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    Gavekal Research

    Covid’s Legacy Of Corporate Debt

    Covid-19 will leave a legacy of debt—corporate as well as sovereign. An increase in borrowing has raised fears: both of a wave of job-destroying corporate bankruptcies if government support is withdrawn, and of the creation of a legion of zombie companies if it is not. Cedric examines the situation in France, which accounted for half of the eurozone’s increase in corporate debt last year, and finds the true picture is less alarming than it first...

    0
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    Towards Stealth Debt Cancellation

    The grand panjandrums of the European Central Bank meet Thursday amid growing calls for them to cancel the vast sums of eurozone member governments’ debt they have bought over the last year. There is zero chance they will formally agree to any debt cancellation, but the ECB may do so by stealth.

    9
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    Gavekal Research

    The Fiscal Fallout Of Germany’s Political Ructions

    On Monday the uncertainty quotient in German politics jumped dramatically when Angela Merkel’s chosen successor quit as leader of the CDU. Her departure will trigger a new CDU leadership struggle which will further fragment an already fractured German political scene. The upheaval is likely to lead to a more expansionary German fiscal policy in the medium term.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    The European Recovery Lives, Just

    On the face of it, Germany’s industrial slump is still worsening. The worry has been that a cratering of Europe’s industrial economy proves bad enough to reverse the “internal” recovery spurred by super-easy monetary policy. In fact, such a contagion is unlikely in 2020 and the eurozone should see overall growth stabilize at around its potential level.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The French Resistance

    While most of the rest of Europe, including Germany, has run into stiff headwinds from the slowdown in global demand, the French economy has continued to trundle along largely untroubled, with growth closely in line with potential. Cedric argues France’s economy will continue to grow in steady, if unspectacular, fashion over the medium term.

    4
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    France's Industrial Resilience

    France is bucking the downturn in European—and global—industry. In May, French industrial production confounded expectations by rising an impressive 4% year-on-year. And crucially, French industry is creating jobs again after a brutal 17-year contraction. Cedric examines the reasons for France’s industrial health.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    An Asymmetric Opportunity In BTPs

    The yield on 10-year BTPs has fallen below 2% for the first time since Italy’s populist government took office, yet investors continue to demand high premiums to hold Italian debt. Given that the cost of servicing this debt has fallen, and upcoming ratings reviews, there is a likelihood that BTP yields will converge further towards Portuguese and Spanish yields.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Everything You Wanted To Know About EU Politics

    This week EU voters will elect representatives to a legislature that has often been dubbed a snooze fest. That has changed as populist-nationalist parties challenge the established organs of government. Cedric gives a detailed explanation of how politics works at a supra-national level in Europe, and how current tensions are changing the key institutions.

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    A Fire-Tested Macron

    Tomorrow will see Emmanuel Macron deliver the big national address that got upended by the Notre Dame inferno on April 15. His speech will outline a mix of tax breaks, constitutional modernizations and symbolic grand gestures. The broad story, however, is that the effort to reform France remains broadly on track.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Macron’s Reform Program Lives On

    At first sight, the French government’s decision to postpone its proposed fuel tax increases in the face of popular gilet jaune street protests looks a lot like the climb-downs of 1996, 2006 and 2016, all of which saw attempts at economic reform derailed by mass opposition. Cedric argues such a conclusion would be overly hasty.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    The True Story Of Eurozone Equities

    Since the financial crisis, European equities have proven serial duds compared to their transatlantic cousins. Cedric argues this divergence is simple reflection of the higher earnings-per-share achieved by US firms. Looking forward, however, he says it will be almost impossible for US firms to maintain this profits gap.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    The Politics (And Economics) Of A Multi-Polar Europe

    This weekend’s election in Bavaria saw voters deal parties in Germany’s ruling coalition a bruising rebuff that further erodes Merkel’s authority and effectively kills off Macron’s plan for the EU to integrate at a faster pace. In light of such a changed environment, Nick and Cedric introduce a new framework to explain how political bargaining will work in an increasingly multi-polar Europe.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    When Non Means Non

    The UK government is on the offensive trying to sell a “Chequers” plan that would leave it with a semi-detached trading and administrative relationship with the European Union. The negotiating position, has won few plaudits at home, and over the last week got a courteous, but non-committal response on the continent. Cedric is doubtful that the intended "divide and conquer" approach will bear fruit.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Whether To Buy Italy (And The Euro)

    On Wednesday, Louis argued that the Italian president’s rejection of a proposed coalition finance minister was “worse than a crime, a mistake”. Anatole and Cedric are not so sure. In this paper they examine the two conditions—one political, one financial—that will signal a major buying opportunity in Italy.

    2
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    The Next Phase Of Eurozone Reform

    During last year’s French presidential election, Emmanuel Macron opened a debate by asking “what do we want to do with the euro?” His answer was more political integration and burden sharing. Those plans must get traction at the June 28-29 meeting of European Union leaders if they are not to be crowded out by a likely messy end to the Brexit process and next year’s European Parliament elections. Right now, this seems a long shot and attention...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    La France En Grève

    Once again, French public sector workers are en grève—on strike. In the last couple of weeks, railway workers, air traffic controllers and teachers (and their students) have walked out in protest against Emmanuel Macron’s structural reforms. Inevitably such broad opposition to official policy has prompted memories of 1995, and even 1968. But as Cedric explains, times have moved on, and today the public is more ready than ever before to...

    0
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    Playing Russia’s Continued Recovery

    The result of this weekend’s Russian presidential election is not in doubt. But investors in Russia face considerable uncertainty. Despite monetary policy and exchange rate liberalization, Russia has made little progress towards the structural reforms needed to boost its potential growth rate above rock-bottom levels. Nevertheless, cyclical tailwinds mean there are still some attractive pockets of opportunity for international investors.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Change And Stasis In Italy

    In Italy’s general election on Sunday, the anti-establishment Five Star Movement emerged as the largest single party in each chamber of parliament, and the populist Lega eclipsed Silvio Berlusconi’s Forze Italia to dominate the right of Italian politics. Following these changes, it is hard to see how any plausible combination of parties can secure a stable majority in both houses of parliament. As Cedric and Anatole explain, the most likely...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Five Ways To Play European Equities

    After a traumatic couple of weeks in the equity markets, Nick and Cedric take this opportunity to revisit their longstanding advice that investors should overweight European mid-caps exposed to the eurozone’s cyclical upturn. As they explain in this report, that call still holds, and they suggest three sectors where investors should look to buy the dip, and two that portfolio managers would do well to avoid.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Eastern Europe's Equity Sweet Spot

    The big issue facing investors globally is whether inflation makes a Lazarus-like comeback. But in one significant economic region, it is already alive and kicking. Eastern Europe experienced a painful deflation and repricing after the 2008 crisis, but inflation is now well above 2.5%. Having underperformed for many years, Cedric argues that its financial-heavy equity indexes should continue to do well in an environment of strong domestic demand...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    When Political Stagnation Is Benign

    Last week, European economic affairs commissioner Pierre Moscovici declared Italy a “political risk” for the European Union. Some of the Euroskeptic campaign rhetoric has certainly been alarming. But in this paper Nick and Cedric delve into Italy’s electoral arithmetic to conclude that no incoming government is likely to have the will or capability to act on such combative promises.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Spending Again In Germany

    Picture the typical German consumer. The image that comes to mind is almost certainly of a deeply conservative individual: cautious, thrifty in his or her spending habits, and with a deep-seated aversion to maxing out the credit card. As with most stereotypes, this one has some foundation in experience. But like many, it also looks increasingly out of date. While Germany’s booming export sector has got most of the attention recently, it is...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    France: Believe The Hype

    A basic assumption among Anglo-Saxon investors has been that France, for all its nice food, good wine and smart infrastructure, was the unreformable economy. Then Emmanuel Macron came along promising to fix things, duly got elected president, orchestrated a thumping parliamentary majority and actually began to deliver on promises.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    German Overheating? No, Eurozone Rebalancing

    In early November, Germany’s Council of Economic Experts, a panel of five heavyweights that advises the government, declared there were clear signs that Europe’s largest economy was running above potential and at risk of overheating. Three weeks later inflation data showed that consumer prices rose by a faster than expected 1.8% year-on-year in October, up from 1.5% in September, with the core ex-energy and food inflation rate also surprising to...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Debating The Eurozone Recovery

    Over the last two years, Nick and Cedric have held similar views about the eurozone’s economic situation. In recent months, however, they have started to diverge on whether this framework still describes Europe’s situation. The upshot is that while Cedric is bulled up, Nick has begun to think the recovery is running out of road.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Curious Case Of European Optimism

    This weekend saw Madrid announce emergency measures over Catalonia, upping the chance of a declaration of independence being made in Barcelona. Yet despite the worst Spanish political crisis since the 80s, markets have mostly shrugged. After eight years viewing all glasses as half-empty, investors in eurozone assets have since the Brexit vote seemingly turned into congenital optimists.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Bond Markets Don’t Speak Catalan

    This week has seen the Spanish government arrest Catalan public officials and take control of the region’s public finances in response to an independence plebiscite that it says is illegal. Cedric concedes that the row is messy and won’t be quickly resolved, but says that it is highly unlikely to result in a genuine political crisis that derails the Spanish economic recovery.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    A Somewhat Changed Germany

    After recent high-drama elections in the US, France and Britain, Germany’s national democratic exercise has been a relative snooze-fest. On Sunday, Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union grouping should comfortably win the biggest slice of the vote and the coalition building will start. There are, however, reasons to think that Merkel could attempt to strike out on her own.

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    The Eurozone Is Now So Far Behind The US, It’s In Front

    Among the many tricky tasks facing investors is to determine the relative positions of the US and eurozone economies in their respective business cycles. Over the preceding two cycles—the ones that peaked in 2000/01 and 2005/06—the two economies moved broadly in phase, with the eurozone lagging the US by around one year. Estimates from the International Monetary Fund and OECD suggest that that relative position is largely unchanged, with the...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Real Macron

    On Monday Emmanuel Macron launched what is being dubbed an imperial presidency. He offered a neo-Gaullist vision of a strong leader nurturing a troubled nation’s recovery. Yet he also unfurled an electoral reform program aiming to break the old political duopoly. The worry is that Macron uses up his political capital and economic reform stalls.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Macron And French Optionality

    For investors, the great benefit of Emmanuel Macron is that even if his big plans for change fizzle a nice cyclical economic recovery will almost certainly play out. If the president-elect defies the stereotypical view of France as being basically unreformable, the kicker is huge optionality built into asset values that have non-challenging valuations. Either way, Cedric argues that France represents a stand-out investment opportunity.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Target2 Fears Are Wide Of The Mark

    With Euroskeptic candidates showing strongly in the opinion polls ahead of France’s presidential election, Italy’s debt trap as inescapable as ever, and negotiations over the next round of Greece’s bail-out making little headway, talk about a possible break-up of the eurozone is once again doing the rounds. And as it does so, fears are rising about the growing magnitude of the European Central Bank’s Target2 balances, and the financial havoc...

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Stay Long Ruble Bonds

    Russia has been a consensus overweight among emerging market managers since early 2016. They have been handsomely rewarded. Over the last 12 months, ruble-denominated Russian finance ministry bonds, known as OFZs, have returned 37% in US dollar terms. Small wonder then that over the same time period non-resident holdings of OFZs have increased from 21% of outstanding issuance to 27%. After such an impressive outperformance, it is natural to ask...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Playing The Eurozone Recovery

    For the first time in years you don’t have to be a swivel-eyed loon to think the eurozone has a fairly bright economic future. Growth is broadening, deepening and frankly becoming less newsworthy. The wrinkle is political tail risk, but we think this threat is containable.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Polls, Big Data And The French Primary

    It’s been said that big data is like carnal knowledge in teenage boys’ locker rooms: everyone talks about it, but noone really knows much about it. A slew of election results in the last few years supports such a viewpoint, for in an age when everything can supposedly be measured, political forecasts have been proven hugely flawed—the UK general election in 2015, the Brexit vote, the Colombian peace-process referendum, Donald Trump winning the...

    8
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    Gavekal Research

    The Lady Is Not For Turning

    As she kicked off her general election campaign this week, Angela Merkel declared that Germany “had never had it so good”. The economy is humming so nicely that Germany’s council of economic advisors recently warned about overheating. This would seem to rule out a fiscal stimulus, which conflicts with Brussels’ policy of engineering a more expansionary fiscal environment.

    1
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    A Trumpian Europe?

    Donald Trump’s win in the US presidential election has emboldened populist movements in continental Europe and raised the specter of a similar anti-establishment electoral wave taking hold. The next 10 months will see national votes that could reshape Europe, with perhaps the most important happening in Italy on December 4. Myself and Nick Andrews have argued all year that the European Union is in the grip of destructive centrifugal forces due...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Eurozone Construction Revival

    The eurozone’s construction sector is on the turn as super low interest rates feed through to improved housing demand and as infrastructure building starts to pick-up. The implication is that a reliable new driver of growth should help sustain a moderate eurozone recovery. Investors are advised to take note as the sector has a decently investable universe, which is generating not too shabby earnings growth.

    0
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    Can The Russian Bear Turn Into A Bull?

    This month Russia’s Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company delivered two 100-seater passenger airplanes to the regional Irish carrier CityJet, and has orders for 13 more over the next year. The news caught our eye as it is the first time the Russian plane maker has broken into the European aviation market. As economists rather than aviation experts, it got us wondering whether Russia is finally curing itself of a decade-long bout of “Dutch disease” as...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Never Mind The Brexit, Look At Eurozone Mid-Caps

    Recent releases of hard and soft macro-economic data point to a cyclical eurozone recovery whose domestic drivers are increasingly robust. On the back of stronger consumption and investment, GDP growth was just revised up to 0.6% QoQ for 1Q16. Unemployment continues to fall and, after a weak start to the year, economic sentiment indicators have rebounded—the ZEW released yesterday for June leapt to 20.2 from 16.8 in May. This improvement is...

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    The French Investment Pick-Up

    France may be racked by strikes and edgy about terrorist threats as a major soccer tournament it is hosting kicks off today, but the eurozone’s second biggest economy has a decent story to tell. Consumer confidence is at a post-2007 high, recent GDP readings have surprised on the upside and even jobless claims hint at an improvement in the labor market (see Is France Getting Better?). All of this perhaps explains why French investment for 1Q16...

    2
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    The German Consumer Lives

    By most measures, the eurozone remains unbalanced, with a competitive north eating the lunch of a productivity-challenged Latin periphery. Germany’s current account surplus stands at 8.6% of GDP and its banks are stuffed with excess deposits, suggesting that thrift remains the Teutonic economic passion of choice. Yet look closer at Germany and it is clear that domestic demand, not exports, is driving growth—household spending accounted for about...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Is France “Getting Better”?

    He was not quite Reaganesque in his cheery optimism, but in a recent primetime television appearance President Francois Hollande did declare to France that life was “getting better”. He could point to growth rising to 1.1% last year from a meagre 0.2% in 2014. Unfortunately, the French jobless total hit a new record of 3.6mn in February contributing to a public response of general derision, not to mention rioting at proposed labor market reforms...

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    European Disunion

    The grand old men who conceived of a united states of Europe knew that a successful single currency demanded a modern federation with integrated monetary, fiscal and political institutions. Such a leap into the unknown was politically impossible in the 1990s, and their assumption (and perhaps hope) was that the less than optimal eurozone would suffer periodic crises, so creating the conditions for reform and a centralization of powers. Since the...

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    The Road To Reflation

    For the last ten years or so, ever since the Hartz reforms to the German labor market, Germany has been by far the biggest driver of overall eurozone growth. Indeed, for much of 2012, Germany was the only driver of eurozone growth. This has not been a healthy phenomenon. With German savings rates high, and domestic consumption sluggish, much of Germany’s own growth was propelled by its net exports of goods to the rest of the world beyond the...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Too Quiet On The Southern Front

    Since the euro crisis kicked off six years ago, policy decisions affecting banks have had two main goals. Whether it be monetary policy, the 2014 asset quality review or moves toward both a banking and capital markets union, the objective has been to boost confidence in the system and reduce the fragmentation of credit markets. A -20% fall in eurozone bank shares YTD on concerns about the impact of negative interest rates shows that the first...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Learning To Love A Weak Ruble

    The oil price may have bounced in recent days and with it the ruble, but Russia’s financial situation looks increasingly perilous. The economy is struggling through a second year of recession and Russian corporates must roll over US$120bn of foreign currency debt by mid-2017. Moreover Russia’s central bank seems to have embraced a policy of benign neglect toward the ruble as it tries to preserve a reduced pile of foreign exchange reserves.

    0
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    Good Enough In Turkey

    Investors have welcomed last weekend’s victory of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) founded by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Turkey’s elections, with the lira and equities both rallying strongly. After June’s inconclusive poll failed to produce a workable government, the concern was that a country with huge economic, security and strategic challenges would become ungovernable. In this context, the election result was the best that...

    0
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    Good Enough In Turkey

    Investors have welcomed last weekend’s victory of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) founded by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Turkey’s elections, with the lira and equities both rallying strongly. After June’s inconclusive poll failed to produce a workable government, the concern was that a country with huge economic, security and strategic challenges would become ungovernable. In this context, the election result was the best that...

    0
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    Why The Ruble Rally May Be Over

    Global investors are bulled up on Russian financial assets with the ruble having outperformed most emerging market currencies since the “junk rally” got going in early September. On a YTD basis Russian bonds have outpaced those from other big EMs. As a result, dedicated Russian funds last month saw a big inflow for the first time in a year. Certainly, the shift in sentiment has been spurred by the Federal Reserve delaying any interest rate move...

    2
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    Gastarbeiter Redux

    The influx of hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers from war torn Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and parts of Africa has laid bare familiar divisions within the European Union. This week’s deal to relocate 120,000 more refugees from Greece and Italy on top of the 40,000 agreed in May starts to address the problem. Many multiples more are making the trip to Europe, but only one country—Germany—is promising to take large numbers. Commentators often...

    0
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    German Exports Are Not Kaputt

    Predictions of the German export machine’s demise followed southern Europe’s 2011 slide into deflation, the yen’s 2012/2013 devaluation, and now the emerging world’s slowdown. And yet German exports hit a new high in 2Q15 and the latest IFO survey points to more strength in 3Q. Far from going kaputt, German exporters can likely handle an emerging world crunch due to their geographical diversification, the benefit of a weak euro and improving...

    4
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    Europe's Democratic Divide

    Voters, it would seem, pose a clear and present danger to the eurozone. Syriza’s success in last weekend’s “Greferendum” shows there is only so much conventional medicine that electorates will take before looking for miracle cures. The party’s rise has mirrored the fall in Greek living standards since the financial crisis and the failure of Troika bailout packages to turn the country around. It has been useful to label Greece as “exceptional”...

    1
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    Why Germany Is Not Turning Japanese

    Germany has economic problems that most countries would die for—low unemployment and steadily rising real wages mean that policymakers must respond to bottlenecks such as labor shortages (see Germany Normalizes). The longer-term worry is that these “gaps” will become permanent as high-growth Germany must also grapple with Japanese-style demographics. The fear is that its post-2010 expansion could be a swan song before the structural growth...

    0
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    The Ruble Reconfigured

    Yesterday the Central Bank of Russia announced it had embarked on a program of foreign exchange purchases that will see it buy between US$100mn and US$200mn a day. It explained its move by saying the purchases are intended to replenish Russia’s foreign exchange reserves, depleted by last year’s currency market interventions. In effect, however, the central bank is serving the market with notice that it does not want the ruble to strengthen any...

    0
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    The Rebirth Of CEE Banking - Cedric Gemehl & Nick Andrews

    Who will benefit most from Europe’s extraordinary monetary easing? Will it be struggling giants such as Italy and France, or those lapping up liquidity on the fringes? Our contention is that Central and Eastern Europe is at the early stage of a “deflationary boom” while financial institutions have sufficiently recovered to transmit the European Central Bank’s quantitative easing program into credit expansion.

    0
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    Turkey’s Big Win From Oil

    The Turkish lira hit a new low against the US dollar this week, in part due to heightened political tension that followed the arrest of journalists who have been critical of the ruling AK Party. The episode acts as a reminder that Turkey remains vulnerable to changing perceptions of political risk and even small shifts in global risk appetite. Still, we remain generally enamored with a Turkish growth story that should get a major boost from a...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Take Profits On Hungarian Bonds

    Hungary has been Europe’s stand-out economic performer this year, outgrowing both its Central and Eastern European counterparts and its larger Western neighbors. While much of the continent has faltered, Hungary has surprised on the upside, with growth hitting 3.8% YoY in the second quarter; its highest reading since 2006. Meanwhile, unemployment has fallen back to 2007 levels, inflation is at a record low, and the country’s external accounts...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Russia's Stagflation Dilemma

    Given the escalation of East-West tensions in Europe it is hard to consider Russia’s prospects without obsessing about the impact of economic sanctions. However, the exogenous shock from Ukraine has hit an economy that was already reaching the limits of its chosen development model. In particular, Russia faces a stagflation problem which is pitting a sensible monetary policy against an increasingly cavalier fiscal approach.

    0
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    Buy Eastern European Bonds

    Here is a paradox that fixed income investors may want to think about. Since mid-2013 sovereign bond yields in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) have been broadly flat, contrasting with a strong rally in the euro-area periphery. Although the rally in Southern Europe is warranted, this divergence with Eastern Europe is not justified by economic fundamentals. Backed by very competitive currencies, a strong production rebound and spectacular...

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Is Turkey A Joke--Or A Buy?

    As Turkey prepares for local polls this Sunday, the country’s leaders would appear to be sliding into a parallel universe. After a Turkish court overruled his ban on Twitter, Prime Minister Erdogan came back yesterday with a similar prohibition on YouTube. This kind of repression might have been doable in the Cold War era, but is laughable in light of modern communications technology, and smacks of desperation. Yet against a backdrop of...

    0
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