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E.g., 21-10-2021
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    Gavekal Research

    Building The Bubble-O-Meter

    Charles is somewhat tired of reading general descriptions of US equities being in a bubble, with little serious empirical backing to support the assertion. In this piece, he sets out to build an objective tool to answer the bubble, or not, question. Spoiler alert: he thinks investors would do well to re-assess their hedges.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    London Seminar — September 2021

    In our recent London seminar, Thomas Gatley addressed China's changed business environment and Tom Miller unpicked US-China geopolitical tensions. Charles Gave and Anatole resumed their dialogue about the future of the world economy in their first in-person sparring session since the pandemic started.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Shifting Economic State

    Regular readers may be familiar Charles's my longest-serving analytical tool, the Four Quadrants framework. It aims to represent the four economic states that at different times can exist in a market economy. Through this prism, he examines current market conditions to figure out where in the quadrants we are, and where we're headed.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    The High Cost Of Free Money, Revisited

    It’s now more than 10 years since Charles published a seminal paper titled The High Cost Of Free Money, in which he argued that free-market capitalism could not function properly without a free-market-determined cost of capital. Today it’s clear that capital markets, at least, can continue to operate, but Charles argues this has created very little new wealth.

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    Getting The Macro Right But The Market Wrong

    In December 2020, I published a report arguing that the US economy was about to enter an inflationary boom. Things went as expected through the first quarter, but after the Fed began to talk about tightening policy at some indeterminate point in the future, the portfolio I had been recommending has done very poorly. In short, I have been wrong.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Understanding Asia’s New Monetary Order (Part II)

    Last month, Charles reviewed the efforts China has made to build an alternative to Asia’s US-dollar-based trading system. Today, he peers into the future, and looks at what China is doing, not just to offer an alternative to the US dollar or euro, but to build a new monetary order for Asia.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    The Gavekal V-Indicator And Tactical Asset Allocation

    The Gavekal velocity indicator has lately begun to send some potentially alarming signals. If in the next four weeks the daily indicator does not swing back to positive, then the three-month moving average will turn negative, raising a red flag. To explain why, it is first necessary to remind readers what our V-indicator is, and why it can be useful.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Yen As An Antifragile Asset

    Over the last 12 months, the world’s best-performing major currency has been the renminbi, returning 10.6% against the US dollar. The second best has been the British pound, up 6%. The worst has been the yen, which is down -4%. Over the last 24 months, the best-performing two currencies were again the pound and the renminbi, which both gained 15.1%. The worst, again, was the yen, down -3.4%.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The World Becomes More Fragile

    In a July 2 paper, Didier Darcet explained how after seven months of being positive, the market reading from our Paris-run quant system had turned negative. The takeaway was that equity market volatility had “more than ever” become the indicator signaling a downturn. Watch any move in the Vix above 27 as a signal that US markets are entering the "tails" of the risk curve.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    How Monopolies Behave

    The economy is simply energy transformed. Today, we have a situation where governments in the West are attempting to kill off energy derived from fossil fuels, to which end they are subsidizing new forms of energy. The trouble is that demand for energy is growing faster than the ability of these new forms of energy to meet it.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Understanding Asia’s New Monetary Order

    China’s program to dedollarize Asia must overcome two sets of problems: the problems inherent in trade between countries, and problems related to the financial risks posed by the passage of time. In this paper, the first of a major two-part report, Charles examines the progress Asia has made towards replacing the dollar as a reliable means of exchange for intra-regional trade.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Peril Facing Northern Europe’s Savings Industry

    Between 1966 and 2012 investors did better in German bonds than US equities on a total return and common currency basis. That changed in 2012, and Germany’s managed savings institutions are now in peril, along with those in other parts of Northern Europe. In this piece, Charles shows how much trouble these institutions face and offers a view on how this exercise concludes.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Flabbergasted

    When you write in a language that you didn’t learn from your mother, it is easy to fall in love with new words and then overuse them. In the 1970’s, I came across “flabbergasted” and, truth be told, I ended up being flabbergasted in that decade rather more than I actually was. Today, however, I am again flabbergasted, but am fairly confident that it is for good reason.

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    Living In A Dual Currency World

    Let’s begin with the basic principles underlying any currency, at least according to economics 101: it should be a medium of exchange, a standard of value and a store of value. I have long argued that central banks’ determination to pursue the “euthanasia of the rentier” rather than protecting money as a store of value would lead to big problems.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    When Money Becomes Spending Coupons

    Something is changing in the way our capitalist systems create money. For at least 200 years, Charles argues, money-creation began with a request for credit by an economic agent. In the new system, we are seeing the issuance of what amount to “spending coupons”. These coupons will never be retired, and he worries that over time their numbers will rise exponentially.

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    Is This A Private Fight, Or Can Anyone Join In?

    The old rugby player in me cannot see a bar-fight without asking: “Is this a private altercation, or can anyone join in?” I feel much the same about the debate inside Gavekal about whether or not inflation is making a comeback. Here is my contribution to the brawl.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Ricardian Growth Is Fragile, Schumpeterian Growth Is Anti-Fragile

    Capitalism works well when activity is undertaken using David Ricardo’s law of comparative advantage and Joseph Schumpeter’s process of creative destruction. Charles argues that an era of Ricardian growth for many countries and industries is running out of road and the drivers of Schumpeterian economic transformation are shifting.

    10
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    Gavekal Research

    How To Make The Rich Properly Rich

    On Monday Charles argued that abnormally low interest rates act to make the poor poorer and the rich (seemingly) richer. Armed with this conviction he worked with our quant team in Paris to look more closely at the impact of such a monetary policy on holders of equities, discovering a decision rule which enhances equity returns and protects against drawdowns.

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    Low Rates Are Socially Regressive

    Policymakers around the world believe that ultra-low rates are good for growth, and are therefore good for standards of living among the poorest in society. Charles has long argued this view is a fallacy. In this paper he demonstrates that under ultra-low interest rates, the poor get poorer in real terms. This has both political and investment implications.

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    Discontinuity Risk In A Bipolar World

    For the first time in generations, the world now has two economic poles—the US and China. And they are following diametrically opposed monetary and fiscal policies. US policy is as Keynesian as you can get, while China has read the book on Wicksell and is turning restrictive. This divergence is the single most important challenge investors face today.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: Asset Allocation Amid Low Interest Rates

    Charles Gave likes to say he is a rules-based investor, and he’s never been short of ideas. In this webinar, Charles and Gavekal TrackMacro’s Didier Darcet presented their latest work on portfolio construction, including a tool to help fixed-income managers to get satisfactory returns despite punitively low yields.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Ant And The Grasshoppers

    In the last few days, Chinese policymakers have stepped up the campaign to rein in their domestic tech giants, slapping Alibaba with fines of US$2.75bn and forcing the restructuring of Alibaba spin-off Ant Financial. Their action is in stark contrast to the inaction of regulators in western countries. But this is hardly the only contrast between China and the west.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    A Case Study: US Long Bonds

    With recent moves at the long end of the US treasury curve causing consternation among investors everywhere, Charles dusts off his decision rules for US long bonds to see what they are telling us about the present state of the market and concludes that it is not yet time to lengthen portfolio duration.

    8
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    Gavekal Research

    Updating The Malthusian Constraint

    In June 2019, I argued that big shifts in the US economy and financial markets largely result from changes in the relative price of energy. If oil prices are rising faster than nominal GDP, this points to energy shortages and more of the economy’s value-added going as the “miners’ rent”. This situation points to rising inflation and contracting price/earnings ratios.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Gold, Renminbi Bonds And The Clash Of Empires

    As the US expands its deficits to pay for pandemic relief, emerging economies that use the US dollar for reserve backing have reason to fret. China is being incentivized to accelerate development of the renminbi as both an international standard and store of value. Louis, Charles and Didier offer a potential roadmap for how renminbi internationalization may unfold.

    16
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: Global Investment Roundtable, March 2021

    As Covid-19 vaccinations are cranked up and Congress gets ready to dole out stimulus measures, US growth expectations have risen along with inflation concerns. In response, bonds have sold off and equity markets have shuddered. In our monthly global investment roundtable, Gavekal partners discussed this confluence of events and addressed what it means for risk assets.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Inflation And The Stock Market

    Despite a roiling US bond market sell-off, equity investors had until Thursday taken comfort from the Federal Reserve saying it would stay easy for longer. They were also fairly relaxed about a gentle rise in inflation, which seemed to be part of a "normalization" process as Covid-19 vaccines do their job and activity picks up. Charles and Didier are not so sure, and in this paper test the notion that limited inflation can, in fact,...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: Uncharted Territory And Portfolio Construction

    Charles has sought to codify his many investment rules into a rigorous portfolio construction framework, which includes identifying periods when returns stop being normally distributed and move into the "tails". Right now markets could be going through a phase change, and in this webinar, he explained why. He was joined by Didier, who who heads the quant team in Paris, and Louis.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Uncharted Territories And Portfolio Construction

    In 2015, Charles turned 73 and felt it was time to decide what he wanted to be when he grew up. But before turning his back on finance, he decided to “download” as many of the rules and experiences that had guided his steps in the financial world, over the previous 50 years. He built a small “quant” team in Paris, whose goals were to filter the very best of his rules and distill these into simple software solutions. In this piece he shows how...

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: French-Language Webinar, January 2021

    With Europe being hit hard by a second wave of Covid-19 and facing fresh lockdowns, Charles and Cedric assessed the outlook for the region’s growth and inflation in both the short and medium term. The webinar also focused on portfolio construction work being done by our Paris team: quantitative head of research Didier and Charles trained their sights on behavioral finance and suggested a route map for managing money in a “post-Keynesian” world.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    What The VIX Spike May Mean

    On Tuesday, Louis noted that among ill tidings for global equity markets was a rollover in European bank stocks. I want to build on this idea using portfolio construction work done by our Paris team and specifically the insight that when the VIX exceeds a critical threshold, markets globally tend to seize up.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Logos, Idiotes And Demagogues

    Charles revisits the idea of the Greek "logos", "idiotes", demagogues and citizens, and how the Greeks believed that those who controlled the logos—the language used to describe the world—ipso facto controlled the political system. Problems arise when a new, competing logos started to emerge.

    8
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    Gavekal Research

    The UK After Brexit

    Four and a half years after the vote, Britain is properly out of the European Union and moving into a new era. It will surely be a freer nation, says Charles, but in this piece he asks: will it be a richer one? Spoiler alert, he thinks the upshot will be the City of London emerging as the world’s über financial capital.

    9
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    Gavekal Research

    Portfolio Construction Over The Next Two Years

    On Thursday, Anatole set out his view that undivided Democratic Party control of both the executive and legislative branches of the US government opens the door for unconstrained Keynesian stimulus, which will be highly positive for the US economy and equities. It will probably come as little surprise to Gavekal clients that I should dispute whether such unconstrained Keynesianism will be good news either for the economy or for US equities

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    The Boom Of 2021

    As he gazes into next year, Charles has reviewed some of his most trusted indicators and found that the US is moving towards an inflationary boom that should mean stronger growth, rising inflation and higher bond yields. If the Federal Reserve acts to crimp this adjustment in the price of money, he warns that the US dollar could tank.

    10
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    Gavekal Research

    The Real Bubble

    The older I get, the more I am convinced that the economy is nothing but energy transformed. Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, the story of the economy has been one of constant movement from not very efficient sources of energy, such as wood and then coal, to more “dense” and efficient sources, such as oil and nuclear fission, with the aim having been to arrive eventually at nuclear fusion.

    22
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    Gavekal Research

    Dear Cedric And Nick, Allow Me To Disagree...

    ...in Thursday’s Daily you argued that Hungary and Poland’s effort to veto yet another power grab by Brussels represents a mere hiccup in the march towards a European nation state. You can add Slovenia into that basket of recalcitrants. I believe that these three countries are posing an essential question: where does the legitimacy of a government come from?

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    Are The Markets Trying To Tell Us Something?

    I am not a technical analyst, but I am an avid consumer of charts, which I often use to check if my overall view is confirmed, or not, by the markets. Having undertaken this exercise recently, I have two strong convictions.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Markets And The Split Between American Trees And American Boats

    The aftermath of the US election points to deep distrust between America’s two great political tribes that could yet become a concern for investors. Charles worries that betrayal narratives in the US may lead to the Federal Reserve printing even more money in order to paper over the cracks of division.

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: US Election & Global Investment Roundtable (in French)

    Charles Gave, Louis-Vincent Gave, Didier Darcet and Cedric Gemehl delved into the results of the US election, and discussed the latest impact of Covid-19 on the global economy and markets. Additionally, they presented Gavekal’s latest research on portfolio construction.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Velocity Of Money And Its Price

    Let me go back to the old equation of MV=PQ, where money supply times velocity equals price times the quantity of output. When Covid struck the US, Q cratered and V collapsed (as everyone saved their incomes as a precaution against uncertain times). The only solution was for the Federal Reserve to print enough M to support consumption and stave off the impending economic collapse. But what happens next?

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    A Smoking Gun

    Throughout my career, I have always found that it pays to bear in mind Jacques Rueff’s notion of US “imperial privilege.” Put succinctly: the US has long been the only country able to settle its current account deficits in its own currency. So, when the US runs a current account deficit, it pumps large quantities of US dollars abroad, many of which flow into the foreign exchange reserves of countries running current account surpluses. These...

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    A Typology Of Bear Markets Based On Wicksellian Analysis

    In half a century of doing financial analysis, Charles has acquired the core conviction that there is not one type of bear market, but two. Think of these as the gentle black bear-type downturn that is survivable and the highly-dangerous, big brown grizzly collapse that for many money managers proves fatal. In this piece, Charles seeks to map this insight with some analytical rigor.

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    Keeping It Super Simple

    Let me start with President Donald Trump’s policies as I understand them. As a businessman, since taking office in 2017 his singular goal has been to keep US firms’ return on invested capital as high as possible. So, if Trump is reelected on November 3, I would expect more of the same. In contrast, a Joe Biden win would lower ROIC and cause the US dollar to fall against the euro.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Challenge Of Valuing Gold

    Gold ranks as the ultimate “scarcity asset”, as its value is dictated not by its utility but because it is rare. Valuing such assets is tough as there is no “underlying value” to reference and prices are driven by the immediate supply and demand situation. Yet, in periods when both government budget deficits and monetary aggregates have rapidly grown, gold has historically outperformed—and it is doing so now.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Of Gold And Gold Miners

    In recent weeks, attention has focused on the surge, and subsequent correction, in US technology stocks. Yet an asset class that has greatly outperformed the Nasdaq 100 this year is gold-mining equities. In this piece, Charles seeks to develop firmer investment rules for managing gold and gold-mining stocks within a portfolio.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: Global Investment Roundtable (in French), Sept 2020

    In a turbulent economic environment, Louis sought to identify assets with “anti-fragile” qualities; Cedric deciphered the message from European markets; Didier Darcet refreshed refresh an old Gavekal framework with “Four Quadrants 2.0” and Charles moderated the discussion.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: Global Investment Roundtable, September 2020

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: Eight Questions, 11 Answers

    With US equities once again at record highs and the Fed promising to keep rates nailed to the floor, it is time to ask hard questions of the bull market that won’t die. That interrogation is conducted by Charles and Louis Gave. In these strange times, the case for owning anti-fragile assets has rarely been stronger, they contend. Four stand out for having weathered the pandemic and should be treated seriously.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A (Short) History Of Central Banking In The US

    Gavekal readers will be familiar with Charles's distinction between tools and jewels as a way of thinking about markets. He notes that today we have negative real interest rates while gold has outperformed both cash over the last 12 months and the US stock market since 2018. Today, he asks if we are at the start of a new counter-trend rally in gold relative to US equities.

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    Does Warren Buffett Know Something We Don't?

    The sage of Omaha made an interesting change of tack recently. Warren Buffet sold most of his shares in Goldman Sachs and bought positions in Barrick Gold. Goldman is often held up as the very epitome of the Wall Street financial engineering firm. Meanwhile, Barrick represents the kind of company you would buy if you no longer trusted financial engineering—or the currency in which the financial engineering is taking place.

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    Building A New System

    On Monday, Charles argued that developed economies’ moves to nationalize both the creation of money and the distribution of credit would degrade the unit-of-account function played by fiat currencies in many markets. Today, he outlines new monetary mechanisms that are likely to replace, or at least live alongside, fiat currencies.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    The Destruction Of The Monetary System

    A basic assumption for Charles has long been that the creation of money was not under the control of governments but loosely related to value being added in the private sector of the economy. However, with governments now willfully upending this relationship, he thinks the capitalist system faces its biggest upheaval since 1917.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Why It Won't Be Hamiltonian

    A number of Gavekal writers, in addition to a good share of investors in eurozone assets, saw last month's embrace of mutualized lending to hard-hit European economies as a game changer. Charles is far from convinced that this move has expunged the original sin of the euro, since the single currency area remains riddled with competitiveness problems.

    14
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    Gavekal Research

    Managing Money In A Keynesian Environment

    When Charles looks at US monetary policy, he gets nostalgic for glam rock and big hair, as he is reminded of 1973. However, rather than go on gut, in this piece he sets out to verify that the Federal Reserve is indeed acting as a “Keynesian” central bank. He does this by considering the relationship between US T-bills and the price of gold.

    17
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    In Defense Of Marxists And Communism

    Charles has often appeared on television shows in France as the token right-wing guy asked to debate a socialist or communist on the proper role of the state. He misses those days, for both he and his adversary usually agreed that the objective was improving the welfare of the average Frenchman—even if they disagreed profoundly on how to achieve this.

    7
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    Toward A Renminbi-Gold Standard

    As the international trading and monetary order of the last 50 years continues to crumble, the endgame must be the US dollar losing its lofty position at the apex of the system. Louis and I have argued that this process began in and around 2005 as the US moved to “weaponize” the dollar, thereby ensuring the renminbi’s emergence as a competitor.

    5
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    An Upgrade For The Jeep Portfolio

    In the Covid-19 crisis, Charles’s “Jeep” portfolio, introduced at the end of 2017 and expounded on in mid-2019, has amply demonstrated its worth, outperforming a pure equity portfolio, but with much lower volatility. In this paper, Charles reviews the Jeep portfolio once again, upgrading its components to navigate a post-Covid world.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Competing Reserves Of Value

    In order to function properly, any economic system must have one or more trusted reserves of value, so that participants can factor time into their calculations. In recent decades the world has offered investors three principal reserves of value:

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    Please May I Have €10bn Too?

    Indulge me for a moment in a flight of fancy. Last week, the European Central Bank lent out €1.31trn to eurozone banks at a negative interest rate of -1%. Now, I am not a bank, but it is diverting to imagine that I might qualify for a small crumb of this funding, say a modest €10bn—because I know exactly what I would do with the money.

    16
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: Global Update (French), June 2020

    In yesterday's webinar for our Francophone audience, Charles and Louis Gave, Cedric Gemehl and Didier Darcet updated viewers on their views of asset markets and government responses to the economic calamity caused by Covid-19.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Wicksell And The Market Logic Of A New Inflationary Era

    On Wednesday, Charles argued that policy responses to the Covid-19 crisis may be forcing the US economy into an inflationary boom. In this piece, he deploys the Shiller P/E as a tool for assessing US equities. He connects these findings with his tried-and-tested Wicksellian macro approach to reach a set of portfolio construction recommendations.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Accelerating Into Inflation

    Long-time readers will be familiar with Gavekal’s Four Quadrants framework, which describes how the economy alternates between periods of inflation and deflation, and cycles from boom and bust and back again, and which we use to illustrate which asset classes investors should favor and when. Although this is one of Gavekal’s oldest frameworks, it provides an extremely useful way to think about how the macroeconomic environment is set to evolve...

    6
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    Webinar: Global Investment Roundtable, May 2020

    Yesterday Louis Gave, Charles Gave and Anatole Kaletsky joined Arthur Kroeber at the Global Investment Roundtable. They discussed different scenarios for how and when the world’s major economies can exit the Covid-19 crisis and what it means for investors.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Hong Kong And The Ethic Of Responsibility

    German sociologist Max Weber made the distinction between the ethic of conviction, based on the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, and the ethic of responsibility, based on consequentialist philosophy, a grandchild of Aristotelian logic. The distinction between the two may help investors to determine their response to developments in Hong Kong.

    10
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    Gavekal Research

    Beware The Charm Of Monopolistic Tech

    An equally-weighted index of monopolistic "tech" companies is up by a whopping 26% in the last year, whereas an active manager running a portfolio with 30 or 40 stocks would be down about -7% over the same period. The difference in performance may be the "cost" of holding a diversified portfolio with lower risk than a concentrated portfolio.

    3
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    Japan's Stealth Bull Market

    In times of great market uncertainty, like today, investors should seek sanctuary in the stocks of companies that are cheap, enjoy positive cash flows, have plenty of cash on their books, and which are quoted in an undervalued currency. Today, Charles writes, the shares of non-financial companies in Japan fit the bill on all four counts.

    12
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    Gavekal Research

    Sovereignty And That German Court Ruling

    Tuesday’s ruling by Germany’s constitutional court on the legitimacy of asset purchases by the European Central Bank hits at the heart of a political project whose ultimate aim has been usurp the sovereignty of historical states in favor of a new super state. I am no lawyer but I have studied political science and the issue now in play is of a fundamental nature.

    1
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    Down -16% And Still 30% Overvalued

    It seems the world has entered a new era, in which the principal function of central banks is to try to prevent markets from going down. So, after the gold standard and the dollar standard, we now appear to have the S&P 500 standard, in which a desperate central bank tries to manage the financial markets.

    16
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    Gavekal Research

    The Truth About Banks And Bonds

    As I elucidated last week Knut Wicksell’s key idea was that in any market economy there are not one, but two key interest rates, whose relative position drives the cycle. The theory makes good sense, but computing the two rates is tricky. My insight is that I don’t need to compute these two rates but instead measure the structural performance of bank equities in each market.

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    Webinar: Global Investment Roundtable, April 2020

    Markets are showing both signs of dislocation (in negative oil prices) and impressive stability (the S&P 500 is only down -4.1% over the previous 12 months). Is this stability a Federal Reserve-induced illusion? Are there more shocks to come? If so, where? In our monthly investment roundtable, Louis, Charles and Anatole discussed market scenarios for the months ahead.

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    Webinar: Investing In A Time Of Covid-19 (French)

    Charles Gave Louis Gave, and Cedric Gemehl, along with principal of Gavekal Intelligence Software Didier Darcet, participated in a French-speaking webinar. They discussed the global investment outlook in light of the latest Covid-19 tracking data, and how to invest in a world dominated by central banks.

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    On The Next Banking Crisis

    For Charles, the last 100 years has seen three standout banking crises; the 1930s depression in the US, Japan’s post-1990 bust and the slow-motion implosion of the eurozone, which has yet to see a denouement. In this piece, he dusts off one of his favorite frameworks for assessing economic cycles and asks what can be learned from these episodes.

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    The Revenge Of The Little Grey Men

    There is a strange contradiction in most developed economic systems as they have been driven by freely assembling entrepreneurs who operate on the basis of money, which is the ultimate tool of state coercion. Charles is worried that the private, risk-taking element of our economies may be fully extinguished by responses to the Covid-19 crisis.

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    Destroying The Economy To Save It

    Remember the American military officer in Vietnam who explained US tactics by saying “it became necessary to destroy the town to save it?” Well in the not too distant future, we may have to accept that our economic policymakers have adopted the same tactics in the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic.

    3
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    Rearranging The Deckchairs For Profit

    When everything is falling apart around you, the urge to do something—anything—becomes irresistible. A good solution is to start rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. It may not change the bigger picture, but it keeps you busy and does no harm in the longer term. In this spirit, allow me to suggest a little rearrangement that should do no harm, and could even be very profitable.

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    Breaking Down An International Liquidity Crisis

    These are hard times for the global system as big economies are effectively shuttered and risk appetite craters. The US dollar has surged and many leveraged countries face trouble servicing their debts. As these factors become self-reinforcing, Charles thinks it is worth standing back to assess what is causing what. He does this by explaining the dynamics of an international liquidity crisis and suggests specific investment strategies to handle...

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    Webinar: Road To Recovery Or Road To Serfdom?

    To deal with the economic fallout from unprecedented lockdown measures aimed at halting the spread of Covid-19, governments and central banks in the US and Europe are pulling out all the stops to pop up financial systems and avoid economic collapse. Anatole Kaletsky and Charles Gave joined Louis Gave to discuss the long term consequences.

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    When To Get Back Into The Market

    As usual in a market crash, there has been a lot of chatter over the last 10 days about whether the stock market has already formed a bottom, and if now is the time to get back in and pick up some “bargains at special prices”. Clearly what is needed is a decision rule to tell us whether the conditions are favorable yet or not. Happily, some of the research we have recently been doing at Gavekal Intelligence Software allows me to create just such...

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    What You See, And What You Don’t

    In economics there is what you see and what you don’t see, and “there is no such thing as a free lunch.” As the world economy suffers a spasm the likes of which has rarely been seen in peacetime, it may help to go back to first principles to figure out what we are not seeing about this crisis, and who is going to end up paying for it.

    2
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    Money, Value And The Markets

    Above all, economics is the study of why goods and services have value and why these values are constantly changing. This study is greatly complicated by the fact that there are two different sources of value. In Gavekal-speak, we call these “scarcity” value (think jewels) and “efficiency” value (think tools). So the key question becomes not only “why do things have value?” but also “why do the relative values of scarcity and efficiency change...

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    Capitalism And The Coronavirus

    There is an inevitability to the economic responses being adopted by governments around the world to the current crisis. The real problem is that they follow years of cosseting the financial system through policies intended to deny economic reality. The cumulative effect, Charles argues, is that by the time this crisis is fully digested we may be left with an economic system that is a pale shadow of a market economy.

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    What I Know

    In fraught times, Charles has decided to keep it simple and focus only on what he knows. In this piece, he considers changing relationships between oil prices, long-bond rates, US equities and the dollar and offers various approaches that could help investors survive the bear market.

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    The Fragility Of A Complex World

    The question investors must confront is whether the global economy is a slow but resistant beast of burden, or a finely tuned machine which has now been thrown off its axis.

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    The Velocity Of Money In The Time Of Covid-19

    Most serious investors know MV=PQ, where M is the money supply, V is the velocity of money, P is the general price level and Q is output. The typical approach is to wait for M, P and Q to be published and so derive V, which renders the equation a mere tautology. In contrast, Charles has long thought V to be an independent variable whose variations impact P and Q.

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    Time And Risk

    The financial world is organized around two axes: time and risk. If some authority manipulates the time axis, the effect will be to compromise the risk axis. This is not an abstract formulation. It has the potential to threaten portfolios and the solvency of major institutions.

    1
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    The Utility Of A ‘Jeep’ Portfolio

    Back in December 2017 I published a warning for portfolio managers. Sometimes it makes sense to have a turbocharged portfolio, at others investors should seek out something more suited to rough going. Two years on, and with market volatility again on the up, this seems a good time to review how my Jeep portfolio has fared over the last two years.

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    Chickens Coming Home To Roost

    French workers last weekend won a reprieve from the government’s plan to nudge the retirement age higher, but that does not mean they can breathe easy, thinking their financial futures are secured. With much of pension assets invested in government bonds, an interesting question is what the return will be of a 10-year constant duration OAT in the next decade.

    1
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    Active Versus Passive

    Back in 2003, low interest rates were creating problems for pension funds and insurance companies which could not find enough high-quality bonds offering a decent interest rate. Not to worry, said Wall Street banks, which began to package up real estate-based bonds of varying quality; the best tranches got a triple-A stamp from the credit rating agencies, yet they miraculously offered a higher yield than other top-notch bonds. We all know how...

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    Nonsense Anatole, Boris Deserves Three Cheers

    In 2017, as the Brexit negotiations between London and Brussels got going in earnest, I wrote a paper explaining why the European Commission’s officials and their counterparts across the continent were going to do everything in their power to make the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union as difficult as they possibly could (see May’s Misguided Brexit Speech). And over the next two years, they did just that.

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    Seminar Series Multimedia — Fall 2019

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

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    The VIX, Fragility And Indexation

    At the same time as US stock markets ascended to all-time highs on Monday, the VIX volatility index fell to its lowest close in more than a year. In and of itself, this decline in the VIX should hardly be a great surprise given the Fed's liquidity expansion. But as part of a longer term pattern, this policy-driven decline in stock market volatility is deeply troubling.

    1
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    Musings On Trump And Powell

    His detractors will never admit it, but Donald Trump has done much that is good for the US economy. Notably he has reduced corporate taxes and cut red tape, boosting returns on invested capital. But in calling on the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates further, he is not only making a big mistake, he is courting disaster—though not for the reason his critics believe.

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    The Signal In International Liquidity

    Historically, few indicators have been as important for global markets as the amount of US dollar liquidity available outside the US. When this has turned down, trouble has reliably followed. This year, notes Charles, the indicator has again turned negative. But as he explains, all may not be lost.

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    Gold Signals A System Failure

    To make the point that gold is the only monetary asset that is not someone else’s liability, John Pierpont Morgan used to say that “gold is money, the rest is credit”. For simplicity’s sake, let’s assume that this quip corresponds to reality—the implication is that the relationship between the gold price and the credit system must be full of information.

    4
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    The Paris Project In A Keynesian Time

    Some time ago, I had gathered a team in Paris to develop a new venture that would apply macro research analysis to portfolio construction in a systematic way. Things are progressing well and I wanted to update readers on the initiative. The common thread is a rejection of forecasting and a reliance on market prices and economic data.

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    Please, Your Majesty, Do Nothing

    Western democracies in the early 1990s stood unchallenged in the battle of big ideas. Alas, everything that has gone wrong in western economies over the last decade or so stems from the lessons that the technocracy took from this victory. Charles considers the mistakes and examines the investment consequences that must now follow.

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    Legal Is Not The Same As Legitimate

    Democracy is in trouble. Everywhere the cause is the same: a massive conflict between legitimacy and legality. For the last 100 years or more, the split between left and right left anchored the legitimacy of any democratic government. Unfortunately, over the last couple of decades or so, the left has betrayed the people, while the right has betrayed the nation.

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    The Industrial Disease (II)

    Last week, Charles examined the decline of the US industrial sector, introducing his “industrial Wicksellian spread” as an indicator of environmental conditions for industry. Now he looks at the probable causes of industrial deterioration, explains why neither monetary nor fiscal policy can help, and uses his toolkit to draw some important conclusions for portfolio investors.

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    Reexamining The US Recession Indicator

    I may opine across many topics when writing these missives, but all said and done, I am a rules-based investor. In late 2016 my US recession indicator told me that the US economy was likely to face a recession, yet no such thing happened. As a result, I started to look for an explanation, and only now do I feel that a clear answer is coming into view.

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