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    Gavekal Research

    Everything You Wanted To Know About EU Politics

    This week EU voters will elect representatives to a legislature that has often been dubbed a snooze fest. That has changed as populist-nationalist parties challenge the established organs of government. Cedric gives a detailed explanation of how politics works at a supra-national level in Europe, and how current tensions are changing the key institutions.

    5
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Fate Of Huawei

    The US government has China’s most prominent technology firm in a stranglehold. The question now is whether the US government continues to strangle Huawei until it goes out of business, or chooses to eventually stop squeezing and allow a weakened Huawei to keep operating under some limitations. In this report, Dan explores the possible scenarios.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Trouble Unseen

    The world and its dog are suddenly worried that the growing US-China trade war may be the event that sparks the next panic. Might I suggest that the looming iceberg that could yet sink the good ship Global Growth may not lie in the obvious spot where spy glasses are focused.The real menace may still lie in the European banking system.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Trump's Trade War Calculus

    Keeping track of all the pieces of the US-China confrontation has become a full-time job. But the chaos and uncertainty of the past couple of weeks has begun to resolve itself into fairly clear patterns, even if the outcomes remain in doubt. Three main conclusions emerge from last week’s activity, and none of them are particularly reassuring.

    10
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Video: How Much Downside For The Renminbi?

    Since the US slapped fresh tariffs on Chinese exports a week ago, the renminbi has fallen, but by less than when the first round of tariffs were imposed last year. In this video interview, Chen Long discusses why that is, and how far China’s currency is likely to fall if things get worse.

    0
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    Oil Market 1, Commentariat 0

    As if the macroeconomic impact of a full-blown US-China trade war weren’t enough to worry about, over the last couple of weeks investors have also had to contemplate the risk of a real shooting war between the US and Iran, the effect it would have on the price of oil and the threat that would pose to a fragile global economy and jittery world markets.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    One Reduction Of Risk At The Margin

    By putting off for six months its decision whether or not to impose a 25% tariff on all imports of passenger cars and car parts on national security grounds, the US administration bowed to expedience on Wednesday. In theory, the threat of auto tariffs remains on the table. In practice, the six month delay has robbed the proposal of much of its credibility.

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Stabilization At Risk

    China’s economic data for April came in rather worse than the too-good-to-be-true indicators for March. As Andrew explains in this report, the April figures do not actually show a serious deterioration, and property is still holding up. But the stabilization in growth is now under threat from a more protracted trade conflict with the US.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Less Than Bonza Outlook

    Australian politics has been a psychodrama for more than a decade, but for investors it barely mattered. The country has grown rich on selling ever more rocks to China and following smart, evidenced-based policy at home. That, however, looks to be changing as this weekend voters go to the polls after an election campaign that may come to be seen as a watershed.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Monopsonies, Protectionism And ROIC

    It is extremely unfashionable to say so, but Donald Trump’s campaign to bring manufacturing industries back to the US by slapping tariffs on goods imports may not be quite the act of economic illiteracy most professional practitioners of the dismal science would have you believe. On the contrary, it could well be positive for US growth, living standards, and market outperformance.

    10
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    Gavekal Research

    The Case Of The Missing Inflation: The Changing Demographic Picture

    Demography, it is said, is destiny. If so, then the finger of destiny may be pointing at a more inflationary future for the world economy. Louis reviews the slow shifts in demographic profile which govern trends in consumption and savings, and so propel the forces of inflation and deflation over the very long term.

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    Beijing's Most Effective Trade Tool

    The escalation of the US China trade war is clearly a near term negative for Chinese risk assets. It will also do no favors for growth expectations. In response, policymakers are likely to step up their easing measures, which should help support domestic demand. But the effect of policy easing and tariffs will add to downward pressure on the renminbi.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    The Trade War Story Lines Harden

    The US-China trade war has three potential outcomes. First, we could see a step back from brinksmanship and a deal in the next few weeks. Second, the two sides could dig in for more protracted negotiations. Third, the talks could break down and the trade war become permanent. With the probability of each outcome less than 50%, the only certainty is continued uncertainty.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Goldilocks And The Ten Bears (2019)

    Despite last week’s sell-off, the bull market remains intact, for now. In this report Anatole returns to the framework he set out in November 2017, examining the 10 key risks that could threaten global markets over the next 18 months and which investors should monitor closely—and he comes to some surprising conclusions about the central locus of global dangers.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Is The Worst Over For The Eurozone?

    Eurozone economic growth was modest in the first quarter of 2019, but it was still stronger than most economists had expected, with Germany avoiding a recession and Italy returning to growth. Meanwhile eurozone equity markets are up a respectable 13% over the year to date. Does this mean Europe is emerging from its economic soft patch?

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Motivation Behind Trump's Tweets

    Since becoming president, Donald Trump has made it clear that he sees the S&P 500 as the real-time judge of his White House performance. Why, then, did Trump on Sunday send a tweet alleging that China had backed off from agreed positions in the US-China trade talks, and in so doing rattle a market priced for Goldilocks?

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research Call May 2019

    Investor concern this week is centered on the US-China trade negotiations, but Charles Gave and Louis Gave wonder if investors aren’t missing another risk, namely, that the world might be shifting from a deflationary to an inflationary environment. In our monthly Conference Call yesterday, they outlined arguments for why this may be the case, and what it would mean for portfolio construction.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Where Can Industrial Policy Work?

    The Trump administration’s trade war has targeted China’s ambitious industrial policy, which China clearly has no intention to abandon. But will that industrial policy work? In this report, Lance explains his eight-point system for evaluating industrial policy’s odds of success, and tests it on electric vehicles, airplanes and pharmaceuticals.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    A Better Time For A Trade War

    For equity investors, there is a never a good time to have a trade war. Nevertheless, if there must be one, the US stock market is now better placed to ride out a US-China tariff conflict than it was a year ago. That’s just as well. Chinese negotiator Liu He is set to arrive in Washington on Thursday for the latest round of trade talks which are going down to the wire.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Gauging The EM Collateral Damage

    After Donald Trump’s weekend tweets, trade war is once again the center of attention for investors. The perceived probability of an escalation has risen sharply, and risk assets have sold off. Asian emerging markets have not escaped the rout, but it would be a mistake for investors to treat all Asian emerging markets equally.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    The Case Of The Missing Inflation: Chinese Foreign Exchange Policy

    As the US-China trade talks enter a critical phase, all eyes are on a new meeting of officials and whether it can can break the log jam. Louis, however, wonders if investors may be missing a trick by purely focusing on issues of market access, enforcement and tariffs. Adjustments in the value of the renminbi may yet be the real story of any deal.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Series: The Case Of The Missing Inflation

    As the Federal Reserve launched the second round of its quantitative easing, the fear was that the Fed’s unorthodox monetary policy would ignite a new round of inflation throughout the world, with dramatic effects on asset prices. After all, most asset prices are driven by the interaction of inflation and economic activity. But inflation failed to materialize, and even fell from more than 3% globally in 2010 to negative territory in 2015. These...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Reverse-Engineered US Inflation Indicator

    In the Strategy Monthly I presented a fairly simple rule to show whether an economy is in the top, or the bottom half of the Four Quadrants framework. To show that the rule worked, I laid out relationships between the "rule" and a range of other useful indications of a price environment shift. Here, I capture all of these relationships in a simple, revised decision rule.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Xi's Pivot To The Private Sector

    The improved economic outlook for China in 2019 owes a lot to an effective stimulus and progress toward a trade deal. But it has also been driven by top leader Xi Jinping’s surprising political pivot from champion of state enterprises to patron of the private sector. In this piece, Andrew examines how sincere Xi’s new stance will prove to be.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    How Long Can Productivity Contain US Inflation Pressure?

    April’s US payrolls report showed job creation was stronger than expected and unemployment lower, yet wage pressures were softer. This suggests weaker unit labor costs will allow the Fed to remain dovish, at least for now. All else being equal this is positive for equity investors. The question is: How long can this benign combination persist?

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Trade Deal Delayed, Not Yet Denied

    Any trade negotiator will tell you that the last yard is always the hardest. That is obvious now in the US-China trade talks, which were thrown into doubt by Donald Trump’s weekend tweets threatening to hike tariffs on US$200bn of imports from China from 10% to 25% this Friday if a deal is not done.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: India’s Acceleration Phenomenon Explained

    Multinationals and investors are looking to India to deliver the next great surge in sales of consumer goods and services. But demand will not expand in a linear fashion as GDP increases. The acceleration phenomenon dictates that sales of different products and services will grow in leaps and bounds as cohorts of new consumers surpass key income thresholds.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Q&A On The Hong Kong Dollar Peg

    The recent publication of a letter on the future of the Hong Kong dollar peg by Gavekal’s good friend Kyle Bass has triggered a flood of questions on the topic from clients. Now, Louis admits that there may be some home bias to this conviction that the Hong Kong dollar peg is not under threat. But in this paper, he sets out his answers.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Inflation And The Gold Fix

    When the market rate of interest for a long period has been held abnormally low relative to returns on invested capital, financial engineering takes off with huge debt issuance, making a chaotic denouement of the credit cycle unavoidable. To prepare for such an event, an equity portfolio hedged with gold can reduce volatility and raise returns.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    The Message In Eurozone Money

    The advanced estimate of first quarter eurozone GDP released on Tuesday came as a pleasant surprise. Growth came in stronger than generally expected, while Italy emerged from recession. With the MSCI EMU equity index up almost 17% YTD in local currency terms, the question is whether growth can be sustained over the coming quarters.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: The Inflation Shift And Portfolio Construction

    Despite inflation remaining muted, Wednesday saw the Federal Reserve stand pat on interest rates. Having switched to an overly dovish stance early this year, Fed Chairman Jay Powell remains wary of changing tack and easing policy as he worries about inflationary pressure bubbling up from an economy that looks to be fully occupied. For his part, Charles is less nuanced and believes the US will shortly flip over into an environment where inflation...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Look Through The Trade Data

    After rallying 10% in 1Q19, emerging market equities have hit an air pocket as investors worry about global growth. Given the link between EM profitability and global trade, data showing that activity shrank in both volume and value terms in the three months to February has raised concerns. It hasn’t helped that the Washington side of the US-China trade talks has amped up “no deal” rhetoric in what is slated to be the final run-in of the...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Struggling To Reform The Belt And Road

    China’s much-criticized Belt and Road Initiative will become “open, green and clean,” Xi Jinping pledged last week. Do these new promises mean an end to the debt traps, kickbacks and white elephants that the infrastructure spree has been accused of fostering? In this piece, Tom argues Beijing will struggle to fundamentally reform the initiative.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The World's Biggest Bull Loses Steam

    China’s equity bull market has lost steam in the last 10 days after the Politburo adopted a less supportive tone following stronger than expected economic data in March. Even before the announcement, market ebullience had moderated. This is positive for China's stock market development, since it reduces the risk of an over-muscular regulatory reaction.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Managing Today’s Biggest Risk

    The US first quarter GDP data released on Friday proved consistent with the picture of slower—but still positive—growth through 2019, and a continuation of the Goldilocks tailwind for asset markets. But after a strong run-up in equities this year, it might be time to ask what the greatest risk is to the current environment, and how to position for it.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Case Of The Missing Inflation: US Fiscal Policy

    The US seems set to run huge fiscal deficits for as far as the eye can see, and it is not clear who is going to fund this indulgence. In the fourth instalment of his “missing inflation” investigation Louis considers the options available to the US Treasury and concludes that hard funding choices will likely be ducked by whoever wins the 2020 election.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Least Ugly Duckling

    In a year marked by unexpected US dollar strength, the renminbi is one of the few major currencies to be up against the dollar. The reason is simple enough: the resumption of trade talks between the US and China. Yet although a trade pact is now substantially priced in, there are reasons to believe the renminbi has further upside potential.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Video: Is The Worst Behind Us?

    At our seminar in Shanghai, Chen Long presented the outlook for China’s economy and markets. Crucially, the credit cycle appears to have bottomed out, and credit growth should accelerate towards the end of the year. He expects the overall economy to follow suit. He also covered the outlook for capital markets, equities and the renminbi.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Case Of The Missing Inflation: Chinese Monetary Policy

    China’s response to the Fed’s QEII program in 2010 was to tighten monetary policy, as it feared a spill-over effect into inflation. Since that point China has seen credit growth progressively slow, making it an inhibitor to any global rebound in inflation. This orientation by China is changing as the focus of policy shifts away from crimping the shadow finance sector.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Why The Bulls Are Back In Charge

    Now that the S&P 500 has hit a new all-time high and other stock markets have recovered most of the steep losses they suffered last summer, it seems a lifetime since the financial panics of 2018. Investors who bought the dip have enjoyed Wall Street’s strongest quarterly performance in this bull market. After being so well rewarded, how should bullish investors who kept the faith now respond?

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Property Cycle Perks Up

    China’s property market data has been surprising on the upside. Thanks to easier credit and looser administrative restrictions, sales volumes picked up in March and prices rose. In this paper, Rosealea examines whether the upturn can last, and assesses what it means for land sales, construction activity, materials prices and the broader economy.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Fire-Tested Macron

    Tomorrow will see Emmanuel Macron deliver the big national address that got upended by the Notre Dame inferno on April 15. His speech will outline a mix of tax breaks, constitutional modernizations and symbolic grand gestures. The broad story, however, is that the effort to reform France remains broadly on track.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    How Contagious Is The Health Care Downturn?

    On paper, this should have been a good year for health care stocks: global growth has disappointed, long term interest rates have fallen, the US yield curve for a brief while was inverted and a looming US-China trade deal should see China buy lots of health care gear and drugs from the US. Yet, even though the stars aligned, health care has been the worst performing major US equity sector this year. Notwithstanding a bounce yesterday, the sector...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Iran Waivers And The Oil Price Spike

    US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has announced that the US will not roll over waivers on its sanctions on Iranian oil exports when they expire in May. The question for investors is this: If Washington does make good on its threat, to what extent are other oil producers able and willing to increase output in order to make up any supply shortfall in global markets?

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    The Case Of The Missing Inflation: Energy’s Impact

    When the Fed launched QE2 in 2010, there was widespread fear that a great inflation beckoned. It has not exactly worked out that way. Louis considers the role energy played in a decade of becalmed US consumer prices. Yet, with oil prices again rising, he asks whether the market has grown complacent in its analysis of the relationship between oil and inflation.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: India's Hard-To-Call Election

    India’s cacophonous exercise in democracy is well underway and polling suggests there is only a 50% chance of a Narendra Modi-led BJP holding onto power. Tom dives into the details of why the “bear-hugging” reformer has electoral problems this time around. Tom also considers the likely outcome of the election for Indian asset markets.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Case Of The Missing Inflation

    As the Federal Reserve launched the second round of its quantitative easing, the fear was that the unorthodox monetary policy would ignite a new round of inflation—even hyper-inflation—throughout the world, with dramatic effects on asset prices. But inflation failed to materialize, and now nobody seems to be worried about it anymore.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Modi And The Markets

    Indian markets are pricing in a victory by the ruling BJP in this year’s general election, a six-week process of mindboggling complexity that started on April 11. But while this will be the most likely single outcome when results are announced on May 23, nothing is a foregone conclusion under India’s unpredictable first-past-the-post system.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    US Financial Asset Valuations Stretched Every Which Way

    Charles dusts off his equity and bond valuation models for the US and is disturbed to see that for only the fourth time since the mid-1980s both asset classes are simultaneously overvalued. In this piece, he asks: what gives?

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Stabilization Confirmed

    The raft of economic data released by China on Wednesday morning suggests the world’s second largest economy is proving more responsive than expected to the authorities’ supportive policy measures. The question is no longer whether the government will hit its 2019 growth target, but whether the apparent success will make Beijing halt its easing.

    12
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    An Epidemic That Can No Longer Be Denied

    The world’s deadliest pig disease is now established in the world’s largest pork market. The spread of African swine fever in China has been more severe than the government has admitted, and as a result pork prices are spiking and imports are surging. But as Ernan argues in this report, the impact of this epidemic is still only in its early stages.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Populist Challenge In Indonesia

    These are populist times. After the elections of Duterte in the Philippines, Trump in the US, Bolsonaro in Brazil, and the return to power last year of Mahathir Mohamad in Malaysia, investors would do well to take note of the last minute opinion poll gains made by another rabble-rousing populist seeking election to high office in Indonesia.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Inflation Is The Real Risk

    Happy days seem to be here again as risk assets soar on a dovish Federal Reserve and better growth outlook. Yet, investors should take note. The Fed has three official mandates; namely, to keep inflation low and stable, keep unemployment down, and keep interest rates low and stable. Yet among those “equals”, the first is thought to be bearing down on inflation.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Where Now For EU-China Relations?

    The annual EU-China summit concluded this week with usual diplomatic platitudes about deepening partnerships and strengthening cooperation. But the meeting took place against a backdrop of heightened tensions, after the EU declared China a “systemic rival” and with many European politicians highly critical of China’s economic nationalism.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Europe's Cruel Summer

    The eurozone is rapidly becoming the Errol Flynn of global economies: it just never fails to disappoint. From weak German PMIs, through falling French industrial production, to Italy slipping back into recession, it is hard to think of a single European data point over the past 12 months that gave any reason for cheer. Will things get better over the coming months?

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The End Of The Smartphone S-Curve

    Smartphones are a maturing industry. Sales in China, the US, Europe and Japan are declining, and demand growth in India and Africa is not fast enough to drive a new surge in global sales. The industry is hoping that 5G and foldable phones will trigger a fresh upgrade cycle. But neither will drive a significant increase of sales in the near term.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Market Access Widens, On China's Terms

    Over the last two years, China has announced a series of steps intended to open market access for foreign businesses and ease its inward investment restrictions. In this paper, Lance examines these reforms and assess just how far they go towards leveling the playing field for foreign companies operating and investing in China.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Brextension And The Gilt-Edged Opportunity

    The latest act of the Brexit tragicomedy has played as expected—and market reactions should follow, as the risk premium on sterling and UK assets is substantially reduced. The six and a half months remaining between now and the new Brexit deadline is plenty of time for Britain to decide between the three possible outcomes I have repeatedly discussed.

    10
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    Gavekal Research

    A New Look At The Housing Market

    When the US slides into recession, it generally does so because of a contraction in investment, either in the corporate sector or in the housing market. Today, returns on capital invested in housing exceed the cost of capital, signalling a positive outlook for US residential investment, construction, house prices, and the shares of homebuilders.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Hong Kong Seminar — April 2019

    Louis Gave examined the reasons for equity markets' good performance amid a global trade slowdown; Thomas Gatley assessed the state of the Chinese economy and whether the current Chinese equity bull market still has legs; Udith Sikand reckoned it is time to be positive on emerging markets, especially EM Asia.

    0
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    Europe's China Syndrome

    Chinese premier Li Keqiang is in Brussels on Tuesday for the 21st EU-China summit, and the talks are likely to be testy. After much dithering and in response to much pressure from Washington, the EU has begun to take a more hardline posture towards China. The core EU countries share many of the concerns that motivate the US trade war with China.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Don't Believe The 5G Hype

    5G mobile is the technology of the future, and the US and China are now in a life-or-death struggle to dominate it. That anyway is the story used to justify the US government’s campaign against Huawei—but as Dan argues in this piece, this is mostly alarmism disconnected from reality. It’s best not to get caught up in the politicized hype about 5G.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    And The Brexit Winner Is...

    With the Brexit deadline in the rear view mirror, Britain's leave voters have are left with the impression that they have been taken for a ride by the UK’s political class, and in particular by their representatives in parliament. So who is the real sovereign power in the UK? The people or parliament? Charles sees three possible outcomes.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research Call April 2019

    In yesterday’s Gavekal Research Conference Call, Will Denyer and Udith Sikand addressed the changing US dollar liquidity environment, and its impact on markets.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Video: Chinese Property Is Slowing, Not Collapsing

    Home sales in China fell by 3.6% in the first two months of 2019. This, however, was better than expected considering that this upcycle is now four years old. Lower mortgage rates and supportive policies by local governments should prop up demand, and Rosealea expects overall housing sales to decline a modest 2% for the year.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Europe's Export Problem

    Europe is the world’s most export-dependent big economic region. In such a precious position, the effect of external weakness can be debilitating, as shown by the eurozone manufacturing PMI having just fallen to its lowest in nearly six years at 47.5. The question is whether any respite can be found in overseas markets.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Auf Wiedersehen, German Competitiveness

    Behind the factors that have caused Germany’s factory slowdown, deeper structural trends are eroding the competitiveness of German industry. The gains Germany made by deploying labor more effectively since the late 1990s have now run out, and that there are few signs Germany is well positioned to deploy capital more efficiently in the future.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Last Lap For China's Bond Rally

    Starting from April, Chinese government and policy bank bonds are included in the Bloomberg Barclays Global Aggregate bond index. But index inclusion, while an important landmark, may not be the best guide to market timing. After a bull run that has lasted since the beginning of 2018, China’s bond market rally looks to be nearing an end.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Play A Longer US Cycle With Small Caps

    After a wobble late last year, the US economy looks to be stabilizing. The Atlanta Fed has revised up its estimate for 1Q19 GDP growth to 2.1%, while more timely indicators such as mortgage applications, PMI readings and durable goods orders indicate a steadying of the ship.The question is how to play this development.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    London Seminar — March 2019

    Cedric Gemehl examined the possibility of a European rebound; Charles Gave argued the world is splitting into three distinct monetary zones; Tom Miller presented on the state of the US-China trade talks and the health of the Chinese economy; Anatole Kaletsky examined the risks to the bull market, and arrived at a bullish conclusion.

    0
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    Good News For Goldilocks

    Last Thursday, with the price of oil approaching a four-and-a-half month high, Donald Trump took to Twitter. “Price of Oil getting too high.” Trump’s tweet had little effect, with Brent crude hitting US$69/bbl on Monday. Prices are likely to continue to push higher over the coming months towards 2018's highs—a troubling prospect.

    0
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    A User's Guide To The Chinese Stock Market

    China’s onshore equity markets are now large and accessible enough that they can no longer be ignored by foreign investors—but idiosyncratic enough that they are hard to understand. This in-depth DeepChina report explains the fundamentals: What is there to invest in? Who owns the market? How can foreigners invest? How is the market regulated?

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    A Tactical Opportunity In Turkey

    Turkey has long been a market to steer well clear of, with investment opportunities poisoned by toxic politics and an ever-depreciating local currency. However, with the US Federal Reserve adopting a more dovish stance and following the weekend’s municipal elections, Turkish lira assets may now offer an attractive tactical opportunity.

    1
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    Strategy Monthly: A New Liquidity Environment

    The prospect of easier liquidity conditions helped make 1Q19 one of the best ever quarters for US equities. Confirmation of the Federal Reserve’s newly dovish policy stance means that US equities should continue to do well through 2019. Other big winners in this environment may be equities in northeast Asian emerging markets that do not rely on Chinese commodity demand.

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    Beyond The Yield Curve Inversion

    The current yield curve inversion and softness in growth data are curious developments, given that the four prices that matter most for the global economy—long bond yields, corporate credit spreads, the oil price, and the value of the US dollar—are all relatively favorable. Louis and Charles weigh five different explanations for what may be going on—from bullish to highly bearish—and examine the investment implications.

    2
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    A Week Is A Long Time

    Harold Wilson, the former British prime minister’s, quip that “a week is a long time in politics” has become an over-used cliche. Still, in the last week, there has been good reason to dust it off.

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    Among EMs, Favor North Asia

    With their high beta to global growth, emerging markets seldom outperform when investors begin to get nervous about the health of the global economy. So it is no surprise that the risk-off move of the last week has seen the Brazilian real and Argentinian peso each sold off by more than -5% against the US dollar, while the Turkish lira has been propped up only by a regulatory squeeze on liquidity. But the jitters have not affected all emerging...

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    Macro Update: Is The Worst Over?

    China has gotten off to a good start in 2019, with a stock market rally and some encouraging datapoints. In this chartbook, Chen Long surveys the economic and market outlook to determine if the worst is really over. Credit growth and infrastructure are picking up, but property, consumption and industrial profits have not bottomed just yet.

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    Video: Europe's Response To China

    Europe has an ambivalent relationship with China that is increasingly under scrutiny. The European Commission recently labelled China a “systemic rival” and France and Germany want to create corporate champions to compete against Chinese state owned enterprises. Europe, however, is not singing from the same hymn sheet.

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    The Case For A Cyclical Pick-up In Europe

    As of last week, short positions in European equities were deemed to be the world’s most crowded trade and recent news has not lightened the market mood. The question is whether such information is in the price, for any marked improvement in cyclical conditions may spark a strong rally.

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    The New Internet Regime

    For the freewheeling Chinese internet sector, regulatory risk arrived with a vengeance in 2018. Government actions hurt companies including Tencent in gaming, Didi Chuxing in ride-hailing, ByteDance in online media, and others. In this piece, Dan and Yanmei explain what drove these moves and how the new online regulatory environment will work.

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    The Hard Logic Of A Long Brexit Extension

    By removing the hard deadline for Brexit negotiations the EU has avoided the disaster of a 2008-style sudden stop in business with its second largest trading partner. This decision reinforces the bullish momentum for sterling, which remains undervalued especially against the US dollar. Ending the risk of a “No Deal” Brexit should also improve the dismal economic outlook and help stabilize political conditions in Europe as a whole.

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    Recession Warning, Or False Alarm?

    On Friday, the three-month to 10-year portion of the US treasury curve inverted for the first time this cycle, heightening investors’ fears of impending recession. But although every US recession of recent decades has been preceded by an inversion of the yield curve, not every inversion has been followed by a recession; there have been cases of false positives.

    6
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    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.

    4
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    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.

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    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.

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    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...

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    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.

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    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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    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.

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    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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    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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    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%.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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