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    Gavekal Research

    The Biggest Question Of The Day

    Should we take Donald Trump literally when he says he wants to eliminate the US trade deficit? In this paper, Louis examines the different ways the US might hope to cut its trade deficit, including its bilateral deficit with China, and explores why the outlook for risk assets depends enormously on the US administration's real aims in launching its international trade war.

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    Destination Escalation

    Will we see any break in the escalation of Trump’s trade wars this year—either because one of the targets capitulates and tries to strike a deal with the US, or because blowback within the US against the negative impact of trade wars gets strong enough that Trump needs to beat a tactical retreat? The answer is a firm no, on both counts.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Recession Of 2019

    Over the last three months, I have become increasingly concerned that a recession will hit the world economy in 2019. In this paper, I shall explain why. My reasoning is simple, and is based on the behavior of an indicator I have long followed, which I call the World Monetary Base, or WMB. Every time in the past that this monetary aggregate has shown a year-on-year decline in real terms, a recession has followed, often accompanied by a flock of...

    17
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    Gavekal Research

    A National Security Imperative

    Depending on commodity prices, in any given year China spends between US$250bn and US$400bn on imports of the “big five” commodities it needs to continue growing: oil, iron ore, coal, copper and soybeans. Before it can do that, it must first “earn” those US$250-400bn. Only then can it can turn around and buy the stuff the country needs to ensure its long-term growth.

    10
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    Gavekal Research

    Oil After The OPEC Meeting

    Let us start with a simple reality: assuming the world economy avoids a 2008-type implosion, then global demand for oil should approach 100mn barrels per day by the year’s end. That represents an increase in global demand this year of roughly 1.5mn bpd—more or less the same pace of increase the world has had to deal with in recent years.

    11
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    Gavekal Research

    The Empire Strikes Back?

    Over the last 70 years the global population has tripled. Yet in defiance of every Malthusian theory out there, the average citizen of the world has never known such a high level of material comfort as today. To start with the obvious, the world has almost entirely eradicated the famines that plagued entire regions just a few generations ago (this isn’t to deny the humanitarian catastrophes unfolding today in Yemen or Syria, but these are caused...

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    The Moment Of Truth For Emerging Markets

    A strong US dollar, rising interest rates and higher oil prices are a toxic mix for emerging markets. A month ago it was only Turkey and Argentina that were looking really sick, punished by investors for their structural imbalances. But in recent weeks nervousness has engulfed the currencies of Indonesia, South Africa, India and—most notably—Brazil. This leaves the emerging markets facing a pivotal moment. Until now, the assets of those emerging...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Decision Tree For Emerging Markets

    Over the last five weeks, something unusual has been going on in global financial markets: the US dollar has been strengthening, and at the same time the price of oil has been going up. If prolonged, such a simultaneous rise in two of the world’s most important prices will threaten to inflict a vicious double blow on emerging market economies and asset prices. To be clear: the bigger influence would be the US dollar. But the simultaneous...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Hardly A Game Changer For Oil

    While nobody could have been surprised by the full-scale commercial warfare launched against Iran by President Trump yesterday, his announcement raised more questions than answers. The most important question is whether this action will make the world safer or further destabilize Middle Eastern and global geopolitics. The second question is whether the US enforcement of sanctions will really be as tough as Trump’s belligerent rhetoric and the...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    What Inflation Means For Margins

    As China’s producer price inflation cools and its consumer price inflation picks up, one might expect corporate margins to be fattening, as cost pressures wane and pricing power strengthens. In fact, the opposite is true: margins have been fat, and are now getting tighter. In this piece, Thomas explains how inflation really affects margins.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    How Steel Survived The Battle For Blue Skies

    It’s been a wild winter for China’s steel industry, with huge swings in output and prices. The main culprit is the aggressive official campaign to reduce air pollution—and the industry’s creative responses to it. Their back-and-forth has not hurt underlying growth much, but the resulting volatility in steel prices is not going away.

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Macro Update: Centralization Amid Conflict

    In our latest chartbook, Chen Long outlines a relatively positive cyclical economic picture for China, with steady macro policy, strengthening financial regulation, and further political centralization. The risks to this outlook are tightening property policies, a local government funding squeeze and the looming threat of a US-China trade conflict.

    5
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Pain Of Power Producers

    The rebound in commodity prices since 2016 has been a boon for much of China’s industrial sector—but coal-burning power plants have been big losers. Coal prices cannot go much higher without causing serious financial distress. This means that policy should now be shifting to favor power producers, by ensuring coal prices do not climb further.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    The Ogre Eating His Own Children

    Our regular Loser Reports are based on the premise that good money management can be as much about “avoiding losers” as “picking winners”. This month, Louis looks at the (worrying) direction of US fiscal policy and wonders whether the next shoe to drop could be defense contractors and energy producers in the US, and even municipal bonds.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    The First Casualty In Trump’s Trade War

    Donald Trump has finally delivered on his long-delayed promise of trade protectionism, and in the worst possible way. By promising to impose tariffs on metals imports (25% on steel, 10% on aluminum) on “national security” grounds, he addresses a problem that doesn’t exist, and creates a host of new ones. All this assumes, of course, that the tariffs are not watered down or more narrowly targeted when they are formally announced next week—a real...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Is Construction Preparing An Upside Surprise?

    Since markets reopened after the Chinese New Year holiday, the prices of commodities tied to China’s construction cycle have been picking up. This optimism could be justified: construction fundamentals are solid and policy interventions are mostly positive. In this piece, Rosealea explains the upside risks for construction activity in early 2018.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Taming The Inflation Risk From Pork

    What are the odds that China has a surprise jump in inflation this year? In China, surges in the CPI are usually driven by food—particularly highly cyclical pork prices. But while food inflation is likely to turn positive this year, Ernan argues that the odds of an inflation spike are low, as farm consolidation has tamed the pork price cycle.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Gauging The Strength Of The Oil Bid

    It made headlines around the world earlier this month when the US government’s Energy Information Administration announced that US oil production had hit 10.25mn bpd in the last week of January. At that rate, the US was not just pumping more crude than at its previous production peak in 1970, it was very likely pumping more than Saudi Arabia, lifting the US into second place in the global production league table behind Russia.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    CSI Wall Street

    Bear market massacre or harmless buy-the-dip correction? Financial investigators have spent the weekend sifting through, dismantling and reassembling dozens of clues to determine the true nature of the shocking crime committed on Wall Street last week, as stock prices suddenly went down instead of up. But amid the righteous indignation inspired by this offence against morality and natural law, possibly the most important forensic evidence has...

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Behind The Market’s Inability To Rally

    “A week is a long time in politics”, Harold Wilson was said to have once quipped to a young aide. The former British prime minister should have tried working in the US equity market. In recent days, it has sometimes felt as if time stood still. So what should we make of stocks’ inability to mount a rally after they again closed on their lows?

    0
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