on Sunday, India has emerged as the worst affected country in the pandemic. Efforts to contain the virus likely mean the IMF's growth forecast of 12.5% this fiscal year is too optimistic. The real economic worry would be India’s ability to escape from the structural slowdown that began before the arrival of the pandemic.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    This Summer’s Driving Season

    After four weeks of trading sideways around the US$60/bbl price point, the WTI crude oil price popped higher this week following a bigger-than-expected draw on US inventories. This lends fresh urgency to one of the more important near-term questions investors are facing: how busy will this year’s US summer driving season be?

    4
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Two-Speed Recovery Continues

    Chinese GDP growth lost momentum in 1Q21 according to economic data released on Friday, with broad strength in the industrial sector offset by weakness in household consumption, particularly within services. In this Quick Take, the Dragonomics team dive into China’s Q1 economic figures and explain why they paint a picture of stability.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: The UK Emerges, But To What?

    English consumers have this week embraced the end of lockdown and the reopening of non-essential services. Across Britain, a successful vaccination drive has raised hopes that drastically reduced Covid-19 infections and hospitalizations can be sustained as further restrictions are eased. In this video interview, Nick outlines what that is likely to mean for UK assets.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: Asset Allocation Amid Low Interest Rates

    Charles Gave likes to say he is a rules-based investor, and he’s never been short of ideas. In this webinar, Charles and Gavekal TrackMacro’s Didier Darcet presented their latest work on portfolio construction, including a tool to help fixed-income managers to get satisfactory returns despite punitively low yields.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Huarong Haircut

    In the last two weeks, the bonds of Huarong Asset Management have slumped -30% or more in price in the offshore market, as investors fear either a default or a vicious restructuring which will force them to take painful losses. Wei and Xiaoxi assess the fine political line that China’s authorities must walk to assess the likely extent of the eventual haircut.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Asia Goes Seriously Unconventional

    Asian governments reacted to the region’s late 1990s crisis by prioritizing export growth, financial stability and external resilience. The result has been two decades of orthodox monetary policy and muted public spending. This began to change with the pandemic’s onset and recent moves suggest a deeper embrace of irregular monetary policies.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    US Inflation Not Just A base Effect

    Even adjusting for base effects, US consumer price inflation is accelerating. This is not surprising, as expansionary factors like fast money supply growth and strong demand are driving up prices. In this context, it is also not surprising that real assets (equities, commodities, TIPS) have outpaced nominal assets (cash, nominal bonds). But how long-lasting will inflation’s rise prove to be, and when will the Federal Reserve start to normalize...

    9
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    Gavekal Research

    The Ant And The Grasshoppers

    In the last few days, Chinese policymakers have stepped up the campaign to rein in their domestic tech giants, slapping Alibaba with fines of US$2.75bn and forcing the restructuring of Alibaba spin-off Ant Financial. Their action is in stark contrast to the inaction of regulators in western countries. But this is hardly the only contrast between China and the west.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    A Case Study: US Long Bonds

    With recent moves at the long end of the US treasury curve causing consternation among investors everywhere, Charles dusts off his decision rules for US long bonds to see what they are telling us about the present state of the market and concludes that it is not yet time to lengthen portfolio duration.

    8
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Curbing Mortgage Enthusiasm

    China’s regulators are strengthening their curbs on the property market as its post-pandemic exuberance continues. In this piece, Xiaoxi and Rosealea explain the central bank’s latest moves to curb disguised mortgage lending and cap overall loan growth. The main effect of these controls will be to slow lending to households and cool housing prices.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Living In A Stock Picker’s Market

    When only one major factor affects equities, correlations rise. At such points, the name of the game is not to pick the best stocks, but to get the ebb and flow of that key factor right. At other times, multiple factors are in play and these affect different stocks differently; in such periods, picking winners is vital. For most of last year, the US market was macro-dominated as the Covid-induced economic collapse caused equity correlations to...

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Procedural Shortcuts And Political Roadblocks

    For a president with a scant majority of one in the US Senate, Joe Biden has an extremely ambitious legislative agenda, starting with a US$2trn infrastructure spending and tax bill. Yanmei examines the procedural shortcuts and political roadblocks that may either smooth or obstruct Biden’s proposed legislation to assess how much of the program is actually likely to make it into US law.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: Global Investment Roundtable, April 2021

    In the long years between the 2008-09 financial crash and the 2020 Covid crisis the US stock market massively outperformed equities in the rest of the world. In recent quarters, however, the US market has lost its edge. Yesterday, Louis, KX and Udith weighed the merits of ex-US equities versus US stocks in a post-pandemic world.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Eurozone’s Sub-Surface Slack

    At first glance, with the unemployment rate down from a peak of 8.7% last September, it looks as if the degree of slack in the eurozone’s labor market may be small by historical standards. However, a look at the level of employment (including employees and self-employed) shows that employment is down by 3.1mn compared with the pre-pandemic baseline.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Living With The Next Covid Wave

    Global markets are looking ahead to a post-pandemic world, but Covid-19 is still very much with us. Globally, new infection rates have risen sharply since late February, reversing their earlier decline. In the last few weeks, the US has experienced an alarming uptick in infections. The European Union is struggling to contain its latest Covid wave, which in several major countries compares with November’s for severity. And across the developing...

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Fall And Rise Of Bond Inflows

    Foreign investors’ holdings of Chinese onshore bonds declined by RMB9bn in March, after rising RMB89.5bn in February. In this Quick Take, Wei explains how narrowing yield spreads and the decline of the renminbi against the dollar led to this sharp reversal, and what comes next for Chinese bond inflows.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Taiwan Risk

    With the hardening of the US-China strategic rivalry and technology’s central role in that rivalry, the possibility of a war over Taiwan is one which must be considered. In this report, Arthur explains the importance of the island to both countries and concludes that while the risk of war remains low, it is likely to rise in the next several years.

    8
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    Gavekal Research

    When Do We Begin To Worry About Cost Pressures?

    For the last 13 months or so, ever since the Covid pandemic started to grip, the broad US equity market has been driven above all by fears and hopes for top-line revenue growth. Last spring, as investors anticipated a collapse in revenues, the market collapsed. Policy support halted the slide, and over recent months, as investors have looked forward to the end of the pandemic and a rebound in revenues, the broad market has scaled new highs.

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Digital Renminbi Steps Out

    The People’s Bank of China is getting closer to rolling out its digital currency, with ever-broader and more public trials of the technology. The focus has been mostly on domestic uses and security issues—but there is more to come. In this piece, Xiaoxi explains what the PBOC is doing to prepare the digital renminbi for use in international trade.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Who’s Afraid Of The Big Bond Wolf?

    For the past two months, financial analysts all over the world have been obsessed by two closely related questions: (i) How much further will US bond yields rise, and how fast? (ii) Will rising bond yields kill the bull markets in global equities and other risk assets?

    4
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    A Difficult Decoupling For Australian Iron Ore

    Chinese iron ore imports grew 9.5% in 2020 to 1.17bn tons despite rising tensions with Australia, China’s largest supplier. Top leaders are calling for greater supply-chain security and reduced dependence on Australian materials, but Rosealea explains that this is easier said than done given China’s immense appetite for the commodity.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: The Macro And Market Implications Of Europe’s Pandemic Response Shambles

    As the European Union’s vaccination program stumbles from one misstep to another, investors are being forced to put back their expectations for European economic recovery, while a procurement scandal in Germany raises the probability that the pandemic will have a long-term effect on the EU’s political landscape. Anatole, Cedric and Nick examined the near-term market impact and long-term economic policy implications.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: The Case For Ex-US Equities

    The US trade deficit cycle suggests the world is heading towards a protracted period of US dollar depreciation. With valuations outside the US relatively attractive, and deglobalization meaning ex-US equities will offer greater diversification benefits in future, investors should consider increasing their exposure to ex-US equities.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Costs Of Biden’s Spending Plan

    On Wednesday, Joe Biden unveiled an ambitious US$2trn program of public infrastructure investment, to be funded by corporate tax hikes. In a nutshell, the plan is a proposal to transfer wealth from the broad US market to sectors favored by the government. The sectors that benefit from this largesse stand to enjoy a multi-year boom, with the cost to be borne by the rest of the market. However, the extent of this cost should not be exaggerated....

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Abundance And Shortages

    Over decades, investors have gotten used to living in a world of plenty, in which capital, labor, commodities and knowledge have all been in abundant supply. Today, however, while the world remains awash with cheap capital, there are signs that the supplies of labor, commodities and—most ominously of all—knowledge may be facing tightening constraints. In this paper, Louis asks whether, after years of abundance, the world may be facing a...

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    What To Do About Capital Inflows

    The surge of foreign interest in China’s bond market has created a novel economic problem for its policymakers: managing sizable inflows of portfolio capital which are pushing up its currency. In this piece, Wei explains how China has tried to encourage capital outflows to balance those inflows, and why that is becoming less necessary.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Unpacking The NFT Hype

    What’s a “non-fungible token”? Why would anyone pay millions of dollars for one? And what do they have to do with blockchains? In this video interview, Will unpacks the latest craze to explain what buying an NFT actually gets you, and considers whether this is a useful new technology or yet another case of blockchain hype.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Who Will Buy India Now?

    On Tuesday, the US dollar index hit a five-month high and treasury yields maintained their relentless march higher. On the same day, the Indian rupee—this year’s best performing emerging market currency—plunged to a one-month low. A mix of tighter financial conditions and a worsening Covid-19 situation has investors reassessing the surprising notion of India as an EM haven. They are right to do so, for the macro tailwinds driving the rupee’s...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Yield Differentials Matter—For Now

    As the first quarter draws to a close, the US dollar has confounded December’s bearish consensus expectations by generating a positive total return versus the euro of 3.8%. As Louis and Will and KX explained last week, in retrospect the US dollar’s performance over the last three months is not that surprising. The question now is: how long will these near-term factors persist?

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Like A Hell-Broth Boil And Bubble

    Last week began with a -15% fall in the Turkish lira in Asian trading on Monday morning. This week started with a -16% fall in the share price of Nomura in Asian trading on Monday morning. It would be easy to dismiss the two events as entirely unrelated. At first glance they have nothing in common, but in this piece Tom takes a closer look.

    4
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Speeding Ahead On Vaccination

    China administered over 3mn doses of Covid-19 vaccines on Thursday, accelerating its vaccination drive from around 1mn doses per day in February and 2mn per day last week. In this Quick Take, Ernan explains why this acceleration is not enough to meet the country’s vaccination targets, as the government’s main hurdle is not production but logistics.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    When Will Borders Reopen?

    Even as a new Covid wave sweeps across Europe, the European Union has gotten to work on a Digital Green Certificate to allow resumption of travel, within the bloc and beyond. Health passports that securely document vaccines and test results for travelers are key to opening up borders again. But as Tom explains, getting countries to agree on rules and standards will be a painful slog.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Rewind To Look Ahead

    There has hardly been a single piece of news in the last three months that could have been construed as euro-bullish. And yes, the euro has weakened. But given the newsflow, it is remarkable that the euro is not down a whole lot more. So, considering the newsflow and the 200bp spread between 10 year treasuries and bunds, why hasn’t the US dollar rallied more?

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: The Future Of The Great US Rotation

    Much has happened in the US in the last eight weeks. More than 80mn Americans have been vaccinated against Covid, Congress has passed a stimulus bill worth 9% of GDP, and the Fed has confirmed its determination to remain among the most peaceable of inflation doves. In response, 10-year US treasury yields have leapt, and the rotation from growth stocks to value has grown more violent even as the broad equity market has ascended new heights. In...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Pushing Less Hard On The String

    Concluding a long-awaited policy review, last week the Bank of Japan signaled that after almost a decade of pursuing titanic quantitative easing targets, it will be looking to make fewer asset purchases from now on. In this short video interview, Udith weighs the implications for Japan’s economy, its bond market, the yen, and Japanese equities.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    For Want Of A Chip

    China’s car market is starting to show the first effects of the global chip scarcity, but Thomas and Ernan write that the shortage might just be starting to bite. Supply could resume by Q3, but even a temporary drag on auto production will have material consequences for China’s industrial sector and the economy at large.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Future’s Clear, The Future’s Green

    Europe’s Green parties used to be denigrated by their political opponents as “watermelons”: green environmentalists on the surface, red hard-leftists beneath. In Germany, this attempt to marginalize the Greens by associating them with the discredited revolutionary socialists of 50 years ago failed dismally. Having established their credibility in regional politics, notably in Germany’s third richest state of Baden-Württemberg, where they have...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Financial Manias: The Crypto Craze

    After scrutinizing the electric car craze last week, today Louis turns his gimlet eye on crypto-currencies. Yes, bitcoin now has a market capitalization of US$1trn, but what does it actually do? What value does it add to economies and societies? On close examination, Louis finds that the functions of bitcoin are relatively straightforward, if not particularly edifying. And more to the point, they are already attracting the sort of attention that...

    18
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    Gavekal Research

    The Short And Long For The US Dollar

    After ending 2020 amid heavily negative sentiment, the US dollar has confounded near-term bears by edging higher year-to-date. The DXY dollar index has gained 2.75%, clawing back just over a third of its -7.5% decline in 2020. Perhaps this should not be too surprising. First, by the end of 2020, the US dollar was no longer blatantly overvalued. Second, the DXY found support at 90, its low of early 2018. Third, the near-term outlook for nominal...

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Slowing Down Steel Production

    Policymakers have pledged to “ensure a year-on-year decline” in steel output this year to help China achieve peak carbon-dioxide emissions by 2030, but these curbs will not reduce the country’s underlying demand for steel. In this report, Rosealea analyzes the feasibility of this target and its consequences for the steel industry.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Strengthening Case For Value

    In the last two weeks, US value stocks have given up some of the outperformance relative to growth that they racked up over the previous five. So has value’s spurt of outperformance now run its course, leaving the S&P 500 value index’s 11pp of outperformance relative to growth since the beginning of February as just a counter-trend blip against a backdrop of more than a decade’s underperformance? Or are the relative gains in value since the...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Extent Of Turkish Contagion Risk

    After four and a half months in which Turkish central bank governor Naci Ağbal had raised policy rates and restored a measure of confidence in the Turkish lira, on Saturday Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan fired Agbal and replaced him with a loyalist who has echoed the president’s conviction that higher interest rates lead to higher inflation.

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    What Strategic Competition Looks Like

    Last week’s diplomatic meeting between China and the US was marked by harsh rhetoric as both sides used the event to signal toughness to their home audiences. In this report, Arthur and Dan outline what policy tools Beijing and Washington have at their disposal and why the Biden administration is struggling to articulate a clear China strategy.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Weak Links No Longer

    Once upon a time, a steep rise in US yields coupled with capital outflows—like those we’ve seen in recent weeks—would have led to intense financial stresses in Asian emerging markets. Weak-link economies with fragile fiscal positions and precarious external balances would have been vulnerable to abrupt sell-offs and destabilizing currency depreciation. As sentiment swung risk-off, investors would have gotten badly trampled in the rush for the...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Webinar: Making Sense Of China’s Grand Plans

    The annual session of China's National People's Congress has wrapped up with the approval of a new five-year plan, a sweeping document that promises not only technological self-sufficiency but a different style of economic management in coming years. In this webinar, our China experts unpacked what these grand promises really mean, and also discussed the substantial recent correction in Chinese equities and where markets are headed...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Financial Manias: The Electric Car Craze

    Almost wherever you look today, there are bubbles: in SPACs, in crypto, and in electric vehicles. In this report, the first of a series on today’s financial manias, Louis reviews Gavekal’s tried and tested framework for analyzing bubbles, and applies it to today’s mania for electric vehicles. He concludes that the electric car bubble is unique in history, and that the prognosis for many investors in the sector is less than encouraging.

    17
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    Gavekal Research

    Markets After The Fed

    The Federal Reserve saw no need to ease monetary policy any further at its March meeting which concluded Wednesday. That’s no surprise. Policy is already extremely easy, and growth and inflation are already looking up. Indeed, the Fed has pumped so much money into the system that the one policy change it felt compelled to make was to increase counterparty limits on its reverse repo facility from US$30bn to US$80bn in response to concerns that...

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    Video: Conflicting Forces In The Hong Kong Market

    The Hong Kong stock market started 2021 as one of the world’s best performing, gaining 14% in the first six weeks of the year. In the weeks since, however, Hong Kong-listed equities have given back half those gains as sentiment has soured. In this short video interview, Vincent weighs the opposing forces at work in the local market to assess how they are likely to play out in the future.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The New Plan For Urbanization

    The 14th five-year plan outlines significant changes to China’s household registration (hukou) system. In this report, Ernan writes that this new policy direction is to reduce the significance of the system over time by reducing urban/rural inequality. Rural areas will benefit, but at a cost to China’s overall economic growth.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Time To Fix Credit Ratings

    2021 could be a pivotal year for the overhaul of credit ratings, which have long been an impediment to the functioning of China’s corporate bond market. The defaults of a few AAA-rated state firms have now pushed regulators into tackling long-standing problems, at a moment when cyclical and structural conditions are favorable for reform.

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    Attack Of The Drones

    Military technology is a lynchpin of the geopolitical balance. And the superiority of US weaponry has been one of the principal factors underpinning the US dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency. However, recent events raise important questions about whether the US can retain this superiority.

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    Let's Twist Again

    When they sit down on Wednesday, the members of the Federal Open Market Committee will face a couple of knotty questions. Should they attempt to do anything about rising bond yields? And if so, what?

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    How Bad Is Europe’s Vaccine Problem?

    The Covid news from Europe only seems to lurch from bad to worse. The suspension by several European Union countries of distribution of AstraZeneca's Covid vaccine over possible side-effects threatens to disrupt the EU’s vaccination programs and damage public confidence in vaccines in general. So how bad are things likely to get?

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Looking Past The Base Effect

    The collapse in activity during the Covid-19 lockdowns in early 2020 has ensured some eye-popping economic data for January-February 2021. In this report, the Dragonomics team looks past base effects to find consumption and services still on track to normalize this year, while industry and property will likely cool as policy tightens at the margin.

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    When Currencies Misbehave

    In recent days, investors have had to absorb a series of troubling headlines from Europe, yet news that should be either bearish for the euro or bullish for the dollar failed to keep the euro from gaining last week. Meanwhile, the yen continues to grind lower. Why is that, and what does the inability of the dollar to rally tell us about the future?

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    The New High-Pressure US Economy

    Having just signed off on US$1.9trn of Covid relief, the US government has now spent US$5trn on support measures since the pandemic began. Unfazed by warnings that it could overheat the economy and spur runaway inflation, the White House plans another big package of public investment that aims to tackle climate change, upgrade US infrastructure and revamp education. Joe Biden seems intent on spurring a “high-pressure” economy.

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    The Yield Curve Control That Dare Not Speak Its Name

    A year ago today, European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde said “we are not here to close spreads”. With a fair amount of water having flowed under the bridge since then, the spread between 10-year Italian BTP’s and bunds has fallen from 261bp to just 94bp. So when on the anniversary of that proclamation, she said the “ECB is not doing yield curve control”, one could be forgiven for demurring.

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    Webinar: The Shape Of India's Recovery

    With the release of pent-up demand and more fiscal spending, India's economy is rebounding sharply. Its growth potential is also being raised by a new push towards privatization and an industrial policy that supports manufacturers. The question is whether India can overcome institutional lethargy and make these policies work. Tom and Udith addressed such issues and the latest market developments impacting sub-continent assets.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    There Is No Plan To Boost Consumption

    Consumption and domestic demand are everywhere in the Chinese government’s latest policy rhetoric, with high-level promises to “boost consumer spending across the board” and “create a robust domestic market.” In this piece, Andrew explains why the new five-year plan is not actually a plan to boost consumption.

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    Is The Belt And Road Turning Green?

    China is trying to clean up its domestic energy sector, but critics accuse it of exporting an outmoded and dirty energy model around the world under the guise of the Belt and Road Initiative. In 2019, Xi Jinping pledged to turn the BRI “green and clean.” Tom argues that there may have been a moderate shift towards green energy, but not a decisive one.

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    Stop Worrying About Bond Yields And Buy Equities

    Is it time to buy or sell global equities? I think investors should be adding exposure for four broad reasons. As argued in February, during the last mini-correction the global bull market that began on March 20, 2020, is still in its early stages and the cyclical economic problems that usually provoke bear markets are not yet on the horizon.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Capex Renaissance Is Coming

    2021 is set to be a strong year for capital spending by Chinese companies. In this report, Thomas explains why solid returns on assets across the industrial sector and low borrowing costs are creating incentives for firms to invest in new capacity. This should allow policymakers to cut back on spending without tanking overall investment.

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    Updating The Malthusian Constraint

    In June 2019, I argued that big shifts in the US economy and financial markets largely result from changes in the relative price of energy. If oil prices are rising faster than nominal GDP, this points to energy shortages and more of the economy’s value-added going as the “miners’ rent”. This situation points to rising inflation and contracting price/earnings ratios.

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    Gold, Renminbi Bonds And The Clash Of Empires

    As the US expands its deficits to pay for pandemic relief, emerging economies that use the US dollar for reserve backing have reason to fret. China is being incentivized to accelerate development of the renminbi as both an international standard and store of value. Louis, Charles and Didier offer a potential roadmap for how renminbi internationalization may unfold.

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    The Bursting Of The Electric Car Bubble, And Consequences

    A friend recently sent me the following quote from the Barrow Hanley small-cap manager, Jim McClure: “Should an investment narrative become particularly disputed, the best course of action is to identify the camp that is more emotional, and bet heavily against them”. This was good advice a few years back when anti-Tesla/anti-Elon Musk sentiment was rampant. And it would have been good advice again in early January, when the pendulum had swung...

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    Video: US Equities In A Changed Macro Environment

    US tech stocks have been hit hard, as attention focuses on the underlying quality of themes like the migration to electric vehicles. Yet this shakeup is also happening against the backdrop of a fast-changing investment environment due to a strengthening US growth outlook, rising inflationary pressure and an unnerved bond market which is driving yields higher. In this video interview, Will seeks to unpack these dynamics in order to navigate a...

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    The Missing Target

    For four decades, every five-year plan has included a target for average GDP growth. The latest plan, presented last Friday, did not. This points to China's leadership having a more complex view of development goals argues Andrew. These now include a range of metrics including technological capability, national security, financial stability and living standards.

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    India Macro Update: Reading The Recovery

    India is enjoying a V-shaped recovery and there are hopes that high fiscal spending and favorable base effects can push GDP growth above 10% in the coming fiscal year. The problem is that the private sector remains weak after a savage Covid-19 experience. Udith and Tom digest the macro currents and on balance conclude they would rather be in Indian equities than bonds.

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    Bond Vigilantes Keep Fighting The Fed

    Jerome Powell tried to calm the bond market yesterday by repeating that it’s likely to be a while before policy normalization begins. Growth and inflation indicators are up, but the Fed expects much of this to be “transitory”. In short, Powell remains a steadfast dove. So why are bond yields, real and nominal, still ticking higher?

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    Webinar: Global Investment Roundtable, March 2021

    As Covid-19 vaccinations are cranked up and Congress gets ready to dole out stimulus measures, US growth expectations have risen along with inflation concerns. In response, bonds have sold off and equity markets have shuddered. In our monthly global investment roundtable, Gavekal partners discussed this confluence of events and addressed what it means for risk assets.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The New Normal For Infrastructure

    Officially, the normalization of China’s fiscal policy will be moderate in 2021: the government budget will narrow to 3.2% of GDP from 3.7%. But public-works spending is China’s true fiscal policy, and tighter financing does not bode well. Infrastructure investment is likely headed for a fourth year of negligible growth, and could even decline.

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    Enduring Cognitive Dissonance

    As yields continue to test new highs, Jay Powell is set to deliver a speech today reasserting the Federal Reserve’s view that inflation can push above its 2% target due to base effects and pent-up demand without monetary tightening being needed. This could offer temporary relief to equity investors, but resulting uncertainty in the bond market is likely to ensure an unstable trading environment.

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    Video: Will Bond Yields Topple Asia's EMs?

    Rising treasury yields are rarely a good thing for emerging markets, as this implies tighter financing conditions. The good news of sorts is that Asia's external position is strong due to buoyant exports, yet domestic demand has been constrained by the pandemic and a slow vaccine rollout.

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    The Problem With Europe’s Inflation

    Later this year, eurozone consumer price inflation should hit its highest level in more than a decade. We found out on Tuesday that February’s consumer prices rose by 0.9% year-on-year, and more price hikes are in the works. Alas, this is not the type of inflation that the European Central Bank has been seeking to engineer for the best part of a decade.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    An Unrealistic Vaccine Target

    China’s government is aiming for 40% of its population to have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine by mid-2021, according to a senior health adviser. In this Quick Take, Ernan explains why such a target is unrealistic given China’s current vaccine production capacity and its obligations to other countries.

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    India’s New Industrial Policy

    Industrial policy is back in vogue, especially in India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government will spend US$27bn on subsidizing manufacturing, as it seeks to forge a “Self-Reliant India.” Given India’s unhappy history of chasing self-sufficiency, this raises concerns. Yet “self-reliance” does not necessarily mean protectionism, argues Tom.

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    The Oil-US Dollar Interaction

    The past year has seen two important developments in the oil industry. Firstly, US oil production has rolled over by between -2mn and -2.5mn bpd and there are reasons to think this situation lasts until next year. Secondly, oil prices, which were in a clear bear market between late 2018 and early 2020 are now in a bull market. Hence, as US oil production falls and oil prices rise, energy may again become a major contributor to the US trade...

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    Chips And Cross-Straits Tensions

    Taiwan’s position at the core of the global semiconductor industry has never looked more secure: it is now the undisputed leader in advanced chip manufacturing. But does that success increase the risk of military aggression from China? In fact not. As Dan argues in this piece, semiconductors are not a plausible trigger for a hot conflict.

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    Productive Bubbles And Unproductive Bubbles

    There are two kinds of bubbles: bubbles in productive assets like railways, and broadband lines, and bubbles in scarcity assets like tulips and gold. In turn, these bubbles can be funded through equity, or by debt. The best kind of bubble is in productive assets, funded by equity and the worst kind is in unproductive assets, funded by debt, especially if the leverage is hidden.

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    Strategy Monthly: The Threat Of Rising Inflation And Yields

    The roll-out of vaccines in the US is upending the investment environment, as the focus shifts beyond the pandemic to full-throttled economic recovery. With both monetary and fiscal policy set to remain loose, nominal growth could soon rip. Hopes for “normalization” have driven up inflation expectations and freaked out bond investors. Those getting fixed interest are right to be unnerved, as production capacity is fairly tight, inventories are...

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