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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    A Booming Recovery

    China’s economic recovery continues to boom ahead, with retail sales turning positive and exports continuing to outperform. In this Quick Take, Thomas, Rosealea and Wei explain why this momentum is likely to continue for several more months but might dampen towards the end of the year as credit tightens and the property market is reined in.

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    Of Gold And Gold Miners

    In recent weeks, attention has focused on the surge, and subsequent correction, in US technology stocks. Yet an asset class that has greatly outperformed the Nasdaq 100 this year is gold-mining equities. In this piece, Charles seeks to develop firmer investment rules for managing gold and gold-mining stocks within a portfolio.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Desperately Seeking Anti-Fragility (Part II): In The Eye Of The Beholder

    Last month, Louis outlined the four asset classes that investors appear to regard as anti-fragile, now that US treasuries no longer fit the bill. With each of these four asset classes enjoying a roaring bull-run, today Louis examines the typical life cycle that lifts an asset class from unloved hell to anti-fragile heaven, and asks what could plunge the present favorites back down into the depths again.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Does Warren Buffett Know Something We Don't?

    The sage of Omaha made an interesting change of tack recently. Warren Buffet sold most of his shares in Goldman Sachs and bought positions in Barrick Gold. Goldman is often held up as the very epitome of the Wall Street financial engineering firm. Meanwhile, Barrick represents the kind of company you would buy if you no longer trusted financial engineering—or the currency in which the financial engineering is taking place.

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    A New FDR?

    Joe Biden has accepted the Democratic Party’s nomination to run for the US presidency. Invoking Franklin D. Roosevelt, who responded to the Great Depression with huge public works, Biden promised big fiscal programs to “build back better” after the Covid-19 recession. He also vowed to combat climate change, reduce wealth disparities and advance liberal causes.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Climbing Up The Smartphone Smiling Curve

    Chinese advances in hardware technology have increased the country’s contribution to the global smartphone supply chain. In this report, Dan explains how Chinese firms have increased their value-added in both innovation and branding. Now, he suggests, the main headwinds for Chinese smartphones are no longer technological, but geopolitical.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Huawei And The Roads Of The Future

    China is engaged in an imperial project that will not be typified by territorial conquest, but by “road building”. This is done to bring commodities to the heart of the empire at the cheapest cost, while higher value-added finished goods are pushed out to its outer realms. It is no coincidence that a common saying for Europeans is that “all roads lead to Rome’”.

    3
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Another Leg Up For Growth

    After plateauing in Q2, China’s economic activity is stepping up in Q3, powered by demand in housing, infrastructure and exports, and a lessening drag in consumer services. In this Quick Take, Thomas, Rosealea and Wei explain how these factors will assist the country as it continues down its path back to economic normalcy.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    What US-China Decoupling Means For The US Dollar

    Almost all of the world’s commodity trade is done in US dollars, so any commodity-importing country must keep much of its central-bank reserves in US currency. The fact that China, the world’s largest commodity importer, pays for these imports using another nation’s currency was an anomaly even when the US and China got along. As US hostility towards Beijing increases, this raises four possible scenarios.

    9
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Hawks In The Driver’s Seat

    The China hawks are at the wheel in the Trump administration and driving as fast as they can. In this report, Arthur outlines the many tactics being employed by hardliners in the White House to lock in an adversarial stance against China ahead of the US elections. However tense things have been so far, even tenser times lie ahead.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    The Destruction Of The Monetary System

    A basic assumption for Charles has long been that the creation of money was not under the control of governments but loosely related to value being added in the private sector of the economy. However, with governments now willfully upending this relationship, he thinks the capitalist system faces its biggest upheaval since 1917.

    5
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Leading The Way In Export Recovery

    Chinese exports have outperformed expectations due to booming sales of goods related to Covid-19 and Chinese manufacturers staying open when their international counterparts were forced to suspend production. In this report, Thomas explains why China's export growth will continue to flatten in H2 as global trade catches up.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Different Decades, Different Backdrops

    In the months after the 2008 global mortgage crisis, gold prices broke out to new highs in part driven by the belief that quantitative easing would trigger higher inflation, perhaps even hyper-inflation. Against such a backdrop investors flocked to real assets. Today, similar forces seem to be at work, although maybe in more concentrated form.

    8
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    Gavekal Research

    Managing Money In A Keynesian Environment

    When Charles looks at US monetary policy, he gets nostalgic for glam rock and big hair, as he is reminded of 1973. However, rather than go on gut, in this piece he sets out to verify that the Federal Reserve is indeed acting as a “Keynesian” central bank. He does this by considering the relationship between US T-bills and the price of gold.

    17
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Construction’s Surprising Resilience

    After a robust recovery in construction following the Covid-19 lockdown, the big question now is whether this growth rate is sustainable. Using a rolling sum of construction starts, Rosealea posits that construction should slow only moderately in the second half, providing room for steel demand to continue growing for the rest of 2020.

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    How To Contain A Lingering Virus

    China is seeing its highest number of daily new locally transmitted Covid-19 cases since March, and government officials are rushing to contain the outbreak. In this Quick Take, Gilliam explains how China has developed a standard containment strategy to handle this and future outbreaks while minimizing economic damage.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Consequences Of ‘Worthless Cash’

    In the second quarter of this year, global equity markets registered their best quarterly performance in two decades. In this, the third paper of a series about the record-breaking rebound, I will consider the possibility that the present growth in monetary aggregates is leading investors to conclude that they have no alternative.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Toward A Renminbi-Gold Standard

    As the international trading and monetary order of the last 50 years continues to crumble, the endgame must be the US dollar losing its lofty position at the apex of the system. Louis and I have argued that this process began in and around 2005 as the US moved to “weaponize” the dollar, thereby ensuring the renminbi’s emergence as a competitor.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    What Will Stop The Gold Bull Market?

    The sustained outperformance of very large-cap tech stocks means that any manager who substantially underweighted the sector has likely lost clients. The exception may be those who favored gold and gold miners, which have experienced a “stealth” bull market. I say stealth because the precious metals rally has garnered limited headlines, scant investor interest and fewer reflections on either its causes, or consequences.

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Recovery Tapers Off

    Although Q2 GDP growth rebounded strongly after Q1’s significant contraction, sequential growth slowed considerably into June. In this Quick Take, Thomas, Rosealea, Wei and Xiaoxi report on why despite this latest rebound it will be difficult for the country to maintain its upward momentum as it moves into Q3.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Oil’s Unintended Consequences

    On Wednesday, ministers from the Opec+ oil exporting cartel will meet to decide whether to begin scaling back their production cuts, but with the prospect of a renewed increase in infection rates, it's safe to say they will adopt a cautious approach. More interesting is whether they will err on the side of excess caution, causing the oil price to rise.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Have Equities Become A Bubble?

    Two weeks ago, Louis proposed three possible explanations for the exceptional performance of equity markets in the second quarter, one of which was that investors have taken leave of their senses. In this, the second paper of a three-part series, Louis asks if equity markets are in a bubble. And if so—crucially—what sort of bubble is it?

    13
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Local Support For Housing Is Peaking

    National housing sales growth is likely to accelerate in June following May’s rebound on the back of supportive measures from local governments and easier access to credit. In this report, Rosealea outlines how the surge in sales might peak soon due to diminishing returns from local government stimulus as well as more cautious monetary easing.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Japan And Korea Split On China's Rise

    Japan and South Korea have responded differently to China’s attempts to peel them away from the US. Japan continues to align closely with its ally, while South Korea is more ready to accept that China as the regional power. In this report, Yanmei and Dan explore the logic behind these decisions and what they mean for the regional power balance.

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    Competing Reserves Of Value

    In order to function properly, any economic system must have one or more trusted reserves of value, so that participants can factor time into their calculations. In recent decades the world has offered investors three principal reserves of value:

    6
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The US Takes Action Against Military Fusion

    New regulations from the US Department of Commerce which go into effect on Monday could deny US-origin technologies to a broad swath of Chinese companies. In this Quick Take, Dan explores which firms are most at risk of falling afoul of these regulations and how their supply chains might be affected.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Explaining The Iron Ore Surge

    Chinese iron ore prices have surged by 30% since May due to growing Chinese demand, shrinking Brazilian supply and increased logistics costs. In this Quick Take, Rosealea explains why prices are likely to remain elevated in the coming months but might fall precipitously in the second half of the year.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Beginnings Of A Plateau

    China’s economic data for May continued April’s wider recovery; however, Thomas, Rosealea and Xiaoxi argue that this upward momentum is losing steam. Weak external demand, tapering industrial production and Beijing’s aversion to further monetary easing all support the idea that China’s post-Covid bounceback is starting to plateau.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Case For Commodities

    For most of the last decade, we have been in a period of low investment in the commodity sector. Yet, over the next 20 years the global population will grow by almost 2bn—a 25% increase. Migration into cities will continue, with the world’s urban population growing by almost 50%, creating enormous demand for infrastructure.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    As The World Reopens

    A few weeks ago, I outlined three scenarios that could unfold as the world reopened for business. Since then, it looks like the market is starting to tentatively position scenario #3 in which the world economy rips and inflation rises due to pent-up demand, budget deficits, low oil prices and money printing. This makes sense, but the rotation may soon face a number of challenges.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Kitsune Market (Part IV)

    Over recent weeks, Louis has examined in detail nine “Kitsune” tail risks which could blindside financial markets in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis. But in contemplating these tail risks, Louis has been forced to wonder if he has missed the forest for the trees, overlooking perhaps the greatest risk of all for investors: that the 40-year inverse correlation between equities and bonds may be breaking down.

    4
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Truth About Unemployment

    China’s government is promising to deliver stability in employment this year, although it has not made a full accounting of how the Covid-19 lockdown affected jobs. In this report, Ernan presents comprehensive estimates of the scale of job losses: in the range of 60-100mn. This is far more than China’s social safety net is designed to handle.

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    April’s Fitful Recovery

    China released economic data for April showing a continued recovery in industry and investment as well as a surprising recovery in exports. In this Quick Take, Thomas argues that with exports headed for a substantial decline, this upwards trajectory is likely to plateau in May.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The World Has Changed, Quick! Buy More Of The Same

    As countries around the world, and some US states, are starting to emerge from their enforced Covid-19 hibernation, investors have to choose between one of three potential outcomes. Either the virus re-emerges and causes new lockdowns, the post-Covid-19 world is not growth friendly, or pent-up demand and supportive policies leads to global growth ripping.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Brazil's Burning House

    As President Jair Bolsonaro fuels anti-lockdown protests, Brazil is having a rough Covid-19 crisis. Its public health response has been weak and investors are horrified at the economic costs of such bungling. Fortunately, Brazil’s federal structure does mean the country can handle the crisis in spite of weak central leadership.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Services Recovery Gets Back On Track

    China’s government is substantially relaxing restrictions on travel, retail and other consumer services as its Covid-19 outbreak gets further under control. In this Quick Take, Rosealea outlines the near-term outlook for a recovery in consumer services, as well as the factors still weighing on that recovery.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Kitsune Market (Part III)

    In this third part of a series assessing risks thrown up by massive government interventions to stop Covid-19 lockdowns turning into an economic depression, Louis turns his sights on efforts to prevent bankruptcies at all costs. He also considers the rapidly fraying US-China relationship and existential choices faced by Saudi Arabia as it decides how to handle a collapse in oil prices.

    5
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Return Of Special Treasury Bonds

    China’s government will once again issue “special treasury bonds” this year, a tool last used in 2007, but has not yet revealed how the funds will be used. In this piece, Wei surveys the options on the table and argues these special bonds are more likely to fund indirect support to the economy rather than to ramp up direct fiscal stimulus.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Hard Times For China's Soft Power

    Public opinion over China’s responsibility for the Covid-19 pandemic has hardened across the developing world. On the African continent matters have been made worse by simmering rows over the treatment of Africans by Chinese, both in China and in Africa itself. As the resentment spreads, writes Tom, it threatens to undo decades’ worth of effort by Beijing to apply “soft power with Chinese characteristics”.

    9
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Earnings Crunch Arrives

    Earnings season for China’s listed companies has finished, and the numbers are not pretty: the aggregate net profits of non-financial firms fell by 51% YoY in Q1. In this Quick Take, Thomas assesses the damage to earnings and outlines the consequences for the corporate sector.

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    New Infrastructure, Old Problems

    China is promising a boost in so-called “new infrastructure,” of which 5G network development is a major component. Dan explains how the scale of spending involved in building 5G infrastructure is too small to provide a meaningful boost to growth, and why any possible economic benefits from a faster mobile network will not be realized anytime soon.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Kitsune Market (Part II)

    Last week, Louis introduced the Kitsune, Japan’s mythical nine-tailed fox, and outlined four tail risks which could upend investment after Covid-19. Today he examines two more important tail risks: that the pandemic might not prove deflationary but inflationary, and the risk that the market’s “don’t fight the Fed” mentality could collapse under the weight of its own contradictions.

    10
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    Gavekal Research

    The Short, Medium And Long Term Outlook

    At the end of March, just after the collapse of global stock markets and non-dollar currencies had reached its climax, I argued that it was too early to buy equities but probably a good time to sell US dollars. The first of these ideas turned out to be wrong, the second irrelevant. But far from admitting defeat, I think it is worth doubling down on both these recommendations.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    The Kitsune Market

    The Kitsune, the mythical Japanese fox which portends a change of fortune, has nine tails. Inspired by the unnatural conditions in markets, Louis has identified nine tail risks which could upend the investment world over the short to medium term. In the first installment of a two-part series, he outlines four tail risks that investors should consider hedging against.

    12
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    No Swift Recovery For Corporate Profits

    Broad equity indexes in China seem to be faring much better than they should, given the poor Q2 outlook for Chinese corporate profits. Thomas surmises this is due to investors’ belief that policy stimulus will grow to 2009 levels and continue into Q3—a belief that is likely to disappoint, leading to a potential correction in H2.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Whale Watching In The Gulf

    Gavekal’s dynamite fishing analogy maintains that the biggest impact of a market shock only shows up after a delay, much like the effects of an underwater explosion. First the small fry float to the top, then the mid-size fish. Only much later does the dead whale break surface. After the oil price shock investors are asking if the Saudi riyal's peg to the US dollar could be that whale.

    5
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Steel Prices Signal Stability

    Steel prices have stabilized after falling around 10% from their peak, reflecting a relatively rapid recovery in construction activity from the Covid-19 lockdowns. In this piece, Rosealea argues that the steel market is signaling a stabilization in China’s domestic demand from improving housing sales and a boost to infrastructure spending.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Of Cows And Negative Oil

    A friend has a sizable dairy farm in France. He usually sells his cows’ milk to local makers of yogurt and cheese for anywhere between €250 and €350 per 1,000 liters. Today, with most local cheesemakers shut down, buyers are offering just €1 per 1,000 liters for his milk. It could be worse, though. He could be in oil.

    11
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    East Africa’s Chinese Gamble

    China’s deep economic roots in Africa provoke alarm in the US and concern among debtor nations, especially as some costly infrastructure projects prove financially unviable. But our latest in-depth DeepChina report explains why China’s presence is generally welcome in East Africa, even as the era of huge loans and megaprojects draws to an end.

    7
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    A Poor Prognosis For US-China Ties

    The Covid-19 pandemic has been bad for the health of the US-China relationship, which was already in poor shape. In this piece, Arthur explains how US security hawks have seized the opportunity to hammer home the argument that China is untrustworthy, pushing the US debate over China policy in a more confrontational direction.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    New Concerns For A New World

    We are in uncharted policy territory. Never before have we seen the kind of GDP contractions now being projected for most OECD countries, and never before have investors had to deal with such extremes of uncertainty. Against this backdrop, Louis attempts to answer 10 of the most burning questions posed by clients about the shape of the post-Covid-19 world.

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    Waiting For Godot (21st Century Edition)

    For years, investors have been waiting for China’s massive accumulation of debt to lead to a “Minsky moment”. Instead, in the Covid-19 crisis it is Western central banks that are blowing out their balance sheets in a desperate attempt to stabilize financial markets and their economies—while Chinese government bonds have proved “anti-fragile”.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Truth In Trump’s Tweets

    Oil market pundits were quick to dismiss Donald Trump’s tweeted claim Thursday that Saudi Arabia and Russia are ready to agree crude production cuts of 10-15mn bpd as “absurd” and “incredible”. But oil production cuts of the magnitude flagged by Trump are certainly in the pipeline—whether as the result of a new Opec+ agreement or not.

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Getting Out Of Lockdown

    China is starting to get out of its strict Covid-19 lockdown, but its economy will not get fully back to normal until the outbreaks in other countries also get under control. In this piece, Andrew and the team dig into the data to piece together the economy’s trajectory for March and April: a narrowing decline rather than a fast rebound.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Who Will Win The War On Covid-19?

    In recent weeks leaders around the world have deployed all the rhetoric of wartime to declare hostilities against Covid-19. Louis examines which, if any, of the three major global powers—the US, Europe and China—is likely to emerge from the war a relative “winner”, and draws the appropriate investment conclusions.

    11
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    Gavekal Research

    How Long For The Costly Cure?

    Is the cure worse than the disease? This question is already being asked about the economic lockdowns being imposed in response to Covid-19. It will be asked a lot more in the coming weeks as the economic pain gets worse. The short answer is that the cure is costly, but needed; and well-designed policies can enable a transition to a much lower-cost approach by mid-May if not earlier.

    7
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Coming Collapse Of Exports

    As other economies shut down to contain their outbreaks, China’s hopes of a V-shaped growth rebound are evaporating. Thomas explains how the ensuing collapse in Chinese exports could result in a 4-8pp drop in GDP growth for Q2, offsetting any domestic recovery and pressuring policymakers to ramp up economic assistance.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Four Baskets For Four Quadrants

    As investors survey the shattered remnants of the past decade’s bull market, they can reasonably assume that the winners of the future will not be those who dominated in the last decade. Louis applies the Gavekal Four Quadrants framework to address the question of which asset class will emerge victorious in a new macro environment.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Lockdowns Loom; What’s The Exit Strategy?

    We are heading into another difficult week. Covid-19 case numbers and fatalities outside China continue to grow rapidly. Social lockdowns are spreading to more US states and European countries. In the short run, fiscal support is on the way. Longer term, governments will have to start asking the uncomfortable question of when the economic pain outweighs the public health gain.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    After The Perfect Storm

    While most media attention is focused on the Covid-19 outbreak, the energy industry simultaneously faces a solvency crisis and a liquidity seizure of epic proportions is unfolding before us. In short, these events have created a perfect storm. What comes next depends on how this three factors driving markets play out

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Local Governments Will Lead On Property

    Even as China’s property market has experienced an unprecedented decline, central government policymakers have kept a tight leash on official support. However, given growing signs of a lasting disruption to the sector, Rosealea believes that Beijing will tolerate more ambitious municipal efforts to keep local markets afloat.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Money, Value And The Markets

    Above all, economics is the study of why goods and services have value and why these values are constantly changing. This study is greatly complicated by the fact that there are two different sources of value. In Gavekal-speak, we call these “scarcity” value (think jewels) and “efficiency” value (think tools). So the key question becomes not only “why do things have value?” but also “why do the relative values of scarcity and efficiency change...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Terrible But True

    Given the extent of China’s coronavirus lockdown, it’s not surprising to see double-digit declines in economic indicators. The real surprise is that the statistics bureau did not fudge the data, as analysts expected it would, and printed numbers bad enough to be plausible. This suggests authorities will be pragmatic about the growth impact for 2020.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    What I Know

    In fraught times, Charles has decided to keep it simple and focus only on what he knows. In this piece, he considers changing relationships between oil prices, long-bond rates, US equities and the dollar and offers various approaches that could help investors survive the bear market.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    The Conditions Needed For A Bottom

    Financial markets are now in full-blown panic mode. For investors, the key question is: What will it take for markets to form a bottom, and when will this happen? No one can answer with any precision. However, it is possible to discern the broad conditions needed to allow the markets to find a bottom. We are nowhere near them yet.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    What US$35 Oil Means For The US

    Much of the commentary on the -30% downward breakout in the price of oil over the last couple of weeks has focused on the negative fallout for the US economy. The demand destruction caused by Covid-19 which initiated the oil price fall is a clear economic negative. Yet cheaper energy also promises positive effects. KX weighs the forces at work.

    3
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Despite Shortages, Inflation Will Cool

    China’s consumer-price inflation is now around an eight-year high, driven primarily by continued pork shortages due to the African swine fever and exacerbated by the Covid-19 lockdown measures. That said, headline inflation figures are ticking down, a trend Ernan expects to continue in the coming months with an assist from lower oil prices.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    What Goes Around Comes Around

    Amid the Covid-19 outbreak and the Saudi-Russia oil price war, markets are essentially priced for a scenario in which the US government does little in response, leaving the policy reaction to the Federal Reserve. While this may be the most plausible scenario, other possible US government actions, at home and abroad, have different implications for markets.

    8
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    Gavekal Research

    A Hand Grenade In A Bloodbath

    If you ever wondered what would happen if someone lobbed a hand grenade into a bloodbath, now you know. Markets were always going to be shaky on Monday, as it became increasingly clear that the US is set to see a sharp rise in recorded coronavirus cases. Then, on Friday Russia walked out of the Opec+ oil producers’ cartel, initiating an all-out price war in the oil market.

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Limited Help For Struggling SMEs

    Chinese policymakers have announced a wide range of monetary and fiscal measures intended to help the smaller firms hit hardest by the Covid-19 outbreak. The helpfulness of these measures will likely only be marginal; however, Thomas, Xiaoxi and Wei are cautiously optimistic that most SMEs can still weather the ongoing crisis.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    A Month Of Lost Wages

    As the rise in new cases of Covid-19 in China has slowed, provinces are easing their drastic restrictions on movement and businesses are reopening. But the extended shutdown has already imposed great costs on migrant workers. Ernan estimates lost wages will be 3-4% of annual household income, though with a smaller impact on total consumption.

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Worst Is Yet To Come For Steel

    Steelmakers have continued production despite a precipitous drop in demand, resulting in a short-term inventory glut. As Rosealea explains, this will lead to continued downward pressure on steel prices, at least until the construction sector recovers from the coronavirus crisis and drives demand back up to meet supply.

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    Doing On Monday What We Wish We’d Done On Friday

    Monday was the epitome of Charles’s observation that in a down-market, the temptation to sell on Monday what you wish you’d sold on Friday can become overwhelming. As markets sold off on Monday following a weekend of bad news, the following developments seemed especially relevant.

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    Far From Priced In

    Asian markets switched to risk-off mode Monday as investors reacted to further coronavirus news outside of China. Yet in onshore markets, investors are optimistic that the economy will quickly normalize as the spread of the virus comes under control, and that the central bank will provide policy easing. Neither belief looks well-founded at the moment.

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    Q&A On The Coronavirus Situation

    Louis spent last week meeting with clients in the US and discussions centered on the coronavirus situation. His starting point is that the Chinese authorities now have every incentive to overstate, rather than understate, the severity of the viral outbreak. He explores the impact on growth in the rest of the world and asset price movements.

    1
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    The Risk Of Falling Behind The Epidemic Curve

    China’s government was slow off the mark in responding to the initial outbreak of the new coronavirus. Although the government is now fully mobilized to fight the outbreak, it risks falling behind the curve again—this time in responding to the economic damage wrought by its extended shutdown of normal life and business activity.

    4
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    Back To Work, Not Back To Normal

    China’s businesses are starting to get back to work, but the economy is still very far from normal. On Monday, the extended holiday declared by the government to help contain the coronavirus outbreak came to an end (except in Hubei province). But most businesses still face great difficulty in resuming their normal activities.

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    Don't Count On Oil To Fall Further

    Nowhere in markets has the impact of the Wuhan flu made itself felt as forcefully as in the oil price. The price of Brent crude has fallen -24% in just four weeks to US$54.58/bbl on Wednesday morning in Asia on fears of massive demand destruction in disease-hit China. WTI has fallen by a similar amount. This slide has great immediacy for investors in the energy sector.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Long And Short Of Covid-19

    There is now enough information available to begin to make useful judgments about both the short term and long term impact of the Covid-19 outbreak. In this extensive analysis, Arthur examines the health risks posed by the virus, its economic impact, and likely political fallout.

    5
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    How Sturdy Are The Zeitgeist's Five Pillars?

    The investment zeitgeist can be thought of as a set of assumptions that investors hold about structural growth drivers, key prices and policy approaches. An investment manager should understand what makes up the zeitgeist and how it is changing. Louis outlines five foundational pillars that he considers integral to the current situation.

    4
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    Oil Again

    Less than two weeks after the price of oil briefly spiked to a four-month high on fears of a war between the US and Iran, crude has again been looking bid on trouble in the Middle East. This time, the bulk of Libyan shipments have been cut off amid the country’s civil war, while in Iraq anti-government protests have reportedly caused two minor fields to curtail production.

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    A Tough Ask On Trade, Trouble Brewing On Tech

    The story we’ve been telling for the past few months is that the conclusion of the US-China trade deal will reduce global macro risk in 2020, but tech-specific risk will still be an issue because of continued efforts by the US to constrain the rise of China’s technology sector and in particular Huawei. This week’s news buttressed that story: the trade deal was signed; but at the same time several US agencies are on the verge of tightening...

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    Ten Bears That Could See Off Goldilocks In 2020

    With interest rates low, and growth that is neither too hot nor too cold, Anatole remains firmly in the “Goldilocks lives on” camp. But while a continued bull run is the most probable outcome for 2020, bears still lurk in the shadows. In this paper Anatole identifies the 10 main macroeconomic, political and sector risks that could derail markets in 2020.

    4
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    The Message Behind The Missiles

    At very first glance, the Iranian missile attack on two US airbases in Iraq early Wednesday might appear to confirm worst case fears that the US and Iran are heading irreversibly towards all-out war. However, a preliminary examination of the information available suggests there are still solid reasons to believe that the tensions can be de-escalated, and that outright conflict can be avoided.

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    Expensive And Vulnerable

    Few major economies and markets are more exposed to a possible Middle Eastern conflict than heavily oil-import-dependent India. However that's not the only thing likely to trouble investors in India this year—with the economy misfiring, Narendra Modi spending political capital on his Hindu-nationalist agenda rather than structural reforms, and local equities looking uncomfortably expensive.

    3
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    Gold Beyond The Iran Crisis

    Gold has ripped higher in the last two days, climbing 3% since Friday. But that price spike cannot compensate for the undeniable fact that the last 10 years have been a tough decade for the yellow metal. So, what can we expect from gold going forward?

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    A Dispassionate View Of The Iran Crisis

    To judge by the tone of the media coverage and much of the analysis since Friday, the world is teetering on the brink of an apocalyptic war in the Middle East between the US and Iran. But a dispassionate examination of the US-Iran confrontation indicates that the probability of an all-out shooting war between the two sides remains small. As a result, while markets are right to price in an elevated risk premium following Friday’s strike, the...

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    What The Trade Deal Won't Change

    President Trump has confirmed he will sign his trade deal with China on January 15, and the PBOC has reinforced its tilt to more dovish policies. This combination of events means the macro factors that drove December’s rally—a receding trade war and a global easing of monetary policy—are still in place for January, if increasingly priced in.

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    The Surprises Of 2019

    As the year draws to a close, Louis has decided to review the key events of 2019 that he either didn’t see coming, or whose ramifications he under estimated. Such events could cast a long shadow in the coming quarters as their impact on markets may not yet be fully digested.

    4
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Stable Growth Without Undue Stimulus

    China's latest economic figures show continued growth into the end of this year. In this report, Thomas outlines how these data points, combined with the fragile US-China trade truce, might give Chinese policymakers the space they need to achieve their goal of maintaining stable growth without resorting to excessive stimulus.

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    Is Brexit The Midwife To A New Investment Environment?

    With the confirmation of a conservative victory in the UK election, and a long awaited trade deal between the US and China, the pieces are falling into place for a weakening of the US dollar and a continuation of the global reflation trade. Already, both sterling and the euro have strengthened in response to the reports of a Tory victory.

    1
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    Our 2019 Holiday Reading List

    “So many books,” lamented the late Frank Zappa, “so little time.” For readers wondering which of the 130mn books published since the invention of the printing press they should curl up with over the coming break, hopefully Gavekal’s annual holiday reading picks may help.

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    A Safety Rope On The Wall Of Worry

    Markets are heading into the end of 2019 on a broadly constructive note. Yet there are daunting risks hanging over 2020. And although a number of these risks may be of modest probability, the impact on portfolios should they arise will be great. This means investors are to an extent climbing a wall of worry. Fortuitously, there is a safety rope to hand.

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    Is Energy Uninvestible?

    Who would have thought at the time of the September attacks on Saudi that the oil sector would perform so dismally in the weeks after? This has been in line with a longer term underperformance, which has led many investors to dismiss the energy sector as uninvestible. Louis examines some of the arguments underlying this belief, and comes to an intriguing conclusion.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Back Door Is Still Closed

    A slew of new government policies has boosted market expectations for China’s infrastructure spending in 2020. But Rosealea counsels caution: while new measures have opened the “front door” of approved funding a bit wider, more important is that the “back door” of shadow financing remains firmly closed. A big rebound in public works is unlikely.

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    Questions On The Changes Of The Past Two Months

    Recent weeks have seen a turn in the investment environment, with global equities outperforming those in the US, cyclicals outperforming growth stocks, a steepening US yield curve and a stall in the US dollar’s rally. Louis recently met with a lot of US clients and outlined his explanation for these shifts. He got some push-back and this report is the product of those deliberations.

    2
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    Saudi, Peak Oil Demand And Aramco

    With the rise of environmental concerns and alternative energy sources, the preoccupation is that peak oil demand could be as few as 10 years into the future. The fear that come the 2030s or soon after, it could be left sitting on 300bn barrels of stranded assets is behind the Saudi Arabian government’s decision to sell shares in its monopoly petroleum producer, Saudi Aramco.

    1
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    Looking Through To US Inflation

    In Congressional testimony yesterday, Jay Powell expressed optimism that US inflation will gradually rise toward the Federal Reserve’s target of 2%. If this is the case then it is reasonable to think that the US central bank could be done with rate cuts in this cycle but some way away from any rate hikes—this points to a Goldilocks of sorts.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Autos Are Getting Back On The Road

    China’s industrial slowdown is not just about exports. The deep downturn in auto sales accounts for about half of the slowdown in GDP growth since 2018, Thomas estimates. Things are now starting to look less bad, and the growth drag is heading back toward zero. But autos are still not about to deliver a big boost to growth or commodity demand.

    0
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    India’s Implausible Energy Ambitions

    Narendra Modi’s government has set out ambitious objectives for India’s energy policy, targeting wider access to affordable energy, a greatly increased role for renewables, and stronger national energy security. The trouble is that these aims appear to be contradictory, and the government has yet to set out a coherent plan for implementation.

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