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    Gavekal Research

    The Trouble Unseen

    The world and its dog are suddenly worried that the growing US-China trade war may be the event that sparks the next panic. Might I suggest that the looming iceberg that could yet sink the good ship Global Growth may not lie in the obvious spot where spy glasses are focused.The real menace may still lie in the European banking system.

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    Gavekal Research

    Monopsonies, Protectionism And ROIC

    It is extremely unfashionable to say so, but Donald Trump’s campaign to bring manufacturing industries back to the US by slapping tariffs on goods imports may not be quite the act of economic illiteracy most professional practitioners of the dismal science would have you believe. On the contrary, it could well be positive for US growth, living standards, and market outperformance.

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    Gavekal Research

    A Reverse-Engineered US Inflation Indicator

    In the Strategy Monthly I presented a fairly simple rule to show whether an economy is in the top, or the bottom half of the Four Quadrants framework. To show that the rule worked, I laid out relationships between the "rule" and a range of other useful indications of a price environment shift. Here, I capture all of these relationships in a simple, revised decision rule.

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    Gavekal Research

    Inflation And The Gold Fix

    When the market rate of interest for a long period has been held abnormally low relative to returns on invested capital, financial engineering takes off with huge debt issuance, making a chaotic denouement of the credit cycle unavoidable. To prepare for such an event, an equity portfolio hedged with gold can reduce volatility and raise returns.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    And The Brexit Winner Is...

    With the Brexit deadline in the rear view mirror, Britain's leave voters have are left with the impression that they have been taken for a ride by the UK’s political class, and in particular by their representatives in parliament. So who is the real sovereign power in the UK? The people or parliament? Charles sees three possible outcomes.

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    Gavekal Research

    Vox Clamantis In Deserto

    Some say, “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Others regard repeating the same mistake over and over again, and expecting the results to change, to be the very definition of insanity. I fear that the majority of “respectable economists” (meaning they always side with the consensus) inhabit the first of the two camps.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    The Locus Of Capital Destruction

    Germany is going through one of its periodic bouts of angst as its industrial economy faces up to cyclical headwinds, unwanted structural change and the threat of protectionism. I too have concerns about the fate of corporate Germany, but would approach the problem from the perspective of an equity investor.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Keynes Is Dead; This Is The Long Run

    “In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is,” Yogi Berra said. Take cutting interest rates as an example. According to Keynesian theory, reducing interest rates is a way to borrow from future demand in order to prevent a recession today.The theory is sound, but then comes the practice. And in Europe today, we are in practice up to our necks.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Back To The Barbarous Relic

    Going back to the mid-1980s, I have worked on the assumption that the US economy has been in the “deflationary” lower half of my four quadrants framework. My fear is that we may be moving into the inflationary top quadrants. If so, this means that in the bust phase of the cycle equities will have a positive correlation with bonds, and those bonds will offer much lower returns

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    Portfolio Construction In A Malthusian World

    The two key questions posed by economics are: why do things have “value” and—over time—how does that “value” change? Thomas Malthus showed why people value things that are scarce, like jewels or a Monet painting Alternatively, David Ricardo and Joseph Schumpeter, showed why its worth owning something that is useful—a “tool” from which goods and services can be made and sold at a price that exceeds their cost of production.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    A Vital Portfolio Construction Lesson

    I am a rules-based investor, and over the years few financial relationships have been more useful to me in reading the economic cycle than the yield spread between long-dated US corporate bonds and 30-year US treasuries. Going back to the late 1970s, no US bear market has unfolded with key spread being below 200bp. It is now 210bp.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    A Silly Recommendation

    The euro just celebrated its 20th anniversary to scant fanfare. Hardly surprising, given that it caused a Greek depression, decline in Italy’s private sector GDP and a German current account surplus that has exported deflationary pressure to Europe and beyond. Against this grim backdrop, today’s note will consider whether now is the time to buy eurozone financials.

    0
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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

    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

    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

    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

    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".

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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

    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

    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.

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