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    Gavekal Research

    Optimization And Fragility

    I have played rugby for most of my life, but in recent years I have seldom been injured. This is because I have grown heavier and slower. It is the guys who are fast and agile that tear knee ligaments and strain hamstrings. Why do I bring this up? Because investors need to ask whether the global economy is a slow but resistant lumbering beast of burden. Or is it a finely-tuned machine in danger of spinning off its axis? Gavekal has touched on...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    China Versus The Anglosphere

    Beijing’s ability to weaponize its global trade power is concentrating minds from Washington to Canberra. On Tuesday it was reported that China has proposed controls on the production and export of rare earths. This threat is the latest example of why reducing critical dependence on Chinese trade is now a strategic priority for many countries, in particular those in the Anglosphere.

    13
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Next Steps On Hidden Local Debt

    In 2021, China’s central government is gearing up to once again tackle the hidden debts of local authorities, toughening its stance after a couple of lax years. As Wei explains in this piece, the solution is likely to be a mixed one, combining limits on new borrowing, partial bailouts of some debt, and a lot of kicking the can down the road.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Long Bond Bait And Switch

    Ultra-long bond issuance is back in vogue in Europe. This month Spain has sold €5bn of 50-year bonds at a yield of 1.45%, while Belgium snapped out a 50-year issue at 0.69%. In January it was France, which sold a 50-year at 0.59%. Next up is likely to be Italy, which is expected to take advantage of the tightening in spreads following the appointment of Mario Draghi as prime minister (see Draghi’s Return) to come to market with a 50-year of its...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Importance Of Taiwan

    Across Europe and the US, car plants are getting shuttered because of a shortage of microchips from Asia. This storm is centered on Taiwan, which for decades has been an unsung contract supplier of electronics and chemicals. For those who had not noticed, its firms now dominate high-end global chip production and current industry dynamics mean this grip is only likely to intensify.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Game Theory, With Complications

    Devotees of game theory are set to enjoy a rare drama playing out in front of their eyes in the oil market over the coming months. Since April last year the price of Brent crude has more than tripled. Now, with production constrained, inventories being drawn down, and vaccines promoting hopes of a return towards normal economic activity, expectations are high of further near-term price gains.

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    Gavekal Research

    A New Super-Cycle?

    A surge in commodity prices has led to hopes for a new “super-cycle”. Bulls say that commodities have been in the doghouse for a decade, ensuring limited new capacity additions, yet demand is now getting supercharged globally by easy monetary and fiscal policies. Bears retort that commodity investors have a case of the vapors, as the next phase of global growth, especially in China, will be less resource-intensive.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    The Trouble With Biden's Climate Plan

    In a frothy market, few sectors are as pumped up as green plays. Since US markets bottomed last March, the Nasdaq composite has generated total returns of 105%. Over the same period the Nasdaq Clean Edge green energy index has returned 403%. Moreover, the outperformance has accelerated since early November, which suggests the green sector’s gains are being driven in part by hopes of a favorable policy environment under Joe Biden’s administration...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Vaccines, Efficacy And Variants

    Despite volumes of new information and the lightning creation of vaccines promising a path out of the pandemic, uncertainty remains. Almost daily we are bombarded with a mix of good news (the vaccines work really well!) and bad (new mutations resist vaccines!) that make it hard to know whether we should rejoice or despair. This note provides a framework for assessing these persistent uncertainties.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: The Economic Impact Of A New Era

    Vaccines, fiscal stimulus and cheap money are working together to bolster the outlook for growth and inflation in the United States. The US is also under new leadership with new priorities. Our US team of analysts explained what this all means for the economy and asset markets.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Propping Up Property Sales

    Housing sales growth is holding up well despite financial tightening and hawkish policymaker rhetoric. In this report, Rosealea explains why regulators are pressuring developers to cut prices, while increased household savings means more families can take advantage of these discounts. 2021 will therefore likely be a strong year for housing sales.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Canary Chirps

    In late January, just as the GameStop squeeze was beginning to attract attention, Louis advised investors “to keep European banks on their screens.” As the canary in the coal mine of global financial markets, eurozone banks would signal broader trouble ahead if they continued to fall. But if they rebounded, it would be a sign the global inflation trade was back on (see Third Time The Charm?).

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    US Inflation Has Many Fathers

    As the economics adage goes, inflation happens when “too much money chases too few goods”. This is an oversimplification but it does contain a core truth: the monetary price of goods is dictated by supply and demand factors that impact both the goods in question, and money itself.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    US Banks And The Steepening Curve

    The brightening of the US economic outlook and the steepening of the US yield curve over the last three months have been positive for the shares of US commercial banks. The prospect of a return to normal as vaccination quells the pandemic means banks are more willing to extend credit. According to the Federal Reserve’s January senior loan officer survey, far fewer banks are now tightening their lending standards. Experience suggests this will...

    5
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Profit Cycle Has Peaked

    China’s corporate profits rebounded in 2H20 after a horrific start to the year, but the profit cycle is now close to its peak. Looking past huge base effects, Thomas believes underlying growth will fade toward 10% in the first half of this year and zero in the second—not a bad macro outcome, but slower profits usually weigh on equity markets.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: An Indian Blowout?

    Indian risk assets have ripped in response to last week's big-spending budget, and reports that a collapse in Covid-19 cases points to the country having achieved "herd immunity" ahead of max vaccinations. In this video, Udith considers both India's public health situation and the chances of fiscal stimulus kick-starting growth without spurring an adverse financial reaction.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Will Stimulus Cause US Overheating?

    The US Democrats are declining to cut the size of their stimulus proposals enough to secure bipartisan support, and are instead proposing to push the bulk of their US$1.9trn package through Congress using the reconciliation process (see The State Of Biden’s Stimulus). Their determination has raised fears that pressing ahead with such a large fiscal stimulus at a time when the US output gap appears to be closing fast could prove uncomfortably...

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: Uncharted Territory And Portfolio Construction

    Charles has sought to codify his many investment rules into a rigorous portfolio construction framework, which includes identifying periods when returns stop being normally distributed and move into the "tails". Right now markets could be going through a phase change, and in this webinar, he explained why. He was joined by Didier, who who heads the quant team in Paris, and Louis.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    After GameStop

    Yesterday saw Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen chair a meeting of US financial regulators to assess the fallout of recent frenzied trading in “meme stocks”. There is unlikely to be a Dodd-Frank type response to this episode but a new administration may be motivated to act decisively. Yet the effect of GameStop may go wider, so consider the effect on the four key actors in the saga.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Six Reasons To Stay Bullish

    Is the recent speculative mania the beginning of the end of the post-2009 bull market in stocks? Or is it only the end of the beginning? Anatole argues that today’s speculation is reminiscent of the later stages of dot-com bubble, but he remains a confirmed bull on global equities. In this paper he offers six reasons why this is no contradiction.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    The Other Emerging Markets

    Until hit by a wobble in late January, emerging markets enjoyed heavy portfolio inflows over the last several months, and there are signs the risk aversion wobble is fading. Although the macro picture favors the currencies of Asia’s manufacturers, other less prominent forces could cause the currencies of non-Asian, commodity-exporting emerging markets to outperform.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Falling Behind On Vaccination

    Despite its early successes in containing Covid-19, China is lagging Western countries in rolling out a mass vaccination program. In this report, Ernan explains why Chinese policymakers are not treating mass vaccination as an urgent issue and why a slow vaccine rollout could result in a drag on economic growth in late 2021.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Draghi’s Return

    Say what you like about Mario Draghi, but he’s not one to shirk responsibility in a crisis. Almost 10 years after he took the helm at the European Central Bank to steer the eurozone through its debt crisis, on Wednesday he is due to meet Italian president Sergio Mattarella, who will ask him to form a government and take over as prime minister.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Cherry On The Cake

    After GameStop's wild ride, hedge fund managers must figure out where they can find "safe" shorts to counter-balance a portfolio’s longs positions. The effect of this quandary may be to change the investment environment in a way that either skews risk-taking, or just reduces it. This comes as a range of other factors, inside and outside of the US, are starting to flash red. For Louis, this all adds up to a new market mood that...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    India’s Go-For-Broke Budget

    Indian equities have risen 7.6% in the last two days, after the government of prime minister Narendra Modi threw fiscal caution to the winds in the 2021-22 budget it presented on Monday. India will attempt to spend its way out of economic crisis, with a five-year plan for deficit-fueled growth. “We have spent, we have spent and we have spent,” said finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, after announcing big increases in capital expenditure with no...

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    The Real Effect Of The Vaccine Row

    The fiasco of Europe’s vaccination plan and Brussels’ retreat from its standoff with the UK and AstraZeneca have has caused the euro to weaken. While this reaction makes sense, the euro is, in fact, unlikely to fall much more against sterling, while the euro-dollar exchange rate will depend on how politicians behave in Washington, more than bureaucrats in Brussels.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: The State Of Biden’s Stimulus

    After Joe Biden set out plans for a US$1.9trn mega-stimulus, US Senate Republicans have countered with proposals for a relatively meager US$600bn package. In this video interview, Yanmei examines the options and weighs the possible outcomes.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Crackdown On Fintech

    Finance has been an exciting new frontier for China’s internet companies, as lax regulation and technological changes enabled a few years of rapid growth. This frontier era for fintech is now over. As Xiaoxi explains in this piece, China’s financial regulators are set on controlling what they now view as the overly risky growth of the sector.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: Europe’s Troubled Trajectory

    For the eurozone, it seems everything went wrong at the end of 2020—and things have only got worse at the beginning of 2021. Unfortunately, hopes for recovery are pinned on a vaccination program which has been late to start, slow to gather speed, and beset by problems. Nevertheless, despite this gloomy prognosis, there will still be opportunities for investors.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Vaccine Slippage

    It is looking likely that most countries will miss their Covid-19 vaccination targets for 2021. This creates a risk of slower than expected economic growth, especially in Europe which take half a year to emerge from its double-dip recession. Moreover, any activity dependent on international travel or large-scale gatherings will remain severely depressed until well into 2022.

    3
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Explaining The Interbank Spike

    Short-term interbank rates surged to their highest levels in more than two years on Thursday after a surprising move by the central bank to drain liquidity from the market. In this Quick Take, Wei explains why this liquidity tightening does not signal a change in monetary policy, and why rates should return to normal over the coming weeks.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The US Turns A Corner

    It was not surprising that the US economy grew at a mere 4% quarter-on-quarter annualized in the final period of 2020, but there was a grim recognition that the next phase of the recovery will be hard fought. There are, however, reason to be optimistic.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Uncharted Territories And Portfolio Construction

    In 2015, Charles turned 73 and felt it was time to decide what he wanted to be when he grew up. But before turning his back on finance, he decided to “download” as many of the rules and experiences that had guided his steps in the financial world, over the previous 50 years. He built a small “quant” team in Paris, whose goals were to filter the very best of his rules and distill these into simple software solutions. In this piece he shows how...

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: French-Language Webinar, January 2021

    With Europe being hit hard by a second wave of Covid-19 and facing fresh lockdowns, Charles and Cedric assessed the outlook for the region’s growth and inflation in both the short and medium term. The webinar also focused on portfolio construction work being done by our Paris team: quantitative head of research Didier and Charles trained their sights on behavioral finance and suggested a route map for managing money in a “post-Keynesian” world.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Webinar: The Outlook For China In 2021

    China enters 2021 having achieved a world-leading recovery, but now faces a tricky balancing act to secure its economic trajectory. Ernan, Rosealea and Wei discuss how the authorities are responding to the rebound in Covid cases, what their strategy is for a frothy property market, and how they will balance growth with financial stability.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    What The VIX Spike May Mean

    On Tuesday, Louis noted that among ill tidings for global equity markets was a rollover in European bank stocks. I want to build on this idea using portfolio construction work done by our Paris team and specifically the insight that when the VIX exceeds a critical threshold, markets globally tend to seize up.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: The UK — At The Center Of The Maelstrom

    It’s been an especially stormy start to the year for the United Kingdom, which finds itself at ground zero for the spread of a new and highly infectious strain of the coronavirus, even as it struggles to cope with withdrawal from the European Union’s single market and customs zone. Yet the UK’s financial markets are performing relatively respectably year-to-date as investors focus on the UK’s strong vaccination performance and look ahead to the...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Sinification Of The Hong Kong Market

    Even though the Hang Seng index fell -2.55% on Tuesday, Hong Kong is still the world’s best performing major stock market year-to-date. In Hong Kong’s media the run-up is attributed to waves of mainland Chinese money flowing into the city’s equities. In reality, Connect flows have not been the biggest force driving Hong Kong stocks higher in recent weeks. But structurally, flows of mainland capital are only going to become increasingly important...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Robinhood Versus The Sheriff Of Nottingham

    A large US hedge fund has received a reported US$2.75bn liquidity injection from Citadel and Point72 after it became subject to apparent short-squeeze attacks organized in internet chat rooms. In this piece, Louis asks why the regulators seem to be standing back from such episodes and wonders where markets are going if even big players can easily fall prey to "flash mobs".

    22
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    Gavekal Research

    Supply-Chain Risks For The Covid Vaccine

    The race to vaccinate the world in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic will be one of the most complex projects ever attempted. Most developed economies aim to fully vaccinate their adult population by year’s end. Dan outlines the manufacturing and logistical challenges involved the vaccine rollout

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Third Time The Charm?

    Wherever you look, it seems there are signs of market froth, and evidence abounds that we are in an environment of “more money than fools”. Yet amid all these signs, one is especially troubling: last year US investor margin debt rose by a record US$200bn. This is sobering because the two previous record-setting peaks in margin debt growth did not end well.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    A Tactical Turn In The Dollar?

    Neither the United States nor the European Union got off to a flying start, but the US is out front with its vaccination program. This points to longer Covid disruption in Europe, which—in the short term—should support the US dollar versus the euro. Yet, in the longer term there remain many reasons to underweight the dollar, certainly against cheaper “risk-on” currencies.

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Macro Update: Beyond The Boom

    China’s unbalanced, industry-driven recovery from Covid has been very strong but is probably close to its peak. Meanwhile, renewed outbreaks are further delaying the normalization of consumer spending and services. In the latest edition of our regular chartbook, the Dragonomics team explains how these tensions will affect the economy in 2021.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Where Europe Went Wrong

    Mass vaccination programs were always going to suffer teething troubles. But the rollout of Covid vaccination campaigns in European Union countries has been especially slow and troubled compared with the UK and US. This has left investors wondering about the reasons for the vaccine underperformance, whether it will persist and what the economic impact might be.

    7
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Restraining The New Fad In Tech

    The Chinese government has responded quickly and negatively to community group buying platforms, the latest business-model fad among China’s consumer internet companies. In this report, Ernan explains why subsidized pricing on the platforms has drawn regulatory attention and how this will affect future growth prospects for China’s big tech firms.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Risks In The Biden Era

    In December, Anatole outlined 10 disparate risks that could derail the bull market in 2021. That was before the Democrats won full control of the US government, paving the way for approval of Joe Biden’s new super-size stimulus package. In light of the developments over the last month, Anatole reassesses his 10 risks.

    9
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: Global Investment Roundtable, January 2021

    A Democratic US administration is set to control all arms of the US government for the first time since 2010. Will this mean a fiscal blowout, causing big changes in the pricing of treasuries and the US dollar? Louis, Anatole and Will assess the possibilities.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Turn In Asian Inflation

    Over the last year, a collapse in oil and commodity prices slashed inflation in Southeast Asia and buoyed real interest rates. As a result, regional central banks were able to cut policy rates and mitigate the impact of massive Covid disruption. However, this disinflationary tailwind is set to abruptly reverse in the coming months as inflationary pressure inevitably builds up. Ultimately, this rise in prices may wash through the system as a “...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: The Good And Bad News For Emerging Markets

    US president Joe Biden’s planned US$1.9trn fiscal support package for the American economy may provide a metaphorical shot in the arm for at least some emerging markets, partially offsetting the negative economic effects caused by the delayed rollout of actual coronavirus inoculations. Udith assesses the conflicting forces affecting emerging economies.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: Europe’s Cruel Winter

    As the pandemic intensifies across Europe growth prospects in the first quarter are dimming, but investors are focused on a potential economic reopening by the spring. In yesterday’s webinar, Anatole Kaletsky, Nick Andrews and Cedric Gemehl discussed whether markets are overly optimistic since the European Union seems to have botched its vaccine procurement strategy.

    0
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