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    Gavekal Research

    The Refuge In Emerging Markets

    The year started in such promising form for emerging markets. Unfortunately, the initial promise failed to outlive January. Since early February’s mini-panic, emerging market assets have taken a beating, hammered by the triple whammy of a stronger US dollar, higher US yields, and rising oil prices—a combination that’s typically adverse for global growth, and so deeply negative for emerging markets. The strain has shown up first among “weak links...

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    Malaysia’s 92-Year-Old Populist

    It is surely the most remarkable political comeback of recent history. At the tender age of 92, former prime minister of Malaysia Mahathir Mohamad won a shock victory in Wednesday’s general election, ousting from power the coalition he himself headed for 22 of the 61 uninterrupted years it ruled the country—ever since independence in 1957.

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    EMs And The Oil Syndrome

    Having fallen more than -10% from their late January peak, emerging markets are looking shaky. Higher yields, a stronger US dollar and rising oil prices have all contributed to a tough environment. In the face of big current account deficits, Turkey and Argentina look properly imperiled, with some saying that their troubles point to a bigger problem for emerging economies. I disagree. Not all headwinds are created equal, and what matters for EMs...

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    Why To Buy India’s Battered Banks

    India’s central bank surveyed the landscape and yesterday painted an upbeat picture. It argued that the investment cycle may be turning, while inflation, the sub-continent’s constant bugbear, is becalmed. With Indian equities off -6% in 2018, this would seem a decent reentry point. The problem is public sector banks, for even as a US$32bn recapitalization is rolled out and bad debt is cleaned up, investors remain spooked by an outlandish scandal.

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    Stuck In The Middle-Income Trap

    Three years ago Malaysian prime minister Najib Tun Razak faced the kind of graft allegations that would ultimately defenestrate heads of government in Brazil and South Africa. His political fortunes were further imperiled by Malaysia’s highly trade-dependent economy staggering trough the 2014-15 commodity bust. Yet, remarkably, Najib survived and now seems set to be reelected at an upcoming general election. His Houdini-like escape is bad for...

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    Making In Delhi

    Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” initiative is supposed to transform India from an industrial laggard into a global manufacturing hub. Tom and Udith recently kicked the tires in the industrial heartlands surrounding Delhi and can confirm that China, for now, does not have serious competition. Yet they found some surprisingly encouraging developments that point to the policy in pockets displaying genuine success.

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    India Macro Update: Politics Trumps Economics

    Indian growth in the fiscal year ending March 31 should top 7%, before accelerating to nearer 7.5% in FY18-19. Yet Indian equities failed to rebound with other emerging markets after this month’s correction, and the rout in bonds since last summer is continuing. In the latest edition of Gavekal’s India Macro Update Udith and Tom assess what this muddled picture means for investors.

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    Notes On An Indian Scandal

    As most emerging equity markets have clawed back a good portion of the losses they suffered in early February’s risk-off, there has been one notable exception. Far from rebounding, Indian stocks have taken another leg down following revelations of a US$1.7bn fraud at Punjab National Bank, the country’s second-largest state-owned lender. The scale of the fraud—roughly twice the amount promised to the bank by the government in the first tranche of...

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    Gavekal Research

    How To Play An EM Rebound

    On Thursday, my colleague Joyce Poon argued that strong global growth and favorable financial conditions should allow emerging markets to sustain their outperformance. In the immediate run-up to the recent global sell-off, Latin American markets like Brazil and Mexico had charged hardest on the back of higher commodity prices and an incipient global shift from growth stocks toward value plays. But once the dust settles and EMs get their mojo...

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    Gavekal Research

    Don’t Fear The End Of The Bond Bull Market

    Bond bears have been given succor in the opening days of 2018. First the Bank of Japan trimmed buying of long-dated Japanese government bonds, indirectly causing 10-year treasury yields to surge to 2.6%. Then European Central Bank policymakers were yesterday shown to be bulled up on the state of the eurozone recovery. On the face of it, central banks seem to be whistling a very different tune. In fact, it is investors who have caught up with...

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    Gavekal Research

    Worry Not About Asian Currencies

    Asian central banks have in recent weeks taken actions or sent signals that seemingly aim to weaken their currencies. The worry is that a source of return which contributed to last year's outperformance has been lost and exchange rate declines may presage an inflationary breakout. Such a tightening scenario may materialize down the road, but it is far from being a concern.

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    Gavekal Research

    An Original Sinner Repents

    Two weeks ago, state-backed toll road operator Jasa Marga became the first Indonesian corporate to issue a “komodo” bond—a rupiah-denominated global bond. Seen in isolation, the three-year IDR4tn (US$295mn) issue yielding 7.5% might appear little more than a novelty. However, Udith thinks it could hold more significance.

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    Gavekal Research

    Asia’s Triple Merit Scenario Lives

    Last week, the Bank of Korea raised its benchmark interest rate for the first time in six years and other Asian central banks seem likely to follow suit. This is not especially surprising given the ongoing global expansion and tightening moves by the Federal Reserve, which have narrowed short-rate differentials for Asian currencies. The worry, as elucidated by Anatole last week, is that such an expansionary scenario threatens the delicate “not...

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    Gavekal Research

    India Macro Update: The Pain Before The Gain

    India reports its third quarter GDP tomorrow and in this chartbook Udith and Tom offer their assessment of the economy. They expect the official numbers to show a pick-up in growth due to firms restocking after the rollout of the new Goods & Services Tax and think this trajectory will continue through to next year. They advise investors to stick with richly-valued equities, treat bonds cautiously and not worry too much about a currency...

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    Gavekal Research

    Video: The Pain Before The Gain

    India reports its third quarter GDP tomorrow and Udith offers an assessment of the economy. He expect the official numbers to show a pick-up in growth due to firms restocking after the rollout of the new Goods & Services Tax and thinks this trajectory will continue through to next year. He advise investors to stick with richly-valued equities, treat bonds cautiously and not worry too much about a currency correction.

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    Gavekal Research

    Not All Bank Recaps Are Created Equal

    A month ago, India outlined a US$32bn plan to fix its publicly-controlled banks’ bad debt problem, sparking a more than 30% rally in their share prices. The plan remains under wraps, but the “round tripping” approach will see deposits lent to the government as recapitalization bonds and then injected back into banks as fresh capital. The question is whether India’s effort is credible enough for banks to both write off debt and have enough...

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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Escaping The Indian Funk

    Udith presented on India during Gavekal's Hong Kong seminar in November. This video also includes relevant excerpts from the question and answer session.

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    Gavekal Research

    Saudi Arabia’s Shifting Sands

    For the last three years the dominant narrative in the oil market has concentrated on the fundamentals of supply and demand. Geopolitical risk has been a minor—and transient—sideshow. All that changed at the weekend, when Saudi Arabia’s 32-year-old crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, or MbS as he is known, exercised his authority as the head of the kingdom’s newly-established anti-corruption commission to take down a broad swathe of the Saudi...

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    Gavekal Research

    India’s Sly Bank Recap

    So here’s a conundrum. As finance minister, you preside over a slowing economy with banks and corporates that have giant holes in their balance sheets. You may have stellar demographic “tail winds”, but private sector investment has stalled. Your headache is a gaping fiscal deficit and a credit rating one notch above junk status. You notice, however, that your banks are flush with cash.

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    Gavekal Research

    Asia’s Best Story Tops Out

    On the face of it, the Philippines offers one of Asia’s best economic stories. Whatever you think of Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, growth remains decent at about 6.5%, big tax reforms are in the offing and after years of promising action, infrastructure may soon actually get built. This has unfolded with public debt falling from more than 65% of GDP in 2006 to 42%. And yet the Philippine peso has slid -8% since Duterte took office in June last...

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