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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Behind The Market's Mood Swings

    In recent weeks some of the biggest US equity winners since the start of the Covid-19 crisis have appeared to run out of steam, as the Federal Reserve abstained from stepping up its asset purchases. Meanwhile, Congressional gridlock seems to stand in the way of renewed stimulus for American consumers. Will is not too concerned, and in this interview points out that the Fed still has ample ammunition, and that the strength of the US recovery...

    0
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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...

    4
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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.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Positioning For A Yield Curve Steepening

    Little about the Covid-19 recession has been “normal”, including shifts in the US yield curve. Contrary to expectations at the end of a cycle, the spread between 10-year and three-month treasury yields "steepened" by just 109bp from the bottom. At the same time, the Fed’s hugely expanded quantitative easing program has boosted demand for long-dated treasuries, which continues to compress yields. So what gives?

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: From Bearish To (Conditionally) Bullish

    Anatole and Will presented their views on the efficacy of US fiscal and monetary policy in response to the Covid crisis, and outlined the prospects for the economy and asset markets.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Assessing The Midwest Outbreak

    While the pandemic continues to ravage the US, the last month has seen rates of infection decline across most of the country. That situation has recently reversed in some low-population Midwestern states, but on balance the US has learnt to live with Covid, and therefore a resurgence in the fall will not result in the kind of disruption seen in March and April.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Growth Scare? Or Rotation?

    After a three-day rout that has seen the US Nasdaq 100 index sell off by almost -11%, fear is in the ascendant. At this point a reality check may be a valuable exercise. Whatever the proximate trigger for the slump, the deep sell-off has been confined mainly to large-cap tech stocks, and is not generalized across the market. Moreover, there are reasons to believe the picture for the US economy and earnings is set to improve.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Implications Of A Disputed Election

    The pundits bill every US presidential election as the most important and dramatic for years, if not decades. This time they may have a point. However, an examination of the laws governing elections and of past ructions suggests any turbulence for investors will be limited and short-lived.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: Global Investment Roundtable, September 2020

    Charles Gave, Louis Gave and Will Denyer joined Arthur Kroeber at the global investment roundtable to discuss what's going on in the global economy. Charles identified three big trends that will affect the investment environment in the long term, Will gave an in-dept update on the US economy, and Louis examined where to find assets with “anti-fragile” properties.

    0
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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

    Rich, But Keeping It Real

    The US consumer's willingness to spend remains reliable, even during the pandemic, as shown by consumer discretionary stocks sharply outperforming the rest of the market. Since this stock grouping includes pandemic winners like Amazon and Home Depot there is little reason to bet on a trend-change, as the macro winds should remain favorable.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: The State Of The US Recovery

    Pandemic aside, the US faces a looming fiscal cliff and rising political risk as the presidential election campaign starts proper. So why is Will so sanguine about the country’s economic prospects? In this video interview, he explains his position.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Solid US Earnings Do Not Mean Another Boom Beckons

    With more than 90% of firms in the S&P 500 having reported for the second quarter, the hit to earnings came in nowhere near as bad as expected. This picture is likely to be sustained in the coming year, or so and should lay the ground for solid US equity market performance. Yet, those hoping for a sustained economic recovery to generate the kind of epic returns seen in 2Q20, or in 2009 after the financial crisis, will likely be disappointed.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The State Of The US Recovery

    The renewed Covid-19 outbreak in the past two months put a brake on the US recovery, but that engine is again firing. Despite many states having reversed opening measures, Friday’s payroll report came in strong, with the unemployment rate down to 10.2%; high-frequency data like mobility readings paint a similar picture.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: From Bullish To Neutral On The US

    The upsurge in second-round Covid-19 infections has put the US economic recovery on hold for now. But government, businesses and consumers have got better at coping with Covid, and in contrast to the first round, the economy is not going backwards.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: Global Investment Roundtable, July 2020

    In our monthly Global Investment Roundtable, US analyst Tan Kai Xian analyzed the latest US data and assessed the risk that the present economic stall-out turns into a double-dip recession. Arthur Kroeber explained why the Trump Administration has amped up its Cold War rhetoric on China. Anatole Kaletsky tied it all together and tried to explain the recent movements in global markets.

    0
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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.

    9
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    Gavekal Research

    Playing Volatility Convergence

    When the initial Covid-19 panic gripped US financial markets in March, the near term volatility priced in by both equity and bond markets leapt steeply. But the volatility priced in by the equity market rose far more in relative terms, and has been much slower to recede. As a result equity market vol remains abnormally elevated relative to bond market vol, offering investors an opportunity.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Living With Hard Times

    Even as the Covid-19 outbreak materially worsens in the US, the pricing of financial assets remains benign. Is this equanimity justified or are we just waiting for the next shoe to drop? Myself and Will Denyer have been in the constructive camp on US equities, even if we are now squeamish about valuations, and continue to think that markets have it about right.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Beyond Second Quarter Earnings

    The US 2Q20 reporting season gets into its stride this week, and for all but a fortunate few the earnings numbers will be abysmal. But abysmal numbers will come as no surprise to investors, and will have little impact on the market. A reasonable prospect of upside earnings surprises in 2H and upward revisions in earnings estimates will help support equities.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Learning To Transact Through Covid

    The Covid-19 flare-up in the southern and western United States threatens to slow the country’s recovery, but it is unlikely to be a rerun of the severe economic contraction seen in March and April. Since Americans are learning to maintain economic activity during Covid-19, a Nike swoosh or “stairstep” recovery seems more likely than the feared W-shaped outcome.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: Global Investment Roundtable, June 2020

    Yesterday Louis Gave, Will Denyer and Andrew Batson joined Arthur Kroeber at the Global Investment Roundtable. They discussed the economic growth and market situation in the US, the state of the Chinese recovery, and what a post-Covid-19 world might look like.

    0
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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

    Rotating Into US Small Caps

    Despite some states seeing a worrying rise in Covid-19 cases, a US economic recovery is gaining strength as lockdowns are lifted. Barring unforeseen setbacks, there are reasons to think that the US recovery sustains itself and the equity rally continues. There is, however, a solid macro argument for rotating to a different class of US stocks.

    4
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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

    What US Payrolls Do And Do Not Mean

    May’s US payrolls report clearly came as a shock to many. Non-farm jobs climbed 2.51mn month-on-month, and the unemployment rate fell to 13.3%. Wrong-footed by the stronger-than-expected figures, investors rushed to bid up US equities. But while the payrolls are good news at the margin, it should not be taken as a reason to rush into equities.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    To Rotate, Or Not To Rotate?

    This week readers have heard a variety of views from Gavekal partners on the outlook for equity markets. What is not in doubt is that since hitting a peak on February 20, US growth stocks have outperformed value plays by a whopping 17%. Wherever one stands on the macro situation, there certainly seems to be an argument for rotating.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Excess Money And Where To Find Value

    US cash balances have exploded in recent months and at some point a portion of this “excess” is likely to be deployed into financial markets. That may help push asset prices up further, but Will argues that fairly extreme valuations mean not all asset classes will rise together.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Return Of TINA

    All bull markets start as unloved beasts, but the one that began in US equities on March 23 has been especially despised. The news in the intervening two months has been dreadful, and it is still not really clear who is doing the buying, and why. So in seeking to understand if a market that is up 33% from its bottom can go further, KX considers four possible drivers.

    8
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: US Outlook (May 2020)

    In yesterday's webinar, Will Denyer, Tan Kai Xian and Yanmei Xie joined Simon to discuss the outlook for the US and answer viewer questions as the country tries to return to normal after Covid-19 lockdowns.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Upside For Autos And Housing

    As the US begins to reopen for business, some segments of the economy will bounce back faster than others. Among the more vigorous will be the auto and housing sectors, where activity will be lifted by a favorable combination of tailwinds. Investors should consider positioning for a strong recovery in both the automobile and residential construction sectors.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: In Defense Of US Equities

    With most big US firms having reported their first quarter earnings, the picture is not pretty and worse may follow in 2Q20. Yet the stock market rally of the last six weeks suggests that investors have a fairly cheery view about US firms’ prospects. So what gives? Near-term expectations are, in fact, appropriately set and the fundamentals of the US market are better than they appear.

    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

    US Labor And The New Economy

    US states are moving to end stay-at-home orders and slowly resume activity. With some 30mn workers having been laid off, they will do so in an economy that has been profoundly changed by Covid-19. At a macro level, a fairly swift recovery is likely. Yet it will be a painful exercise as structural changes wrought by the pandemic upend the US labor market.

    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

    Webinar: Outlook For The US Economy And Global Markets

    In Tuesday's webinar, Will Denyer reviewed the economic situation in the US and suggested how investors should position their portfolios, and Louis Gave presented his global macroeconomic view, taking into account the remarkable developments in the oil market.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    When Dead Cats Bounce

    The S&P 500 has now rallied 24% in a little over three weeks, making back almost half of its losses over the previous four weeks. The vigor of this rebound even as corporate earnings are collapsing naturally raises the question whether the market has really formed a bottom, or whether we are seeing a classic bear market rally, as Anatole has argued.

    10
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: The US Economic Response

    The US government has promised unprecedented support to individuals and businesses who face loss of income as a result of Covid-19. Will Denyer weighs the measures to see if they will be enough to sufficiently limit the economic damage wrought.

    0
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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

    Webinar: Looking Through The Lockdowns

    Andrew and Rosealea discussed China’s slow return to normal, the state of the property and construction sector, and warned of the global demand shock China will face due to Covid-19. Will outlined his view on asset allocation in light of the shock to the US economy and the asset price adjustments that have taken place so far.

    0
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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...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: The US Can Do A V-Shaped Recovery

    The US economy can be assumed to already be in recession, yet KX is relatively confident in its ability to generate a V-shaped recovery once lockdowns are materially eased.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Is US$2trn In Fiscal Support Enough?

    Will the US$2trn fiscal packiage prove big enough? The initial market reaction might have suggested that it won’t. However, if extreme lockdowns last no longer than a month or two, the fiscal package may well succeed in its twin objectives of averting mass business failures and preventing a big rise in long term unemployment.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Case For Corporate Bonds

    Although the US spread of Covid-19 continues to accelerate, in the near term markets have been encouraged by promises of heavy fiscal support for the US economy and the Federal Reserve’s plans to take risk off private sector balance sheets, including by buying corporate debt. Is now the time to increase exposure to risk assets?

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    The Importance Of The Fed’s Big Guns

    On Monday, the US Federal Reserve rolled out some of its heaviest artillery. In a move reminiscent of the moves in March 2009 which finally succeeded in stabilizing markets, it both relaxed accounting rules for banks and launched a whole suite of programs designed to take risk off private sector balance sheets, including by buying corporate bonds.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    High Frequency Data For Tracking Covid-19

    As national lockdowns upend normal economic activity, conventional economic indicators are being rendered useless to investors. High frequency indicators may be helpful in spotting future turning points and gauging the strength of any eventual recovery. In this short chartbook, KX suggests a range of indicators for monitoring the US economy.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Dollar Squeeze Intensifies

    Policymakers in the world’s biggest economic blocks are responding to the current crisis with fiscal and monetary “shock and awe”. Yet even as the much maligned European Central Bank joined the asset purchase party, markets have continued to crater. For all the coordinated economic responses to the coronavirus pandemic, there has been no serious effort to free up the offshore market for US dollars.

    10
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    Gavekal Research

    The Fed’s ‘Whatever It Takes’ Moment

    While other US government agencies tackle the coronavirus crisis, the Federal Reserve has promised ample liquidity and functioning credit markets. Its “whatever it takes” plan is to ensure that US dollars are available at home and abroad, US credit markets remain liquid and solvent companies and individuals are not stopped out.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    What US$35 Oil Means For The US

    Much of the commentary on the -30% downward breakout in the price of oil over the last couple of weeks has focused on the negative fallout for the US economy. The demand destruction caused by Covid-19 which initiated the oil price fall is a clear economic negative. Yet cheaper energy also promises positive effects. KX weighs the forces at work.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Buy The Dip, Or Sell The Rally?

    When the market falls -10% in a week, and then rallies 5% in a day, investors face a question: Do I buy the dip, or sell the rally? An investor selling the rally would in essence be making a bet that the negative impact of the coronavirus will outweigh the central bank support and G7 finance ministry action that has been promised.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Still Dollar Bears (Humbly)

    The Covid-19 outbreak has sparked a flight to safety, reversing an incipient weakening of the US dollar. This is hardly unfounded, as the US so far has been spared a major outbreak and its economy is decently insulated. Yet most of the factors weighing on the US dollar late last year remain valid. Thus Will and KX advise a negative dollar bias.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Still The Safest Port In A Macro Storm

    It took a while, but fear of contagion is gripping Wall Street. In the last week, the S&P 500 has fallen -8%, while 10-year US treasury bills have hit a new all-time low. Yet the risk-off move in US asset markets triggered by worries the coronavirus epidemic is turning into a global pandemic is at odds with underlying US fundamentals.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Problem In US Equities

    As US equities power to new highs, investors have brushed off geopolitical ructions and fears of a global pandemic. It is less clear that weak earnings are incidental to the US bull market. With 420 firms in the S&P 500 having reported for 4Q19, earnings are only up 1.6% on the previous year.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    A Surfeit Of Money

    The fruits of the US Federal Reserve’s swing to monetary easing are ripening. In the last couple of months the about-turn in monetary direction has triggered a dramatic rebound in aggregate US money supply growth, which is outpacing GDP growth. This suggests excess cash may be piling up. If so, the excess is likely to further bid up US asset prices.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    The Dial Moves Against US Growth Stocks

    The outperformance of growth over value continues, yet an increasing number of serious US managers are making the case for value. On the macro front the worry is of a strong economy that continues to have an inflationary vibe. Over the last five years, I have taken an equity growth bias. Now I’m shifting towards the value camp.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Sweet Spot For US Jobs

    US non-farm payrolls came in stronger than expected in January. Examining more forward-looking data, such as job openings, many observers suspect the US jobs market may be heading for slower job creation and weaker wage growth in the coming quarters. These worries are likely misplaced.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Bad Shocks Can Have Benign Effects

    There are few people outside Donald Trump’s administration who think the US-China trade war was a good thing. There are surely even fewer who think the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak has any positive aspects at all. Nevertheless, while both last year’s trade war and this year’s viral epidemic are bad for global economic growth, they are both largely beneficial for US households.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Threat To US Equities

    On Friday the US equity market succumbed to coronavirus jitters, with the S&P 500 sliding -1.77% to wipe out its year-to-date gains for January. The sell-off was accompanied by a surge in the VIX volatility index, which could continue to rise. Happily, however, there are five good reasons to think any such elevated volatility will prove short-lived.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Don't Fret About The Fed's Balance Sheet

    As if investors didn’t have enough to worry about just now, many have been spooked by this month’s dip in the size of the US Federal Reserve’s balance sheet. Happily the Fed is one thing investors don’t need to fret about. The Fed’s statement and press conference on Wednesday confirmed that US monetary policy remains clear and predictable—and accommodative.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    The Dark Side Of A Strong US Economy

    The US’s growth outlook has been bolstered by easy financial conditions and trade deals being reached with China and its near neighbors. Yet, those prospects are also hampered by a tight labor market that threatens corporate profits. What recent data releases highlight is both the enduring strength of the US economy and niggling late-cycle factors that could yet undo it.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: US Autos Ride Again

    A range of cyclical and structural factors have conspired to hit US auto sales in recent years. But with the US labor market remaining in rude health and US monetary policy being loosened, that may be about to change. The impact could be positive for US growth and for risk assets, argues KX in this interview.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Qualified Bull On US Equities

    US unemployment is at its lowest in half a century. Yet for investors, the strength of the US jobs market is far from an unalloyed good. The biggest macro risk to the bull market in US equities this year is a sharp rise in inflation. And such a rise in inflation could have two probable causes: a steep rise in energy prices, or a marked rise in labor costs.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Credit Spreads: Not Worth The Risk

    US corporate bonds had a great run in 2019, and have started 2020 on a strong note. Both investment grade and high yield indexes rose by around 14% last year, with credit spreads contracting substantially in the fourth quarter to approach their narrowest for this cycle. However, as US corporate leverage has risen, considerable latent risks have accumulated in the system.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Echoes Of 2017

    Global markets began 2020 on a bullish note, with the US S&P 500 climbing to a fresh record close, up a chunky 4.3% over the last month. Indeed, the US monetary backdrop at the start of 2020 is reminiscent of that in early 2017, a year which saw the S&P 500 climb 19.4%. History may not repeat this year, but there are good reasons to believe it may yet rhyme.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Audio — Gavekal Research Call December 2019

    In the final Gavekal Research Conference Call of the year Louis-Vincent Gave, Anatole Kaletsky, Arthur Kroeber and Will Denyer reviewed the current investment environment and outlined their expectations for 2020.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Repo Paradox

    Following the US dollar liquidity squeeze and repo rate spike in mid-September—an event which went on to trigger hearty liquidity injections from the Federal Reserve—the market has been on the lookout for new stressors in the US dollar money markets. There were concerns of renewed stress on Monday as the Treasury sucked up an estimated US$84bn on the settlement of new debt issues and through the receipt of corporate taxes. US money market rates...

    8
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    Gavekal Research

    What Would Volcker Do?

    Paul Volcker, who died this week aged 92, leaves a legacy of public service with a backbone. He managed the monetary affairs of the world’s leading economy during its post-WW2 nadir, and so his perspective on conducting monetary policy in times of political turmoil is without match.

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    Parsing Payrolls And The Fed

    November’s employment figures show that the US jobs market is slowing, but the slowdown is gradual and not sufficient to worry investors to any significant degree about an impending recession. Nor, with inflation expectations subdued, do recent jobs data give the Federal Reserve reason to act either one way or the other at this week’s policy meeting.

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    A Safety Rope On The Wall Of Worry

    Markets are heading into the end of 2019 on a broadly constructive note. Yet there are daunting risks hanging over 2020. And although a number of these risks may be of modest probability, the impact on portfolios should they arise will be great. This means investors are to an extent climbing a wall of worry. Fortuitously, there is a safety rope to hand.

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    Seminar Series Multimedia — Fall 2019

    Partners and analysts present their core ideas for the big economic regions and global markets heading into the year-end and looking forward to 2020.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Earningless Equity Rally

    In the third quarter, US macro-level domestic earnings fell -1.9% year-on-year. Behind this squeeze lies a weak sales picture tied to trading uncertainty and a rise in wages. In the near term, both factors could intensify. Yet there is nothing especially new in weak US profits and a ripping equity market. There are, in fact, three reasons to think this situation can be sustained.

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    Gavekal Research

    The US Manufacturing Slump Abates

    US manufacturing output fell -1.5% year-on-year in October to mark its weakest month since December 2015. The worry is that a US manufacturing recession causes such a drag that even well-performing sectors like housing get sucked down as well. The good news is that these production numbers look like a nadir.

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    Gavekal Research

    Looking Through To US Inflation

    In Congressional testimony yesterday, Jay Powell expressed optimism that US inflation will gradually rise toward the Federal Reserve’s target of 2%. If this is the case then it is reasonable to think that the US central bank could be done with rate cuts in this cycle but some way away from any rate hikes—this points to a Goldilocks of sorts.

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    Video: A Turning Point For The Dollar

    For the last five years, the world has lived with a strong US dollar. That may be about to change. Not only has the Fed turned dovish, its return to balance sheet expansion means it is now printing more money each month than its central bank peers, such as the ECB. This liquidity splurge, coupled with a diminution of dollar-supportive international risks may point to a period of US dollar weakness.

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    Time To Embrace The US Consumer

    Whether moving into a fixer-upper or a freshly finished McMansion, most homeowners will splurge on big ticket items to embellish their new abode. With the US housing market looking strong, investors should bet on consumer discretionary—it has the advantage of offering protection if long-dated bond yields move materially higher.

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    Strategy Monthly: Towards A Dollar Decline

    The last five years have been an era of US dollar strength. That era may now be coming to an end. After the US Federal Reserve halted its balance sheet contraction and last month resumed buying T-bills at a rate of US$60bn a month, the Fed is now printing money faster than the other central banks. As a result, relative liquidity growth now favors US dollar weakness.

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    Gavekal Research

    Easy Money And Robust Growth

    No wonder the S&P 500 closed at a new high yesterday. On the same day the Federal Reserve cut interest rates by 25bp, US GDP growth for 3Q19 came in at a robust 1.9%. For its part, the Fed gave no indication of paring down its new asset purchase program (quantitative easing in all but name). This is bullish for risk assets and bearish for the US dollar.

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    Gavekal Research

    US Dollar Under Fire

    The richly-valued US dollar is finally starting to look vulnerable. While still in its post-2015 trading range, the DXY index has given up -1.5% in the last 11 trading days; broader trade-weighted measures have also swooned. A range of factors are now weighing on the US currency and if they persist the unit could see a pronounced decline in the coming months.

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    Video: Playing The Un-inversion

    Having inverted over the summer, the US yield curve has steepened sharply. In the past such a move has often presaged recession—but not always. Twice since the 1960s an inversion and steepening was not followed by recession. Then, as now, the return on invested corporate capital was higher than the cost of that capital.

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    Gavekal Research

    Culling The Pessimists

    A series of head-spinning flip-flops in the on-again-off-again trade war over the summer has caused US businesses to delay fresh investment. As a result, business surveys have been giving readings consistent with a US recession. Yet it seems likely that any damage wrought by the trade war remains ephemeral—at least hard data suggests this.

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    The Fed Goes On The Offensive

    Grocery shoppers get perturbed when they buy produce labeled as “organic” but get something from the agro-industrial complex. Investors, on the other hand, should welcome the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet boost, that was described on Friday as nothing more than “organic” growth. As it turns out, this is a heavily engineered offering by the custodians of money.

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    Gavekal Research

    Watching For Signs Of A US Spillover

    Is the rot spreading? In the eurozone, there are signs that this year’s slump in manufacturing may be beginning to spill over to weigh on activity in the broader economy. Plenty of observers believe the US economy is destined to follow a similar path. Their fears may yet be realized, but so far there is no evidence the US economy is heading that way.

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    Gavekal Research

    Back To Balance Sheet Expansion

    On Tuesday, Jay Powell confirmed that the US Federal Reserve will go back to growing its balance sheet once again following its meeting at the end of October. The aim is for the balance sheet to grow gradually along with the economy. While the Fed’s planned move is clearly positive for liquidity growth, it is likely to disappoint investors for two reasons.

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    Video: Where The Fed Stands

    Investors are nervous about weak US data and a liquidity squeeze in the US repo markets. They are now looking to the Federal Reserve for reassurance. In this video, Will tells us what policy changes to expect from the Fed at the end of this month and why.

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    Gavekal Research

    Echoes Of 2000 Strike A False Note

    First there was the WeWork IPO failure and a string of other flops. Now the S&P 500 has slumped -3% in just two days, leaving the index down -4.6% from its July high. As a result, nervous investors are wondering whether the US may be seeing the beginning of the bursting of a bubble, just as in 2000. Are the fears justified?

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    Gavekal Research

    Quantifying Trade War Risk

    Investors seem to have grown somewhat blasé about the US-China trade war lately. Over 12 months after the outbreak of hostilities, the S&P 500 is up 2.2% year-on-year. Part of the reason for this nonchalance appears to be a belief that US growth and domestic profits are invulnerable to any escalation of the conflict. This belief may be mistaken.

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    Gavekal Research

    What If The Fed Has Finished Cutting

    What happens to the US equity market if the Federal Reserve has already finished cutting interest rates? Last Friday, Will made the case for a rebound in US growth, but withheld judgement whether it would be driven by real growth or inflation. The prospect raises the very real possibility that the Fed may decide rates have been cut enough.

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    Gavekal Research

    Stay Neutral Between Equities And Cash

    As August’s panic has receded, bond yields have risen from their lows. Even so, with the 10-year US treasury yield at 1.77%, the only way bonds can deliver significant upside from here is if the US economy slides into a disinflationary recession. That may yet happen. But it is by no means the most probable course for the US economy.

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    Gavekal Research

    US Liquidity Is Not The Worry

    Despite this week’s violent US money market judders, the Federal Reserve looks to have a clear plan for managing monetary policy and liquidity conditions. There are many reasons to worry about risk asset pricing, but a shock from the bowels of the US financial system is not among them. In contrast, there are four reasons to stay upbeat about the US liquidity situation.

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    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research Call September 2019

    In yesterday’s conference call, Anatole Kaletsky, Will Denyer and Louis-Vincent Gave outlined reasons for recent dramatic moves in bond markets and made arguments for what comes next. Anatole also addressed Brexit developments and Louis discussed the situation in Hong Kong.

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    Tariffs Won't Trouble US Consumers

    As US growth has slowed this year, consumer spending has been the economy’s bright spot. Personal consumption expenditure was the principal contributor to growth in the second quarter and July. However, fears are growing that the US consumer will come under increasing pressure in the coming months as the latest round of tariffs go into effect.

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    Strategy Monthly: The Message From Bonds

    Record low bond yields point to a deflationary catastrophe in the making. Yet growth data in the world’s two biggest economies remain decent. Could investors be reacting to a rupture in the international order? Gavekal analysts are not persuaded by such arguments and offer four alternative explanations for the “bond bubble”.

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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Looking Through The Bond Bubble

    As yields fall to record lows, bond markets seem priced for some sort of global economic calamity. With Europe in dire straits and the US-China trade war remaining live, there is certainly cause for worry. But when things look like they can’t get any worse, Will reckons, they often don’t. As the US growth outlook appears steady, equities and cash are the better bet.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Case Against Recession

    Earlier in August, Charles announced that he was reluctantly joining the US recession camp. His reasoning was based largely on his observation that the long run average growth rate of US corporate profits had fallen to a level that in recent decades has always indicated an economic downturn. I am more optimistic than Charles.

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    Weathering Trump’s Trade War

    It may be the dog days of summer, but investors got a truckload of news this weekend that points to a bad situation getting worse. Given President Donald Trump’s escalation of tariffs and threat to bar US firms from operating in China, the worry is that his hardline stance spurs a US recession. KX and Will think this is unlikely.

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