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E.g., 26-07-2021
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    Gavekal Research

    Low For Even Longer

    On Thursday, the European Central Bank’s decisionmakers sat down for their first monetary policy meeting since they ditched their longstanding inflation target of “below, but close to 2%” in favor of a new symmetrical target centered on 2%. That decision formalized the ECB’s shift away from its Bundesbank-style focus on price stability and enshrined its role as the guardian of eurozone financial stability.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Fiscal Effect Of Zero Covid

    As a resource-rich economy, Malaysia has been buoyed by strong commodity and energy prices, yet the effect of the pandemic has been to create an unstable political situation. The governing coalition fell apart on July 8 and a new one has not been formed. Ordinarily, the way out of such a parliamentary impasse would be for an election to be held, yet with the country in a fresh lockdown due to surging Covid-19 cases, that will be difficult.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A High-Pressure Business Cycle

    The US economy may have suffered one of its biggest ever contractions last year, but at just two months, it was one of the shortest due to aggressive policy reactions that spurred an unlikely economic boom. A worry for investors is that late-cycle stresses now emerging cause this expansion to fade as quickly as it started.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    The World Becomes More Fragile

    In a July 2 paper, Didier Darcet explained how after seven months of being positive, the market reading from our Paris-run quant system had turned negative. The takeaway was that equity market volatility had “more than ever” become the indicator signaling a downturn. Watch any move in the Vix above 27 as a signal that US markets are entering the "tails" of the risk curve.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    How Monopolies Behave

    The economy is simply energy transformed. Today, we have a situation where governments in the West are attempting to kill off energy derived from fossil fuels, to which end they are subsidizing new forms of energy. The trouble is that demand for energy is growing faster than the ability of these new forms of energy to meet it.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Economic Impact Of Delta

    This week saw Gavekal writers address risks to the global reflation trade. Louis explored three reasons for the market shift: (i) the rise of the Delta Covid variant, (ii) tighter-than-expected policy settings in the US, and (iii) China’s tightening measures. My aim is to focus on risks posed by the first of those: another Covid shock to Western economies.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    The China Piece Of The Puzzle

    On Monday, Louis identified three possible culprits for the rally in US treasuries, the consequent abrupt shift from value to growth, and the outperformance of US equities. Of these three, Chinese overtightening seemed the best explanation for what has unfolded in financial markets over the past couple of months. Louis explores what this could mean for investors.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Breaking Down US Inflation

    So have hopes that US price pressures are merely a transitory effect faded like a mirage on an Oregon highway? The higher-than-expected jump in June’s consumer price index to a 5.4% year-on-year gain certainly dented investors’ belief that US price pressures will prove fleeting. They are probably right in that view. For while some factors driving US prices higher will abate, new pressures are waiting in the wings. Therefore, in the medium term,...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Best Of Times, The Worst Of Times

    It is the best of times, it is the worst of times. July has seen the shares of the biggest US tech companies, including Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook, advance to new record highs. At the same time, the legal and regulatory campaign to rein in Big Tech is reaching a new pitch of intensity.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Behind The Bond Market Rally: Delta, The Fed Or China?

    US treasury yields made a post-Covid crisis high of 1.74% on March 31. At the time, US consumer prices were rising at 2.6% a year and oil was at US$60 a barrel. Fast forward to today and US CPI is at 5% and West Texas Intermediate at US$72/bbl. Meanwhile, bond yields have declined to 1.3%. It is hard not to conclude that one of these prices is “wrong”.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Is The Chinese Growth Sector Still Investable?

    First China’s regulators came for the fintech companies. Next, it was antitrust investigations into successful internet companies. Then it was a crackdown on private education. Now regulators’ ire has focused on ride-hailing platform Didi Chuxing. Has the specter of harsh and unpredictable regulation made China’s internet and other high-growth companies uninvestable?

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Not Quite A Wage-Price Spiral

    European companies are hiring again—or at least they would be if they could get the staff. The rebound in eurozone economic activity has fueled employers’ demand for labor. Having languished at about one standard deviation below its long term average through 4Q20 and 1Q21, the European Commission’s index of eurozone businesses’ hiring intentions has risen to over one standard deviation above its long-term average, as of end-June. The number of...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Year Of Policy Divergence

    A year into its recovery from the Covid-induced collapse of 2020, the world’s largest economy is stimulating final demand to an extent rarely seen before. Meanwhile, on the other side of the Pacific, the picture in the world’s second largest economy is starkly different. As a result, for the first time, broad money growth in the US is rapidly outpacing that occurring in China.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Opec Frays

    Last year, when Opec+ talks broke up without an agreement on setting production quotas, the oil price collapsed. On Monday, when Opec+ talks broke up without an agreement on setting production quotas, the oil price surged. The majority of market watchers see no inconsistency, but they are making some large assumptions, which deserve close scrutiny.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    The Impact Of Didi’s Smackdown

    Just two days after raising US$4.4bn from US investors, China’s largest ride-hailing platform, Didi Chuxing, has been placed under investigation by Chinese authorities and told to stop registering new users due to alleged violations in the handling of users’ data. Ernan and Thomas assess what this signals for the uncoupling of US and Chinese equity capital markets.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Not Quite Vassal States

    "The best defense is a good offense" seems to be the mantra adopted by some emerging market central banks that have raised interest rates since the Federal Reserve began talking about a taper to its asset purchase program. This precautionary approach is at odds with the rhetoric from other EM central banks. So how to play this apparent bifurcation in responses?

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Killer Wave In The Nasdaq Bubble?

    It’s hardly surprising that stock markets are hitting new records. The inflation panic has subsided and bond yields have retreated Therefore, the immediate risk for investors is not a meltdown in bonds and equities that was predicted by perma-bears in the second quarter. The real risk may be a melt-up in equities, especially in growth stocks, as the first quarter’s growth-to-value rotation reverses.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Asia’s ‘Heads I Win, Tails I Don’t Lose’

    It was less of a taper tantrum, more of a taper tizzy. In response to the US Federal Reserve’s first talk of policy normalization in mid-June, the DXY US dollar index rose 1.9% and the S&P GSCI commodity index fell -2.7%. These are not huge moves, but they are big enough to prompt nervous emerging market investors to look for “heads I win, tails I don’t lose” plays.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Cryptos’ Many Damocles’ Swords

    Since peaking in mid-April at US$63,500, bitcoin has almost halved in value, making a series of lower highs and lower lows . For such a high-beta asset, this roll-over is interesting given that risk assets like equities have powered on to new highs. So has the overall environment for cryptos materially changed?

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    The First To Normalize

    The Bank of Mexico last week joined a growing number of emerging-market central banks that have hiked policy rates this year. Developed markets, in contrast, have stayed dovish as they are not overly worried about inflation and fret about chocking off their recoveries. But there is a good chance that the BoE will be the first big Western central bank to normalize policy in 2022.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Peak US Growth

    The US economy has been on a tear and it could be assumed that a bipartisan Congressional deal to spend US$1.2rn on roads, bridges and tunnels would spur even more growth. Yet, surprising as it may seem, we may have seen the top of the US growth cycle as activity goes from great to good in the second half of this year.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Morphing Of European Political Risk

    On both sides of the Rhine, celebrations were afoot on Wednesday night after France and Germany managed to earn spots in the knockout phase of the Euro 2020 football tournament. But once a winner is finally decided on July 11, the citizens of both countries will be forced to focus some attention on politics. After a summer of fun, the specter is being raised of European political risk.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Dollar’s Temporary Fillip

    Currency markets must process information on many factors impacting an economy and then judge how it stack ups against another economy, yet from time to time the focus switches to just one thing. The Fed's hawkish statement last week sparked a monomaniacal focus on the timing of a taper to asset purchases. Yet there are already signs that this unitary focus is waning.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Flabbergasted

    When you write in a language that you didn’t learn from your mother, it is easy to fall in love with new words and then overuse them. In the 1970’s, I came across “flabbergasted” and, truth be told, I ended up being flabbergasted in that decade rather more than I actually was. Today, however, I am again flabbergasted, but am fairly confident that it is for good reason.

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    Reasons To Buy The Commodity Dip

    After rising nearly 60% from its March 2020 trough, the Bloomberg commodity index fell -4.2% over the past week. This has given a headache to investors who had prepared their portfolios for imagined inflationary times by buying real assets like commodities. Do they now “buy the dip” in expectation of another leg up?

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Stealth Tightening In Japan?

    Japanese policymakers’ dirty little secret in recent years has been giving succor to a weak yen in order to keep the deflationary wolf from the door. With the currency down -6% against the US dollar this year, the plan is on track, so it is not surprising that the Bank of Japan made only minor changes to its monetary policy settings at today’s scheduled meeting. It would thus be tempting to think that the G10’s weakest currency in 2021 is a one-...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Fed Talks Of Tapering

    It should not be shocking but the Federal Reserve is getting set to return to a more normal monetary policy. To avert a 2013-style “taper tantrum”, Jay Powell wrapped cotton wool around his “tightening” message on Wednesday but the fact is that the Fed is talking about tapering its asset purchases.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    What’s Your Linchpin Made Of?

    Writing here on Tuesday, Louis argued cogently that energy prices will be the “linchpin” that decides the future direction of inflation. But, in asking whether governments can successfully engineer a green energy transition, it’s fair to say he was thinking in terms of years ahead. Energy prices also have a major influence on inflation and inflation expectations on the scale of months.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Living In A Dual Currency World

    Let’s begin with the basic principles underlying any currency, at least according to economics 101: it should be a medium of exchange, a standard of value and a store of value. I have long argued that central banks’ determination to pursue the “euthanasia of the rentier” rather than protecting money as a store of value would lead to big problems.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Peak Inflation Expectations

    Despite warning signs, it is now clear that investors were too relaxed about US pricing pressures at the start of this year. That much was clear from the consumer price index rising 5.0% year-on-year in May and at an annual rate of 5.9% over the last six months. Yet with the market measure of forward inflation expectations just below a 10-year high, the scope for these numbers to keep shocking has waned.

    8
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    Gavekal Research

    Financial Stability Über Alles

    Even as headline consumer inflation pushes higher across the developed economies, hitting a 13-year high of 5.0% in the US over the 12 months to May, the European Central Bank served notice on Thursday that it has zero intention of scaling back its asset purchases in the near term. In the statement released following Thursday’s meeting, the ECB governing council declared that in the coming quarter, it will continue to buy assets under its...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    A Different Kind Of Inflation

    China’s producer price gauge is surging, stoking fears that the country is both succumbing to global inflationary pressures and stirring them up. However, such fears are misplaced, writes Thomas, since China does not face the kind of bottleneck problems blighting the supply-side of the US economy.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The One For All Problem

    Now that a deal has been done on corporate taxation, this weekend’s Group of Seven summit will focus on helping low-income countries roll out Covid-19 vaccination programs. Given inevitable production and distribution problems, the world is unlikely to be fully vaccinated before the end of 2022.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    When To Fade The Chinese Equity Rally

    After officials moved against crypto-currency and commodity speculation a few weeks ago, investors jumped back into equities, perking up a market that had been moribund since March. However, on balance, this looks like a counter-trend rally that should ultimately be faded, as the corporate profit cycle is starting to roll over.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Thin End Of The Corporate Tax Wedge

    Counterintuitively, the agreement on a global minimum corporate tax rate struck at the weekend by G7 finance ministers may in the near term prove positive at the margin for global equities in general. In the longer term, however, the weekend’s agreement is likely to prove the thin end of the corporate taxation wedge.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Supply Squeezes ≠ Consumer Inflation

    As the eurozone’s economy reopens, supply squeezes are intensifying at the same time that producer price inflation is rising rapidly, sparking fears that pandemic-induced supply chain disruptions at a time of booming demand will soon feed through into a sustained rise in the consumer inflation rate. These fears are overstated.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Here Comes The US Capex Boom

    Amazing as it sounds given all that has happened in the last 15 months, the US economy is already entering a “mid-cycle” phase that should change the drivers of growth. Sectors like housing and durable goods have enjoyed double-digit growth over the last year, but now face head winds. In contrast, firms across the US seem set to go on a capital spending binge.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Europe’s Savings Fuel

    Like their American cousins, Europeans are itching to cast off their pandemic shackles, have fun and go shopping. But when and how much? The first point will depend on the threat posed by new Covid variants, but the news there is cautiously encouraging. As for the quantum of the comeback, a useful gauge lies in eurozone household savings levels.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Asia’s Big Fiscal Shift

    The lesson Asian policymakers learnt from the 1997-98 financial crisis was the importance of self-reliance. In its aftermath, they deployed undervalued exchange rates to pursue export-led growth and secure big current account surpluses that gave central banks ample forex reserves. To cut their reliance on foreign capital for deficit financing, they limited both public spending and domestic demand. The effort ensured a stable macro environment...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Accomplishing The Fed’s Mission

    Another week, another discourse on US inflation, this time triggered by the personal consumption expenditures index rising 3.6% year-over-year in April, the fastest gain since 2008. Some of that is base effects, but not all: since the Federal Reserve refined its 2% inflation target to an “average” 2% last August, the PCE index has risen at an annualized 3.5%. The point of the Fed’s change was to “make up” for misses and better anchor long-term...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    The Odds Of Oil Breaking Out On The Upside

    Since January, most commodity prices have ripped higher, with materials and energy among this year’s best performing sectors. So where do we go from here? Obviously, the price of energy marks the spot where current supply meets current demand. And when looking at oil prices today, there are both bullish and bearish arguments to be made on either side.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Further Upside For Eurozone Equities

    Year-to-date, the MSCI EMU index has recorded a total return of 15% in US dollar terms. The MSCI US has managed only 12%. Go back to the beginning of November, when hopes for Covid vaccines began to boost markets, and the performance differential is even more pronounced. Eurozone equities have returned 44%, compared with 31% for US equities. The eurozone has outperformed even though it was late to start vaccinating and slow to bring vaccination...

    0
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    A Cooling Market For Cars and Houses

    With stimulus checks having been sent and the jobs market recovering, last month saw the biggest jump in US car sales for at least 35 years. Will Denyer and I have been bullish on autos (and for similar reasons, housing) for the last year. Yet just as the punch bowl fills up, it looks time to get more cautious.

    4
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    EMs And The Inflation Equation

    A defining reason to hold emerging market risk assets is their better growth prospects relative to more stable developed economies. Over the last year, this premise held true as pandemic-induced domestic economic weakness in emerging economies was offset by strong external demand. Yet as Europe and the US hurtle towards a full opening, EM economies’ relative growth prospects have dimmed, while inflation pressures threaten a possible Federal...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    No Reason To Reverse A Weak Dollar Call

    The US dollar is nearing the bottom of its trading range, so does it bounce back, or break lower? In 1Q21, the US’s rapid vaccination rollout and improving economic outlook spurred the dollar’s rebound. In early April KX argued that as other nations followed a similar path, the relative strength of these factors would wane. This has played out, and there are other reasons to fade the dollar.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Market Reaction If Inflation Fears Recede

    On Tuesday I wrote a Daily note arguing that the market anxiety about US inflation is overdone, which generated a strong response from clients and Gavekal colleagues, who almost unanimously disagreed with my view. We can now be fairly sure that markets are not discounting the scenario I described. With this in mind, let me suggest some investment ideas.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Is This A Private Fight, Or Can Anyone Join In?

    The old rugby player in me cannot see a bar-fight without asking: “Is this a private altercation, or can anyone join in?” I feel much the same about the debate inside Gavekal about whether or not inflation is making a comeback. Here is my contribution to the brawl.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Is It Gold’s Turn To Shine?

    Over the last year, the bubbles have just rolled on from one exciting asset to the next, with investors wondering which will follow. In this note, Louis explains why he thinks gold may be the next one.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Not So Much Inflation, More Fiscal Dominance

    So far, the great inflation debate has centered on the United States. Europe has barely figured. That’s not surprising; although inflation and bond yields are both ticking higher in the eurozone, the levels are modest and the increases moderate compared with those in the US. Nevertheless, there is a debate in Europe concerning the European Central Bank’s policy priorities.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Data Against The Fed Stacks Up

    The US Federal Reserve prides itself on being “data dependent.” If it is truly data dependent, the Fed is going to find it increasingly difficult to justify its extremely easy monetary policy stance. The latest of the data points to stack up against it are professional forecasters’ inflation expectations, which the Fed has often lent weight to in the past. For the last two years, these have been subdued. Now—the last piece of the inflation...

    0
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    Heading For The Med

    “Sell in May and go away,” has long been a popular adage in Europe, a continent renowned for its predilection for long summer holidays by the Mediterranean. Last year, however, “sell in May” would have proved disastrous as an investment strategy. This year too investors should treat the old saw with circumspection.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Hardly Transitory, But Not A Spiral

    After headline and core CPI readings hit multi-year highs for April, investors have inflation on their minds. The rise in US bond yields and continued fall in equities reflects fears that the Federal Reserve is behind the curve, and could be about to slam on the monetary brakes. My view is that these price pressures are far from transitory, but a spiral higher does not beckon.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Where Will The Next Deflationary Shock Come From?

    The 1986 oil price crash, to an extent, fired the starting gun on 30 years of global deflation. As commodity prices collapsed, so did the Soviet Union, giving the West a deflationary peace dividend. By the early 1990s, Japan’s real estate and equity market busts threatened its banks. The rollout of the North American Free Trade Area and the 1995 “tequila crisis” helped make Mexico a competitive manufacturing hub. Soon after, the 1997-98 Asian...

    11
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    Gavekal Research

    Playing The Inflation Rotation

    It seems wherever you look today, there are inflation signals. If the Federal Reserve is right, and the signaled burst of inflation proves transitory, then all will be well. The risk is that inflation proves stickier than policymakers expect. If so, Monday’s -2.6% sell-off in the Nasdaq is just a taste of a rotation that still has further to run.

    2
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    A Post-Brexit Britain

    Some long-term investors do seem to be worried that a breakup of the United Kingdom could add another element of uncertainty to what I described last year as the “triple whammy” of Brexit, Covid and the British Treasury’s surprising flirtation with tax increases and premature fiscal tightening. It now appears, however, that only one of these concerns is really justified.

    5
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    India Is Running Out Of Road

    After Mumbai and Delhi, Bengaluru is the latest big Indian city to face a second wave of Covid infections. India’s underfunded health system is collapsing, as we feared it could a year ago. Yet markets are shrugging off the crisis: equities are flat, the rupee resilient. Tom and Udith investigate whether this disconnect is likely to persist.

    0
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    The Changing State Of US Liquidity

    When it comes to creating and distributing US money, there are three main players: the Federal Reserve, the US Treasury and commercial banks. Recent events call for a status update on the prospects for money flows from each, and what it all means for the bond market.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Fighting The Fed Over Wages

    Recent rollbacks of Covid restrictions in the US should spur consumer demand, adding to an inflationary brew. Most policymakers continue to claim such pricing pressure is “transitory”. Perhaps, but the employment cost index shows US wages having accelerated for the last two quarters and the balance of evidence points to this uptrend continuing.

    2
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    Japan’s Big Bets

    Yoshihide Suga’s stodgy record does not suggest he is in the mold of relative political mavericks, yet in recent days, he has taken some punchy policy decisions that signal he is not just a caretaker but has serious political ambitions. Global investors who overlooked Japan in recent years due to the lack of a compelling narrative may want to pay attention.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Fighting Europe’s Headwinds

    Last Thursday, Nick Andrews and I argued that Europe’s economic recovery is set to defy dire predictions. The fly in the ointment, we argued, was a weakening in Europe’s hitherto robust manufacturing sector. Such concerns deepened on Friday, as more evidence emerged of slowing industrial activity. So does this headwind need to be taken more seriously?

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    India’s Outbreak

    A year ago, the world’s media were focusing on heaps of bad Covid news in the US and Europe. Unsurprisingly, global risk assets did not like it: equities collapsed, the WTI oil price fell into negative territory, and OECD government bond yields fell to new lows. Fast forward a year, and the reporting from India is even more apocalyptic, yet, markets are brushing off the bad news.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Case Against TIPS, From An Inflation Worrier

    Jerome Powell made it clear on Wednesday that the Federal Reserve is not even ready to talk about tapering its asset purchases. Understandably, most questions from journalists ran something like: “Why so, given the strong economic data?”. When it comes to inflation, there is a similar disconnect between the Fed and the bond market, with big implications for investors.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Europe Surprising On the Upside

    Europe may not yet have the pandemic in the rear-view mirror but infection rates in most countries are falling, vaccinations are surprising on the upside and a full opening of most services this summer seems likely. Since expectations for the eurozone remain constrained, there is a good chance that its yield curves soon steepen and the single currency strengthens.

    0
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    A Renter’s Housing Market?

    When GDP for 1Q21 is released on Thursday, the US economy will be shown to be booming. An exception to this cheery trend is the US residential property market, which, having led the recovery, now looks pretty anemic. The worry is that a pronounced housing downturn could even choke off the broader recovery.

    1
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    Two EM Headwinds Intensify

    Emerging market investors face two worrying developments. First, there is the risk that India’s new wave of infections could be repeated in other developing countries struggling to vaccinate their populations. Second, there are concerns that the brightest spot in EMs—Asian electronics exports—is now jeopardized by the worsening shortage in semiconductors.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Taxing Capital

    Next week Joe Biden will set out plans to double the rate of capital gains tax for Americans making over US$1mn a year. The president’s proposal is the latest element of his initiative to levy higher taxes, from one direction or another, on the elusive earnings of multinational corporations and wealthy individuals in order to help fund higher government spending. Whatever the political merits of Biden’s plan, his multi-pronged approach will be...

    13
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    Gavekal Research

    Discontinuity Risk In A Bipolar World

    For the first time in generations, the world now has two economic poles—the US and China. And they are following diametrically opposed monetary and fiscal policies. US policy is as Keynesian as you can get, while China has read the book on Wicksell and is turning restrictive. This divergence is the single most important challenge investors face today.

    3
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    Trading The Vaccination S-Curve

    Vaccination programs around the world have gotten off the ground at widely varying speeds. But everywhere they tend to follow a similar S-curve trajectory. While most countries are still in the early stages of their vaccination programs, a very few are in their late stages, where the S-curves begin to flatten. Their experience provides an investible roadmap.

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    1994 All Over Again?

    Consider a flash back to 1994, when financial markets were mostly driven by what happened in the US, Europe and Japan. Europe was unable to tighten monetary policy while Japan was in a debt-driven deflationary bust. The US raised interest rates and sparked a seven-year bull market in the US dollar. Today, it is China which surprises everyone with a tightening.

    2
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    Doom Loop? What Doom Loop?

    Ahead of the European Central Bank’s meeting this Thursday, there has been the usual chatter about what the ECB can do to alleviate stresses in the eurozone’s financial markets. This is unsurprising, given that Covid infection rates remain stubbornly high in several of the bloc’s leading economies, and that peripheral spreads have widened in recent weeks, with the Italian 10-year spread over bunds increasing by some 10bp.

    0
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    This Summer’s Driving Season

    After four weeks of trading sideways around the US$60/bbl price point, the WTI crude oil price popped higher this week following a bigger-than-expected draw on US inventories. This lends fresh urgency to one of the more important near-term questions investors are facing: how busy will this year’s US summer driving season be?

    4
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    The Huarong Haircut

    In the last two weeks, the bonds of Huarong Asset Management have slumped -30% or more in price in the offshore market, as investors fear either a default or a vicious restructuring which will force them to take painful losses. Wei and Xiaoxi assess the fine political line that China’s authorities must walk to assess the likely extent of the eventual haircut.

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    US Inflation Not Just A base Effect

    Even adjusting for base effects, US consumer price inflation is accelerating. This is not surprising, as expansionary factors like fast money supply growth and strong demand are driving up prices. In this context, it is also not surprising that real assets (equities, commodities, TIPS) have outpaced nominal assets (cash, nominal bonds). But how long-lasting will inflation’s rise prove to be, and when will the Federal Reserve start to normalize...

    9
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    The Ant And The Grasshoppers

    In the last few days, Chinese policymakers have stepped up the campaign to rein in their domestic tech giants, slapping Alibaba with fines of US$2.75bn and forcing the restructuring of Alibaba spin-off Ant Financial. Their action is in stark contrast to the inaction of regulators in western countries. But this is hardly the only contrast between China and the west.

    4
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    Living In A Stock Picker’s Market

    When only one major factor affects equities, correlations rise. At such points, the name of the game is not to pick the best stocks, but to get the ebb and flow of that key factor right. At other times, multiple factors are in play and these affect different stocks differently; in such periods, picking winners is vital. For most of last year, the US market was macro-dominated as the Covid-induced economic collapse caused equity correlations to...

    4
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    The Eurozone’s Sub-Surface Slack

    At first glance, with the unemployment rate down from a peak of 8.7% last September, it looks as if the degree of slack in the eurozone’s labor market may be small by historical standards. However, a look at the level of employment (including employees and self-employed) shows that employment is down by 3.1mn compared with the pre-pandemic baseline.

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    Living With The Next Covid Wave

    Global markets are looking ahead to a post-pandemic world, but Covid-19 is still very much with us. Globally, new infection rates have risen sharply since late February, reversing their earlier decline. In the last few weeks, the US has experienced an alarming uptick in infections. The European Union is struggling to contain its latest Covid wave, which in several major countries compares with November’s for severity. And across the developing...

    2
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    When Do We Begin To Worry About Cost Pressures?

    For the last 13 months or so, ever since the Covid pandemic started to grip, the broad US equity market has been driven above all by fears and hopes for top-line revenue growth. Last spring, as investors anticipated a collapse in revenues, the market collapsed. Policy support halted the slide, and over recent months, as investors have looked forward to the end of the pandemic and a rebound in revenues, the broad market has scaled new highs.

    1
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    Who’s Afraid Of The Big Bond Wolf?

    For the past two months, financial analysts all over the world have been obsessed by two closely related questions: (i) How much further will US bond yields rise, and how fast? (ii) Will rising bond yields kill the bull markets in global equities and other risk assets?

    4
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    The Costs Of Biden’s Spending Plan

    On Wednesday, Joe Biden unveiled an ambitious US$2trn program of public infrastructure investment, to be funded by corporate tax hikes. In a nutshell, the plan is a proposal to transfer wealth from the broad US market to sectors favored by the government. The sectors that benefit from this largesse stand to enjoy a multi-year boom, with the cost to be borne by the rest of the market. However, the extent of this cost should not be exaggerated....

    2
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    Who Will Buy India Now?

    On Tuesday, the US dollar index hit a five-month high and treasury yields maintained their relentless march higher. On the same day, the Indian rupee—this year’s best performing emerging market currency—plunged to a one-month low. A mix of tighter financial conditions and a worsening Covid-19 situation has investors reassessing the surprising notion of India as an EM haven. They are right to do so, for the macro tailwinds driving the rupee’s...

    0
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    Yield Differentials Matter—For Now

    As the first quarter draws to a close, the US dollar has confounded December’s bearish consensus expectations by generating a positive total return versus the euro of 3.8%. As Louis and Will and KX explained last week, in retrospect the US dollar’s performance over the last three months is not that surprising. The question now is: how long will these near-term factors persist?

    2
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    Like A Hell-Broth Boil And Bubble

    Last week began with a -15% fall in the Turkish lira in Asian trading on Monday morning. This week started with a -16% fall in the share price of Nomura in Asian trading on Monday morning. It would be easy to dismiss the two events as entirely unrelated. At first glance they have nothing in common, but in this piece Tom takes a closer look.

    4
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    Rewind To Look Ahead

    There has hardly been a single piece of news in the last three months that could have been construed as euro-bullish. And yes, the euro has weakened. But given the newsflow, it is remarkable that the euro is not down a whole lot more. So, considering the newsflow and the 200bp spread between 10 year treasuries and bunds, why hasn’t the US dollar rallied more?

    2
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    The Future’s Clear, The Future’s Green

    Europe’s Green parties used to be denigrated by their political opponents as “watermelons”: green environmentalists on the surface, red hard-leftists beneath. In Germany, this attempt to marginalize the Greens by associating them with the discredited revolutionary socialists of 50 years ago failed dismally. Having established their credibility in regional politics, notably in Germany’s third richest state of Baden-Württemberg, where they have...

    2
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    The Short And Long For The US Dollar

    After ending 2020 amid heavily negative sentiment, the US dollar has confounded near-term bears by edging higher year-to-date. The DXY dollar index has gained 2.75%, clawing back just over a third of its -7.5% decline in 2020. Perhaps this should not be too surprising. First, by the end of 2020, the US dollar was no longer blatantly overvalued. Second, the DXY found support at 90, its low of early 2018. Third, the near-term outlook for nominal...

    2
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    The Strengthening Case For Value

    In the last two weeks, US value stocks have given up some of the outperformance relative to growth that they racked up over the previous five. So has value’s spurt of outperformance now run its course, leaving the S&P 500 value index’s 11pp of outperformance relative to growth since the beginning of February as just a counter-trend blip against a backdrop of more than a decade’s underperformance? Or are the relative gains in value since the...

    0
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    The Extent Of Turkish Contagion Risk

    After four and a half months in which Turkish central bank governor Naci Ağbal had raised policy rates and restored a measure of confidence in the Turkish lira, on Saturday Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan fired Agbal and replaced him with a loyalist who has echoed the president’s conviction that higher interest rates lead to higher inflation.

    1
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    Weak Links No Longer

    Once upon a time, a steep rise in US yields coupled with capital outflows—like those we’ve seen in recent weeks—would have led to intense financial stresses in Asian emerging markets. Weak-link economies with fragile fiscal positions and precarious external balances would have been vulnerable to abrupt sell-offs and destabilizing currency depreciation. As sentiment swung risk-off, investors would have gotten badly trampled in the rush for the...

    0
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    Markets After The Fed

    The Federal Reserve saw no need to ease monetary policy any further at its March meeting which concluded Wednesday. That’s no surprise. Policy is already extremely easy, and growth and inflation are already looking up. Indeed, the Fed has pumped so much money into the system that the one policy change it felt compelled to make was to increase counterparty limits on its reverse repo facility from US$30bn to US$80bn in response to concerns that...

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    Attack Of The Drones

    Military technology is a lynchpin of the geopolitical balance. And the superiority of US weaponry has been one of the principal factors underpinning the US dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency. However, recent events raise important questions about whether the US can retain this superiority.

    19
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    How Bad Is Europe’s Vaccine Problem?

    The Covid news from Europe only seems to lurch from bad to worse. The suspension by several European Union countries of distribution of AstraZeneca's Covid vaccine over possible side-effects threatens to disrupt the EU’s vaccination programs and damage public confidence in vaccines in general. So how bad are things likely to get?

    3
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    When Currencies Misbehave

    In recent days, investors have had to absorb a series of troubling headlines from Europe, yet news that should be either bearish for the euro or bullish for the dollar failed to keep the euro from gaining last week. Meanwhile, the yen continues to grind lower. Why is that, and what does the inability of the dollar to rally tell us about the future?

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    The Yield Curve Control That Dare Not Speak Its Name

    A year ago today, European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde said “we are not here to close spreads”. With a fair amount of water having flowed under the bridge since then, the spread between 10-year Italian BTP’s and bunds has fallen from 261bp to just 94bp. So when on the anniversary of that proclamation, she said the “ECB is not doing yield curve control”, one could be forgiven for demurring.

    1
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    Stop Worrying About Bond Yields And Buy Equities

    Is it time to buy or sell global equities? I think investors should be adding exposure for four broad reasons. As argued in February, during the last mini-correction the global bull market that began on March 20, 2020, is still in its early stages and the cyclical economic problems that usually provoke bear markets are not yet on the horizon.

    7
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    Updating The Malthusian Constraint

    In June 2019, I argued that big shifts in the US economy and financial markets largely result from changes in the relative price of energy. If oil prices are rising faster than nominal GDP, this points to energy shortages and more of the economy’s value-added going as the “miners’ rent”. This situation points to rising inflation and contracting price/earnings ratios.

    3
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    The Bursting Of The Electric Car Bubble, And Consequences

    A friend recently sent me the following quote from the Barrow Hanley small-cap manager, Jim McClure: “Should an investment narrative become particularly disputed, the best course of action is to identify the camp that is more emotional, and bet heavily against them”. This was good advice a few years back when anti-Tesla/anti-Elon Musk sentiment was rampant. And it would have been good advice again in early January, when the pendulum had swung...

    2
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    The Missing Target

    For four decades, every five-year plan has included a target for average GDP growth. The latest plan, presented last Friday, did not. This points to China's leadership having a more complex view of development goals argues Andrew. These now include a range of metrics including technological capability, national security, financial stability and living standards.

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    Bond Vigilantes Keep Fighting The Fed

    Jerome Powell tried to calm the bond market yesterday by repeating that it’s likely to be a while before policy normalization begins. Growth and inflation indicators are up, but the Fed expects much of this to be “transitory”. In short, Powell remains a steadfast dove. So why are bond yields, real and nominal, still ticking higher?

    6
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    Enduring Cognitive Dissonance

    As yields continue to test new highs, Jay Powell is set to deliver a speech today reasserting the Federal Reserve’s view that inflation can push above its 2% target due to base effects and pent-up demand without monetary tightening being needed. This could offer temporary relief to equity investors, but resulting uncertainty in the bond market is likely to ensure an unstable trading environment.

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