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E.g., 25-03-2019
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    Gavekal Research

    Vox Clamantis In Deserto

    Some say, “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Others regard repeating the same mistake over and over again, and expecting the results to change, to be the very definition of insanity. I fear that the majority of “respectable economists” (meaning they always side with the consensus) inhabit the first of the two camps.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Gather Round The Punch Bowl

    US monetary policy tightening is over, at least for now. While the Federal Reserve is not adding any more hooch to the punch bowl, chairman Jay Powell has promised to stop cutting his serving sizes. Although not much of a surprise, the Fed’s guidance is broadly positive for just about everything but US dollar cash—especially equities and real assets.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Intervention To Support The HKD Signals Strength, Not Weakness

    In the last two weeks, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority has been forced to sell US dollars in the foreign exchange market to maintain the Hong Kong Dollar's peg to the US dollar. Yet far from signaling a crisis, the interventions are a symptom of confidence in Hong Kong’s financial system, which is swimming with liquidity.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Believe In The US Consumer, Still

    Just as the Federal Reserve eases up on monetary tightening and negotiators struggle to avert a trans-Pacific trade war, the US consumer is emerging as the next source of worry. Americans are deferring big-ticket purchases, consumer confidence readings have softened and retail sales growth has slowed. Suddenly, the picture looks similar to the 2015-16 soft patch, or worse still it resembles the phase leading up to the 2008 crisis, when an...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Industrial Policy That Dare Not Speak Its Name

    The Made In China 2025 initiative was omnipresent after its launch in 2015, but it has now become officially invisible, a casualty of the vocal concerns expressed by the US and others. In this piece, Lance explains how China will pursue industrial policy in the aftermath: with less transparency, but also, perhaps, with less discrimination.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    A New Era For European Banks

    European banking stocks have been battered for much of the last four years by negative interest rates and a Brussels plan to impose market discipline through shareholder bail-ins rather than public bail-outs. This approach is now in question as Germany embraces a new industrial strategy that will rely on strong state-backed banks taking political direction.

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The End Of China's ODI Party

    Beijing’s decision to use foreign acquisitions as a tool of state industrial policy has badly backfired. With advanced economies stiffening their resistance to Chinese investment, China’s decade-long outward direct investment spree looks spent. In this piece, Tom explains how the boom ended and where funds will flow in the future.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Marxist Take On The Gilets Jaunes

    The "yellow jackets” still protesting in France have so far received only tepid support from the country's usually vocal trade unions. Similarly, left-wing parties have also been very slow to take to the street. This begs the question of what the oracle of the French intelligentsia, Karl Marx, would have made of this protest movement.

    10
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    Gavekal Research

    The Trouble With Champions

    When last Sunday, Angela Merkel’s heir-apparent published an opinion piece on the EU’s future, she left the door open to an EU industrial strategy and competition policy focused on creating European champions intended to compete in global markets. Such a policy may be attractive to politicians, but it is less appealing to investors.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: The Fed's Potential Paradigm Shift

    The Federal Reserve is debating a fundamental shift in its inflation targeting. Right now it's targeting 2% inflation no matter what it has been in the past, a so-called "bygones" policy. In this video interview Will discusses the consequences of switching to price-level targeting, where the aim is to keep average inflation over time at 2%.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Central Banker Who Cried Wolf

    In January, the BoJ governor promised more monetary easing if that was what it took for inflation to reach 2%. Investors increasingly doubt the fortitude of Japan’s financial sector as it endures the pain inflicted by the world’s easiest central bank. If that suspicion grows, the variable of adjustment may be a rising yen, which would be a big headache for the BoJ.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    That Wasn't So Bad, Actually

    China watchers have been bracing themselves for some ugly economic indicators in January and February. Yet the first official data for 2019 were not actually that bad. As Andrew explains, the economy is clearly slowing, but it’s not going into an uncontrolled dive. The government’s moderate policy response is thus still on track to steady growth.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Brexit Impasse

    Political commentators and European leaders are bewailing Britain’s descent into ungovernability after the UK parliament again rejected the new and supposedly improved Brexit deal. But markets reacted calmly. In fact, for investors, the seemingly chaotic Brexit saga is unfolding roughly along the bullish lines suggested here since early January.

    12
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    Gavekal Research

    The Locus Of Capital Destruction

    Germany is going through one of its periodic bouts of angst as its industrial economy faces up to cyclical headwinds, unwanted structural change and the threat of protectionism. I too have concerns about the fate of corporate Germany, but would approach the problem from the perspective of an equity investor.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Springtime For Steel

    It’s looking like a good spring for China’s steel industry. In this piece, Rosealea reports on her findings from a recent visit to the steelmaking capital of Tangshan. Steel and iron ore prices are being supported by a combination of stable demand from property, recovering demand from infrastructure and supply constraints from scrap shortages.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Productivity To The Rescue, For Now

    On first reading, Friday’s US payroll report for February made grim reading for most investors. The screeching slowdown in non-farm hiring seemed to point to a US economy that is flirting with recession. To compound matters, wage growth seemes to point to a very tight labor market. On closer inspection, however, a less concerning picture is revealed.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    When You're In A Hole, Stop Digging

    The first law of holes states: when you are in one, stop digging. It’s sound advice, which central bankers would do well to heed. Unfortunately for Mario Draghi and his colleagues at the European Central Bank, things are not so simple. It is one of the quirks of negative interest rates that the longer rates remain in negative territory, the less accommodative policy becomes.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research Call March 2019

    In this research conference call, Andrew Batson and Chen Long discussed the improving outlook for the Chinese economy in 2019 and the implications for financial markets. Confirmation that the government is both willing and able to support growth has ignited an equity rally, while expectations of further easing measures still support bonds.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Not Modern, Not About Money, And Not Really Much Of A Theory

    Charles has had enough of all the talk going round about Modern Monetary Theory. In this forceful polemic he lets fly with both barrels at the proponents of MMT, arguing that they have no knowledge of financial history, little understanding of the nature of money, and are clueless about what constitutes a theory.

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    Keynes Is Dead; This Is The Long Run

    “In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is,” Yogi Berra said. Take cutting interest rates as an example. According to Keynesian theory, reducing interest rates is a way to borrow from future demand in order to prevent a recession today.The theory is sound, but then comes the practice. And in Europe today, we are in practice up to our necks.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    An Investor's Rough Guide To Modern Monetary Theory

    Modern Monetary Theory—the idea that governments can spend as much as they want, free from funding constraints—is attracting more and more attention. Will examines the precepts of the theory, explores whether it really brings anything new to the table, and outlines some of the implications for investors should it ever be applied as practical policy.

    16
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Shifting Sands At The Fed

    The US Federal Reserve has said it is likely to end its process of balance sheet “normalization” sooner than previously planned. This sounds like an obscure monetary technicality, but it has important implications for investors. In this video interview Will explains why.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Towards A New Triple Merit Scenario

    Emerging market equities have benefited handsomely from the global risk-on move so far this year. With the prospect of a US-China tariff truce and the likelihood that China’s growth rate will stabilize in the coming months, EM may be on the cusp of a new “triple merit scenario” that could extend the equity rally through the rest of 2019.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Stability, Beijing-Style

    After a decade of rapid growth in debt, China’s government claims to be pursuing a different course. At this year’s legislative session, leaders dialed back growth targets, and pledged to control leverage and instead use fiscal policy to steady growth. Neither pledge can be taken at face value: growth will stabilize this year, but leverage will expand.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Believe In The Chinese Bull Market

    After turning in the world’s worst performance in 2018, Chinese A-shares have bounced back with a vengeance in 2019. The three factors driving sentiment—liquidity conditions, the US-China trade war and Beijing’s policy stance—have all improved markedly. Thomas thinks the bull market has room to run, but exuberance creates its own set of risks.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Potential Lifeline For Europe's Banks

    As the members of the European Central Bank’s governing council prepare to meet in Frankfurt this Thursday, they face the unsettling possibility that their policy settings may risk compounding, rather than alleviating, the eurozone’s economic weaknesses.Unfortunately for members of the council who may be inclined to dither, doing nothing is not a viable option.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Get Ready To Buy The Dip

    With the S&P 500 up a nifty 18% from its Christmas eve low, propelled by the Federal Reserve’s dovish turn and hopes of a US-China trade truce, it is natural to wonder if US stocks are due for a correction. The question for investors is whether they should fade the rally now before it is too late, or stay invested and look to buy the dip should a correction occur.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: China After The Trade War

    The prospect of a US-China deal on tariffs has already boosted China’s stock market and currency. But it won’t reverse China’s growth slowdown, which is largely the result of Beijing’s efforts to de-leverage the financial system. The good news is that credit growth is rebounding, which will stabilize growth in 2H18. Chinese bonds will rally a bit more, the renminbi will move up further against the US dollar, and Chinese and EM equities should...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Crisis And Opportunity In Kashmir

    India and Pakistan engaged in air-to-air combat yesterday, raising the prospect of war between the two nuclear powers. Markets fell only marginally but are vulnerable if the conflict escalates, which for the moment looks unlikely. If Modi keeps his nerve, the crisis could put the BJP on a sure path to victory in May’s general election, heralding a rally in Indian asset prices.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The US Technology Control Toolbox

    The US and China appear to be moving toward a trade deal that will at least halt further hikes in tariffs. But as Dan shows in this piece, the US still wants to constrain China’s technological rise, and has many tools it can use. US-China technology exchanges are becoming politically and legally fraught, causing collateral damage on both sides.

    6
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Look Beyond The Budget

    It is now conventional wisdom that China is using fiscal policy more than monetary policy to stabilize economic growth. Chen Long disagrees, and in this piece explains why the official budget, to be announced on March 5, is not that important to the business cycle. What matters more is the direction of total credit growth—which is picking up.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Trouble With Price Level Targeting

    The Federal Reserve is talking about changing the way it targets inflation. Currently it tweaks policy in an attempt to zero in on a specific inflation rate: 2%. Under the framework it is discussing, instead it would aim to hit a price index level consistent with a particular long term average inflation rate. The distinction might sound subtle, but by targeting a price level, the Fed would compensate for any undershooting by attempting to...

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    What To Expect From Trump-Kim II

    The the eight months since Trump and Kim's historic handshake in Singapore has seen no progress on North Korea’s denuclearization, with the two sides still leagues apart. Although their second meeting this week will do nothing to bridge the gap, Trump’s determination to be seen as a peacemaker will further reduce tensions in North East Asia.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    After A Trade Deal, Then What?

    So far, so predictable: President Donald Trump’s weekend tweets extending the deadline for US-China trade talks past March 1 made clear his intention to get a deal done, most likely in the second half of March when Xi Jinping pays a visit to Mar-a-Lago. A deal is now almost certain to happen; the live questions are what will be in it and what impact it will have.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Mystery Of The Missing Stimulus

    Since late 2016, the US trade deficit has been widening. Usually, when the US trade deficit expands, the effect is stimulative for the rest of the world. However, this time around there have been no signs that non-US economies are enjoying a resulting pick-up. In this report, KX examines possible explanations for the failure of this longstanding relationship.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Back To The Barbarous Relic

    Going back to the mid-1980s, I have worked on the assumption that the US economy has been in the “deflationary” lower half of my four quadrants framework. My fear is that we may be moving into the inflationary top quadrants. If so, this means that in the bust phase of the cycle equities will have a positive correlation with bonds, and those bonds will offer much lower returns

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    Time To Underweight Thailand

    In the two weeks since the announcement that a movie star princess would stand for prime minister in Thailand's March election—though her candidacy was swiftly shot down by the palace—investors have largely shrugged off fears of renewed upheavals. However, this is not just Thai politics as usual. It reopens old wounds and throws current alignments into doubt.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Trade Deal Scenarios

    In recent days, news reports have pointed to an impending trade deal between the US and China. A tweet by the US president that seemed to favor Chinese tech firms has added to that expectation. In this piece, Louis considers two possible outcomes to these talks, with one offering markets a short-term fillip, and the other being a likely gamechanger that will impact investors’ performance for years to come.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    A Catspaw, Not A Tailwind

    The publication of minutes from FOMC’s January meeting confirmed that the Fed has executed an about-turn in its policy stance and is now in dovish mode. More specifically, the minutes confirmed that the Fed is planning to halt the contraction of its balance sheet later this year, putting an early end to the quantitative tightening that began in October 2017.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: What Kind Of US-China Deal?

    In recent weeks, the US dollar has rallied, emerging markets have been strong and gold seems to be breaking out to the upside. That is an unusual combination, and in this video Louis outlines three possible explanations for the moves. Most provocatively, as the US-China trade talks get critical, he wonders if China is gearing up to accept a one-off revaluation of the renminbi.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    India Macro Update: Pre-Election Jitters

    In India, all eyes are focused on May’s general election. In the lead-up, the government has turned on the spending spigots and the central bank has obliged with a recent surprise interest rate cut. However, in this quarterly update Udith and Tom argue that such measures may not be enough to restart the stalled capital spending cycle.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Three Odd Things

    Reserves held by foreign central banks at the Fed are shrinking, which implies there aren’t enough US dollars in the system. This would make sense: the Fed has been draining excess US dollars for the past couple of years. So with shrinking central bank reserves and a shrinking US monetary base, the US dollar should be going up, and most risk assets should be hurting. Oddly, this isn’t happening.

    4
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Sunset Of Housing Subsidies

    China’s local governments are cutting back their slum redevelopment plans, which points to lower government subsidies for housing in 2019. As a result, Rosealea argues, housing sales are likely to have a deeper decline this year, although Beijing will manage the phase-out of subsidies with a careful eye on how it affects the market.

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    The Biggest Investment Story Of 2019

    Now that stock markets around the world have recovered from the year-end panic of December 2018, it is worth returning to the question I posed here on the first trading day of 2019: was the disappointing performance of equities and other risk assets in 2018 the prelude to a deep and protracted bear market, or a contrarian opportunity to “buy the dip”?

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    China’s Credit Cycle Turns

    China’s easing of monetary policy is finally showing some results, with total credit growth delivering a surprising rebound in January. This pick-up suggests that the credit cycle has now bottomed out. But, Chen Long argues, the rebound in credit growth is likely to prove moderate, and economic activity will take more time to stabilize.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Containing China's Tech Ambitions

    More constructive rhetoric suggests the US and China may be about to strike a truce on tariffs and market access. However, that does not mean they are about to bury the hatchet. Powerful groups in Washington want to contain China’s rise as a technological power, and the US has many tools at its disposal even if it drops tariffs.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The QT Endgame

    A voting member of the FOMC said yesterday that the Federal Reserve should quit shrinking its balance sheet later this year. This was the clearest indication yet that the US central bank will end quantitative tightening one or two years sooner than the 2020-2021 estimate put forward by Chairman Jay Powell last July. I suspect Brainard will get her wish.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Thirty Years Later: Tiananmen's Long Shadow

    On Monday we published a piece from Louis in which he assessed the three economic fronts where the US and China are doing battle. In this second part of the series, Louis steps back and considers the chief monetary priorities that China has settled on since the tumultuous events at Tiananmen Square almost 30 years ago.

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    After The Crash In Car Sales

    Is the long boom in China’s car market finally over? In this piece, Ernan takes stock of the prospects for auto sales after 2018’s historic decline. Since that drop was caused by expiring stimulus policies, sales can stabilize and recover. Future growth, however, is likely to be much slower than the industry has become accustomed to.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    What Europe’s Political Ructions Mean

    European politics is again heating up. Yesterday saw the Spanish government fail to pass its budget in a move likely to spur fresh elections. Populists in Italy and yellow vests in France are keeping up their campaign of disruption. Given that few of these issues directly threaten the structures of the EU, the question for investors is: Does any of this matter?

    0
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