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    Gavekal Research

    The Gavekal Monthly: Our Top 12 Questions For 2017

    For our first Monthly of the year, we depart from our normal format to offer our thoughts on the dozen most important questions investors must face this year. Not surprisingly, the issues that rose to the top were the impact of the new Trump administration's policies on the dollar and US bond yields, and whether the eurozone will spend the year tearing itself apart. Also,oil prices, the risk of financial implosion in China, and where to...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    How Not To Control Coal Prices

    The price of coal has been on a wild ride recently—and the volatility is not over yet. China’s government spent much of 2016 trying to push the coal price up, but the ensuing price surge now has them backpedaling and trying to push prices down again. There is a real risk these interventions will cause prices to overshoot on the downside in 2017.

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    Gavekal Research

    Something's Gotta Give

    Louis Gave held a conference call on December 6 where he discussed the state of global markets as the US gets ready for a Trump presidency. The fundamental challenge for investors is that while equities and the US dollar have rallied strongly and bonds have sold off in a “Trump reflation trade,” it is not clear how long that trade can withstand the reality of Trump’s economic program.

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    Gavekal Research

    Making Sense Of The Housing-Commodity Nexus

    Early sales data confirm that China’s property cycle took another step down in November. Yet no one seems to have told the commodity markets: even as property sales have cooled off, prices have heated up, with domestic futures for steel, copper, and coal jumping 20-40% in November. In this piece, Rosealea explains how to read these mixed signals.

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    Gavekal Research

    Why Oil Production Cuts Won’t Work

    In January 1991, in a last-ditch effort to avoid all-out war, United Nations secretary general Javier Perez de Cuellar flew to Baghdad in an attempt to persuade Saddam Hussein to withdraw his forces from Kuwait. On his return to Paris, the secretary general spoke to the press in an address that was carried live on television. Nowhere was the broadcast watched more keenly than on the floor of the International Petroleum Exchange in London....

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    A Permanent Surplus Of Power

    China’s excess supply of coal-fired electricity is now more extreme than ever—and is only getting worse. This huge misallocation of resources was caused by policies that tried to restrain demand for power, but ended up encouraging its supply. As a result, electricity rates are falling, but not quickly or substantially enough to fix the problem.

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    Gavekal Research

    Making America Great Again

    Markets have been sending contradictory signals since the US political equation changed radically 10 days ago. In this piece, Louis seeks to unscramble the mixed messages as he tries to feel his way into the new investment environment.

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    Gavekal Research

    A Good Bond Repricing, Anyone?

    Even after the recent move higher in yields, there is general agreement at Gavekal that long-dated bonds remain horribly overvalued. The question is whether the adjustment toward fair value happens in a disruptive manner, or through a smooth transition to a new growth cycle. Anatole tends to the view that US economic growth should pick up from here, while Will Denyer is on recession-watch. The Federal Reserve, for its part, is worried about...

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    Gavekal Research

    The Strange Case Of The US Trade Deficit

    The last three years saw the US dollar move from being an undervalued currency to an overvalued one, and yet the US trade balance has barely budged. This contrasts sharply with past periods of dollar strength which produced huge US trade deficits that were a boon to global exporters, and also to financial markets which got a liquidity boost. The fear for emerging economies in particular is that this relationship has broken down and a reliable...

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    Gavekal Research

    When Cartels Become Impotent

    Opec has become impotent. Despite the 6% overnight rally in oil triggered by news that the exporters’ cartel has struck an agreement in principle to make modest production cuts, the group’s members no longer have the ability, or even the desire, to maintain crude prices substantially above present levels. As a result, even if the proposed production cuts are confirmed, yesterday’s deal will be no game-changer for the international oil market.

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    Gavekal Research

    It Still Pays To Pump

    The dog days of August have proved anything but dull for the oil market. As chatter began to circulate about a production freeze next month, funds rushed to cover their shorts and put on new longs in the futures market. In response the benchmark Brent crude price rebounded some 17% in the first two weeks of the month to within a whisker of US$50/bbl, reversing much of its -21% correction since early June. It feels very much as if we have seen...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Iron Ore’s Battle Of Attrition Is Over

    China’s iron ore imports jumped in early 2016, finally validating global mining companies’ strategy to gain market share. As low prices continue to force domestic mines to close, iron ore imports still have a few quarters of growth ahead. But with import penetration already over 80%, there is not much market share left for global miners to grab.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Mixed Progress On Excess Capacity

    Domestic coal output has declined sharply this year, but steel production has been flat. This pattern reinforces the point that excess capacity only shuts when forced to by low prices—and steel prices were high because of the stimulus. While both excess capacity sectors will continue to contract, trade tensions are unlikely to vanish quickly.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Natural Gas Glut

    China’s natural gas demand is likely to rise by 7-9% annually for the rest of the decade, half the 15% pace of 2003-14. That is still a pretty decent pace of growth—but well below what the government planned for. Having signed contracts and built pipelines on the basis of ambitious forecasts, China’s challenge is now dealing with a glut of gas.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ: The State Sector’s New Clothes

    In this issue of the CEQ, we take a close look at state-owned enterprises, which lie at the heart of Xi Jinping's strategy for restoring China to greatness. The goal of Xi’s recent policies is clear: to strengthen SOEs and make them more effective instruments of macro management at home, and more powerful agents of national interests abroad.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Future Of China’s Oil Demand

    China’s demand for oil—unlike its need for other commodities—will continue to grow, thanks mainly to greater use of automobiles. Imports, though, will be more volatile, and determined largely by how fast the country tries to fill its strategic reserves, and how quickly refiners adapt to changing consumption patterns.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Message From Gold And Silver

    A simple rule of thumb that we at Gavekal use is to categorize assets depending whether their value derives from scarcity or a productive capacity to generate positive cash flows. A good proxy for investors’ preference for scarcity over productive assets is the gold/silver ratio, which stands close to a 20 year high. The implication of this extreme positioning is that the end of the world really is nigh, or alternatively a pull–back in the ratio...

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    Gavekal Research

    The Next Big Move In Oil

    With Brent crude approaching US$50 a barrel, analysts upgrading their bearish year-end forecasts and many hedge funds adding to already long energy positions, it seems a good time to re-examine the likelihood that US$50 or thereabouts will be a long-term ceiling for the price of oil. In December 2014, when we first proposed this view (see Oil: Lower For Longer and Will US$50 Be Oil’s Floor, Or Its Ceiling?) it provoked derision from bullish...

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    Gavekal Research

    Making Sense Of The Rally In Cyclicals

    By all accounts, 2016 has so far proved to be a challenging year for “market neutral” funds, and “smart beta” strategies, along with various quant funds. Before we have even reached the seasonally-challenging part of the year—sell in May and go away, and all that—a quick glance at year-to-date returns for “low volatility” hedge funds illustrates that the pain is pretty widespread. In a sense, this is surprising; after all, spreads are tighter...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Future Of China’s Oil Demand (II)

    Stockpiling has become a key driver of China’s crude oil imports, as Beijing builds up its strategic petroleum reserve and as state-owned oil companies add to their own inventories. But constraints on the capacity to store these stockpiles mean that this boost to oil imports will likely stall within the next two to three years.

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