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    Gavekal Research

    Mexico 1, Brazil 0

    When Brazil met Mexico in last year’s football world cup, the Brazilian team walked away the victors by two goals to nil. In financial markets too, Brazil has lately been beating Mexico. In recent weeks each country has installed as its president a fiery populist—although they hail from different ends of the ideological spectrum. In Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro is an unabashed right-winger, while his Mexican counterpart Andrés Manuel López Obrador, or...

    4
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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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    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?

    2
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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

    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

    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 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

    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...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    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,...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    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...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    India’s Illusory Rally

    Which is the best-performing stock market in Asia so far this year? If you look at the headline equity indexes, the answer is India. On Thursday morning, the Bombay Stock Exchange’s Sensex 30 index hit yet another record high, up 11.6% year to date in local currency terms, and up 4% in US dollar terms. At first glance this outperformance might suggest that India, with its low dependence on foreign trade and manageable level of external debt, is...

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    The Fire Testing Of Asian Junk

    The strong US dollar, rising oil prices and a gathering trade war have sent capital fleeing from emerging markets. Asian high-yield debt has taken a hit with the benchmark (JP Morgan) index down -3% this year, sparking worries of a self-feeding cycle that ends with a debt crisis. We have taken a fairly constructive view on emerging economies due to their generally non-threatening macro-fundamentals. Hence, with EM asset prices stabilizing it is...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Bank Of Japan's Choices

    Global bond markets have been jolted this week by an unusual source: the Bank of Japan. Reports that the BoJ is considering making unspecified tweaks to its policy stance triggered a 5bp spike in the 10-year Japanese government bond yield on Monday, and were blamed for an 8bp rise in the 10-year US treasury yield. BoJ governor Haruhiko Kuroda promptly denied the stories, insisting he knew “absolutely nothing” about the matter. And the central...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Fair Weather Friend, Or Safe Port In A Storm?

    On Thursday morning in Asia, the Japanese yen was trading at ¥112.7 to the US dollar. At that level the yen is down -7.2% from its late March high, a fall which has erased all its first quarter gains and left the currency exactly flat year-to-date. At first glance this fall might seem surprising, given the degree of nervousness in global markets and the yen’s reputation as a safe haven currency, not to mention its undervaluation relative to...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Hard Yards For Emerging Markets

    Emerging markets have been hit by the combined effect of a stronger US dollar, tighter international liquidity and rising trade tensions, causing their currencies to fall more in the last few months than in the 2013 “taper tantrum”. The big fear for EMs is that the end of easy money globally creates a giant margin call. As a firm, we have tended to be upbeat on their prospects in this cycle, and it may be that a huge buying opportunity has...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Moment Of Truth For Emerging Markets

    A strong US dollar, rising interest rates and higher oil prices are a toxic mix for emerging markets. A month ago it was only Turkey and Argentina that were looking really sick, punished by investors for their structural imbalances. But in recent weeks nervousness has engulfed the currencies of Indonesia, South Africa, India and—most notably—Brazil. This leaves the emerging markets facing a pivotal moment. Until now, the assets of those emerging...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    In Sweeps The Monsoon

    The summer monsoon lashed across southwest India yesterday, just a few hours after the central bank announced its first interest-rate hike in more than four years. With oil prices stoking inflation and foreign portfolio flows pouring out of the country, the Reserve Bank of India followed the lead of other emerging markets battling the global US dollar squeeze. Yet the darkest storm clouds are now political, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi...

    0
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