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E.g., 01-12-2020
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    Gavekal Research

    Two Equity Rotations In The Making

    Investors are bulled up on hopes that successful vaccine roll-outs will end the Covid-19 pandemic before next spring and the US will get a smooth transition of power that leaves an investor-friendly divided government. Since Pfizer announced its successful stage-three vaccine trials on November 9, managers have been forced to reassess their US portfolio positioning. That process has likely only just got going.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Time To Look Beyond The US

    Heading into the US elections, there were three big reasons to be bearish on the US dollar. With the results as they stand, one of those concerns has diminished. But the other two continue to weigh on the US currency. Meanwhile, the US equity market is looking extremely expensive compared with equity markets elsewhere. Together, these factors favor unhedged positions in selected non-US equity markets.

    8
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    Gavekal Research

    US Inflation Is Still Benign

    The current investment environment in the US faces three clear and present dangers. The first is tomorrow’s election, the second is the resurgent Covid outbreak and the third, is the threat of an inflation surge, which could force the Federal Reserve to tighten monetary policy. Thankfully for asset markets, the latest releases show inflation to remain benign.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Behind The Scenes Cash Boost

    US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s admission that striking a deal with Congress on a new stimulus package before November’s election will be “difficult” was blamed for eroding market sentiment. Maybe. But behind the scenes, the Treasury has begun to run down some of the cash hoard it accumulated between April and August.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    New Tech, Same Fiat Money (For Now)

    This week saw seven western central banks and the Bank for International Settlements issue a joint report on central bank digital currencies. They come not to bury cash nor to undermine banks, but to modernize payments for a digital age. If so, the introduction of CBDCs is unlikely to upend the banking system and monetary policy, but would resemble the rollout of ATMs in the 1960s.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Four Exaggerated Concerns

    As if markets weren’t nervous enough, US policymakers have been fueling the nervousness. On Wednesday, a series of remarks spotlighted a number of the main concerns currently troubling investors, including that the US Federal Reserve is out of ammunition, and that disputes over the result of November’s upcoming presidential election could drag on into the new year, plaguing asset markets with additional uncertainty. This focus appeared to...

    10
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    Gavekal Research

    The First Meeting Of The Fed’s New Era

    On Wednesday, the Federal Open Market Committee concluded its first meeting after Federal Reserve chairman Jay Powell last month revised its strategic policy framework. The new framework boils down to a temporary increase in the Fed’s inflation target to “make up” for past shortfalls.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Dollar Still Has Downside

    Has the great US dollar correction of 2020 run its course? After all, the DXY index is down -10% from its March 19 top and -4.4% lower year-to-date. There have been good reasons to sound Cassandra-like warnings on the US currency and while some negative drivers have moderated, the balance of evidence implies more downside.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    US Profits In The Pandemic

    My preferred “NIPA profits” measure fell by -14.4% during the second quarter of the year, according to US national accounts data released late last week. That follows a similarly bad -13.3% fall in the first quarter. Both declines are on par with the worst quarters in post-war history. And like previous low points, US corporate profitability is likely to recover from here. But what does the data tell us about the investment environment and what...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Fed Boosts The Inflation Outlook

    The Federal Reserve made a historic change to its monetary policy framework yesterday when it officially adopted “average inflation targeting”. That bullseye remains 2%, but the definition of the target has changed in a way that, in the current context, effectively raises the inflation outlook. This has important implications for future policymaking and current asset pricing.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    A Conventional Fed

    The Federal Reserve did not shift its policy stance yesterday and nor is it likely to announce some big-bang reform after a “strategic policy framework review”, which Jerome Powell indicated should be wrapped up within a couple of policy-setting meetings. That may not be an exciting story, but it is one that financial markets will welcome.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Not Cheap, But Not Expensive Either

    I don’t propose to wade into the debate over whether US equities are in are in a bubble or not. I'd only point out that by one key metric—relative valuation—equities do not look excessively expensive today, at least when compared with the relative valuations seen at the height of the dot-com boom at the turn of the century.

    11
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    Gavekal Research

    From Bullish To Neutral

    There has been a lot of talk about how the rally in US markets has been driven entirely by irrational sentiment. We disagree, and have since late March argued that the rebound in risk assets was rational. Our assessment rested on four financial and economic pillars. Today a reexamination of these pillars suggests a moderation of our bullish stance.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    What's US$1.6trn More Or Less?

    As three months ago, the prime case for holding US risk assets is the liquidity support provided by policymakers. But while liquidity conditions remain extraordinarily easy, and will continue to do so as long as inflation expectations remain depressed, in one respect at least the potential of surplus liquidity to push asset markets higher may have been exaggerated.

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    The US Consumer Has Legs

    Another day, another upside surprise from the US data. For investors, the key question is whether this recovery will continue, or whether May’s bounce-back in consumption will prove a one-off flash in the pan, extinguished by a second wave of infections and long term unemployment. Happily, there are good reasons to expect the consumption recovery to have legs.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    A Fed Reality Check

    Ahead of the FOMC meeting that concludes Wednesday, there has been a growing volume of chatter that the Federal Reserve is moving to scale back its easing measures. The talk has been further amplified by May’s surprisingly strong employment report, with some commentators even warning of an imminent taper tantrum in the markets.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Breasting The Trough

    The apparent divergence between the stock market and economic reality continues to widen. Equity investors are focusing on the expected effects of the Federal Reserve’s massive liquidity injections once states emerge from lockdown. The risk to this rosy view is that the easing of restrictions could cause an infection increase so severe that new lockdowns are imposed.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Fiscal Fix

    Barely a month after launching a US$2trn rescue package, the US is poised to release yet more fiscal stimulus to tackle the economic fallout of the Covid-19 crisis. The Senate has passed legislation to top up funding for a small business loan program and the House should follow suit on Thursday. Will this latest cash injection be enough to stop massive bankruptcies? Probably, but the program will remain a messy work in progress in need of more...

    10
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    Gavekal Research

    This Is Not A New Monetary Era

    Central banks across the developed world are cranking up their printing presses to buy huge amounts of public debt that is being issued to support companies and individuals. The worry is that this causes high inflation down the track, or that it means the fiscal and monetary management functions of governmens are merging. The way I approach this issue is through two simple questions.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    The Atlantic Divide

    Second order economic effects from the Covid-19 outbreak are ripping through industrialized economies, with soaring unemployment, shuttered industries and a fall in corporate profits. While China has eschewed large-scale government support, Europe and the US have adopted massive fiscal and monetary responses. These Western initiatives do, however, differ in key respects and when lockdowns finally end, one or other approach will likely have...

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