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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Of Reform And Red Tape

    Is China’s reform drive for real? Since Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang took over the reins of government at the beginning of 2013, they have promised sweeping changes to economic policy, foreign affairs and public morality, among other areas. But they have also faced persistent skepticism that the substance of these changes lags behind their lofty rhetoric—and it is true that many of their biggest reforms remain mostly in the planning stages.

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    Gavekal Research

    5C China: Looking For The Exit From Deflation

    From the consumer’s perspective, China’s inflation trends look wonderfully benign, with the consumer price index showing the kind of stable and low-but-positive inflation readings beloved of central bankers. Since 2012, CPI inflation excluding food has hovered around 1.6% YoY, never going above 1.9% or below 1.4%. Yet from the producer’s perspective, China has been going through an extended and wrenching period of deflation: the producer price...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Growth, Reform Or Both?

    Is China’s government more focused on short-term growth or long-term reform? Those hoping for a clear answer are getting disappointed.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Healthcare: From Demand To Supply

    The moment has come for China’s healthcare sector. As the nation’s economy shifts onto a slower growth trajectory, the boom sectors of the previous decade or two are in retreat, and domestic and foreign investors are looking for new growth areas. Healthcare fits the bill: the economic properties of healthcare mean that, at least over the longer term, demand for health services will grow at least as fast and probably faster than the overall...

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    Gavekal Research

    New York Seminar June 2014 - Louis, Anatole & Andrew

    We held our summer seminar in New York on June 10, with Anatole, Louis and Andrew offering their take on the state of the world economy and financial markets. We were also joined by Henrik Christensen who is director of Robotics at Georgia Tech. Audio recordings of their discussions are available below:

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    Gavekal Research

    China Becomes A Willing Seller

    Tea-leaf reading is all the rage in Beijing again. With a deepening correction in the housing market promising to significantly drag on China’s growth this year, every utterance of the political leadership is being parsed for clues as to how and when the government might respond. The tone does seem to be changing: Premier Li Keqiang this week has repeated his usual bromides on “fine-tuning” policy as necessary, but without his previous emphasis...

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    Gavekal Research

    US Productivity: Average Is Deceptive

    Is the world’s leading economy having a productivity crisis? Over the past few years, economic commentators have repeatedly raised alarms about the slow pace of productivity growth in the US since the 2008 financial crisis. Since gains in labor productivity—how much economic value is generated by each hour of work—are the foundation of any long-term increase in incomes and living standards, a slowdown would negatively impact the economic future...

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    Gavekal Research

    5C China: Clouds Gather Over Property Outlook

    China’s economic indicators for April showed growth holding steady, albeit at sluggish rates, in manufacturing and consumer spending. Exports are even picking up once the data problems are dealt with. But while growth may be stable for the moment the risks of a further downturn are rising, as sales and sentiment worsen in the housing market.

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    Gavekal Research

    Five Corners (16 April 2014)

    In the latest bi-weekly review of global economics and investment, Charles Gave explains why it still pays to run a balanced portfolio, despite the market’s rotation. Will Denyer argues that outlook for US consumption remains favorable, even though consumer cyclicals have taken a beating. François-Xavier Chauchat examines the reasons behind the euro’s persistent strength. Andrew Batson looks at Beijing’s new focus on jobs and finds the...

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    Gavekal Research

    Running The Red Queen's Race

    By reporting the relatively low figure of a 7.4% rise in first-quarter gross domestic product, down from 7.7% in the previous quarter, China has confirmed that the current pace of economic expansion is now roughly as weak as it was during previous downturns in 2008 and 2012. While the headline number was better than market expectations, and growth clearly picked up a little in March from the lows of January and February, there are worrying signs...

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    Gavekal Research

    5C China: A Blurry Target For Job Growth

    China’s top policymakers have spent the past week preparing the public for today’s weak GDP reading—a rise of 7.4% in 1Q14—by emphasizing that as long as enough jobs are being created, it doesn’t matter if growth is a bit below the 7.5% official target. This is a laudable attempt to wean the system off its obsession with GDP numbers and get officials to focus on more relevant indicators.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Unexpected Return Of State Enterprise Reform

    Reforming China’s vast array of state-owned enterprises is once again on the government’s agenda, after a decade of drift. This development has caught many observers by surprise, since it runs against the conventional wisdom that SOEs are entrenched vested interests able to easily block change. In this chartbook, Andrew explains how SOEs’ failures opened the door for a new round of reform, how local governments are now taking the lead—and what...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Ammunition Locker Looks Bare

    No sooner had Chinese Premier Li Keqiang declared his goal of 7.5% GDP growth this year than economic data began to undermine his chances of achieving it. The weak readings from most indicators for January and February point were much worse than expectations, and on our models are consistent with GDP growth of 7.2% for the first quarter of 2014—a sharp slowdown from the 7.7% pace in the fourth quarter of 2013. While we can reasonably expect the...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Is Iron Ore Becoming The New Copper?

    One of the hoariest of market clichés is that copper is “the metal with a PhD in economics” since its demand is supposedly closely related to real economic activity. This saying should produce a bit of a chuckle for those familiar with Chinese commodity markets, where copper is heavily used as collateral for financing. Because of this practice, copper shipments and prices often have no relationship whatsoever with economic fundamentals. In...

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    Gavekal Research

    5C China: Is Iron Ore Becoming The New Copper?

    One of the hoariest of market clichés is that copper is “the metal with a PhD in economics” since its demand is supposedly closely related to real economic activity. This saying should produce a bit of a chuckle for those familiar with Chinese commodity markets, where copper is heavily used as collateral for financing. Because of this practice, copper shipments and prices often have no relationship whatsoever with economic fundamentals. In...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    ‘Tis The Season For China To Disappoint

    The trickle of weak economic data from China has turned into a flood, with yesterday’s publication of official readings of industrial output, investment and retail sales that were uniformly below market expectations. As a result, investors are increasingly doubtful of the ability of heavily indebted Chinese firms to survive the combination of weaker growth and tighter credit. Premier Li Keqiang, by coincidence giving his annual press conference...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Getting Serious About Fiscal Policy

    This week’s session of the National People’s Congress is the first major public presentation of Chinese government policies since the leadership unveiled a major reform package last November. As such it provides an occasion to assess how much the government is following through on those plans. And Premier Li Keqiang did indeed reinforce market-friendly themes by pledging further steps on deregulating the economy and supporting private-sector...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    How To Fix China’s State Sector

    The government’s own data on SOEs show that neither of its two principal priorities for the state sector is now being achieved: SOE assets are not, in fact, being concentrated in the sectors the government wants; and the returns on SOE assets have sharply deteriorated. As a result, a significant part of the Chinese economy is underperforming. This creates a drag on economic output at a time when many other changes—an aging population, the...

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    Gavekal Research

    How Hawkish Is China's Central Bank?

    At the start of 2013, the dominant worry among investors was that China was doing nothing to control its explosion of credit. At the start of 2014, the dominant worry among investors is that China is doing too much to control its explosion of credit, and that a sharp growth slowdown and financial turmoil will be the result. And just as the worries in early 2013 underestimated the government’s genuine commitment to structural reform, the current...

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    Gavekal Research

    5C China: A Targeted Credit Tightening

    With rising worries about the effects of tighter credit, there has been much hand-wringing in Beijing about a slowdown in corporate investment. Some scholars are glum at the fact that annual growth in fixed-asset investment, China’s benchmark for capital expenditure, fell below 20% in 2013 for the first time in at least a decade. But perhaps the more interesting statistic is that growth in investment by non-state firms, at 23.1%, strongly...

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