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    Gavekal Research

    The Dollar Squeeze Intensifies

    Policymakers in the world’s biggest economic blocks are responding to the current crisis with fiscal and monetary “shock and awe”. Yet even as the much maligned European Central Bank joined the asset purchase party, markets have continued to crater. For all the coordinated economic responses to the coronavirus pandemic, there has been no serious effort to free up the offshore market for US dollars.

    10
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    Fiscal Intubation

    “This is not a time for ideology or orthodoxy,” said UK chancellor Rishi Sunak on Tuesday. Policymakers across Europe and in the US agree. They have now thrown orthodoxy out of the window in an all-out attempt to support economies hammered by Covid-19 countermeasures. In the US, the administration announced fiscal support worth as much as US$1.2trn, or 6% of GDP, complete with the immediate mail-out of a US$1,000 check to each and every member...

    2
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    Solvency Crisis Or Liquidity Crisis?

    Collapsing equity markets, rising bond yields, widening spreads, falling gold—in recent days, there have been few places to hide. When markets act so sick, it usually pays to take a deep breath (in a socially distant manner) and ponder whether we are facing a solvency crisis, or a liquidity crisis.

    0
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    A Modest Proposal To Avert Economic Catastrophe

    Contrary to initial expectations, the spread of the coronavirus around the world is not following the relatively benign trajectories experienced in China outside of Hubei, and in Korea, Singapore and the rest of Asia. Instead, across Europe—and likely in the US—the spread increasingly resembles the path it took in Hubei. This threatens both medical and economic disasters.

    4
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    The Conditions Needed For A Bottom

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

    0
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    Europe In The Eye Of The Storm

    After the US slapped a 30-day travel ban on visitors from Continental Europe the world’s three biggest economic areas are now effectively cut off from most human contact. As China sees its infection rate level off, the growth dynamic of this pandemic has shifted to Europe. Economic effects will depend on government responses.

    0
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    Another View Of The Bond Bubble

    How should we think about the unstoppable journey of all OECD bond yields towards zero, including 10-year, 50-year and even 100-year maturities from governments not noted for multi-generational predictability, such as Italy, Greece, Austria and post-Brexit Britain? On Monday Louis offered two explanations. Today, Anatole presents a third.

    1
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    Six Degrees Of Uncertainty

    World markets are in full-on panic mode, thanks to a cloud of unknowing that has settled over two topics of broad importance: the spread and economic impact of the coronavirus, and the outcome of the oil-price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia. The topics are related, and so we are grappling with the problem of pricing epidemic-related uncertainty.

    0
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    A Hand Grenade In A Bloodbath

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

    1
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    The Unfolding Rotation

    Last Friday, the markets rallied hard into the close as investors anticipated a coordinated policy move over the weekend. With policy responses in the rear view mirror, this weekend will likely prove different. Markets will continue to be choppy in the immediate future. Even so, amid all the volatility, some interesting developments are emerging.

    5
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    Behind The A-Share Rebound

    Although China is ground zero for the coronavirus outbreak, its onshore stock markets are the world’s best performing major markets so far this year by a considerable margin. For the most part this is due to mood-enhancing domestic policy support, which is likely to continue to counteract the catastrophic near term earnings outlook.

    0
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    How To Ride The Liquidity Wave

    On Tuesday the US Federal Reserve made good on its promise to counter the “evolving risks to economic activity” posed by the coronavirus, cutting its key policy rate. Monetary easing will neither cure the virus nor fix disrupted supply chains, but it will provide cheap funds for companies while they weather the storm.

    1
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    Buy The Dip, Or Sell The Rally?

    When the market falls -10% in a week, and then rallies 5% in a day, investors face a question: Do I buy the dip, or sell the rally? An investor selling the rally would in essence be making a bet that the negative impact of the coronavirus will outweigh the central bank support and G7 finance ministry action that has been promised.

    0
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    When To Catch A Falling Knife

    Now that the Federal Reserve has hit the panic button, is it time to try to catch the falling knife on Wall Street? Technical analysis and investor sentiment suggest that equity prices may still have somewhat further to fall before they find a sustainable floor, even if the viral threat is probably overstated and stimulus by major governments will eventually outweigh the temporary economic collapse.

    3
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    The Last Shall Be First

    Just a week ago, the S&P 500, Nikkei 225 and Eurostoxx 50 were all looking healthy. But over the past week, every major market has fallen by anywhere from -6% to -12%. This is highly unusual. The S&P 500 has only fallen by -10% or more four times in its post-1945 history. Each of these drops ended up having hugely important investment ramifications.

    6
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    The Fragility Of A Complex World

    The question investors must confront is whether the global economy is a slow but resistant beast of burden, or a finely tuned machine which has now been thrown off its axis.

    0
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    The Velocity Of Money In The Time Of Covid-19

    Most serious investors know MV=PQ, where M is the money supply, V is the velocity of money, P is the general price level and Q is output. The typical approach is to wait for M, P and Q to be published and so derive V, which renders the equation a mere tautology. In contrast, Charles has long thought V to be an independent variable whose variations impact P and Q.

    0
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    Doing On Monday What We Wish We’d Done On Friday

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

    0
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    Far From Priced In

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

    0
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    What Will End The US Dollar’s Run?

    Among the confounding effects of the coronavirus has been its impact on foreign exchange markets. The last few weeks have seen heavy flows into the US dollar, on the grounds that the US economy is relatively insulated from the ill-effects of the outbreak. As fears have grown of a dismal first quarter for the eurozone on diminished external demand (see Just When Things Were Looking Up), the euro has slumped to a near three-year low against the US...

    1
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    The Problem In US Equities

    As US equities power to new highs, investors have brushed off geopolitical ructions and fears of a global pandemic. It is less clear that weak earnings are incidental to the US bull market. With 420 firms in the S&P 500 having reported for 4Q19, earnings are only up 1.6% on the previous year.

    4
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    Time And Risk

    The financial world is organized around two axes: time and risk. If some authority manipulates the time axis, the effect will be to compromise the risk axis. This is not an abstract formulation. It has the potential to threaten portfolios and the solvency of major institutions.

    1
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    A Surfeit Of Money

    The fruits of the US Federal Reserve’s swing to monetary easing are ripening. In the last couple of months the about-turn in monetary direction has triggered a dramatic rebound in aggregate US money supply growth, which is outpacing GDP growth. This suggests excess cash may be piling up. If so, the excess is likely to further bid up US asset prices.

    4
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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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    The Downing Street Putsch

    Ever since turning negative on sterling and the UK economy when Boris Johnson dropped his post-election bombshell announcing a new “No Deal” deadline of December 2020, I have been waiting for a chance to double-down on this bearish position. On Thursday, Johnson provided such an opportunity to extend short positions in sterling.

    2
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    The Dial Moves Against US Growth Stocks

    The outperformance of growth over value continues, yet an increasing number of serious US managers are making the case for value. On the macro front the worry is of a strong economy that continues to have an inflationary vibe. Over the last five years, I have taken an equity growth bias. Now I’m shifting towards the value camp.

    0
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    Opportunities In Asian Easing

    Economists are still trying to assess how severe the economic fallout from China’s coronavirus outbreak will be for the rest of the region, but local central banks are not waiting to find out, and are already either cutting interest rates or promising to cut them. As policymakers cut rates, some will offer opportunities for emerging market investors.

    0
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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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    A Sweet Spot For US Jobs

    US non-farm payrolls came in stronger than expected in January. Examining more forward-looking data, such as job openings, many observers suspect the US jobs market may be heading for slower job creation and weaker wage growth in the coming quarters. These worries are likely misplaced.

    2
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    Bad Shocks Can Have Benign Effects

    There are few people outside Donald Trump’s administration who think the US-China trade war was a good thing. There are surely even fewer who think the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak has any positive aspects at all. Nevertheless, while both last year’s trade war and this year’s viral epidemic are bad for global economic growth, they are both largely beneficial for US households.

    0
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    Just When Things Were Looking Up

    It seems the European economy can’t catch a break. After a grim year in 2019, especially for the manufacturing sector, the old continent entered 2020 with reasons for cautious optimism. Survey-based indexes of business optimism appeared to bottom out late last year. Then the Wuhan coronavirus hit China.

    0
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    Don't Count On Oil To Fall Further

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

    0
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    After The Rout

    The Chinese authorities’ attempts over the weekend to shore up confidence among domestic investors came to naught on Monday as prices plummeted when the onshore stock markets reopened after their 10-day lunar new year shut-down. Yet, once signs emerge that the outbreak it is contained, the resulting relief rally should combine with underlying tailwinds to propel stocks higher again.

    0
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    The Threat To US Equities

    On Friday the US equity market succumbed to coronavirus jitters, with the S&P 500 sliding -1.77% to wipe out its year-to-date gains for January. The sell-off was accompanied by a surge in the VIX volatility index, which could continue to rise. Happily, however, there are five good reasons to think any such elevated volatility will prove short-lived.

    4
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    Britain’s Soggy Prospects

    Despite a worsening coronavirus situation and worries that a Brexit bounce could be short-lived, the Bank of England defied the expectations of many by not cutting interest rates. The UK’s weak medium term growth outlook and difficult impending trade talks with the EU means that policy will remain dovish and sterling’s upside prospects are likely capped.

    0
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    Don't Fret About The Fed's Balance Sheet

    As if investors didn’t have enough to worry about just now, many have been spooked by this month’s dip in the size of the US Federal Reserve’s balance sheet. Happily the Fed is one thing investors don’t need to fret about. The Fed’s statement and press conference on Wednesday confirmed that US monetary policy remains clear and predictable—and accommodative.

    3
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    The Utility Of A ‘Jeep’ Portfolio

    Back in December 2017 I published a warning for portfolio managers. Sometimes it makes sense to have a turbocharged portfolio, at others investors should seek out something more suited to rough going. Two years on, and with market volatility again on the up, this seems a good time to review how my Jeep portfolio has fared over the last two years.

    11
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    It’s Not The Disease, It’s The Treatment

    The economic costs of the Wuhan virus are not simply a function of how deadly it is, but of the measures China’s government takes to contain it—which have rapidly escalated to an unprecedented severity. The shutdown of normal travel and business now in place across much of China is certain to deliver a hit to growth in the first quarter of 2020.

    2
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    The Fourth Horseman?

    It is unlikely Xi Jinping has spent much time studying Christian eschatology. But if he has, the Chinese president might be forgiven for thinking that after (trade) war, conquest (in Hong Kong) and famine (African swine fever), he now has to deal with the fourth horseman of the Apocalypse: Death (in the unwelcome shape of the Wuhan coronavirus).

    4
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    Playing The ECB Strategic Review

    When a government agency announces a “strategic review”, the presumption is that some knotty issue is being kicked into the long grass. That was the vibe yesterday when Christine Lagarde kicked off the European Central Bank’s year-long navel gazing exercise. In this case, however, investors would do well not to check out entirely from ECB watching.

    0
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    Italy Gets Interesting Again

    After almost five months of calm, there is a quickening in Italian politics. Luigi Di Maio yesterday stepped down as head of the governing Five Star movement as it faces the prospect of a drubbing in a regional election this weekend. The man most likely to capitalize on his troubles is Matteo Salvini, whose Lega Party is the most popular in Italy, polling 30-35%. The result may be more volatility in Italian assets, but a return to crisis...

    0
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    Lessons From Last Time Around

    Beijing shops have sold out of high-spec surgical masks, scared customers are stockpiling medicines, and financial markets are looking shaky. The parallels between the current coronavirus outbreak and the 2003 epidemic of Sars are obvious. But there are also important differences, especially in the backdrop against which today’s outbreak is occurring.

    0
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    Oil Again

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

    0
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    The Dark Side Of A Strong US Economy

    The US’s growth outlook has been bolstered by easy financial conditions and trade deals being reached with China and its near neighbors. Yet, those prospects are also hampered by a tight labor market that threatens corporate profits. What recent data releases highlight is both the enduring strength of the US economy and niggling late-cycle factors that could yet undo it.

    0
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    Chickens Coming Home To Roost

    French workers last weekend won a reprieve from the government’s plan to nudge the retirement age higher, but that does not mean they can breathe easy, thinking their financial futures are secured. With much of pension assets invested in government bonds, an interesting question is what the return will be of a 10-year constant duration OAT in the next decade.

    1
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    A Tough Ask On Trade, Trouble Brewing On Tech

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

    0
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    Reasons To Catch A Swedish Knife

    After Sweden's Riskbank in October said it would end negative interest rates as the dangers from the policy outweighed the waning advantages, the krona rose 5.3% against the euro and 3.8% against the US dollar until the end of the year. Since then, however, the unit has slumped -1.2% on a trade-weighted basis. This looks to be a good chance to buy the dip.

    0
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    Asia's Currency Manipulators

    The US decided on Tuesday to drop its designation of China as a currency manipulator. Beyond the short term politics of US-China bilateral relations, the Treasury's report was also notable for the countries named on its “monitoring list” of potential currency manipulators. Among emerging Asia’s economies, these included Korea, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam.

    0
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    A Qualified Bull On US Equities

    US unemployment is at its lowest in half a century. Yet for investors, the strength of the US jobs market is far from an unalloyed good. The biggest macro risk to the bull market in US equities this year is a sharp rise in inflation. And such a rise in inflation could have two probable causes: a steep rise in energy prices, or a marked rise in labor costs.

    4
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    Credit Spreads: Not Worth The Risk

    US corporate bonds had a great run in 2019, and have started 2020 on a strong note. Both investment grade and high yield indexes rose by around 14% last year, with credit spreads contracting substantially in the fourth quarter to approach their narrowest for this cycle. However, as US corporate leverage has risen, considerable latent risks have accumulated in the system.

    0
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    Embrace The EM Rally, Selectively

    Washington and Tehran are dialing down the geopolitical tensions, at least for now. The US and China are about to sign a trade deal. Big central banks are spraying around liquidity. And the mighty US dollar is looking mortal. The fact that emerging markets have underperformed US equities the last five years surely points to a burst of catch-up growth? Yes and no.

    0
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    The Message Behind The Missiles

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

    0
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    Expensive And Vulnerable

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

    3
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    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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    Echoes Of 2017

    Global markets began 2020 on a bullish note, with the US S&P 500 climbing to a fresh record close, up a chunky 4.3% over the last month. Indeed, the US monetary backdrop at the start of 2020 is reminiscent of that in early 2017, a year which saw the S&P 500 climb 19.4%. History may not repeat this year, but there are good reasons to believe it may yet rhyme.

    2
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    What The Trade Deal Won't Change

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

    0
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    Active Versus Passive

    Back in 2003, low interest rates were creating problems for pension funds and insurance companies which could not find enough high-quality bonds offering a decent interest rate. Not to worry, said Wall Street banks, which began to package up real estate-based bonds of varying quality; the best tranches got a triple-A stamp from the credit rating agencies, yet they miraculously offered a higher yield than other top-notch bonds. We all know how...

    0
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    Nonsense Anatole, Boris Deserves Three Cheers

    In 2017, as the Brexit negotiations between London and Brussels got going in earnest, I wrote a paper explaining why the European Commission’s officials and their counterparts across the continent were going to do everything in their power to make the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union as difficult as they possibly could (see May’s Misguided Brexit Speech). And over the next two years, they did just that.

    10
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    Boris's Bearish Brexit

    We now know why markets reacted so nervously to Boris Johnson’s election landslide last Thursday. The lack of follow-through after that evening’s exit poll and the retreat when trading resumed on Friday morning was suspicious. But there were no clear explanations until Monday evening, when everything became clear. At 10.30pm Downing Street restated Johnson’s promise to finish negotiating a new UK-European Union trade deal within 12 months and...

    1
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    The Repo Paradox

    Following the US dollar liquidity squeeze and repo rate spike in mid-September—an event which went on to trigger hearty liquidity injections from the Federal Reserve—the market has been on the lookout for new stressors in the US dollar money markets. There were concerns of renewed stress on Monday as the Treasury sucked up an estimated US$84bn on the settlement of new debt issues and through the receipt of corporate taxes. US money market rates...

    8
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    The Trade War’s Uneasy Truce

    The “phase one” US-China trade deal announced last week still has some hoops to pass through before it becomes real: completion of a bilingual legal text and formal signing in January. Still, both sides have incentives to avoid the economic damage from further tariff escalation, so the deal will almost surely come into force. The agreement falls far short of achieving the US goal of forcing China to change its state-led economic system; instead...

    3
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    Is Brexit The Midwife To A New Investment Environment?

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

    1
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    Towards A Green Supply Shock

    The “European Green Deal” announced with much fanfare on Wednesday was long on ambitious targets, short on implementation details about how they will be achieved. The lack of detail leaves investors to ask how Brussels’ green deal will affect the continent’s growth prospects. Here it is possible to set out some pointers.

    0
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    What Would Volcker Do?

    Paul Volcker, who died this week aged 92, leaves a legacy of public service with a backbone. He managed the monetary affairs of the world’s leading economy during its post-WW2 nadir, and so his perspective on conducting monetary policy in times of political turmoil is without match.

    0
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    Japan's Fiscal Engagement

    Japan's upward revision to GDP growth yesterday was taken as a bad omen. It suggests that shoppers went on a spree before the October 1 tax rise, and tougher times may follow. This explains why the government unfurled a big emergency fiscal stimulus last week. On the face of it, this should be negative for the yen, yet other forces are likely to keep the currency range-bound.

    0
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    Parsing Payrolls And The Fed

    November’s employment figures show that the US jobs market is slowing, but the slowdown is gradual and not sufficient to worry investors to any significant degree about an impending recession. Nor, with inflation expectations subdued, do recent jobs data give the Federal Reserve reason to act either one way or the other at this week’s policy meeting.

    0
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    A Safety Rope On The Wall Of Worry

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

    0
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    Carry Is Still King In Asia

    With the Federal Reserve firmly set in easing mode and the US heading into an unpredictable election season, there are good reasons to think the US dollar could be set for a period of weakness. A key beneficiary could be Asian currencies, which as a group are down about -10% against the global reserve currency in the last five years.

    0
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    The New Champion Of Monetary Conservatism

    The People’s Bank of China and the Bundesbank have never been known to be close. But Yi Gang, the Chinese central bank governor, is starting to sound German in his views on monetary policy. He argues that negative interest rates and quantitative easing have been a failure, and China must stick with conventional policy and positive rates.

    1
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    The Long Slow Road To German Fiscal Expansion

    To read the media headlines, you would either think that Germany’s coalition government is on the brink of collapse, or that Europe’s largest economy is on the eve of a massive fiscal expansion. The headlines are exaggerated. Yes, at the weekend the coalition’s SPD partner did elect a duo of free-spending leftists as its new leaders. But the government is likely to survive intact for its remaining two years. And although political thought in...

    4
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    Learn To Stop Worrying And Love The Pound

    Sometimes, markets just get things wrong. Since early January investors have been panicking about a “no deal” Brexit, and I have been urging clients to buy sterling. Not because I became less gloomy about the damage that will be done to Britain by any form of Brexit, but because a “no deal” rupture is the one version of Brexit that can be confidently ruled out.

    1
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    An American Intervention

    After easily passing both houses of Congress, Donald Trump had little choice but to sign bills dictating the US government’s treatment of Hong Kong. Its significance will be determined by Beijing’s response, and for now that is likely to stay focused on achieving an interim trade deal that delivers a roll-back on US import tariffs.

    0
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    The Earningless Equity Rally

    In the third quarter, US macro-level domestic earnings fell -1.9% year-on-year. Behind this squeeze lies a weak sales picture tied to trading uncertainty and a rise in wages. In the near term, both factors could intensify. Yet there is nothing especially new in weak US profits and a ripping equity market. There are, in fact, three reasons to think this situation can be sustained.

    2
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    The Upside Of Downing Tools

    A year after the eruption of the gilet jaune protests forced Emmanuel Macron to scrap planned fuel tax increases, the French president is facing fresh opposition to his program of structural reforms.On December 5, a coalition of labor unions is promising to down tools in an “unlimited” strike against the government’s proposed overhaul of France’s state pension systems.

    0
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    The VIX, Fragility And Indexation

    At the same time as US stock markets ascended to all-time highs on Monday, the VIX volatility index fell to its lowest close in more than a year. In and of itself, this decline in the VIX should hardly be a great surprise given the Fed's liquidity expansion. But as part of a longer term pattern, this policy-driven decline in stock market volatility is deeply troubling.

    1
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    The Hong Kong People Speak

    The last 15 years has seen pro-government parties in Hong Kong rely on voter apathy and division across the democratic camp to often rule the roost. That changed yesterday, with establishment parties getting thumped in local council elections as voters expressed anger at the government’s handling of violent street protests in the last six months.

    0
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    Musings On Trump And Powell

    His detractors will never admit it, but Donald Trump has done much that is good for the US economy. Notably he has reduced corporate taxes and cut red tape, boosting returns on invested capital. But in calling on the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates further, he is not only making a big mistake, he is courting disaster—though not for the reason his critics believe.

    6
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    The Hong Kong Effect Means A Taiwan Opportunity

    Taiwan's stock market has gained 18.6% year-to-date. This rally will be vulnerable to a heightening of bellicose rhetoric from Beijing prompted by the expected victory of the incumbent China-skeptic Tsai Ing-wen in January’s presidential election. But given the favorable structural and cyclical trends, any sell-off around the election should provide an attractive buying opportunity.

    0
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    The Implications Of Hong Kong For China

    Many clients ask how China’s ruling Communist Party, the CCP, will react to what many policymakers in Beijing regard as an intolerable challenge to their authority by protesters in Hong Kong. The answer to this question will have direct implications for the city and its future as China’s international financial center. It will also have implications for the evolution of policy within mainland China itself.

    0
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    There Is A First For Everything

    We live in the 21st century, and if a liquidity injection program by the Federal Reserve doesn’t want to identify as quantitative easing, then we should respect that choice, and call it by whatever name it chooses for itself—even if almost everyone now calls the US$60bn injection “non-QE QE”. However, lost within the debate over naming lies a long list of interesting “firsts”.

    2
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    The US Manufacturing Slump Abates

    US manufacturing output fell -1.5% year-on-year in October to mark its weakest month since December 2015. The worry is that a US manufacturing recession causes such a drag that even well-performing sectors like housing get sucked down as well. The good news is that these production numbers look like a nadir.

    1
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    Saudi, Peak Oil Demand And Aramco

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

    1
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    Looking Through To US Inflation

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

    0
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    Something Has To Give

    Public support for Hong Kong's protest movement has been re-energized by perceived police brutality, the local government offering no political response to the crisis and Mainland authorities delivering mixed, but slightly sinister messages about their next move. This piece assesses the political forces at play and takes a stab at explaining what comes next.

    3
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    The Hong Kong Conundrum

    When I wrote on the Hong Kong dollar peg back in May, there was no inkling that trust between the police and much of Hong Kong’s population would fully break down. Today, Hong Kongers are saying: “We don’t trust the police to do the right thing, or even speak the truth”. This situation causes many clients to ask: "Why has the peg not broken down?"

    5
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    Europe's Political Paralysis

    With the Spanish general election unlikely to produce a proper government, the country looks increasingly ungovernable. For an economy that weathered the financial crisis intact but has chronic productivity problems, this is a worry. However, the result of Europe’s fragmenting political landscape is long-term policy stasis rather than a near-term collapse of the single currency.

    0
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    It's Not 2017 Again In Europe

    Yesterday saw a global risk-on move as investors cheered reports that a US-China trade deal may be in the offing. In Europe, this followed data releases that showed German factory orders picking up and PMIs stabilizing. On first blush, this looks reminiscent of 2017’s recovery. Alas, there are three key reasons to think a rerun may not materialize this time around.

    0
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    Time To Embrace The US Consumer

    Whether moving into a fixer-upper or a freshly finished McMansion, most homeowners will splurge on big ticket items to embellish their new abode. With the US housing market looking strong, investors should bet on consumer discretionary—it has the advantage of offering protection if long-dated bond yields move materially higher.

    0
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    Let The Thousand Cuts Begin

    Was it worth the wait? Markets have been expecting the People’s Bank of China to cut policy rates ever since it introduced a new rates framework in August and promised to lower funding costs. On Tuesday, the central bank finally delivered, rolling over its one-year medium-term lending facility at 3.25%, 5bp below the previous rate of 3.3%.

    0
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    The Asian Electronics Bounce

    With an inventory glut having been worked off, there are tentative signs that Asia’s electronics export cycle is bottoming out. Since tech has accounted for 90% of emerging Asia’s equity returns in the last five years, some beaten-up names may be primed for a bounce. The same could be true of export-sensitive currencies like the Korean won, Singapore dollar and Taiwan dollar.

    0
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    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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    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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    Easy Money And Robust Growth

    No wonder the S&P 500 closed at a new high yesterday. On the same day the Federal Reserve cut interest rates by 25bp, US GDP growth for 3Q19 came in at a robust 1.9%. For its part, the Fed gave no indication of paring down its new asset purchase program (quantitative easing in all but name). This is bullish for risk assets and bearish for the US dollar.

    0
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    A Swedish Canary In The Coal Mine

    Sweden’s Riksbank plans to raise its main policy rate to zero from -0.25%. A relieved governor, Stefan Ingves, said last week it would be a “bonus” to return to parity in December and warned against staying negative for too long. The Swedish recantation follows the European Central Bank’s controversial move last month to further cut rates to -0.5%. Investors should take note because the Swedish canary may be signaling a shift in attitudes to...

    0
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    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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    China-Bashing In A Political Season

    Signs are growing that the US and China will have a mini-deal on trade ready by the time Trump and Xi meet at the mid-November APEC summit. The key questions are whether opposition from US hardliners could derail the deal at the last moment, and whether the campaign to “decouple” the two economies will be knocked back if there is a deal.

    0
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    US Dollar Under Fire

    The richly-valued US dollar is finally starting to look vulnerable. While still in its post-2015 trading range, the DXY index has given up -1.5% in the last 11 trading days; broader trade-weighted measures have also swooned. A range of factors are now weighing on the US currency and if they persist the unit could see a pronounced decline in the coming months.

    0
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    Draghi's Potent Legacy

    Mario Draghi threw the cat among the pigeons at last month’s fiery policy meeting of the European Central Bank by cutting interest rates and cranking up asset purchases. Today’s general council meeting and sign-off by the outgoing president should be quieter, but the circumstances of the baton-handing show how much the ECB’s reaction function changed under Draghi. That legacy poses a big challenge for his successor, Christine Lagarde, but he...

    8
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    Culling The Pessimists

    A series of head-spinning flip-flops in the on-again-off-again trade war over the summer has caused US businesses to delay fresh investment. As a result, business surveys have been giving readings consistent with a US recession. Yet it seems likely that any damage wrought by the trade war remains ephemeral—at least hard data suggests this.

    0
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    A Japanese Price Taker

    The yen has long been a fairly reliable indicator of global risk appetite. Over the summer, trade war fears pushed the yen up to ¥105 to the US dollar, before recent cheerier developments saw it weaken again. If the BoJ can deliver on its promise to match other central banks’ easing moves, that weakening trend could be worth following. Alas, the BoJ probably can’t.

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