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    Gavekal Research

    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.

    1
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    Three Swing Factors For Chinese Growth

    China’s recent economic figures do not paint a bright picture. Yet some of the problems weighing on growth are moving closer to resolution. So how much of a bounce in the data can we expect from these positive developments? Three possible sources of good news can help answer this question: exports, domestic investment and autos.

    0
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    Europe's Brexit Booster

    Boris Johnson has secured a revised Brexit deal and the stage is set for a key Saturday vote in the House of Commons. On balance, there is a 70% chance of the vote passing as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn seems unable to control his Brexit-supporting rebels, while Johnson looks to have persuaded his Brexiteer wing that it could be now or never.

    0
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    The Paris Project In A Keynesian Time

    Some time ago, I had gathered a team in Paris to develop a new venture that would apply macro research analysis to portfolio construction in a systematic way. Things are progressing well and I wanted to update readers on the initiative. The common thread is a rejection of forecasting and a reliance on market prices and economic data.

    8
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    Gavekal Research

    The Asian Currency Bounce

    Despite few underlying tensions being settled, the interim US-China trade deal has cheered up investors. The view has been that the US president now wants to bag a political win ahead of next year’s election and move on. This outcome should support trade-dependent Asian currencies—but perhaps not equally.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Fed Goes On The Offensive

    Grocery shoppers get perturbed when they buy produce labeled as “organic” but get something from the agro-industrial complex. Investors, on the other hand, should welcome the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet boost, that was described on Friday as nothing more than “organic” growth. As it turns out, this is a heavily engineered offering by the custodians of money.

    0
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    Trump’s Unreal Deal With China

    The US-China trade cease-fire shows that President Trump needs a quick deal: facing a soft economy and likely impeachment, he wants to bank a win as soon as possible. The two sides are moving toward a deal in November, but that will not change China's economic model or end US efforts to constrain China's technological rise.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Watching For Signs Of A US Spillover

    Is the rot spreading? In the eurozone, there are signs that this year’s slump in manufacturing may be beginning to spill over to weigh on activity in the broader economy. Plenty of observers believe the US economy is destined to follow a similar path. Their fears may yet be realized, but so far there is no evidence the US economy is heading that way.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    At Home In The Range

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Back To Balance Sheet Expansion

    On Tuesday, Jay Powell confirmed that the US Federal Reserve will go back to growing its balance sheet once again following its meeting at the end of October. The aim is for the balance sheet to grow gradually along with the economy. While the Fed’s planned move is clearly positive for liquidity growth, it is likely to disappoint investors for two reasons.

    7
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    To Impeachment And Beyond

    What will determine whether the global economic expansion and equity bull market will continue in the year ahead? The political upheavals which dominated in the past three years, such as the trade war, Iran oil sanctions and Brexit, have seemed to subside or become priced in. But new political noise is being generated by the threatened impeachment of President Donald Trump.

    0
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    Hong Kong’s Core Problem

    The Hong Kong government’s stated aim is to drive a wedge between radical protesters who are resigned to jail or worse, and a less committed group that it thinks will be cowed by increased penalties. Initial evidence suggests the strategy is a busted flush. Sunday saw large-scale illegal marches by mask-clad demonstrators before the now predictable violence unfolded.

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    The German Spillover

    Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this year’s slump in manufacturing is how few negative spillover effects it has had on demand in the broader economy—until now. Services PMIs for both the eurozone as a whole and for Germany took a sharp turn south in September. In Germany, the deterioration is making a technical recession all but inevitable.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Echoes Of 2000 Strike A False Note

    First there was the WeWork IPO failure and a string of other flops. Now the S&P 500 has slumped -3% in just two days, leaving the index down -4.6% from its July high. As a result, nervous investors are wondering whether the US may be seeing the beginning of the bursting of a bubble, just as in 2000. Are the fears justified?

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Greater Good Versus Individual Liberty

    Yesterday Hong Kong's streets were again the stage for violent clashes between protesters and police. At the heart of the conflict is a showdown between the shared identity in Hong Kong shaped by the common law system inherited by the British and the common narrative in China emphasizing the "greater good" over individual liberties.

    8
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    The Upside For Europe

    The euro is trading at its weakest against the US dollar since May 2017. Whether it falls further from here or finds support around current levels to establish a base for a rebound will depend mainly on whether Europe’s economic performance continues to deteriorate, or whether upside surprises are likely in the months ahead.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    US-China Impressionism

    It is sometimes said that getting a clear view of Chinese policy is impossible; the best you can hope for is an “impressionist” picture of what broadly is going on. Increasingly it looks as if this impressionism is catching. As if understanding China wasn’t hard enough, lately figuring out US policy towards Beijing has become a lot more complicated.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Quantifying Trade War Risk

    Investors seem to have grown somewhat blasé about the US-China trade war lately. Over 12 months after the outbreak of hostilities, the S&P 500 is up 2.2% year-on-year. Part of the reason for this nonchalance appears to be a belief that US growth and domestic profits are invulnerable to any escalation of the conflict. This belief may be mistaken.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Legal Is Not The Same As Legitimate

    Democracy is in trouble. Everywhere the cause is the same: a massive conflict between legitimacy and legality. For the last 100 years or more, the split between left and right left anchored the legitimacy of any democratic government. Unfortunately, over the last couple of decades or so, the left has betrayed the people, while the right has betrayed the nation.

    10
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    Gavekal Research

    What If The Fed Has Finished Cutting

    What happens to the US equity market if the Federal Reserve has already finished cutting interest rates? Last Friday, Will made the case for a rebound in US growth, but withheld judgement whether it would be driven by real growth or inflation. The prospect raises the very real possibility that the Fed may decide rates have been cut enough.

    9
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    India’s Laffer Curve Gamble

    India’s decision to cut its corporate tax rate from 30% to 22% has spurred a 7% surge in equities as investors bet on new capital spending reigniting a stalled growth cycle. The problem is that even if this fiscal easing spurs more business investment, the consumer side of India’s economy remains stuck in a low gear due to knottier problems.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Black Zero Or Green New Deal?

    Investors and environmentalists alike got their hopes dashed on Friday. Their best-case scenario would have seen Berlin invoke a climatic emergency to override fiscal orthodoxy and roll out a stimulative program of green investment. In the event, the measures announced not only fell short of the green lobby’s expectations—they were budget-neutral.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Stay Neutral Between Equities And Cash

    As August’s panic has receded, bond yields have risen from their lows. Even so, with the 10-year US treasury yield at 1.77%, the only way bonds can deliver significant upside from here is if the US economy slides into a disinflationary recession. That may yet happen. But it is by no means the most probable course for the US economy.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    US Liquidity Is Not The Worry

    Despite this week’s violent US money market judders, the Federal Reserve looks to have a clear plan for managing monetary policy and liquidity conditions. There are many reasons to worry about risk asset pricing, but a shock from the bowels of the US financial system is not among them. In contrast, there are four reasons to stay upbeat about the US liquidity situation.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The EM Oil Shock That Won't Be

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Reexamining The US Recession Indicator

    I may opine across many topics when writing these missives, but all said and done, I am a rules-based investor. In late 2016 my US recession indicator told me that the US economy was likely to face a recession, yet no such thing happened. As a result, I started to look for an explanation, and only now do I feel that a clear answer is coming into view.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    A Saudi Tipping Point?

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

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    Draghi's Fiscal Gift

    As he pushed interest rates still further into negative territory and announced the resumption of quantitative easing on Thursday, outgoing European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi made clear that he was passing on the baton of policy stimulus—not so much to his successor, but rather to Europe’s finance ministries.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    US Banks To Shine Again

    Ahead of next week’s Federal Reserve meeting, US bank stocks look set to break out of their 21-month underperformance trend. Investors are betting on a 25bp rate cut, with at least one more to come before December. They are also cheering the rise in long rates globally over the last week or so, which has acted to steepen yield curves. Given that US consumers will benefit from even cheaper money and should brush off whatever the trade war throws...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Up Against The Limit With The ECB

    German savers face “custody fees” when depositing big sums at the bank, or get clipped 50bp when buying a euro-denominated money market fund. Such outcomes explain why a growing number of economists oppose calls for the European Central Bank to cut rates further and restart quantitative easing when it meets tomorrow.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    The Danger Of A Dumbbell Portfolio

    Both bond and equity markets are signaling investors' belief that monetary policy will not only stay easy for as far as the eye can see, but actually get easier in the coming weeks and months. But what if they end up getting wrong-footed in their expectations of another wave of interest rate cuts, quantitative easing and other uber-dovish monetary policy measures?

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    The Meaning Of The Iran-China Deal

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

    0
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    Beijing's Conflicted Easing

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

    3
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    India's Frenetic Inertia

    They say the first step to solving a problem is recognizing that you have one. With its recent moves to shore up sagging growth, Narendra Modi’s new government has finally acknowledged that India’s economy is in trouble. But unless it quickly finds a coherent reform strategy, Modi’s second term could fizzle out into economic failure.

    0
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    Italian Politics And The Bond Market

    On Tuesday, members of Italy’s left wing populist 5-Star Movement lent their support to the formation of a new coalition government with the Democratic Party. The new government, to be led by Giuseppe Conte, technocrat prime minister in the previous coalition, still has to secure a confidence vote in Parliament. But that should go through in the next couple of weeks. If it does, right wing populist Matteo Salvini—Italy’s most prominent...

    0
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    Tariffs Won't Trouble US Consumers

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

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    ‘Do Or Die’ Boris Is Bullish For Sterling

    Considering the political chaos that will descend this week on the UK, it may seem surprising that the pound has bounced back to its trade-weighted level just before Boris Johnson became prime minister. Or maybe it is not too surprising—if a “No Deal Brexit” is the only possible scenario that would justify a further weakening of sterling and other UK assets.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    The Case Against Recession

    Earlier in August, Charles announced that he was reluctantly joining the US recession camp. His reasoning was based largely on his observation that the long run average growth rate of US corporate profits had fallen to a level that in recent decades has always indicated an economic downturn. I am more optimistic than Charles.

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    The Importance Of Oil

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

    0
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    Beijing Toughs It Out

    After a month of further escalation in the US-China trade war, China’s strategy for the next stage of the dispute is becoming clear. Its leadership now looks committed to a strategy of toughing out trade tensions. This means the prospect of a US-China trade deal is receding, and therefore that global growth will face further headwinds.

    0
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    The Yen Dilemma

    Since the beginning of the month, the yen has been one of the few major currencies to strengthen against the US dollar. At the same time, Japanese government bonds have not escaped the global bond rally. This presents the BoJ’s chiefs, who for the last three years have been pursuing a policy of “quantitative easing with yield curve control”, with a problem.

    0
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    Weathering Trump’s Trade War

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

    3
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    Making Biarritz Great Again

    Some readers may know that my family is the majority shareholder in Biarritz Olympique Pays Basque, one of France’s oldest rugby clubs. Through this connection, I have had a front-row seat to the organization of the upcoming G7 meeting to be held in Biarritz over the next three days. When the city was chosen, I naively thought this was good news.

    6
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    Germany’s Fiscal Firepower

    Uniquely among the world’s big economies, Germany runs a budget surplus, in accordance with the “debt brake” written into its constitution following the 2008-09 financial crisis. This means Berlin could, in theory, deploy considerable fiscal firepower even within the current rules, and a great deal more if it chose to bend or rewrite them.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    German Banks And The Dollar

    I am certainly no technical analyst, but I do have a good memory. The story of major financial crises can be told with reference to the US dollar’s movements against the euro (and its antecedents). It now looks to have reached a significant juncture, especially with Italy moving toward another period of political instability.

    9
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    The End Of The Panic

    In almost three weeks since the beginning of August, gold is up 5.9% while investors in 10-year US treasuries have gained 4.2%. This is unusual. As Charles has highlighted, the two “anti-fragile” assets of choice seldom skyrocket simultaneously, so markets have been in full-blown panic mode. But what were markets panicking about, and what could boost confidence once again?

    6
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    The Diminishing Market Impact Of Tariffs

    After the US imposed its first major round of tariffs on Chinese goods last September, the S&P 500 sold off by -20%. After the second round went into force, it fell -6.8%. And since President Trump announced a third round, it has sold off by -6.1%. It seems each successive escalation in the trade war is having a smaller impact on the US stock market.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Troops On The Border

    Extreme nervousness in global markets can be attributed to a synchronous weakening of growth that has been reinforced by soft data out of Germany and China. This is also a juncture when commentators seem to have concluded that pent up stresses in the global trading and security system have reached a tipping point. On top of these secular worries is the terror that China is about to have a “Tiananmen moment” by violently crushing the two month...

    0
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    Panic Stations

    I always try to be a rules-driven investor. And when the US stock market is down -3% in a day, taking it to -6% from its peak in three weeks, when 10-year US treasury yields have halved in nine months to just 1.55%, and when gold is up 20% in three months, it is a good time to review those rules to see what they can tell me. The answer is: quite a lot.

    0
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    Lessons From The Argentine Shock

    In US dollar terms, Argentina's equity benchmark on Monday fell -48% in a one-day move. The -24% drop in long-dated US dollar-denominated Argentine bonds, a -17% drop in the currency, or the -38% fall in the local equity index will cause pain for certain macro players and dedicated emerging market funds. It should also cause us to ponder a number of questions.

    3
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    Joining The US Recession Camp

    To listen to current commentary, you would think that US capitalism faced a Marxist end-of-times reckoning. Hence, it is noteworthy that the share of sales going to profits is now falling, while that going to labor is rising. Yet the latest US GDP report is still alarming for what it tells us about the state of the economy.

    0
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    Asian Currencies Remain A Shock Absorber

    It has often been said that when the US sneezes the rest of the world catches a cold. In Asia, a similar link exists between the behemoth China and other regional economies. Hence when Beijing unexpectedly let the renminbi weaken through CNY7.00 to the US dollar last Monday regional currencies fell by 1.6% in the following five days. They could fall more, however there is unlikely to be a broader contagion to regional asset markets. Asia’s solid...

    0
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    A Trade Equilibrium Of Sorts

    After a week of trade war scares, things have settled down into an equilibrium that is uneasy, but likely to last several weeks. The central question now is whether the new tariff on US$300bn of Chinese exports to the US will go into effect on September 1, or if Trump’s team will find some graceful way to back down from that threat.

    2
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    What Germany Means For Europe

    Even before the US-China trade war escalated last week, Europe stood on shaky ground. We learnt yesterday that German industrial production for June fell -1.5%. Europe’s largest economy faces cyclical and structural challenges, and the question is whether it takes its neighbors down with it.

    0
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    The Death Spiral Of Eurozone Banks

    For months Charles has told anyone who will listen that the real threat to global markets is the slow-motion implosion of the eurozone’s banking system. Each time the region's equity has hit a critical threshold an intervention has caused it to bounce off and delay the reckoning. The size of these rebounds has waned and this time there may be no respite.

    2
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    The Renminbi, Manipulation And The Trade War

    Monday’s actions on the Chinese currency—Beijing’s decision to let the renminbi’s exchange rate weaken past CNY7.00 to the US dollar, and Washington’s decision to label China a currency manipulator—signal that the US and China are close to throwing in the towel on a trade deal. Trade war escalation should now be the base case.

    1
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    The Long Term Impact Of Trump’s Latest Tariffs

    Aftershocks from Donald Trump’s August 1 tweets promising new tariffs on US imports from China continued to reverberate through Asian markets on Monday morning. Most notably, China’s yuan fell by some -1.3%, with the USD-CNY exchange rate breezing unimpeded by the Chinese authorities through the CNY7.00 to the US dollar mark for the first time since early 2008. Equity markets in the region were also hard hit, with Japan down -2% and Hong Kong...

    0
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    What Sterling’s Move Tells Us

    The sterling exchange rate is going down and the usual suspects say this is bad news. But the exchange rate is merely a price that helps allocate capital between the economy’s internal and external sectors, and so set the purchasing power of rentiers and entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs do best when the currency is undervalued, while rentiers and consumers win out when it is overvalued.

    2
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    What The Early End Of QT Means

    As expected, the Federal Reserve cut short term interest rates by 25bp on Wednesday. Less expected the Fed also halted its program of quantitative tightening, effective immediately. The decision to end the program early cancels an expected additional US$70bn contraction in the supply of money. This represents a significant easing.

    4
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    Sterling’s Information Void

    Since Boris Johnson became prime minister, the UK government’s promise of a “do or die” Brexit has caused sterling to slump -2.9% against the US dollar to about US$1.21. While the chances of Britain actually leaving the EU without a deal remain small, this outcome will remain unclear for some time. That presents risks, but great opportunities for those dealing in sterling.

    0
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    Shanghai Talks Now A Sideshow

    Trade talks between the US and China resume today after a three-month hiatus. This meeting may or may not pave the way for a deal in the next several months, but it no longer matters much. The global macro risk from the trade conflict has ebbed dramatically. What's important now is the dimensions of the decoupling between the world’s two biggest economies.

    1
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    Unpicking US 2Q GDP

    Second quarter US GDP growth came in at 2.1%, slightly better than expectations. In itself, this headline figure is not especially illuminating. But dig deeper into the various components of 2Q growth, and there are reasons for moderate optimism about the trajectory of the US economy through the second half of 2019.

    4
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    The Most That ECB Easing Can Do

    Mario Draghi fired no new bazooka on Thursday. But the European Central Bank president did signal the deployment of a whole arsenal of monetary weaponry in September. Such a package will cement the transition of the ECB under Draghi into a more active and more actively political institution, with a much more counter-cyclical policy stance.

    2
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    The Effectiveness Of EM Rate Cuts

    An easier Fed stance suggests that the US dollar is unlikely to trend significantly higher from its present levels. The prospect of limited US dollar upside frees Asian central banks from the necessity of defending their exchange rates, and gives them leeway to support growth by cutting interest rates. However, the impact of rate cuts on both growth and asset prices will vary among Asian EMs.

    2
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    Healthchecking Boris Johnson’s Britain

    On Wednesday, “colorful” former journalist, television comedian and London mayor Boris Johnson will achieve a long-held ambition when he moves into Number 10 Downing Street to replace the hapless Theresa May as the United Kingdom’s new prime minister. Judging from the headlines, Johnson is taking over an economy on the brink of a painful slowdown, if not already actually in recession.

    0
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    Fiscal Crisis Averted, At A Cost To Liquidity

    On Monday, the White House and Congressional leaders reached a tentative agreement to raise US government spending caps and suspend the debt ceiling for two years. Assuming the deal is passed by Congress in the next few days, a fiscal crisis will be averted this year. But before investors breathe a sigh of relief and bet on a rally, it should be noted that one near term effect of the agreement could be an acute liquidity drain as the Treasury...

    8
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    STAR Is Born

    Trading on the world's newest stock market board got off to a predictably volatile start on Monday, when Shanghai's STAR market opened for business. But while that was entirely foreseeable, the reaction of regulators will be less predictable, and will send important signals on the long-term liberalization of China’s stock markets.

    4
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    La Garde Meurt Mais Ne Se Rend Pas

    Surrounded at Waterloo and asked to lay down his arms, General Cambronne of Napoleon’s Imperial Guard replied: “La garde meurt mais ne se rend pas”. This translates as “The guard may die, but it does not surrender”. A saying that could apply to the new ECB head is: “The president’s term may end, but the institution does not yield to conventional monetary policies”.

    0
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    Housing Points To Solid US Growth

    US mortgage applications fell in the week ended July 12, compared with the week before. But do not be misled by the latest week-on-week decline in this high frequency data series. In year-on-year terms, mortgage applications for home purchases have been rising consistently since the beginning of 2019, pointing to a rise in housing construction over the coming months.

    0
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    No Time To Be Chicago Trained

    Technocrats globally are under the cosh from populist politicians who have tired of doing the sensible thing. In the developed world, checks and balances have insulated most big agencies, but the story is different in developing economies. The worry is that they are lurching off onto a development track that ends with fiscal blowouts and currency debasement.

    0
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    Why This Time Is Different

    The evolution of the yield curve over the last four months—an inversion after a series of Federal Reserve interest rate hikes, followed by a rapid steepening—has been characteristic of the early stages of the last four US recessions. However, investors worried that the US economy may already be in recession can relax.

    4
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    Boris Johnson And The Pound

    With Boris Johnson’s almost inevitable enthronement as British prime minister only a week away, it is a good time to review the recommendation to buy sterling and sell UK government bonds which I first made in January, and repeated in April and again in late May.

    1
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    Normalizing Tech Disruption

    Investors have been cheered by the US and China deescalating a trade dispute that has focused on China’s use of US technology. So what to make of a stand-off between two US allies in North Asia that could disrupt highly integrated technology supply chains? Could this action reflect the normalization of trade sanctions being used in bilateral disputes?

    0
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    Look For Just One-And-Done

    In Congressional testimony on Wednesday, Jay Powell cooed just like the dove investors want him to be. The Fed chairman dispelled any lingering doubts that either the end-June trade truce between the US and China or June’s strong US payrolls number will dissuade the Fed from cutting interest rates at the end of July.

    0
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    Return Of The Widowmaker

    If shorting Japanese government bonds is the ultimate widowmaker, calling the top of the gravity-defying Hong Kong property market cannot be far behind. The International Monetary Fund, for example, has been warning about the dangers of an unsustainable bubble since 2010. Now suspicions are growing that the stopped clock’s hour may finally be at hand.

    2
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    Emerging Markets After The Trade War

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

    0
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    Three Messages From The Markets

    Last week’s market action confirmed three longstanding ideas that I have been presenting to clients. Firstly, there's no sign of a US recession. Secondly, bond market "signals" no longer convey useful information about economic growth prospects. Thirdly, there's no conflict between bearish bonds and bullish equities—they tell different stories.

    0
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    The Direction Of The Dollar

    The US dollar’s strength over the last year or so has been attributed in large part to expectations that the US administration would impose additional tariffs on imports from China. So, with those expectations on hold following last week’s agreement to resume trade negotiations, you might think the US dollar should be falling.

    0
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    Betting Against The Gods Is Now Impossible

    Recently I made my usual remark to a European client about the stupidity of negative interest rates. My host told me a sobering story. He manages a pension fund and received a call by a regulator who said funds shouldn't hold too much cash because it's risky. Rather, they should buy long-dated bonds, regardless of the fact they're sure to lose money.

    14
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    The Meaning Of The EU's New Lineup

    After three days of intense maneuver and counter-maneuver, on Tuesday the European Union’s heads of government announced their choice of names to lead the EU’s central institutions for the coming years. The result is a remarkable clean sweep for the favored candidates of French president Emmanuel Macron.

    2
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    Hong Kong Revolts

    Twenty two years ago Britain handed back Hong Kong to China under the “one country, two systems” formula. Since then, the July 1 anniversary has seen the public demonstrate against the loss of freedoms This year’s escalation saw a hard core of protesters occupy and vandalize the local parliament. This is a key moment in Hong Kong’s era of dissent.

    0
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    The Focus Turns To The Fed

    After the de-escalation of the US-China economic cold war at the weekend’s G20 summit in Osaka, all eyes are now on the US Federal Reserve, following policymakers’ recent indications that they are ready to cut interest rates. It could be argued that the trade war ceasefire reduces economic risk, and therefore will leave the Fed less inclined to loosen policy. But the Fed’s primary focus is on inflation expectations, and the degree to which they...

    2
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    The Story Behind Low US Volatility

    When Donald Trump declared his trade war against China in the spring of 2018, investors could have been forgiven for expecting the resulting uncertainty and additional economic friction to add both to US equity market and GDP growth volatility. In fact, equity market volatility has generally been low, and US economic growth has remained stable.

    0
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    A Cold War Interglacial

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

    7
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    Trade War II, The Dollar And Gold

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

    9
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    The Iran Wildcard

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

    1
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    What Gold Is Telling Us

    Over the last few weeks long bond yields collapsed, which in turn led to a collapse in something called “inflation expectations”. Now, inflation expectations are a very useful indicator built by very clever PhDs. The main purpose of this indicator appears to be to persuade investors that they should buy bonds just when they really should be selling them.

    5
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    Keeping China In Play

    Next week’s big event will be the G-20 leaders’ meeting in Osaka, where presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping will sit down to figure out whether their stalled trade negotiations can be re-started. It is quite likely that trade talks will get back on track, but quite unlikely that a deal can actually be struck before the end of the year.

    2
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    How To Play The Fed Tease

    After the Federal Reserve’s two-day policy meeting, chairman Jay Powell told the market what it wanted to hear. Policymakers see rising risks and stand ready to cut interest rates, but there is no reason to panic—just yet. Real growth is solid, which is good for earnings, but inflation pressures are muted, allowing the Fed to be more accommodative.

    6
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    Rebalancing Won't Rescue China

    As China hunkers down for an extended trade conflict with the US, it is sending reassuring signals about its ability to withstand the pressure. Officials argue the economy has “rebalanced” away from external to domestic demand, so it is less vulnerable. In this piece, Andrew explains how this misreads the role of exports in longer-term growth.

    4
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    The ECB After Draghi

    At the ECB's annual shindig in Portugal this week, two questions matter. Given negative interest rates and capital key constraints over asset purchases, how does the ECB fight the next downturn? And who will replace Mario Draghi? His successor must be politically cunning if they are to persuade Europe’s leaders that monetary policy is reaching its limits, and fiscal policy must take the strain.

    2
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    Japan's Fiscal Dilemmas

    As investors worry about global economic weakening, attention is turning to the cavalry, which in recent years has been central banks. In Japan poor survey and sentiment readings have sparked surprisingly dovish public comments by the BoJ governor. In fact, investors may be better off listening to the prime minister, as the real game may now be fiscal.

    0
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    Don't Worry About The US Consumer

    There is a schizophrenic quality to commentary on the health of the US consumer. On the bright side, sentiment readings are cheery and the labor market is generally solid. Yet on the other hand, Cassandras point to rising credit card delinquency rates, and weakness in sales of autos and homes as early signals of a recession. So what gives?

    4
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    Worrying About Bond Yields

    Germany yesterday sold medium-dated bunds at a record -24bp, while treasury yields are back near three year lows. In yesterday’s Daily, Louis outlined reasons for the surge in US bond prices, and argued that a reversal could occur if the US dollar weakens more. Today want to ask how such a shift in the rates environment will impact economic growth and equities.

    2
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    Driving The Bond Bubble—The Sum Of All Fears

    For the past 30 odd years, President Donald Trump has opposed free trade and argued that foreign producers should face tariffs. Yet the market responds with shock each time the US threatens new tariffs. By the same token, almost every central banker today is saying they (i) want to see higher inflation, (ii) will stop at nothing until inflation picks up, and (iii) once inflation duly appears, they will likely let it ramp up. So how does the...

    1
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    The Threat To Hong Kong

    On Sunday, a million Hong Kongers protested a planned law change that will let individuals be extradited to face trial in China, the city’s biggest political protest in more than 15 years. On Monday, the city’s equity benchmark rose 2%. The betting is that this political furor will pass. But the broader context puts the city at risk of becoming collateral damage in the US-China confrontation.

    0
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    Not Such A Dystopian Market

    Although Donald Trump's lifting his threat to impose new tariffs on Mexico was good news, raising the chance of a US-China trade climbdown, betting good money on the US president getting up on the right side of the bed is ill advised. So, to maintain our sanity we should focus on US economic data and monetary policy, which turned positive last week.

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