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    Gavekal Research

    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.

    0
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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.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    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.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Long And Short Of The Wuhan Flu

    There is now enough information available to begin to make useful judgments about both the short term and long term impact of the Wuhan coronavirus 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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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    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.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    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...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    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.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    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?

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    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...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    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.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    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.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    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.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    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.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    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.

    3
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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.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    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.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Behind The Risk-On

    In recent months, economic data has improved or stabilized, and political risks have receded. But now that equity prices on Wall Street have hit new records and US treasury yields have rebounded from the bottom of their post-2011 trading range, it is worth asking if the move to risk-on conditions is a temporary mood swing, or one supported by economic fundamentals.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Gold Signals A System Failure

    To make the point that gold is the only monetary asset that is not someone else’s liability, John Pierpont Morgan used to say that “gold is money, the rest is credit”. For simplicity’s sake, let’s assume that this quip corresponds to reality—the implication is that the relationship between the gold price and the credit system must be full of information.

    4
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Housing & Construction Review 2019

    China’s property market has held up surprisingly well in 2019, but will that strength last? In her annual chartbook, Rosealea examines key market trends and explains the outlook for 2020. Flexible policy can probably continue to avoid a deep decline in housing sales, but construction activity and materials demand are almost certain to slow.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Where Will Growth Come From Now?

    In the spring of 2003 Gavekal posited that China would become the new locomotive of world growth. But now, the days when China could be counted upon to gear up its balance sheet and pull global growth up by its bootstraps are coming to an end. And as global activity slows investors are asking “where will the growth come from"?

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Solving India's Water Crisis

    Experts predict that half of India’s demand for water will be unmet by 2030, threatening livelihoods and the country’s development prospects. Yet water scarcity need not be a disaster for India. With more efficient agricultural practices and better management, India has sufficient water resources both to feed itself and keep its economy on track.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Case Of The Mysterious Vanishing Statistics

    Problems with China’s economic statistics are often blamed on falsification by local officials. But they are not the only ones causing trouble. In this piece, Thomas and Ernan document how central government agencies, including the National Bureau of Statistics and the central bank, have recently stopped publishing some important data series.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Age Of Range Trading

    It is a Gavekal adage that 10-year treasury yields, crude oil prices and the US dollar exchange rate are “master prices” that have an outsized impact on economic activity and financial markets. Yet as Louis notes, in recent years, these three prices have shown little by way of a structural trend. In this piece, he seeks to understand the meaning from this range-trading phenomenon.

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    At Home In The Range

    Almost a month after missile attacks on key Saudi Arabian oil production and processing facilities pushed benchmark global oil prices up by 20% overnight, the market has moved on. Saudi Arabia has defied industry expectations by continuing to supply oil to the market in abundant quantities. The current market pricing reflects that.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Belt And Road Slims Down

    China is still signing up more countries for its Belt and Road Initiative, but money for Xi Jinping’s signature foreign policy is getting tighter. Growth in China’s overseas lending has ground to a halt, and overseas construction projects are declining. In this piece, Tom explains why a slimmer Belt and Road has become an economic necessity.

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    This Old House

    China’s government has launched a new program to renovate older residential compounds, which some are touting as a massive new investment stimulus. As Rosealea explains in this piece, such hopes are misplaced. But the new spending will help cushion the impact of the cutbacks of the subsidies delivered through the slum redevelopment program.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Waiting For Rate Cuts

    Markets are now primed for China’s central bank to lower the policy rate in the new loan-pricing system it unveiled in August. In this piece, Andrew explains how these rate cuts will work, why they are different from the rate cuts of the past, and why these moves will not mean any change in the central bank’s current strategy of “selective easing.”

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The EM Oil Shock That Won't Be

    Three “master” prices tend to dictate price levels in most asset markets—US interest rates, the US dollar and energy prices. A synchronized fall in these three prices usually bodes well for emerging market assets, while a rise bodes ill. Since it is rare for all three master prices to move together, the challenge for investors is to figure out which way the cross currents are flowing. If one master price is making a big move, its effect can...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Cost Of Cleaner Shipping

    Right now, investors concerned about energy prices are focused on the attacks on Saudi Arabia’s processing facilities. But a possible conflict in the Gulf will not be the only emergent factor likely to affect oil prices over the coming months. New rules for cleaner shipping fuels, known as “IMO 2020,” also have the potential to roil global petroleum markets.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Q&A On The Saudi Oil Attacks

    One thing that stands out about the reaction to the weekend’s strikes on Saudi Arabian oil facilities is how muted much of the market response has been. Nevertheless, investors are concerned about what lies ahead. In this report, Louis attempts to answer some of the most prominent questions asked over the last 48 hours.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    A Saudi Tipping Point?

    Following this weekend's attacks on Saudi Arabian oil installations, the important question has to be whether this proves to be the moment at which investors realize that market expectations have become too far removed from reality. In short, will the attacks shatter the consensus that neither energy prices nor inflation can ever rise meaningfully again?

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    The Three Waves Of Capitalism

    Three great forces drive capitalism and markets: the Schumpeterian, the Ricardian, and the Malthusian. Usually only one dominates at any one time. The flood of capital into tech indicates investors believe that Schumpeterian creative destruction will continue to drive returns over the coming years. But Louis argues that a new wave may be about to take over.

    15
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    Gavekal Research

    Asia's Great Moderation

    Emerging market government bonds yield more than rich-world equivalents because investors worry about getting their money back. This higher return on capital can cause a feedback loop of rising foreign debt and diminished financial sovereignty. Yet, with Asia having seemingly crushed inflation, a “great moderation” may reverse that dynamic and usher in a potential re-rating of risk assets.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Next Stage Of The Pork Crisis

    The African swine fever crisis in China is reaching a new stage as prices for pigs and pork spiral upward at an unprecedented pace. The government is responding with a combination of subsidies for pork farms, as well as rationing and price caps. But this is a short-term strategy that will not contain the ASF epidemic and could even worsen it.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Meaning Of The Iran-China Deal

    Reports that China has signed a long term agreement to buy large quantities of Iranian oil in defiance of US sanctions will weigh on global crude prices and further complicate US-China talks, reducing the chances of a deal before the 2020 US election. In effect, the world is now facing a four-way tug of war over the oil price.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Beijing's Conflicted Easing

    As prospects for a quick resolution of the US-China trade conflict fade, and the data continue to soften, expectations for Chinese growth are getting marked down. As if on cue, the government has sent signals of more decisive policy support for growth. While encouraging, this does not presage a shift in China's macro policy of "selective" easing.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Tariffs Won't Trouble US Consumers

    As US growth has slowed this year, consumer spending has been the economy’s bright spot. Personal consumption expenditure was the principal contributor to growth in the second quarter and July. However, fears are growing that the US consumer will come under increasing pressure in the coming months as the latest round of tariffs go into effect.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    The Importance Of Oil

    The world’s fixed income markets are priced for a severe bout of demand destruction and deflation. Yet, outside Europe at least, growth in the world’s major economies continues to tick over. However, could a sudden oil price rise spark an uptick in inflation pressure that triggers an abrupt repricing in which bond yields spike sharply higher?

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Weathering Trump’s Trade War

    It may be the dog days of summer, but investors got a truckload of news this weekend that points to a bad situation getting worse. Given President Donald Trump’s escalation of tariffs and threat to bar US firms from operating in China, the worry is that his hardline stance spurs a US recession. KX and Will think this is unlikely.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    The Surge In Anti-Fragile Assets

    The latest round of data releases appears to confirm fears that the world is facing another synchronous global downturn. If so, it will be different from other slowdowns, in that it will not have been caused by rising interest rates or higher energy prices. What’s more, it will be setting in when there is little prospect of a globally coordinated response, when monetary policy appears to have lost traction, and when asset prices are looking...

    3
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Risks To Steel Prices

    China’s government is once again going after pollution from the steel industry, raising the risk of more policy-induced spikes in steel prices. While forced shutdowns to ensure blue skies are on the way, Rosealea argues that the bigger risk to steel prices is on the downside, due to weakening construction activity and cautious housing policy.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    China’s Hong Kong Gambit

    Following more violent protests in Hong Kong, Beijing reiterated its support for the city’s embattled chief executive in a first-ever press briefing on Hong Kong’s affairs. While the conflict shows no signs of resolution, the example set by Paris shows that Hong Kong can be both a dependable financial center and a hotbed of political dissent.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Beijing's Backdoor Into Europe

    The new enthusiasm of some European countries for China’s infrastructure-building Belt and Road Initiative has raised alarm across the continent. Brussels fears China is buying influence in Europe’s periphery, sowing disunity and threatening democracy. Our latest in-depth DeepChina report explains the real story of China’s influence on Europe.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Emerging Markets After The Trade War

    Emerging markets did nicely out of the rumor, less well from the fact. As hopes grew through June for some form of trade détente between the US and China, EM assets staged a broad rally. Similarly, EM currencies pushed broadly higher, on the back of a wider US dollar softness. Over the last week, however, EM equities and currencies have pulled back.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Cold War Interglacial

    It is now almost certain that presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping will restart trade talks at the G20 summit in Osaka this weekend. Moreover, discussions in Washington suggest that there is a good chance these talks will result in a deal in the next few months. Our core scenario now is that macro risk from an escalating trade war is receding. There are also signs that the US and China could negotiate a truce on Huawei, lifting the apparent...

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    Trade War II, The Dollar And Gold

    After the opening Twitter salvo in "Trade War II" by Donald Trump in May, markets have reacted quite differently from "Trade War I" in the spring of 2018. This time, the Federal Reserve is sounding more dovish, US bond yields have fallen back to 2%, the dollar seems to be rolling over, and gold and EMs are doing well. This raises the question whether the investment environment is changing before our eyes.

    9
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    Gavekal Research

    The Iran Wildcard

    Of the many risks besetting investors right now, the hardest to assess is the confrontation between the US and Iran. Should tensions escalate into a shooting war, the consequences would be far-reaching and severe. However, looking beyond the bellicose rhetoric there are reasons to believe that the balance of probability still weighs against a marked escalation.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Investing For A New Cold War

    Earlier this year, Louis and Charles published a book whose main thesis was that an era of globalization is ending and the world is breaking into three separate economic zones.The question Louis addresses in this piece is how investors should play this macro shift. Those strategies that did best over the last decade are unlikely to outperform in the next period.

    10
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    Gavekal Research

    The Malthusian Constraint

    Over the last few years, Gavekal has put considerable time and effort into researching portfolio construction in the hope of making the process a little more scientific. This research has led to some interesting results, and suggests some powerful investment themes for the future.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Trump's War And Our Problem

    In the seven decades after World War II, the most powerful nation in the world could be relied on to defend and promote free trade among nations. Then came President Donald. J Trump. Now it’s conceivable that Trump’s goal is to shake up the old rules-based system.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    EMs Hit The Trade Wall

    It is not clear if the latest trade actions launched by the US against Mexico and India form part of coherent plan. Such moves do signal that the US-centered multilateral trading system is hanging by a thread. This upending of the post-WWII order is especially bad news for trade-dependent emerging economies.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    China's Options In The Unfolding Trade War

    China is widely seen as having a pretty miserable hand in its trade stand-off with China. However, Louis is not convinced that China has so few options. Here he considers Beijing’s scope for retaliation, and so leverage, from using its financial clout to spook US capital markets to winding up Kim Jong-un to start causing trouble for the US and its allies.

    10
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    Gavekal Research

    Parliament Of Losers

    For anyone who did not grow up in a Commonwealth country, one of the most perplexing things about the game of cricket is that matches can last for as long as five days, and at the end of it all still end up in a draw. Much the same can be said about European parliamentary elections: they take for ever, and it is often hard to identify a clear winner. Identifying losers, however, is simpler. And looking at Sunday night’s results there were both...

    3
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Who Wants A New Long March?

    Since the collapse of the US-China trade talks, the public position of both sides has hardened. Top leader Xi Jinping’s call for a “new Long March” was widely taken as a sign he is ready for a protracted standoff with the US. But support for such a stance is not universal, as the surprising public comments of Huawei chairman Ren Zhengfei suggest.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    A Change In The Market Mood

    Thursday was an ugly day for global equity markets, with losses that brought total returns on US equities almost back to their January 2018 level, and non-US equities to the brink of bear market territory. It is hard to shake the feeling that the investment environment has changed. What lessons should we draw from the tumultuous trading session?

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    Trump's Trade War Calculus

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

    10
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    Gavekal Research

    Oil Market 1, Commentariat 0

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    One Reduction Of Risk At The Margin

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

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    A Less Than Bonza Outlook

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

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    The Case Of The Missing Inflation: The Changing Demographic Picture

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

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    Gauging The EM Collateral Damage

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

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Series: The Case Of The Missing Inflation

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

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    Inflation And The Gold Fix

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

    4
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    Iran Waivers And The Oil Price Spike

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

    5
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Stabilization Confirmed

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

    12
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    An Epidemic That Can No Longer Be Denied

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

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    Europe's Export Problem

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

    0
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    Good News For Goldilocks

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

    0
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    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.

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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 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.

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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.

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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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    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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    The Big Questions For 2019

    The last quarter of 2018 proved to be something of a horror show for most investors and despite this year starting with a firmer tone, the investment landscape looks to have changed in a fairly profound way. In this report, Louis considers the major shifts in the investment environment and asks whether these conditions will persist through 2019.

    3
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    China And The US Still Hold The Keys To Markets' Fate

    In 2018 liquidity tightening in the US and China combined with trade war fears to make a miserable year for markets. In 2019 the same forces will be at work but the outcomes may differ. The key questions are: can the US and China work out a trade deal? How bad is the Chinese slowdown and how will Beijing respond? And how much will the Fed tighten?

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    Getting Out Of The Liquidity Squeeze

    With the Trump-Xi summit, compromise between Rome and Brussels, and the oil price down, all the ingredients should have been in the mix for a Santa Claus rally. Instead it's been an ugly few weeks in the markets, which strongly suggests no let up yet in this year's liquidity squeeze. In this detailed report, Louis looks back at recent history to determine what forces might bring the squeeze to an end next year, and therefore what asset...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Steel Prices Have Overshot

    Chinese steel prices suffered their biggest decline in two years in November, falling about 20% over the course of the month. That correction was driven by a combination of a big increase in supply along with worries about future demand. In this piece, Rosealea argues that both problems will be short-lived, and that steel prices can rebound.

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    The Next Target Of Trump’s Firepower

    In today’s Daily, Arthur Kroeber offered his analysis of the weekend’s Trump-Xi summit in Buenos Aires. In this short report, Louis takes a slightly different tack, reviewing the series of tumultuous events in recent weeks. His conclusion is that few investors’ portfolios are well positioned for the probable outcome.

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    What If Oil Stays At US$50?

    Since early October, oil prices have plunged more than -30%, while the US equity benchmark is down -8%. You don’t have to be Inspector Clouseau to wonder if these moves are related. Since this oil sell-off has unfolded at a time when US economic growth is slowing, my bet is for a negative short-term effect, but a medium term outlook that is fairly cheery.

    0
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    What's Changed In The Oil Market

    “Sanctions are coming,” proclaimed Donald Trump in a tweet last week, three days before the imposition of the latest US embargo on Iranian oil exports. The oil market was not impressed. Since late September, when crude hit four-year highs, the Brent price has slumped -16.7% from US$86.29 to US$71.91, with WTI falling -19.1%.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Many Misjudgments Of Supply-Side Reform

    Supply-side reform, Xi Jinping’s signature policy of cutting excess capacity in steel, coal and other industries, is widely considered a success. Yet Rosealea’s extensive review finds that this campaign was marred by repeated misjudgments that caused undesired spikes in prices. The justifications for continuing the policy are now wearing thin.

    0
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    The Consequences Of Khashoggi

    In 1939, Franklin Roosevelt famously dismissed reservations about Nicaragua’s brutal dictator Anastazio Somoza with the comment “he may be a sonofabitch, but he’s our sonofabitch.” In the world of foreign policy realpolitik, to a large degree FDR’s doctrine still holds true. Witness, for example, the verbal contortions that US president Donald Trump and secretary of state Mike Pompeo have been forced to pull off in recent days in order to...

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    Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast

    Louis investigates six of the most incongruous sets of relationships that have held sway this year and offers alternative explanations. In particular, he focuses on the strange case of China’s response to US trade hostility and argues that understanding Beijing’s game plan may hold the key to whether the long US bull market in equities can stay the course.

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    Bonds' Failure To Rally

    Given all the bad news for markets this year, one would be forgiven for thinking that US treasuries and German bunds would have been a good investment. But even as emerging markets have sold off and the US dollar has risen against almost every emerging market currency out there, US treasuries (and to a lesser extent bunds) have been an absolute dog of an investment.

    4
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    The EM Value Question

    After a grim seven-month sell-off, it is natural to ask whether emerging markets now offer attractive value. Since its January peak, the MSCI emerging markets index has fallen -22%. The corollary has been a deep derating, which has left EM equities trading below their long term mean P/E ratios. However, a healthy dose of caution is warranted.

    5
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Backlash Against The War On Air Pollution

    Steel prices are high thanks to a tough government plan to reduce smog by shutting down metals production—but the rise in prices has recently started to reverse as uncertainty over these policies increases. Rosealea reports on the steel industry’s new pushback against strict output curbs, and why these controls are likely to become more flexible.

    3
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    Back To A Three-Figure Oil Price

    Oil broke higher on Monday, with the price of Brent decisively breaching US$80/bbl, a level it had repeatedly tested since early May, when the US administration announced it would reimpose sanctions on Iranian exports. The immediate trigger for the break-out was the decision at the weekend by the Opec cartel plus Russia not to increase their formal output target in the near term. At first glance, the market response might appear an over-reaction...

    5
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Pragmatism Will Prevail On Iranian Oil

    The US is preparing to re-impose sanctions on Iran, threatening to punish any country that continues to buy its oil. China has struck a defiant tone, and many analysts expect Chinese oil companies to ignore the US sanctions. But in this piece, Yanmei argues that Chinese importers have little choice but to sharply reduce their purchases from Iran.

    0
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    How To Assess The Stresses On EMs

    Emerging market equities are officially in a bear market, with the MSCI EM index down -20% from its January peak. EM-related commodities are also hurting, notably copper which has fallen -18% since June. The central question now is whether one should steer clear of all EM assets, because the rout is general and likely to get worse; or if one should keep an eye out for buying opportunities here and there. With some trepidation, we advise the...

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