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    Gavekal Research

    Awaiting India's Electoral Boost

    Two recent events have changed the calculus for investors in India. First, the ruling BJP took an electoral battering in three heartland states, imperiling its bid for general re-election. Second, in December the government appointed a new RBI governor. Investors can expect looser fiscal and monetary policies as the BJP pulls out the stops to ensure victory.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Beyond The US Dollar-Yen Flash Crash

    The consensus is that last Wednesday’s “flash crash” in the US dollar-yen exchange rate was sparked by a flight to safety in extremely thin trading while Japanese markets were closed for a holiday. Fair enough—but it does not explain why the yen has still strengthened 5% against the US dollar since early October.

    0
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    What To Watch In Chinese A-Shares

    Chinese A-shares were the world’s worst-performing major equity market in 2018. For the market to rally in 2019, three factors will need to show signs of clarity and improvement: China’s macro policy direction, liquidity squeezes in the bond and equity markets, and the trade war with the US.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Searching For A European Catalyst

    With 2019 not yet a week old, the eurozone is already looking uncomfortably like the odd man out. With the world’s big three economies heading more deeply into a synchronous slowdown, policymakers in the US and China are showing their readiness to alter course. European policymakers have displayed no comparable flexibility.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Rollover In The US, Not Recession

    This week’s revenue forecast downgrades from Apple and Delta Air Lines and Thursday’s steep dive in the ISM manufacturing PMI only appeared to confirm what market participants already knew: US growth is rolling over. Yet despite the recent sell-off in equities and the further flattening of the US yield curve, we see no recession on the horizon.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Market Weighing-Machine

    If there is one useful conclusion for investors from the crazy year that has just ended, maybe it is this: as they say in Hollywood, “Nobody knows anything.” The equity market predicted a boom while the bond market predicted recession, and then reversed positions. The consolation for investors should be that the market is a voting machine in the short term, but a weighing machine in the long term.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    A Future For Value Investing

    Financial theory teaches that, in order to determine the price of an asset, we should take its foreseeable future cash-flows, discount them by a risk-free rate to which we can add a risk premium, and then beyond these cash-flows ascribe a “residual value” to the business. So it’s an easy game—we only need to determine four things: the future cash-flows, the direction of the risk-free rate, the level of the risk premium, and the residual value....

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    A Sober End To The Year

    For investors around the world, 2018 proved to be “challenging”. Yet to Gavekal’s clients, hopefully the year’s difficulties did not come as a surprise. Just over 12 months ago, early in December 2017, I published a paper entitled From A Ferrari To A Jeep advising investors to reduce the volatility of their portfolios.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    More Half Full Than Half Empty

    Despite dovish comments from the Federal Reserve about the future trajectory of interest rates, US equities fell further on Wednesday. The S&P 500 has now fallen -14% since early October. Meanwhile, 10-year treasury prices have risen almost 5%. Momentum traders will therefore find good reason to shun equities and add exposure to long-dated treasuries. We suggest doing the opposite.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A New Engine Needed

    As the European Central Bank halts net new asset purchases and ends its balance sheet expansion, European equities are back at almost exactly the same level as in December 2014, on the eve of the ECB’s announcement of quantitative easing. Clearly, with extraordinary monetary stimulus no longer in the mix, European stocks will need a different driver if they are to make gains in 2019.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    A New Risk-Reward Equation In EMs

    US markets have come back to earth with a bump on a reassessment of risk and growth prospects. As a result, investors are betting on a less hawkish Federal Reserve and a weaker US dollar, both of which are a boon to hard-pressed emerging markets. The question is: do investors gain more from a more favorable US dollar liquidity environment than they lose from a growth picture clouded by a slowing China and unresolved trade tensions?

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Perhaps The Most Important Chart I have Ever Published

    In my Wicksellian world, when the “market rate of interest” (cost of capital) moves above the “natural rate of interest” (return on capital) a recession usually follows. Italy offers an interesting case in point as it has spent so much time since the euro’s launch operating below this critical threshold.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Europe's Changed Policy Mix

    Until last week it was possible to make the case that the EU could still push ahead with major structural reform under the current political configuration. After a continuity candidate took over as head of Germany’s governing party and Macron turned on the fiscal spigots in France to buy off political dissent, that is no longer the case.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Understanding The Next Bear Market

    My career in financial markets began in January 1971, which means I’ve seen a few bull and bear markets. A common trait of bear markets is that as the big decline starts, most investors have no idea why asset prices are falling. At some point, perhaps much later, the root cause of the marauding bear becomes clear and this revelation triggers the final phase of the sell-off. Hence, in light of the recent pull-backs, readers may like to consider...

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    Drinking Red Wine And Buying Italy

    A Gavekal rule of thumb has it that investors can safely invest in economies where the “working class” mostly drink beer but should be careful in places where theymostly drink red wine. I make this observation as investors face a quandary among the wine drinkers: France versus Italy. The assumption in the spring was that holding Italian bonds was crazy, while French paper offered safety. But is that the case?

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    The Brexit Game Of Chicken

    The Brexit roller coaster seemed to come off the rails on Monday with Theresa May’s effort to prevent parliament voting on what looked like her doomed plan to leave the European Union. May’s decision, which had been denied by her most trusted senior ministers right up to the moment it was leaked to the BBC, initially looked like a typical case of the can being kicked down the road. Yet by the time she had finished her parliamentary statement,...

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Opportunities Beyond The Death Cross

    November’s payroll report gave investors in US equities reason to cheer on Friday as it suggested reduced inflationary pressure, yet they chose to focus on an escalating row over the fate of a top Chinese telecom executive that is intensifying trade tensions with China. A -2.3% fall in the S&P 500 had the technically-inclined scrambling to glean meaning from a “death cross” as the 50-day moving average fell below the 200-day level. We remain...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    What Huawei To Go

    The arrest last Saturday in Vancouver airport of the CFO of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei at the request of US prosecutors will have major consequences for investors beyond the short term market volatility it contributed to this week. Reaching a permanent US-China agreement is now much more complicated, and the arrest shows the US can use more than tariffs against China.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Evolving Trade War

    There is little doubt that the US president is surrounded by advisers who see China as a genuine threat to the long term economic health and geopolitical strength of the United States. But, it is likely that Donald Trump’s most immediate concerns are more down to earth. Specifically, in order to be re-elected in 2020, Trump needs once again to carry states such as Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin. And it is unlikely that he will be able to win the...

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Trade, Earnings And The Chinese Equity Market

    Yesterday’s plunge in US equities was partly attributed to fears that the trade war with China is far from settled. A similar mood is taking hold in China: news of the trade truce spurred a rally in Chinese equities on Monday, but gains softened on Tuesday. However, other factors are also weighing on investors in the Shanghai and Shenzhen markets.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Don’t Sweat About The Yield Curve

    At least as interesting as the 1.1% rise in US equities on Monday, following the weekend’s news of a three-month US-China tariff truce, was the day’s decline in long-dated US treasury yields and the concomitant flattening of the US yield curve. But was this bond market action good news or bad for investors?

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    The Durability Of The Trump-Xi Rally

    The Trump-Xi showdown at the G-20 has produced a truce, and Asian equity markets rallied in response. But Arthur is skeptical of the durability of the rally, as the structural nature of the US-China rivalry was not addressed by the deal, and hardliners in Washington are likely to keep ratcheting up the pressure on Beijing.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Winter For Eurozone Credit Growth

    A depressing autumn is turning into a dismal winter in the eurozone, as November’s deteriorating PMIs follow weak third quarter growth—and even a quarter-on-quarter contraction in Germany. Much of the softness can be attributed to poor external demand, especially from China and the emerging markets, and to the ongoing disruption to car sales caused by the introduction of new emissions tests. Together these have hammered European manufacturing,...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Christmas Comes Early

    The most cherished gifts often come in small packets, and investors duly cheered just two small words yesterday by the Federal Reserve chairman. In a speech, Jerome Powell said policy rates were “just below” the neutral level. That was a big change from a month earlier when he said they were “a long way from” the not-too-hot-not-too-cold level. This suggests that the pace of interest rate hikes may lessen, while on the same day data was released...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    What If Oil Stays At US$50?

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    EMs Need More Than A Bear Hug

    Having fallen -25% since late January, emerging market equities have been this year’s train crash of an investment. The good news is that EM equity valuations are at multi-year lows in both absolute and relative terms, begging the question: what could catalyze a rebound in oversold EM assets?

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Positioning Ahead Of The G20

    Over the summer, the US administration’s aggressive trade stance towards China helped trigger sell-offs in most non-US equity markets, even as the US market continued to make new highs. But, in the past six weeks, the massive outperformance of US equities has stalled. Louis asks where it makes sense for investors to hide until the outcome of the G20 meeting is clear.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    The Failure Of The Bond Cushion

    If you had been told on September 20, when the US stock market made its high, that two months later the MSCI US would be entering correction territory, down almost -10%, and that oil would be in a full-blown bear market, with Brent down almost -30%, you would probably have concluded that long-dated US bonds would be the place to be. The US dollar delivered; the DXY is up 2.7%. But long bonds did not; over the two-month period, the TLT ETF has...

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    The Conflict Between Liquidity And Growth

    In recent days my colleagues Anatole Kaletsky and Arthur Kroeber have debated the strained relationship between China and the US, and what it may mean for emerging markets. I agree that this standoff matters greatly for the world, but I’m not convinced it’s the main issue driving markets and therefore a resolution—or not—at the G20 next weekend may end up as a damp squib for investors. A range of issues have me concerned, from widening credit...

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    Don't Bet On Détente

    Yesterday my colleague Anatole Kaletsky explained his optimism ahead of the meeting between presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping in Buenos Aires later this month. He thinks the chances of at least a tariff cease-fire are pretty good, and investors should buy Chinese and emerging-market assets. I remain skeptical.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Reasons To Believe In Détente

    Should we take seriously President Donald Trump’s prediction of “a deal” at his summit with President Xi Jinping on November 30? Nobody can be sure—not even Trump himself—since the outcome may depend on whether Peter Navarro or Steven Mnuchin manages to catch his attention before Air Force One lands in Buenos Aires next week. There are, however, four reasons which I have discussed here before to justify continuing to increase long positions in...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Uphill Struggle For Equities

    Last week saw the MSCI World turn in its sixth negative week in eight, while the only sector to record gains over the last two months has been utilities; cyclical sectors like materials, industrials, IT, energy and consumer discretionary have mostly entered correction territory. That begs the question: Is this a dip to buy, or will the environment remain harsh?

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    GE Is More Fish Than Fowl

    There is suddenly a flood of commentary speculating that General Electric is a canary in the proverbial coal mine for the US corporate credit market. With investors focused on the troubled conglomerate’s underfunded pension scheme and ailing power business, GE has seen its credit rating downgraded and become a focal point for broader fears that US corporates have taken on too much debt and bought back too much equity. Without taking a view on GE...

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    The Winding Road To Vassalage

    No one much likes Theresa May’s compromise deal that would leave Britain as a rule-taking, semi-detached appendage to the European Union. That, however, is the most likely outcome after the UK cabinet yesterday approved an exit deal that sets up a November 25 summit, where EU leaders will be asked for their assent. Shortly afterwards, the UK parliament will have its say, and despite challenging math in the House of Commons a “national interest”...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    China's Data Will Get Worse Before It Gets Better

    The latest round of data releases painted a mixed picture of Chinese economic activity in October. Most notably, credit growth was weak. Given that without an acceleration in credit growth there will be no broad pick-up in overall economic growth, this indicates that Beijing will loosen policy further over the coming months. But how far and how fast?

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Doom Loop Tightens

    The stand-off between Rome and Brussels over Italy’s 2019 budget claimed its first casualty on Monday. Italy’s major banks were forced to club together to support an emergency bond issue by Banca Carige, after the rise in Italian government bond yields triggered by the budget battle eroded the mid-sized lender’s capital base, pushing it to the brink of collapse.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Germany, And Europe, After Merkel

    All political careers end in failure. Doubtless Angela Merkel is already feeling the sting. Even as the long-serving German chancellor stands up on Tuesday to address the European parliament in Strasbourg, political observers and investors are looking beyond Merkel’s term in office to the identity of her successor. That is likely to be decided on December 7, when Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union is set to elect a new party chairman, so...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A More Timely Wicksellian Tool

    According to my Wicksellian analysis of the US, when the market rate of interest moves above the natural rate (essentially the structural growth rate of corporate profits), then a recession is coming, and investors should exit US equities and load up on treasuries. I now propose an updated and more timely proxy for the "Wicksellian market rate".

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    What's Changed In The Oil Market

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Gridlock is Good

    The Democrats have wrested back control of the US House of Representatives, while Republicans have expanded their Senate majority. Hence, the US’s bicameral legislature is set for two years of gridlock. This was the most benign result possible from this midterm election. While largely expected, confirmation is probably positive for risk assets.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Handicapping The Trump-Xi Summit

    As the US prepares to wrap up its Congressional election season, Donald Trump’s administration is sending mixed signals on its China policy. The outcome of the upcoming G-20 meeting between Donald Trump and Xi Jinping is now basically a coin-flip. Either way, argues Arthur, US pressure on China’s technology sector is likely to intensify.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Hot, But Not Too Hot

    It remains unclear if the US is moderating its approach to trade war, but there are other factors to keep equity investors on edge. Friday’s US payroll report showed average hourly earnings rising to a cycle-high of 3.1%, confirming the picture of a tight labor market. Hence, with 10-year treasury yields just below their recent peak of 3.23%, the question is whether the US economy can weather a higher cost of capital. For now, I think the answer...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    No Renminbi Line In The Sand

    The renminbi has jumped over the last two days after the central bank signaled it would squeeze offshore liquidity. However, argue Long and Tom, it would be wrong to interpret this as a sign the PBOC will defend a line in the sand at 7. Embracing flexibility makes more sense as an exchange rate policy. The PBOC is just aiming to smooth volatility.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    India's Soft Approach To Hard Money

    A key reason to hold Indian risk assets in recent years has been the presence of a strong government willing to incur short-term political pain in return for longer-term economic gain. Yet, with the Reserve Bank of India fighting the finance ministry over bank regulation policies that may crimp growth ahead of a national election, this premise looks shaky. The partially independent central bank has faced political attack before, but this is...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    First Blood In The Long Tech War

    Washington has opened a new front in the US-China economic cold war by slapping controls on exports of all “commodities, software and technology” to Chinese chipmaker Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit. The breath of the national security justification cited for this action escalates the US-China confrontation over technology to a new level.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Another Weight On The Euro

    The bear flattening of the US yield curve while European short rates remain anchored in negative territory means that it no longer makes sense for euro-based investors to hedge the currency risk of US bond purchases. Their hedging costs have risen to a level that wipes out the yield they would get on a 10-year US treasury. For US dollar investors, the opposite is true.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    US Macro And The Market

    Coming after another bruising week in the market, which saw the S&P 500 flirting with correction territory, down -9% from its late-September high, Friday’s third quarter US GDP report is heartening. Although 3Q’s quarter-on-quarter annualized growth rate of 3.5% was slower than the 4.2% rate recorded in 2Q, it was still strong relative to the expected 3.3% and compared with the US economy’s structural growth rate. While US growth will...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Listen To What Italians Say

    Among the factors rattling global markets this week has been the brewing dispute between Brussels and Italy’s populist government over its blowout budget proposal.The fear is that Italy gets into a vicious circle of tightening credit markets and faltering growth that could end with a resumption of the euro crisis and ultimately its exit from the single currency.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Buy The Dip

    “Things are fine now, but they are going to get worse.” This is what I hear from commentators on US growth, from corporate managers talking about profit margins, and from Chinese exporters discussing the impact of the trade war. The same could be said of US financial conditions—they are fine now, but as interest rates rise they will deteriorate.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    World Trade And A Troubling Signal

    As Donald Trump has ramped up tariffs on US imports from China, investors have understandably grown anxious about the impact on world trade. Few significant effects have shown up in the data so far. Nevertheless the outlook is alarming—although not necessarily in the way many might think.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    The Odd Behavior Of Gold

    Barbarous relic it may be, but I have long looked on gold as a proxy for emerging markets. The logic is that when the emerging market consumer—whether in India, China, Indonesia, Africa or the Middle East—finds himself at the end of the month with extra money in his pocket, he often tends to put that money into gold coins or jewelry. This makes sense if you live in a country with capital controls, or an untrustworthy financial system, under-...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    How The Brexit Stalemate Breaks

    As the Brexit negotiations enter their endgame, a stalemate has become the most likely outcome. Theresa May’s Conservative Party is now in open rebellion against her leadership, with Britain’s weekend press reporting that her government is just 72 hours from collapse. And a “No Deal” Brexit “car crash” is now described as a 50-50 probability by many politicians and commentators in both Britain and Europe. Yet the pound has maintained its value...

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    Reviewing The Yen As A Safe Haven

    Three months ago in July, I argued that international investors should consider holding Japanese equities without hedging their currency exposure. A month ago in September, I revisited that call, concluding that it still held. My essential argument was that investors had largely priced in the headwinds facing Japanese equities, which offered compelling valuations should trade tensions blow over and global risk appetite return. On the other hand...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Consequences Of Khashoggi

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

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    Equities In The Late Cycle (Revisited)

    The stock market volatility of the last week, triggered by fears over rising bond yields, emphasizes how participants now accept that the US economy is in the late phase of its cycle. KX argues this is not a reason to flee US equities, but it does demand a more discerning approach.

    0
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    A Better Class Of Bear Market

    Although China’s A-shares are the world’s worst performing major market this year, this bear market is turning out to be a very different animal from that of 2015. Authorities are taking a very different strategy: rather than trying to prop up prices, regulators have focused on making technical changes to improve the way the market functions.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Softly, Softly, Mr. Draghi

    Last week was an ugly one for equity markets on both sides of the Atlantic. But there was a crucial difference. US stocks are down from an all-time high set as recently as last month, with the S&P500 closing on Friday above (just) its 200-day moving average. In contrast, eurozone equities have been trending continuously lower ever since the end of January.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Time To Rebalance Into Equities

    The S&P 500 is down almost -7% in six days, the biggest drawdown since the -10% decline in the first quarter. It is now below its 200-day moving average, for the first time since April 2nd. Will it bounce back, or is a US equity bear market now upon us? I would bet on the former, but not too aggressively.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Bonds' Failure To Rally

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

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    The EM Value Question

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

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Why I Love The Euro

    By now surely almost everyone, except perhaps Jacques Delors and Jean-Claude Trichet, must accept that the euro is the greatest monetary mistake governments have imposed on their unsuspecting populations since then Chancellor of the Exchequer Winston Churchill took Britain back onto the gold standard in 1925.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Beijing Is Aiming At Stabilization, Not Stimulus

    Chinese authorities are stepping up the pace of monetary easing, and are prepared to tolerate greater exchange rate volatility as a consequence. But, as Chen Long explains in this piece, Beijing’s easing measures are aimed at stabilizing the domestic economy, not stimulating activity in response to a trade-war-induced slump.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Bottoming Out In France

    It has been a tough summer for the French economy, and a difficult rentrée—as the French call September’s return to classes at the start of the school year—for the government of president Emmanuel Macron. France’s growth rates have fallen of a cliff this year, with GDP growth falling to just 0.2% quarter-on-quarter in the first and second quarters, from an average of 0.7% in 2017. And after household spending actually contracted in 2Q, consumer...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Still Not Interested In US Bonds

    Wednesday saw the second biggest sell-off in US bonds since November 10, 2016, immediately after the US presidential election. The 10-year treasury yield jumped 11bp to 3.16%, its highest since 2011. However, investors should be wary of treating this as a buying opportunity, for a number of reasons.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Italy’s Inevitable Endgame

    Just over a year ago, with the optimism towards eurozone stock markets, and Italy in particular, riding high, I wrote a paper expressing the view that none of the eurozone’s underlying problems, nor Italy’s, had been solved. One year later, the situation is now looking very dangerous indeed.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    New Nafta Clears The Way For A China Fight

    The good news is that after months of posturing, President Donald Trump’s administration has cut a deal for a new Nafta, following July's hasty agreement with the EU to defer car tariffs. Trade war on all fronts may now be off the agenda, but conflict with China over trade, investment, technology and geopolitical dominance will only escalate.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    More Trouble Ahead For Italian Yields

    The market gave an unequivocal two thumbs down to Italy’s budget deficit forecast announced on Friday. In proposing a deficit target for each of the next three years of 2.4% of GDP, finance minister Giovanni Tria was perceived to have bowed to pressure from Italy’s populist coalition for spending increases and tax cuts, and to have relegated debt reduction to a back seat. In response, Italy’s 10-year government bond yield jumped 26bp to 3.14%,...

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    The Severity Of India’s Rout

    It has been a torrid month for Indian markets. Equities have tanked by -7%, the rupee has dropped to all-time lows, and a new crisis is emerging in the financial sector. Liquidity is tightening in the money markets, threatening the survival of several non-bank financial companies and raising the prospect of contagion risk that could spill over to the rest of the financial system and lead to a broader economic slowdown. The rout in emerging...

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    Rate Rises And The US Stock Market

    For the first time in the long post-2008 cycle, the US has a positive real interest rate. After Wednesday’s 25bp hike in US rates, at just short of 2.25%, the effective Fed funds rate will now exceed the Federal Reserve’s favored core PCE measure of inflation, which at the end of July stood at 2%. In theory, that could change later Thursday with the release of August PCE data. But with the dot plot suggesting another rate hike this year and...

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    Does Beijing Really Manage The RMB Against A Basket?

    Possibly the only easy thing about studying China is that Chinese policymakers tend to “say what they do and do what they say”. Take the Chinese exchange rate as an example. From 1998 to 2005, the renminbi’s exchange rate was fixed at CNY8.28 to the US dollar. Then, in 2005, investors were told that the renminbi would be allowed to appreciate gradually and with a controlled daily volatility. When the financial crisis hit, the Chinese exchange...

    4
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    Back To A Three-Figure Oil Price

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

    5
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    The Dissolution Of Chimerica

    The economies of the US and China are by far the world’s largest. Such has been their importance and dependence that the composite phrase “Chimerica” emerged to describe both the integration of supply chains and corporate profitability as well as cultural connections. Today, the single most important question may be: is the foundation on which this Chimerica pillar rested now crumbling?

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    The Quandary Of Rising Yields

    Imagine that you had been told at the start of this year that equity markets in the likes of Argentina, Turkey and South Africa would fall by as much as half, that the renminbi would slide by -10% against the US dollar and that Chinese and Hong Kong stocks would be back in a bear market. You would probably have assumed that long-dated treasuries would make a great investment. Yet, here we are, with 30-year treasury yields up about 50bp this year...

    6
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    Heads I Win, Tails I Don’t Lose In Japan

    A glance at the headlines suggests the story in Japan is still “stasis as usual”. As expected, on Wednesday the Bank of Japan reaffirmed its intention to keep interest rates low indefinitely. And later on Thursday, Shinzo Abe is all but sure to fend off a leadership challenge from within his ruling Liberal Democratic Party, setting him on course to become the country’s longest-serving prime minister. In tune with this “no change” refrain,...

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    When To Buy UK Stocks

    “Deal or no deal” is the question blurring all UK investment decisions. Britain’s exit from the European Union should be settled before the end of the year, but the run-in will be nerve-wracking. Since Prime Minister Theresa May released her halfway-house “Chequers” plan in early July, investors have fretted that the UK may crash out of the EU next March with no new trading relationship in place. My colleague Anatole has consistently downplayed...

    1
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    Digging In For A War Of Attrition

    Donald Trump’s administration has upped the ante in its trade war with China, imposing tariffs on an additional US$200bn of Chinese imports. The tariffs will take effect on September 24 at a rate of 10%, rising to 25% at the beginning of 2019 unless some kind of a deal can be worked out with Beijing. The chances of a deal are vanishingly small.

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    Towards US Goods Price Deflation

    Emerging economies have spent the last three or four months squirming under the weight of a strong dollar. The effect of such currency strength is now showing up in the US itself, with the price of both consumer goods and imports softening. This deflationary pressure may end up impacting real interest rates, and hence the relative attractiveness of US bonds and equities.

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    Why You Should Buy Indonesia

    There are reasons to think that a 2% rise in the broad emerging market index over the last two days may be more than just a relief rally. For those investors who are minded to seek out EM equities, one of the more interesting options is Indonesia, which has unfairly been treated by investors as a sort of Asian Turkey.

    0
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    The Near Term Direction Of The US Dollar

    The US dollar is trading bang on its 50-day moving average, and roughly where it was a year ago. Hence, it is tempting to conclude that it has not done much over the past 12 months. That would, of course, be wrong for the post-April rebound in the dollar explains the summer meltdown in emerging markets. And every investor today stands ready to increase or decrease risk in their portfolios depending on the next tick in the US dollar.

    17
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    An Irresistible Trade Policy Meets Immovable Interests

    The US-China trade war is coming, and it will not be a short one. The reason, Arthur writes, is that the Trump Administration is waging war not just on China, but on American multinational companies. The goal is to “decouple” the world’s two largest economies by encouraging US firms to invest less in China and more back home.

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    Europe’s Populist Wave Peaks

    Since the migration crisis of 2015, nationalist-populist movements have been on a tear across Western Europe. Sunday saw the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats boost their ranking, and even claim to be the election’s real winner. Yet look closer and what stands out over the last two years has been such parties’ failure to fully break through.

    2
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    The Exit From A Liquidity Squeeze

    If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck. By the same token, if central bank reserves are shrinking, the US dollar is rising, and emerging market currencies are cratering, we probably face a liquidity squeeze. None of this should be surprising, as the drains on US dollar liquidity have come from all directions this year.

    7
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    The Case Against Eurozone Stocks

    The eurozone may not face the kind of liquidity crunch roiling US dollar-based emerging economies, but its equity markets remain on a grinding downward trajectory. The MSCI EMU index is within 1.0% of this year’s low and a range of technical indicators make for ugly reading. I would advise global investors to generally avoid the single currency area, but for those who must be there I will slightly surprise myself by arguing that the eurozone’s...

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    The Signaling From US Autos

    Even as the US economy fires up on tax cuts and government spending, interest rate-sensitive sectors show signs of rolling over. First it was housing, and now auto sales have slid to the lower end of their range after steadily softening this year. Over the next year, the question is less whether autos can boost growth, as how much they will detract from it. The fact that the Trump administration is still considering significant tariffs on...

    2
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    The Korean Advantage

    Yesterday was another bad day for weak-link emerging markets battling a rising US dollar. Still, my contention during this year’s EM sell-off has been that investors should sort the wheat from the chaff. With a current account surplus of 5% of GDP and forex reserves of US$400bn, exhibit-A is South Korea.

    0
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    Italy’s Chaotic Tendency To Stabilize

    Italian debt holders have been spooked by a leading figure in the country’s populist government threatening a fiscal blowout. Such rhetoric threatens the relatively benign scenario that I advocated in July and has investors fretting about another eurozone crisis. While Italian politics will remain febrile, such concerns are probably overdone.

    2
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    Europe’s Whimpering Economic Cycle

    As with most of the developed world, the eurozone has seen a breakdown of the Phillips Curve link between inflation and unemployment. The 2008 crisis and ensuing double-dip recession created a sclerotic environment where labor market dynamics had little impact on general prices. This is another way of saying that Europe’s economy has remained stuck a in low-growth funk. Last year that seemed to have finally changed, with cyclical forces driving...

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    Disentangling The EM Mess

    It has been tough reconciling weak emerging market performance this year with their generally decent macro fundamentals. Charles pins the blame on a US dollar squeeze and will publish an update later today. By contrast, Anatole reckons that markets have made a mistake in assuming that EMs are especially vulnerable to a strong US dollar. I see merit in both positions, but do not buy the fact that there is a catch-all explanation for what is going...

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    Tail Risks That Worry Me

    Yesterday I made the case that emerging markets should be superior performers in a global bull market, which I characterized as the most hated in history. What that analysis left out was the relative prospects of the other big blocks in the global equity universe; namely, Europe and Japan. My core point yesterday was that trade wars do more harm to economies that close their markets than those countries which supply them, and on this score...

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    Misunderstanding Today’s EMs

    Suppose that, like me, you think the global equity bull market has a few more years to run and hence the sell-off which culminated with Turkish debt being downgraded two weeks ago was a merely a correction. Where are the best opportunities to “buy the dip”? The answer depends on whether you also share my view about the underlying causes of this year’s market setbacks.

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    The State Of The US Consumer

    Despite cyclical headwinds and the threat of a welfare-sapping trade war, the US consumer has stayed fairly upbeat. The worry has been that rising tariffs change that situation and hit growth. Hence, news of a trade deal between the US and Mexico is to be welcomed (Justin Trudeau may feel differently). Still, at the end of the day the effect will still be to push up costs that someone must cover. For this reason, as the economic cycle matures...

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    Last Place In The FX Beauty Contest

    In mid-August, the US dollar hit a 12-month high against developed country currencies, and a multi-year high against emerging market currencies. Two weeks on, the burning question for investors is whether those highs represent a turning point, whether the dollar strength that prevailed from mid-April to mid-August has now played out, and whether the US currency is about to resume the softening trend that predominated through 2017. As always,...

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    Misery Loves Company

    These days you are about as likely to encounter a happy active manager as a flying unicorn. Between the massive outperformance of a few, highly priced, stocks (Amazon, Netflix, Microsoft etc.), the continued compression of fees, the increased burden of regulations, front-running by algos and dark-pools, the fact that fewer and fewer marketmakers actually make markets... pick any topic, and the chances are it will be a sore point.

    2
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    Teflon Don Or Teflon Dow?

    US equities have undeniably been the place to be in the post-2008 decade. As that divergence has gone into hyper-drive in the last three months, one might have expected events roiling the Trump presidency this week to spark a correction. Yet yesterday saw US equities end broadly flat for the day. So is this a case of Teflon Don or Teflon Dow?

    6
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    Sound, Fury, Fear And Markets

    Regardless of political affiliation, there seems to be a consensus that yesterday was a bad day for the Trump administration. It is almost impossible to predict the chain of events that will unfold in the coming days and weeks, but the political fallout from Paul Manafort’s fraud conviction and Michael Cohen’s guilty plea will be unabashedly ugly. Whether this latest twist in the drama gripping Washington has broader ramifications for markets is...

    6
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    A Step Back From War On All Fronts

    Events of the past few weeks have lowered the risk of the worst-case scenario of a trade-war-on-all-fronts that Arthur laid out earlier this summer. But although officials in both the US and China are eyeing a truce, no bilateral deal can be nailed down until the two countries’ presidents meet in November, after the US midterm elections. That leaves time for the Trump administration’s trade hawks to regain the upper hand.

    6
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    A Benign View Of US Inflation

    With US inflation now running above the Federal Reserve’s long term target rate, and the US labor market almost as tight as at any time since the turn of the century, the question for investors is not whether inflation will continue to push higher, but how fast it will rise. The distinction is important. Headline CPI inflation came in at a six-and-a-half-year high of 2.9% in July. And in June the overall and core PCE measures that the Fed...

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    The Meaning Of A Flat Yield Curve

    Every US recession since the mid-1950s has been preceded by a flat or inverted yield curve. The fact that the curve is now fairly pancake-like in form and the Federal Reserve is ratcheting up interest rates has investors on edge. On balance, I conclude that the time is right to get out of US banks, but not to be rushing the exits of the US equity market.

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    How To Assess The Stresses On EMs

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

    4
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    More Than Collateral Damage

    Among the collateral casualties of Turkey’s lira crisis have been European bank shares. Over the last week, as the lira plunged, the SX7E index—the EuroSTOXX banking index—slumped -7% on fears about banks’ exposure to Turkish borrowers. But Turkey is not the only concern weighing on European bank stocks. The sell-off over the last week is just the latest in a series of downlegs that together have seen the SX7E fall -19.7% over the last six...

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