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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    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.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    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.

    1
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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...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    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.

    0
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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.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    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.

    4
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    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.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    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.

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    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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    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.

    4
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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.

    5
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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 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 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

    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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    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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    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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    Gavekal Research

    Fear Not The ‘Earnings Recession’

    US earnings growth is clearly slowing. As global growth ebbs and the effect of last year’s US tax cut wears off, 1Q19 will be worse according to US analysts who in aggregate are predicting EPS to fall -1.4%. Some commentators are even declaring an “earnings recession.” Time to take profits for the year and run to the hills? I’d say “no”.

    5
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Long Arm Of US Export Controls

    While investors eye the progress of US-China talks to avert tariff hikes, the US is mobilizing on another front. In this piece, Dan explains how the US is preparing for more aggressive use of export controls to disentangle the US and Chinese tech sectors. This can certainly hurt Chinese firms, but will also affect US and other tech companies.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The UK's Limits To Growth

    For the British economy, it has been a case of “mustn’t grumble” since the 2016 Brexit referendum. However, the effect of a weak fourth quarter GDP report was to debunk any illusion that Brexit uncertainty has been weathered. Such a reckoning was inevitable with or without Brexit, as the UK has in effect hit limits to its growth.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Not Such An Ugly Duckling

    A spate of weak data releases last week confirmed Europe as the ugly duckling of key economic regions, and things may soon get worse. The worry is that a weakening external sector negatively impacts the domestic recovery through lower investment and job creation at a time when policymakers face both technical and political constraints.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Three Separate Battlefronts In The Unfolding Cold War

    As the clash between China and the US intensifies, Louis notes the primacy that Mao Zedong’s guerrilla tactics would have had in forming the current Chinese leadership’s political consciousness and setting a template for the way they handle conflict. As such, he sees the struggle between the two superpowers playing out on three distinct fronts.

    19
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    Gavekal Research

    EM Balance Sheet Vs Income Statement

    Emerging market investors face a dilemma in 2019. Softer relative growth prospects in the US as the initial effects of 2018’s tax cuts wear off, coupled with the easing of the US dollar liquidity squeeze implied by a more dovish Federal Reserve and softer oil price, favor emerging market assets. The question is: how best to implement this view?

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Global Car Industry Catches Chinese Flu

    If the auto industry is a bellwether of global economic health, then much of the world is looking sick. The second half of 2018 was painful for carmakers in all the major auto markets, and 2019 is shaping up to be as bad. Is this just a passing malady that carmakers will soon shrug off, or a chronic condition they will have to manage for years to come?

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Gaming Out Theresa May’s Gamble

    Given that the UK prime minister has apparently outfoxed her opponents, why has the pound fallen back below US$1.30? The obvious reason is that Theresa May’s unexpected wins in the UK parliament last week look to have increased the chances of a disorderly “no deal” rupture. In reality, however, the chances of “no deal” are no higher today than they were a week ago as the EU and UK opposition are yielding to May’s pressure.

    8
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    It’s Not 2015 All Over Again

    The profits of China’s industrial sector are turning down—but as Thomas argues in this piece, a repeat of the traumatic downturn of 2014-15 is not in the cards for 2019. Heavy industry will hold up better this time around, but consumer-facing sectors will do worse. This downcycle will be more broad-based, but less severe, than the last one.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Portfolio Construction In A Malthusian World

    The two key questions posed by economics are: why do things have “value” and—over time—how does that “value” change? Thomas Malthus showed why people value things that are scarce, like jewels or a Monet painting Alternatively, David Ricardo and Joseph Schumpeter, showed why its worth owning something that is useful—a “tool” from which goods and services can be made and sold at a price that exceeds their cost of production.

    4
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    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research Call February 2019

    In the call yesterday, Charles Gave and Cedric Gemehl presented their views on the economic and political situation in Europe. Cedric outlined key risks facing Europe’s economy. If the worst is avoided, he thinks Europe could get a soft landing. Charles took a different view, arguing that the eurozone was now an irretrievably diverging system.

    0
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    A Looser Fed And Tighter Banks

    News flow from the US and beyond over recent months has pointed to an easing of financial conditions. A notable exception has, however, emerged: US commercial banks have stopped loosening lending standards and have started to tighten them—just a touch. I remain constructive, but have gotten more cautious about US risk assets.

    0
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    Video: Conflicting Signals From The US Labor Market

    The US labor market is sending apparently contradictory signals. On one hand the unemployment rate ticked higher in January. On the other, job creation was much stronger than expected. Will looks behind the latest data points to examine the labor market’s underlying trends, and concludes they spell relatively bullish news for the US economy and risk assets over the coming months.

    0
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    The Politics Of Indian Largesse

    India aspires to be a US$10trn economy by 2030. It’s fine to dream, but first the ruling BJP must win a general election. After recent defeats in three state elections and a resurgent opposition, it faces a tough race. The interim budget on Friday responded to the Congress Party’s leftist populism while presenting a fiscal plan designed not to spook markets.

    2
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    A Vital Portfolio Construction Lesson

    I am a rules-based investor, and over the years few financial relationships have been more useful to me in reading the economic cycle than the yield spread between long-dated US corporate bonds and 30-year US treasuries. Going back to the late 1970s, no US bear market has unfolded with key spread being below 200bp. It is now 210bp.

    2
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    Strategy Monthly: Europe's Containable Risks

    As China slows and the US expansion limps into its dotage, a heavily export-dependent Europe looks vulnerable to another downturn. The latest growth numbers from Italy and Germany make for especially grim reading. Potential shocks loom in the shape of a hard Brexit, populist discontent in France and Italy and the threat of auto tariffs from the US.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Large Print Giveth, The Small Print Taketh Away

    China’s government has made a cut in personal-income taxes, rushed out in August 2018, a centerpiece of its response to a slowing economy. Additional tax deductions were unveiled in January, but as Ernan explains, the new details are not that bullish for consumer spending. Enforcement is tightening, and some tax breaks will be phased out.

    0
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    Fed To The Rescue

    It was no surprise on Wednesday that the US Federal Reserve promised to be “patient” about further interest hikes and flexible on the pace and extent of its balance sheet reduction. The Fed’s more dovish stance had been clearly signaled in a series of speeches ahead of yesterday’s policy meeting. As Fed chairman Jay Powell explained, with US inflation data subdued and other major economies slowing, it makes good sense for the Fed to take a “wait...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Long Plateau In Housing Demand

    While many forecasters had expected China’s steel demand to enter long-term decline as housing construction peaks, in fact it has stayed surprisingly strong. In this piece, Rosealea revisits her housing model, and finds it is consistent with recent trends. Construction should peak in 2020-22, so steel demand can stay elevated for a few more years.

    0
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    The Recession Of 2019: Revisited

    Six months ago Charles posited the idea of a global recession starting in and around March 2019. He revisits that idea in this piece and concludes that there is clear evidence of the global system suffering a marked slowdown. Here, he seeks to identify the source of the problem by a process of elimination (spoiler alert, the problem isn’t China).

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    Don't Fear Corporate Leverage (Yet)

    With Brexit, the US-China trade war and a synchronous global slowdown, these are anxious times for investors. But apparently, all these concerns pale in comparison with worries about US corporate leverage. According to a BofAML survey this month, corporate indebtedness is the biggest single worry among fund managers. We beg to differ.

    17
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    A Huawei-Scale Problem

    The charges that US prosecutors have now filed against telecom equipment supplier Huawei are similar to those thrown at two other Chinese tech firms last year. The eventual outcome is likely to be similar: the imposition of export controls that will threaten Huawei’s survival and force it to accede to a restrictive deal with the US government.

    0
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    Favor Local Bonds Over EM Equities

    After a dismal year for emerging market assets in 2018, emerging markets have started 2019 on a positive note, with equities rising 6.5% and local currency bonds up 3% year-to-date. On Friday, Louis looked at shifts in the US dollar, long term US interest rates, credit spreads and the oil price, and concluded they favor emerging market assets through the rest of 2019. Broadly I agree, but I would take a slightly more nuanced stance. The shifts...

    0
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    The Four Prices That Matter

    It is Gavekal’s longstanding mission to develop simple principles that investors can use to navigate complicated financial markets. In this vein, one of our core tenets is that four prices matter more than all others, and together these determine the level of global economic activity and of investor risk appetite. Let us see where they stand as we head deeper into 2019.

    12
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    Video: Skirting Recession In Europe?

    This week the IMF has cut its GDP forecasts for European economies exposed to a synchronous global growth slowdown. Nick gauges the probability that core eurozone economies will fall into recession, examines the scope for stimulative policy responses and explores what the slowdown means for Europe’s financial markets.

    0
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    Germany's Industrial Slump

    With leading indicators in Germany pointing south, and a host of external macro factors looming, things are likely to get worse before they get better. However, much of the potential bad news is already priced into the German stock market. As a result, there is scope for a pick-up in German equities later in the year should the worst of investors’ macro fears fail to materialize.

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Next Liquidity Squeeze On Private Firms

    China’s private firms suffered a big liquidity squeeze in 2018 as regulators cracked down on shadow financing. But in 2019 they must also contend with the threat of another liquidity squeeze: state-owned enterprises hoarding cash and delaying payments. Unless officials force them to stop, SOEs could squeeze another RMB1trn from private firms.

    1
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    The Bull Case For US Housing

    As the US government shutdown drags on, US-China tariff talks stutter, the Chinese growth engine slows, global trade slumps and GDP forecasts get cut, the stream of macro-misery in recent days has seemed relentless. On Tuesday, the US National Association of Realtors added its voice to the dirge, reporting that sales volumes for existing homes fell -10% year-on-year to a three year low in December. With new home sales and construction equally...

    10
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    The Future Of Italian Yields

    Since it became clear Rome and Brussels were moving towards a compromise to end their budget stand-off, Italian assets have outperformed. The yield on 10-year BTPs has fallen, narrowing the spread over bunds. But investors should be wary of positioning for a continued contraction; in both the short and long term, Italy’s deficit and debt dynamics are unpromising.

    2
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    Time For US Curve Steepeners

    Despite the risk-on move of the last four weeks in the US, the two-year to five-year portion of the yield curve remains inverted. And as recent data releases pointing to a slowdown in growth, fears persist that the US economy is heading towards a recession. However, while US growth set to moderate, forecasts of recession are premature.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Not Out Of The Woods Yet

    China’s growth in the fourth quarter slowed to 6.4%. There were some bright spots, notably the resilience of the property market. However, the export sector was weak, and the removal of policy constraints on industry gave a mixed picture. All in all, Beijing’s policy measures so far have at best only cushioned the impact of the slowdown.

    7
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    Mexico 1, Brazil 0

    When Brazil met Mexico in last year’s football world cup, the Brazilian team walked away the victors by two goals to nil. In financial markets too, Brazil has lately been beating Mexico. In recent weeks each country has installed as its president a fiery populist—although they hail from different ends of the ideological spectrum. In Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro is an unabashed right-winger, while his Mexican counterpart Andrés Manuel López Obrador, or...

    8
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Beyond The Government Shutdown

    As the US government shutdown threatens to enter its fifth week, Will looks back at previous shutdowns to weigh the likely impact on America’s economy and financial markets, against the backdrop of an aging economic cycle, flattening yield curve and tighter financial conditions.

    0
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    Musings On Brexit

    With the UK’s elite intent on frustrating the democratically-expressed will of the British people to quit the EU, the lesson for the rest of the continent is that there can be no legal or peaceful exit from the technocratic super-state. As Charles argues here, this increases the probability of disorderly exits in the future, and therefore greatly heightens European political risk.

    8
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    Trump's Next Trade Target

    Just when the risk from trade politics seemed to be dying down, it’s getting complicated again. Trade talks between the United States and China are in full swing, but just as important are imminent negotiations between the US and the European Union, which are clouded by the US threat to impose tariffs on cars and car parts.

    0
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    Brexageddon

    It should have been no surprise that sterling rallied after the overwhelming defeat of Theresa May’s Brexit plan. The disorderly “no deal” rupture with Europe rightly terrifies the markets and the business community is now much less likely. As a result, sterling is likely to rise eventually back towards its long term average real exchange rate.

    6
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Incredible Shrinking Current Account

    China once had the world’s largest current-account surplus, but that surplus headed rapidly toward zero in 2018. In this piece, Chen Long unpacks the structural and cyclical factors behind this shift. He doubts China is headed for a persistent current-account deficit just yet, but thinks the smaller surplus will make the currency more volatile.

    6
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    India's Acceleration Phenomenon

    As China’s market grows more mature, multinationals and investors are increasingly looking to households in emerging economies elsewhere to deliver the next big growth surge in demand for consumer goods and services. Above all they are pinning their hopes on India. With a population of 1.3bn, most aged under 30, and a GDP forecast by the International Monetary Fund to expand by 7.4% in 2019, India is easily the world’s fastest-growing major...

    2
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    Macron Is Muddling Through

    As the economy weakens, yellow-vested agitators show no sign of giving up on their campaign to block President Emmanuel Macron’s effort to change the way France works. I have argued against the increasingly mainstream view that Macron is a busted flush whose efforts to reform an unreformable France are doomed to fail and am sticking with that position.

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