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    Gavekal Research

    The Market Reaction If Inflation Fears Recede

    On Tuesday I wrote a Daily note arguing that the market anxiety about US inflation is overdone, which generated a strong response from clients and Gavekal colleagues, who almost unanimously disagreed with my view. We can now be fairly sure that markets are not discounting the scenario I described. With this in mind, let me suggest some investment ideas.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    A Post-Brexit Britain

    Some long-term investors do seem to be worried that a breakup of the United Kingdom could add another element of uncertainty to what I described last year as the “triple whammy” of Brexit, Covid and the British Treasury’s surprising flirtation with tax increases and premature fiscal tightening. It now appears, however, that only one of these concerns is really justified.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Who’s Afraid Of The Big Bond Wolf?

    For the past two months, financial analysts all over the world have been obsessed by two closely related questions: (i) How much further will US bond yields rise, and how fast? (ii) Will rising bond yields kill the bull markets in global equities and other risk assets?

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Stop Worrying About Bond Yields And Buy Equities

    Is it time to buy or sell global equities? I think investors should be adding exposure for four broad reasons. As argued in February, during the last mini-correction the global bull market that began on March 20, 2020, is still in its early stages and the cyclical economic problems that usually provoke bear markets are not yet on the horizon.

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    The Real Effect Of The Vaccine Row

    The fiasco of Europe’s vaccination plan and Brussels’ retreat from its standoff with the UK and AstraZeneca have has caused the euro to weaken. While this reaction makes sense, the euro is, in fact, unlikely to fall much more against sterling, while the euro-dollar exchange rate will depend on how politicians behave in Washington, more than bureaucrats in Brussels.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Deal Or No Deal: Should We Really Care?

    As the fifth season of the Brexit soap opera lumbers towards a predictably messy climax, the prospect of a sixth season will probably be enough to discourage international investors from considering British assets and sterling for another year or more. And rightly so. British assets should continue to be avoided because sterling at its present level represents a case of “heads I lose, tails I don’t win”.

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    Pricing The Post-Election World

    For once, everything went according to plan. The US election has passed without any big surprises—and the initial market reaction has been exactly what would be predicted in any textbook of finance, when a centrist and predictable conventional politician replaces an extreme and erratic populist as US president.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    A British Mad Man

    The world’s worst performing major currency, stock market and economy have all been located in Britain since Boris Johnson was reelected last December. This is not surprising. With hindsight, his decision to outlaw any possible extension of the Brexit transition period as soon as he was reelected fully justified the switch from bullish to bearish on sterling assets that I recommended immediately after this announcement.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Why I Was Right To Turn Bullish

    Previously, Anatole tried to explain why he had abandoned the bearish view on equities. We will not know for a long time whether any of his explanations make sense, but Jerome Powell’s speech about the Federal Reserve’s new operating philosophy bolstered his confidence in a once-in-a-generation economic regime change.

    10
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    Gavekal Research

    Time To Run With The Herd?

    When a herd of cattle is being hunted by a pack of wolves, the worst thing any cow or bull can do is show individualism and originality by running off in a different direction from the rest of the herd. In financial markets, “the trend is your friend” expresses the same evolutionary logic. Are markets now displaying non-rational herd behavior?

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Boris Will Pile Pelion On Ossa

    No country has matched Britain’s dismal combination of currency and equity losses so far this year. Making matters worse for Britain than other DMs is Boris Johnson's refusal to extend the post-Brexit transition period beyond December, precisely the time when the Covid-19 recession might otherwise be expected to start lifting.

    14
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    Gavekal Research

    Europe’s Hamiltonian Moment

    If there was a rational explanation for Monday’s global risk-on rally, it would be the genuinely exciting news from Europe. It is possible—just possible—that the Franco-German proposal for a €500bn coronavirus Recovery Fund announced yesterday will turn out to be the most important historic consequence of the coronavirus.

    14
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    Gavekal Research

    The Short, Medium And Long Term Outlook

    At the end of March, just after the collapse of global stock markets and non-dollar currencies had reached its climax, I argued that it was too early to buy equities but probably a good time to sell US dollars. The first of these ideas turned out to be wrong, the second irrelevant. But far from admitting defeat, I think it is worth doubling down on both these recommendations.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    A Modest Proposal For Europe

    A month ago, with the world economy just beginning its lockdown, I presented a modest proposal which seemed impossibly far-fetched to the point of madness. Four days later, the British government announced almost exactly those policies. This week a different crisis is looming: an intensified rerun of the 2012 euro crisis. So here is another modest proposal.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Too Early To Buy Equities, But Time To Sell Dollars

    After the biggest weekly gain in the Dow and with the US government having just approved the biggest-ever fiscal stimulus, how should investors react? While unrepentantly bullish in the long term, Anatole still believes that it is too early to buy equities. But for two other asset classes conditions do seem to be more propitious to call a bottom.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    A Modest Proposal To Avert Economic Catastrophe

    Contrary to initial expectations, the spread of the coronavirus around the world is not following the relatively benign trajectories experienced in China outside of Hubei, and in Korea, Singapore and the rest of Asia. Instead, across Europe—and likely in the US—the spread increasingly resembles the path it took in Hubei. This threatens both medical and economic disasters.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Another View Of The Bond Bubble

    How should we think about the unstoppable journey of all OECD bond yields towards zero, including 10-year, 50-year and even 100-year maturities from governments not noted for multi-generational predictability, such as Italy, Greece, Austria and post-Brexit Britain? On Monday Louis offered two explanations. Today, Anatole presents a third.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    When To Catch A Falling Knife

    Now that the Federal Reserve has hit the panic button, is it time to try to catch the falling knife on Wall Street? Technical analysis and investor sentiment suggest that equity prices may still have somewhat further to fall before they find a sustainable floor, even if the viral threat is probably overstated and stimulus by major governments will eventually outweigh the temporary economic collapse.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    The Downing Street Putsch

    Ever since turning negative on sterling and the UK economy when Boris Johnson dropped his post-election bombshell announcing a new “No Deal” deadline of December 2020, I have been waiting for a chance to double-down on this bearish position. On Thursday, Johnson provided such an opportunity to extend short positions in sterling.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Boris's Bearish Brexit

    We now know why markets reacted so nervously to Boris Johnson’s election landslide last Thursday. The lack of follow-through after that evening’s exit poll and the retreat when trading resumed on Friday morning was suspicious. But there were no clear explanations until Monday evening, when everything became clear. At 10.30pm Downing Street restated Johnson’s promise to finish negotiating a new UK-European Union trade deal within 12 months and...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Learn To Stop Worrying And Love The Pound

    Sometimes, markets just get things wrong. Since early January investors have been panicking about a “no deal” Brexit, and I have been urging clients to buy sterling. Not because I became less gloomy about the damage that will be done to Britain by any form of Brexit, but because a “no deal” rupture is the one version of Brexit that can be confidently ruled out.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Behind The Risk-On

    In recent months, economic data has improved or stabilized, and political risks have receded. But now that equity prices on Wall Street have hit new records and US treasury yields have rebounded from the bottom of their post-2011 trading range, it is worth asking if the move to risk-on conditions is a temporary mood swing, or one supported by economic fundamentals.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Europe's Brexit Booster

    Boris Johnson has secured a revised Brexit deal and the stage is set for a key Saturday vote in the House of Commons. On balance, there is a 70% chance of the vote passing as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn seems unable to control his Brexit-supporting rebels, while Johnson looks to have persuaded his Brexiteer wing that it could be now or never.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    To Impeachment And Beyond

    What will determine whether the global economic expansion and equity bull market will continue in the year ahead? The political upheavals which dominated in the past three years, such as the trade war, Iran oil sanctions and Brexit, have seemed to subside or become priced in. But new political noise is being generated by the threatened impeachment of President Donald Trump.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Upside For Europe

    The euro is trading at its weakest against the US dollar since May 2017. Whether it falls further from here or finds support around current levels to establish a base for a rebound will depend mainly on whether Europe’s economic performance continues to deteriorate, or whether upside surprises are likely in the months ahead.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    ‘Do Or Die’ Boris Is Bullish For Sterling

    Considering the political chaos that will descend this week on the UK, it may seem surprising that the pound has bounced back to its trade-weighted level just before Boris Johnson became prime minister. Or maybe it is not too surprising—if a “No Deal Brexit” is the only possible scenario that would justify a further weakening of sterling and other UK assets.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Boris Johnson And The Pound

    With Boris Johnson’s almost inevitable enthronement as British prime minister only a week away, it is a good time to review the recommendation to buy sterling and sell UK government bonds which I first made in January, and repeated in April and again in late May.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Three Messages From The Markets

    Last week’s market action confirmed three longstanding ideas that I have been presenting to clients. Firstly, there's no sign of a US recession. Secondly, bond market "signals" no longer convey useful information about economic growth prospects. Thirdly, there's no conflict between bearish bonds and bullish equities—they tell different stories.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Not Such A Dystopian Market

    Although Donald Trump's lifting his threat to impose new tariffs on Mexico was good news, raising the chance of a US-China trade climbdown, betting good money on the US president getting up on the right side of the bed is ill advised. So, to maintain our sanity we should focus on US economic data and monetary policy, which turned positive last week.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    May's Last Stand

    When something unexpected happens and the market moves against you, it is usually best to cut your losses. But sometimes it is worth indulging the contrarian instinct. This month most of the pound's gains in the first quarter have been given up and sterling’s position looks dicey. But sterling bulls should not cut their losses. In fact, they should consider doubling down.

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    Why The Bulls Are Back In Charge

    Now that the S&P 500 has hit a new all-time high and other stock markets have recovered most of the steep losses they suffered last summer, it seems a lifetime since the financial panics of 2018. Investors who bought the dip have enjoyed Wall Street’s strongest quarterly performance in this bull market. After being so well rewarded, how should bullish investors who kept the faith now respond?

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Brextension And The Gilt-Edged Opportunity

    The latest act of the Brexit tragicomedy has played as expected—and market reactions should follow, as the risk premium on sterling and UK assets is substantially reduced. The six and a half months remaining between now and the new Brexit deadline is plenty of time for Britain to decide between the three possible outcomes I have repeatedly discussed.

    10
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    Gavekal Research

    The Hard Logic Of A Long Brexit Extension

    By removing the hard deadline for Brexit negotiations the EU has avoided the disaster of a 2008-style sudden stop in business with its second largest trading partner. This decision reinforces the bullish momentum for sterling, which remains undervalued especially against the US dollar. Ending the risk of a “No Deal” Brexit should also improve the dismal economic outlook and help stabilize political conditions in Europe as a whole.

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    The Brexit Impasse

    Political commentators and European leaders are bewailing Britain’s descent into ungovernability after the UK parliament again rejected the new and supposedly improved Brexit deal. But markets reacted calmly. In fact, for investors, the seemingly chaotic Brexit saga is unfolding roughly along the bullish lines suggested here since early January.

    12
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    Gavekal Research

    The Biggest Investment Story Of 2019

    Now that stock markets around the world have recovered from the year-end panic of December 2018, it is worth returning to the question I posed here on the first trading day of 2019: was the disappointing performance of equities and other risk assets in 2018 the prelude to a deep and protracted bear market, or a contrarian opportunity to “buy the dip”?

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Gaming Out Theresa May’s Gamble

    Given that the UK prime minister has apparently outfoxed her opponents, why has the pound fallen back below US$1.30? The obvious reason is that Theresa May’s unexpected wins in the UK parliament last week look to have increased the chances of a disorderly “no deal” rupture. In reality, however, the chances of “no deal” are no higher today than they were a week ago as the EU and UK opposition are yielding to May’s pressure.

    8
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    Gavekal Research

    Brexageddon

    It should have been no surprise that sterling rallied after the overwhelming defeat of Theresa May’s Brexit plan. The disorderly “no deal” rupture with Europe rightly terrifies the markets and the business community is now much less likely. As a result, sterling is likely to rise eventually back towards its long term average real exchange rate.

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    The Market Weighing-Machine

    If there is one useful conclusion for investors from the crazy year that has just ended, maybe it is this: as they say in Hollywood, “Nobody knows anything.” The equity market predicted a boom while the bond market predicted recession, and then reversed positions. The consolation for investors should be that the market is a voting machine in the short term, but a weighing machine in the long term.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Brexit Game Of Chicken

    The Brexit roller coaster seemed to come off the rails on Monday with Theresa May’s effort to prevent parliament voting on what looked like her doomed plan to leave the European Union. May’s decision, which had been denied by her most trusted senior ministers right up to the moment it was leaked to the BBC, initially looked like a typical case of the can being kicked down the road. Yet by the time she had finished her parliamentary statement,...

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Reasons To Believe In Détente

    Should we take seriously President Donald Trump’s prediction of “a deal” at his summit with President Xi Jinping on November 30? Nobody can be sure—not even Trump himself—since the outcome may depend on whether Peter Navarro or Steven Mnuchin manages to catch his attention before Air Force One lands in Buenos Aires next week. There are, however, four reasons which I have discussed here before to justify continuing to increase long positions in...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Winding Road To Vassalage

    No one much likes Theresa May’s compromise deal that would leave Britain as a rule-taking, semi-detached appendage to the European Union. That, however, is the most likely outcome after the UK cabinet yesterday approved an exit deal that sets up a November 25 summit, where EU leaders will be asked for their assent. Shortly afterwards, the UK parliament will have its say, and despite challenging math in the House of Commons a “national interest”...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    How The Brexit Stalemate Breaks

    As the Brexit negotiations enter their endgame, a stalemate has become the most likely outcome. Theresa May’s Conservative Party is now in open rebellion against her leadership, with Britain’s weekend press reporting that her government is just 72 hours from collapse. And a “No Deal” Brexit “car crash” is now described as a 50-50 probability by many politicians and commentators in both Britain and Europe. Yet the pound has maintained its value...

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    Tail Risks That Worry Me

    Yesterday I made the case that emerging markets should be superior performers in a global bull market, which I characterized as the most hated in history. What that analysis left out was the relative prospects of the other big blocks in the global equity universe; namely, Europe and Japan. My core point yesterday was that trade wars do more harm to economies that close their markets than those countries which supply them, and on this score...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Misunderstanding Today’s EMs

    Suppose that, like me, you think the global equity bull market has a few more years to run and hence the sell-off which culminated with Turkish debt being downgraded two weeks ago was a merely a correction. Where are the best opportunities to “buy the dip”? The answer depends on whether you also share my view about the underlying causes of this year’s market setbacks.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    The Bullish Logic Of Trump’s U-Turns

    The news on Wednesday that Donald Trump’s administration is considering imposing tariffs of 25%—rather than 10%—on an additional US$200bn of Chinese goods might appear to be an aggressive escalation of its trade conflict with China. But there is a high probability the proposed tariffs will never be implemented. Trump has a track record of talking tough, only to back down before it comes to the crunch; a pattern of behavior that may help to...

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    The Resurgence Of Political Risk

    Political risk is now the main driving force of financial markets. In 2017 investors learned—or thought they had learned—that political upheavals just create noise, with no lasting effect on market trends that are set by economic fundamentals. But in 2018 this relationship has been reversed. Wherever we look today—at oil prices, global trade flows or conditions in Europe—politics seems to overwhelm economic fundamentals and set the market trends.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Hardly A Game Changer For Oil

    While nobody could have been surprised by the full-scale commercial warfare launched against Iran by President Trump yesterday, his announcement raised more questions than answers. The most important question is whether this action will make the world safer or further destabilize Middle Eastern and global geopolitics. The second question is whether the US enforcement of sanctions will really be as tough as Trump’s belligerent rhetoric and the...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    What—Me Worry?

    What should most worry investors about the state of the US economy today? The answer is: “Total absence of worry”. That was my clear conclusion after a week in Los Angeles hobnobbing with the thousands of CEOs, financiers, technologists and politicians at the Milken Global Conference. An intoxicating cocktail of tax cuts, deregulation and record profits has transformed the post-crisis normalization of business confidence into uncritical euphoria.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The New Source Of Market Risk

    Believe it or not, there was good news, as well as bad, from the US markets last Friday. The bad news was obviously Donald Trump’s threat to escalate the trade war with China and the equally aggressive response from Beijing. The good news was the fall in March’s US payrolls growth to just 103,000 from February’s upwardly-revised 326,000. This slowdown has eliminated, at least until after the summer, the risk of an unexpected Federal Reserve...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Reasons To Buy The Dip

    After spending many years as Gavekal’s equity permabull, I joined Charles and Louis last December in warning of the risks to what was then a roaring, and accelerating, bull market. But my way of thinking about these risks was rooted in a different analytical framework, and so I have come to a different conclusion about how investors should respond to this latest sell-off (for Louis’ take, see Following Yesterday’s Pullback). With the lows of mid...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Why Aren’t Bond Investors Panicking?

    Once again, the volatility that rocked global financial markets in recent days was at least as interesting for what it didn’t tell us as what it did. Amid growing protectionism, rising rates and fiscal irresponsibility in the US government, the biggest and most important financial market of all—the US treasury market—isn’t bothered.

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    Time To Stop Worrying About EU Political Risk

    Is it time for investors to finally forget about “political risk” in the eurozone? Judging by the weekend’s events in Germany and Italy the answer is an emphatic “Yes”. The big event was the overwhelming vote by Germany’s Social Democratic Party to participate in a “grand coalition” with the center-right. This means that Angela Merkel will be reappointed for a fourth term as chancellor. Thus Germany will have a stable government with no serious...

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    After The Yellen And Bernanke Puts, The Pavlov Put

    Last Monday, I pointed to three reasons why the recent turmoil in global equities would probably prove nothing worse than a counter-trend “buy on dips” correction, rather than the start of a serious bear market. That's not to say that worries about inflation and overheating are unfounded. But investors are still quite relaxed about both growth and inflation, as evidenced by historically modest bond yields.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    CSI Wall Street

    Bear market massacre or harmless buy-the-dip correction? Financial investigators have spent the weekend sifting through, dismantling and reassembling dozens of clues to determine the true nature of the shocking crime committed on Wall Street last week, as stock prices suddenly went down instead of up. But amid the righteous indignation inspired by this offence against morality and natural law, possibly the most important forensic evidence has...

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    The Five Big Bond Market Questions

    With 10-year US treasury yields near the point of breaking out above their 2017 high of 2.6%, financial commentators around the world have suddenly become obsessed with a single question: Have bonds finally entered a bear market, after the multi-decade bull trend that started back in October 1981, when the 10-year yield peaked at 15.8%?

    0
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    The Big Questions For 2018

    Many of the important questions confronting investors at the beginning of 2018 are the same as they were 12 months ago. And in most cases I would suggest the same answers. This may seem boring or stubborn, but it is quite reasonable in the middle of a long term economic expansion and structural bull market.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    No Full English Brexit In The EU’s Roach Motel

    Full English Brexit is off the menu. When Theresa May rushed into the Café Berlaymont at 6:00am last Friday, all that was left on the menu was an over-priced double espresso with a side of Irish bacon. When she returned to Brussels yesterday, after losing a crucial parliamentary vote on her Brexit policy, the only new item on the menu was a large slice of humble pie.

    2
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    A Regime Change For Oil?

    Every US or global recession in the past 50 years has been preceded by a doubling or more of oil prices, but not every doubling of oil prices has been followed by recession. While even US$70/bbl probably does not pose a serious risk to the world economy, any rise above US$70 could spark a combination of inflationary pressure and reduced demand that proves lethal to global financial conditions and growth.

    0
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    Fake Brexit? Or No Brexit?

    The British economy since the Brexit referendum is often likened to the suicide jumper who leaps off a 20-storey building, shouting “so far, so good” as he falls past the 10th floor. This comparison is unfair to suicides. The real message about economic performance from the government’s annual budget statement yesterday was “so far, so bad”. While a minority of economists and investors—plus a large majority of Conservative politicians—share...

    10
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    Gavekal Research

    False Dawn For The Dollar — And Oil

    Last week the US dollar broke out of its summer trading range and hit its strongest level against the euro and the yen since July. The Brent oil price broke through US$60/bbl to a two-year high. And even sterling seemed to be on the verge of strengthening beyond its post-French election trading range against the euro. How should investors respond to all these breakouts?

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Sterling And The Brexit Soup

    Anyone who doubts that interest rate expectations are the main driving force of currency movements, got a wake-up call last week, when sterling surged from US$1.32 to US$1.36 in response to the Bank of England’s bluntly hawkish statement that “there may need to be some [upward] adjustment of interest rates in the coming months”. Nevertheless, I remain a denier.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Why Lower Forever Is Good News For Investors In Big Oil

    Suppose you are convinced, as I am, that oil prices will fall to near-zero by the middle of this century, for the reasons I outlined last week. If so, then among the best investments of the coming decades will be the equity of giant international oil companies such as BP, Shell, Exxon, Chevron, ENI and Total.

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    Oily Slope Of Hope

    As Louis often points out, a highly-touted stock that fails to rise on good news is often riding for a fall. The best example of such a “tired bull” at present is not the much-despised US equity market, which has continued making higher highs and higher lows since February 2016, despite a pretty terrible news flow. It is crude oil.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Draghi Can’t Lean Against The Euro’s Rise

    After the euro broke out of its three-year trading range last week, it is reasonable to assume that the European Central Bank would much rather see a big correction than a further move to the upside. But central bankers can’t always get what they want—and their powers to control the currency markets are much more limited than generally assumed by day traders and media headline writers.

    1
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    Who’s Afraid Of The ECB?

    Mario Draghi’s hint last month that the European Central Bank’s bond buying may not continue forever unleashed a storm of panic among the perma-bears who still dominate the media and market commentariat. But its actual effect on markets themselves has so far been close to minimal. So should investors worry—or relax—about a repeat of the “taper tantrum” in May 2013, when Ben Bernanke first hinted that the Federal Reserve would eventually start to...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Draghi’s Two Ps And The Euro

    When choosing three adjectives to describe the ECB’s evolving monetary policy stance, Mario Draghi this week alighted on confidence, persistence and prudence. Yet judging by the big reaction in currency and bond markets, traders ignored the two Ps and heard only about Draghi’s confidence in Europe’s strengthening recovery. Markets treated the speech as a unambiguous signal that the ECB is turning more hawkish.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Trading The British Election

    Anyone who claims to be confident about the outcome of tomorrow’s UK election is really just guessing, which is why we have advised against taking big positions in sterling assets—either long or short—before the exit polls are released. But from 10.01pm onwards, the currency markets could start to see major moves that are very tradeable in one direction or another. So for clients who got hooked on overnight currency trading after profitable (or...

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    What Trump Will And Won’t Do

    After President Trump’s shock firing of his top law enforcement official, this week has seen the White House scramble to keep some semblance of control over the news agenda. This means that an administration that was already dialing back the radical parts of its reform agenda will have even less room to drive change.

    1
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    Macron And A New Europe

    With the populist, anti-EU tide now clearly reversing, first in Holland, then last night in France and finally in September’s German elections, investors can put to rest their worries about a breakup of the euro or the European Union and focus instead on the continent’s economic and financial fundamentals. These fundamentals have been steadily improving since the European Central Bank began its enormous bond purchase program in March 2015.

    5
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    The Flip Side Of A Hard Brexit

    The pound has rallied strongly since Theresa May announced an early UK general election on April 18 and may soon break through US$1.30, opening the way for a rise back to levels not seen since last summer. This move has mostly been driven by politics in France, rather than Britain, but this may be about to change.

    1
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    Stop Worrying And Buy Europe

    The market reaction made good sense, assuming that the opinion polls—which turned out to be uncannily accurate in the first round of the French election—prove right again and Emmanuel Macron wins by a landslide on May 7. The polls may, of course, be completely wrong and Marine Le Pen may become the next President of France, but for this to happen the polling error would have to be many times larger than it was in the case of Brexit or Trump.

    0
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    Beyond The March Payrolls ‘Soft Patch’

    With the world busy going mad, have financial markets unexpectedly come to their senses? Friday delivered an enormous “miss” on US payrolls, with the March number printing at only 98,000, compared with expectations of 180,000. Yet the markets failed to react. The S&P 500 closed almost unchanged, while US treasury yields actually ticked up marginally. This absence of any selling in equities or buying in bonds was a crucial clue, like the dog...

    0
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    The Importance Of The Dutch Election

    Today’s Dutch election may not seem very important in itself, since it is almost inconceivable that the anti-immigration Freedom Party of Geert Wilders will win enough votes to enter the next Dutch government. Nevertheless, the result—which is likely to be clear by around 0400 GMT Thursday—will have a big market impact. That’s because the Freedom Party’s performance will rightly be seen as a leading indicator of political events during the...

    3
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    The Best Macro Trade Of 2017

    What has been the world’s most crowded macro trade of the year to date? Not buying dollars, shorting US bonds or selling French OATs or sterling. The most over-extended speculative position in the world by historic standards has been the bullish exposure to crude oil. This began to reverse last week, and the -7% correction in Brent could soon turn into an avalanche.

    0
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    The Prime Minister Has No Clothes

    Britain’s House of Lords passed a crucial amendment yesterday to Theresa May’s Brexit bill. This amendment would give Parliament a “meaningful vote” at the end of the Brexit negotiations and could offer the possibility of stopping Brexit or seeking to extend the negotiations beyond the 2019 deadline, if the deal Mrs May brings home next year is deemed to be not good enough. Anatole argues this is a game changer for opponents of Brexit.

    7
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    Because Of Trump, Or Despite Him?

    The enthusiastic market reaction to US President Donald Trump’s big speech on Tuesday night can be interpreted in two ways, both bullish for equities and bearish for bonds, but only one of them positive for the dollar.

    0
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    The “Experts” May Yet Be Right

    Last week Louis set out a comprehensive roadmap for 2017. I have just five points to add: two points of strong agreement (on Europe and the oil price); two of dissent (on US bonds and Britain); and one that echoes Louis’s uncertainty and anxiety, but for slightly different reasons (about the pressures on the US dollar and what they could mean for emerging markets). I will explore these specific issues of agreement and dissent in a lengthier...

    3
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    Hard Brexit Means Soft Sterling

    Since the June referendum the only real choice for Britain has been Hard Brexit or No Brexit. The No Brexit option disappeared as soon as Theresa May became prime minister under the slogan “Brexit means Brexit”. Barring some deus ex machina that swept May out of power, that left only one possibility: a rock-hard Brexit.

    2
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    Between A Rock And A Hard Brexit

    Sterling has gained almost 7% against the euro this month, partly because of comments from British ministers hinting at a softer version of Brexit than the sharp and rapid break implied by Theresa May’s early speeches. For example, sterling’s rebound through US$1.25 and from £0.90 to the euro was directly caused by a parliamentary answer from David Davis, the minister in charge of Brexit, suggesting that Britain might continue to make...

    0
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    Austerity Lingers In Britain

    Rumors of the death of fiscal austerity are greatly exaggerated, at least in Europe. That is the most important lesson for global markets from the UK Treasury’s long-awaited budgetary response to the Brexit vote. Many investors believed in the immediate aftermath of the British referendum that this shock might be the catalyst for more expansionary fiscal policies all over the world. In the past two weeks, the prospect of a Trump fiscal stimulus...

    1
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    What A Trump Presidency Means For Global Investors

    The social and geopolitical implications of the Trump shock are much too complex and too charged with emotion for instant assessments to be worthwhile. Even in the case of ordinary presidential elections, the immediate first-day market reaction usually turns out to be wrong. I will therefore try to avoid moral judgements and confine myself largely to economic observations, dividing them into ten items of good and bad news from a strictly...

    3
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    Heaping Uncertainty On Brexit Doubt

    Markets and media were shocked by yesterday’s High Court judgement that UK prime minister Theresa May must seek parliamentary approval before pursuing her Brexit strategy. But for London’s legal community the decision was not unexpected. Many senior lawyers had predicted that the ruling would go against the government, if only because its case was so poorly presented by the Attorney General, who was forced for political reasons to concede the...

    1
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    A Hardening Brexit And Softening Sterling

    The second phase of the post-Brexit sterling devaluation probably started this weekend. Theressca May's announcement of March as the deadline for Britain to launch the “Article 50 process” of formally withdrawing from European Union achieved its immediate objective of averting a battle between the Hard Brexit and Soft Brexit factions at this week’s Conservative Party Conference. Unfortunately, May’s party management success is likely to...

    3
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    Prepare For Hurricanes

    After months of contented lethargy, Friday’s big sell-off seemed to confirm the main points that Louis and I made in our conference call two days earlier. Firstly, the faith in “lower forever” bond yields is not a reason for reassurance, but a cause for concern. Secondly, political risks have not been eliminated by the summer’s market rally, merely ignored. Thirdly, what I call the “financial hurricane season” usually starts in early autumn—and...

    8
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    A Brexit-Induced Recantation

    Exactly two months have now passed since the Brexit referendum. It is now an appropriate time to review what has happened, and what hasn’t, since June 23. As a quintessential member of the elite that was angrily repudiated by a majority of British voters, this referendum was a profound emotional trauma. Therefore, my initial reaction turned out to be completely wrong.

    10
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    Politics Trumps Jobs

    So, it was a false alarm. By that I do not mean the Brexit vote, which remains, for reasons explained at the end of this note, the biggest threat to the world economy and to risk assets since the global financial crisis. The false alarm was the brief panic about a US recession caused by the slump in employment growth reported last month. As I said at the time there were four possible explanations for the shockingly weak May payrolls (see...

    0
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    Everything Just Changed

    There are moments in history when the impossible becomes inevitable without ever passing through improbable. The period after the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy was such a time. Last night’s unexpected repudiation by British voters of 40 years of European Union membership is another. The outcome of the referendum is a shock fully comparable to the Lehman collapse. Rarely, if ever, has a G7 currency fallen by -10% in a single trading session, as the...

    6
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    Brexit Tail Wags The Dog

    If anyone still doubted the claim expressed here on May 25 that politics is now driving global financial markets far more than economics (see The Brexit Vote As Harbinger Of A Populist Age, Or Not), those doubts should have been dispelled by Monday’s trading. From the moment that currency trading started in the New Zealand morning, through the Nikkei and Hang Seng openings in Asia, to the main forex business in London and finally the stock...

    0
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    Populism And A New Financial Crisis

    The febrile behavior of financial markets ahead of Britain’s EU referendum shows that the voting on June 23 will influence economic and political conditions around the world far more profoundly than Britain’s share of 4% in global GDP might suggest. This outsize impact has at least three explanations.

    7
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    Thinking Dark Thoughts

    You can put lipstick on a pig, but there is no way of disguising that the US payrolls last Friday were pig-ugly. For those of us of the bullish persuasion, May’s job growth of only 38,000, the weakest monthly figure since the post-recession employment recovery began in October 2010, sent the first credible signal that Charles’s call for a US recession and full-scale equity bear market could be right after all.

    1
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    The Next Big Move In Oil

    With Brent crude approaching US$50 a barrel, analysts upgrading their bearish year-end forecasts and many hedge funds adding to already long energy positions, it seems a good time to re-examine the likelihood that US$50 or thereabouts will be a long-term ceiling for the price of oil. In December 2014, when we first proposed this view (see Oil: Lower For Longer and Will US$50 Be Oil’s Floor, Or Its Ceiling?) it provoked derision from bullish...

    0
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    Time To Bet On Sterling And Against Brexit

    If Britain votes to remain a member of the European Union, the moment when the tide turned against Brexit will probably be remembered as Barack Obama’s London press conference on Friday. With a single phrase Obama demolished the Brexiteers’ most powerful economic argument when he noted, with a friendly but remorseless grin, that if Britain chose to detach itself from Europe it would wait “at the back of the queue” for any special US trade deal....

    1
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    The Case For Sterling

    What was the weakest major currency in the world in the first quarter? It was not the Brazilian real nor the Australian dollar nor any of the other usual suspects among the emerging market and commodity currencies. That accolade went to the British pound, which managed to depreciate by -4%, from US$1.48 to US$1.42, even while the dollar itself fell another -5% on its trade-weighted index.

    2
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    Super Mario: Hero To Zero To Hero

    As markets plunged following Thursday’s European Central Bank meeting, it seemed as if Super Mario had turned into Dumb Draghi.But by Friday morning Draghi had again gone from Zero to Hero, with risk-on assets racing ahead in virtually every market around the world.

    2
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    The Dollar That Didn’t Bark

    Sherlock Holmes would have loved it. In trying to unravel the unsolved mystery of how US$20trn suddenly vanished from the vaults of international investors in early 2016, the most intriguing clue was the dog that didn’t bark. When the Federal Reserve started its hiking cycle back on December 16, 2015, a rampantly-rising US dollar was generally considered to be among the biggest risks to the global financial outlook. Two months later, the dollar...

    0
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    Crisis? What Crisis?

    Two weeks ago I published an article dissenting from the near-universal view among my Gavekal colleagues, and also probably among our clients, that the global equity markets had entered a severe bear market (see Is Wall Street In A “Bear Market”?). Since I expressed this relatively optimistic view on January 27, the S&P 500 has fallen another -2.7%, the world MSCI-ex US by -3% and the Nikkei by a whopping -8.5% in yen terms. It may therefore...

    4
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    Is Wall Street In A “Bear Market”?

    Charles has boldly defined a serious bear market as a downtrend in which investors who buy at the top do not recover their money for four years or more. By contrast, he dismissed a -15% to -20% decline lasting less than 18 months as a mere bear cub that could equally well be described as a “pause that refreshes”. In my view the present decline it looks rather more like “cub” than an Ursus Magnus.

    4
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    The Oil Market Confusion

    Enough is enough. The oil price collapse that began in the autumn of 2014 may have hit rock-bottom, at least for the time being. Having stayed stubbornly bearish ever since the oil market’s transition from a Saudi monopoly to a normal competitive pricing regime (see Oil: Lower For Longer) it is appropriate to regularly review our assumptions. After the huge price moves of the past two weeks, this review now suggests turning neutral or even...

    5
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    Believe The Hype

    So far so good. Two hours’ trading, which was all the time New York markets had to react to the Federal Reserve rate hike, is hardly a significant sample, but the steadiness and consistency of that brief response must have left Janet Yellen satisfied. The most predictable and predicted event in financial history, turned out to be exactly that. The Fed did exactly what Yellen had suggested all year and what everyone by now expected—announcing a...

    3
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    A Year-Defining Week

    Four hugely important events occurred last week which between them have largely determined the course of the world economy in the year ahead: the strong US payrolls, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ decision not to reduce production, the European Central Bank’s escalation of monetary stimulus and the inclusion of the renmimbi in the International Monetary Fund’s Special Drawing Rights basket. While all these events were...

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