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E.g., 20-07-2018
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    Gavekal Research

    Europe's Tri-Polar Disorder

    Having been at odds with each other for at least three years, the empire is striking back against an upstart member. The European Union on Thursday said it will sue Hungary for its unfair treatment of asylum seekers. A few years ago, such a stand-off would have been assumed to have only one outcome: a win for the dispensers of patronage in Brussels. That is no longer the case and this tells us much about how the EU’s traditional power brokers—...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    A National Security Imperative

    Depending on commodity prices, in any given year China spends between US$250bn and US$400bn on imports of the “big five” commodities it needs to continue growing: oil, iron ore, coal, copper and soybeans. Before it can do that, it must first “earn” those US$250-400bn. Only then can it can turn around and buy the stuff the country needs to ensure its long-term growth.

    8
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    Gavekal Research

    What Could Turn The Tide?

    The global equity bull market is increasingly looking like the German soccer team: old, tired and getting slow, having reached its peak a while back. Even the “captain” of the bull market, the S&P 500, last made new highs five months ago. Since then, the asset classes that have delivered positive returns have been as few and far between as German goals. Year to date, investors have lost money on US investment grade bonds, on emerging debt,...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Message From Bank Stocks

    This year, being a bank investor has been almost as miserable as being a bank employee. European banks are down -17% year to date. Japanese banks have hardly fared much better, falling -13%. Asian banks are down -7%. And US banks are down around -5%. Tuesday was a case in point: on a day when the US market was broadly flat, banks were once again one of the worst-performing sectors.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Oil After The OPEC Meeting

    Let us start with a simple reality: assuming the world economy avoids a 2008-type implosion, then global demand for oil should approach 100mn barrels per day by the year’s end. That represents an increase in global demand this year of roughly 1.5mn bpd—more or less the same pace of increase the world has had to deal with in recent years.

    11
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    Gavekal Research

    The Investment Scenarios Ahead

    The interaction of three prices—the US dollar, long-dated US interest rates, and oil—tend to determine the behavior of most other asset values, and so far this year, all three have moved higher. Investors have adjusted to this new reality with some trepidation: among major markets, only the US (S&P 500) and Japan (Nikkei 225, barely) are up year-to-date in US dollar terms.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Empire Strikes Back?

    Over the last 70 years the global population has tripled. Yet in defiance of every Malthusian theory out there, the average citizen of the world has never known such a high level of material comfort as today. To start with the obvious, the world has almost entirely eradicated the famines that plagued entire regions just a few generations ago (this isn’t to deny the humanitarian catastrophes unfolding today in Yemen or Syria, but these are caused...

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Not Letting A Good Crisis Go To Waste

    At the beginning of 2018, one of Gavekal’s big themes for the coming year was that the liquidity environment was deteriorating. Behind this we saw three causes: 1) the US Federal Reserve’s decision to shrink its balance sheet; 2) the growing toll of rising energy prices, and 3) the coming liquidity drain from runaway US government spending.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Worse Than A Crime

    On hearing that Napoleon Bonaparte had ordered the execution of a Bourbon-family duke, the arch realpolitik practitioner Charles Maurice de Talleyrand reputedly exclaimed: “This is worse than a crime. It’s a mistake”. Fast forward a few centuries and it’s not hard to imagine what Talleyrand would make of Italy’s President Sergio Mattarella. In a move that will likely spur fresh elections and put Euroskeptic parties firmly in the ascendancy,...

    8
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    Gavekal Research

    A Structural Change, Or A Return To The Mean?

    Chinese government bond prices have markedly outperformed treasuries for more than a year. This trend could be explained merely by cyclical factors, or that the Chinese fixed income market is going through a structural rerating, driven in part by the internationalization of the renminbi and the inclusion of Chinese government bonds in major benchmarks.

    8
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    Gavekal Research

    The Illusion Of Liquidity, And Its Consequences

    A decade ago the US corporate bond market was about half as big as it is today, yet bond dealers held about six times more inventory than they do today. In our latest Loser Report which focuses on assets to avoid, Louis worries that the next big financial accident could happen in this aggressively priced arena.

    8
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    Gavekal Research

    Emerging Markets And Energy

    We all know, don’t we, what defining characteristics the emerging markets have in common? Of course we do. Emerging markets are developing countries on course to become advanced economies, typically with the assistance of powerful demographic tailwinds. But although they enjoy rapid growth over the long term, their institutional architecture is still under construction. As a result, emerging equity markets are more volatile than those of the...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Learning To Love The Loonie

    There are plenty of reasons to dislike the Canadian dollar: disappointing economic data, a frothy real estate market, over-exposed banks, the fact that the Canadian team failed to get either the men’s or the women’s ice hockey gold at the winter Olympics, and a prime minister who dresses up like the Thompson twins when he travels to foreign countries.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Following Yesterday’s Pullback

    Two weeks ago I looked back at Enron’s collapse in 2001 and asked whether a crash-and-burn at Tesla or Uber would be this cycle’s catalyst for a fundamental re-assessment of business models. But perhaps my sights were set too low, as this roll-over was triggered not by a cash-burning profligate flaming out, but by turmoil engulfing the Facebook gorilla, and by extension the likes of Google and Snap, which rely on “the user being the product”.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Farewell My Lovely Bull Market

    No doubt market pundits will go on discussing the trigger of last week’s sell-off in equity markets and debating its implications ad nauseam. But whatever the proximate cause of the latest risk-off, it is looking increasingly as if the uncomplicated, low volatility bull-market-in-everything that prevailed through much of last year is now no more than a pleasant memory. With markets apparently intent on retesting the lows set in early February,...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Giving Up Value Investing For Lent

    A client recently told me that he had wanted to give up “value investing” for Lent. Unfortunately, his priest pointed out that this was like forgoing boiled spinach as Lent commemorates Christ’s 40 days in the desert and requires doing without something that feels good: think of giving up Amazon, Nvidia or Tencent (at least until this week) for energy stocks, Japan and emerging market financials. Our client chose self-flagellation and stuck with...

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    The Ogre Eating His Own Children

    Our regular Loser Reports are based on the premise that good money management can be as much about “avoiding losers” as “picking winners”. This month, Louis looks at the (worrying) direction of US fiscal policy and wonders whether the next shoe to drop could be defense contractors and energy producers in the US, and even municipal bonds.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Dollar’s New Crush

    The foreign exchange market, I’ve often said, is a serial monogamist. There are multitudes of potential drivers out there. But the market likes to step out with just one at a time. Its relationships can last anywhere from a few quarters to a couple of years. But sooner or later, it gets bored and switches its affections. So, in 2005-07, the main driver was the growing US current account deficit and the perception that the US was flooding the...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The New Challenge Confronting Investors

    Few in the markets will be sorry to see the back of February. But as a tough month draws to a close, this seems a reasonable time to take stock and draw lessons for the future. It is perturbing that lesson Number One must be that there really was nowhere to hide. Geographical diversification served little purpose, as all markets fell and then rebounded in unison. The same held with sectors, for those that performed worst in 2017 (energy and...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    What Lies Beneath

    As liquidity in the global financial markets tightens, Louis turns to Gavekal’s longstanding dynamite fishing analogy in a speculative exercise that attempts to identify some of the “whales” that might just go belly up in the squeeze.

    6
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