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    Gavekal Research

    The First Meeting Of The Fed’s New Era

    On Wednesday, the Federal Open Market Committee concluded its first meeting after Federal Reserve chairman Jay Powell last month revised its strategic policy framework. The new framework boils down to a temporary increase in the Fed’s inflation target to “make up” for past shortfalls.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: From Bearish To (Conditionally) Bullish

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: Global Investment Roundtable, September 2020

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Dollar Still Has Downside

    Has the great US dollar correction of 2020 run its course? After all, the DXY index is down -10% from its March 19 top and -4.4% lower year-to-date. There have been good reasons to sound Cassandra-like warnings on the US currency and while some negative drivers have moderated, the balance of evidence implies more downside.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    US Profits In The Pandemic

    My preferred “NIPA profits” measure fell by -14.4% during the second quarter of the year, according to US national accounts data released late last week. That follows a similarly bad -13.3% fall in the first quarter. Both declines are on par with the worst quarters in post-war history. And like previous low points, US corporate profitability is likely to recover from here. But what does the data tell us about the investment environment and what...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Fed Boosts The Inflation Outlook

    The Federal Reserve made a historic change to its monetary policy framework yesterday when it officially adopted “average inflation targeting”. That bullseye remains 2%, but the definition of the target has changed in a way that, in the current context, effectively raises the inflation outlook. This has important implications for future policymaking and current asset pricing.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: The State Of The US Recovery

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: From Bullish To Neutral On The US

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Conventional Fed

    The Federal Reserve did not shift its policy stance yesterday and nor is it likely to announce some big-bang reform after a “strategic policy framework review”, which Jerome Powell indicated should be wrapped up within a couple of policy-setting meetings. That may not be an exciting story, but it is one that financial markets will welcome.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Not Cheap, But Not Expensive Either

    I don’t propose to wade into the debate over whether US equities are in are in a bubble or not. I'd only point out that by one key metric—relative valuation—equities do not look excessively expensive today, at least when compared with the relative valuations seen at the height of the dot-com boom at the turn of the century.

    9
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: Global Investment Roundtable, June 2020

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    From Bullish To Neutral

    There has been a lot of talk about how the rally in US markets has been driven entirely by irrational sentiment. We disagree, and have since late March argued that the rebound in risk assets was rational. Our assessment rested on four financial and economic pillars. Today a reexamination of these pillars suggests a moderation of our bullish stance.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    What's US$1.6trn More Or Less?

    As three months ago, the prime case for holding US risk assets is the liquidity support provided by policymakers. But while liquidity conditions remain extraordinarily easy, and will continue to do so as long as inflation expectations remain depressed, in one respect at least the potential of surplus liquidity to push asset markets higher may have been exaggerated.

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    The US Consumer Has Legs

    Another day, another upside surprise from the US data. For investors, the key question is whether this recovery will continue, or whether May’s bounce-back in consumption will prove a one-off flash in the pan, extinguished by a second wave of infections and long term unemployment. Happily, there are good reasons to expect the consumption recovery to have legs.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    A Fed Reality Check

    Ahead of the FOMC meeting that concludes Wednesday, there has been a growing volume of chatter that the Federal Reserve is moving to scale back its easing measures. The talk has been further amplified by May’s surprisingly strong employment report, with some commentators even warning of an imminent taper tantrum in the markets.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Excess Money And Where To Find Value

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

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: US Outlook (May 2020)

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Upside For Autos And Housing

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Breasting The Trough

    The apparent divergence between the stock market and economic reality continues to widen. Equity investors are focusing on the expected effects of the Federal Reserve’s massive liquidity injections once states emerge from lockdown. The risk to this rosy view is that the easing of restrictions could cause an infection increase so severe that new lockdowns are imposed.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Fiscal Fix

    Barely a month after launching a US$2trn rescue package, the US is poised to release yet more fiscal stimulus to tackle the economic fallout of the Covid-19 crisis. The Senate has passed legislation to top up funding for a small business loan program and the House should follow suit on Thursday. Will this latest cash injection be enough to stop massive bankruptcies? Probably, but the program will remain a messy work in progress in need of more...

    10
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: Outlook For The US Economy And Global Markets

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: The US Economic Response

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    This Is Not A New Monetary Era

    Central banks across the developed world are cranking up their printing presses to buy huge amounts of public debt that is being issued to support companies and individuals. The worry is that this causes high inflation down the track, or that it means the fiscal and monetary management functions of governmens are merging. The way I approach this issue is through two simple questions.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: Looking Through The Lockdowns

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Atlantic Divide

    Second order economic effects from the Covid-19 outbreak are ripping through industrialized economies, with soaring unemployment, shuttered industries and a fall in corporate profits. While China has eschewed large-scale government support, Europe and the US have adopted massive fiscal and monetary responses. These Western initiatives do, however, differ in key respects and when lockdowns finally end, one or other approach will likely have...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Is US$2trn In Fiscal Support Enough?

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

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Case For Corporate Bonds

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

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    The Importance Of The Fed’s Big Guns

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Dollar Squeeze Intensifies

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

    10
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    Gavekal Research

    The Fed’s ‘Whatever It Takes’ Moment

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

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    How To Ride The Liquidity Wave

    On Tuesday the US Federal Reserve made good on its promise to counter the “evolving risks to economic activity” posed by the coronavirus, cutting its key policy rate. Monetary easing will neither cure the virus nor fix disrupted supply chains, but it will provide cheap funds for companies while they weather the storm.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Still Dollar Bears (Humbly)

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Surfeit Of Money

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

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Bad Shocks Can Have Benign Effects

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Don't Fret About The Fed's Balance Sheet

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

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    The Dark Side Of A Strong US Economy

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Qualified Bull On US Equities

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

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Echoes Of 2017

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

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Audio — Gavekal Research Call December 2019

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Repo Paradox

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

    8
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    Gavekal Research

    What Would Volcker Do?

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Parsing Payrolls And The Fed

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Safety Rope On The Wall Of Worry

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    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.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Looking Through To US Inflation

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: A Turning Point For The Dollar

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: Towards A Dollar Decline

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Easy Money And Robust Growth

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    US Dollar Under Fire

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Fed Goes On The Offensive

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Back To Balance Sheet Expansion

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

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Where The Fed Stands

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Echoes Of 2000 Strike A False Note

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

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    What If The Fed Has Finished Cutting

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

    9
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    Gavekal Research

    Stay Neutral Between Equities And Cash

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    US Liquidity Is Not The Worry

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

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research Call September 2019

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: The Message From Bonds

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Looking Through The Bond Bubble

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Case Against Recession

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

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    Weathering Trump’s Trade War

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

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: Focus On The Fed, Not On US Tariff Threats

    Trade war fears are once again front and center of investors' minds. But the reduced magnitude of pledged US tariffs indicates that Trump is anxious to avoid damaging the US economy and financial markets. This leaves the focus on the Fed, and how much it is likely to cut interest rates.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    What The Early End Of QT Means

    As expected, the Federal Reserve cut short term interest rates by 25bp on Wednesday. Less expected the Fed also halted its program of quantitative tightening, effective immediately. The decision to end the program early cancels an expected additional US$70bn contraction in the supply of money. This represents a significant easing.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    The Downward Revision In US Profits

    Alongside last Friday’s second quarter US GDP release, the BEA issued revisions which wiped out almost all the increase in pre-tax corporate profits since the end of 2016, and much of the post-tax increase. The revisions can be attributed almost entirely to weak top-line growth and rising wage costs. The good news is that the revisions do not sound a recession warning.

    10
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    Gavekal Research

    Unpicking US 2Q GDP

    Second quarter US GDP growth came in at 2.1%, slightly better than expectations. In itself, this headline figure is not especially illuminating. But dig deeper into the various components of 2Q growth, and there are reasons for moderate optimism about the trajectory of the US economy through the second half of 2019.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Fiscal Crisis Averted, At A Cost To Liquidity

    On Monday, the White House and Congressional leaders reached a tentative agreement to raise US government spending caps and suspend the debt ceiling for two years. Assuming the deal is passed by Congress in the next few days, a fiscal crisis will be averted this year. But before investors breathe a sigh of relief and bet on a rally, it should be noted that one near term effect of the agreement could be an acute liquidity drain as the Treasury...

    8
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: What Is Libra, And Will It Work?

    Facebook will have an uphill battle trying to convince consumers to adopt its announced digital currency, libra. As it will be backed by a basket of assets denominated in different currencies, the prices of goods and services will be more volatile in libra than in existing local currencies, even in emerging markets. This volatility will deter consumers from making the switch.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Libra's Monetary Challenge

    Facebook has 2.7bn users and 90mn companies operating on its various platforms. Perhaps more than any other non-state player, it has the resources, reach and data trove to launch a global currency. Will is not convinced and tackles the issue by asking what benchmarks the new Libra currency will need to hit if it is to become a widely-used medium of exchange.

    8
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    Gavekal Research

    How To Play The Fed Tease

    After the Federal Reserve’s two-day policy meeting, chairman Jay Powell told the market what it wanted to hear. Policymakers see rising risks and stand ready to cut interest rates, but there is no reason to panic—just yet. Real growth is solid, which is good for earnings, but inflation pressures are muted, allowing the Fed to be more accommodative.

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    Trump's War And Our Problem

    In the seven decades after World War II, the most powerful nation in the world could be relied on to defend and promote free trade among nations. Then came President Donald. J Trump. Now it’s conceivable that Trump’s goal is to shake up the old rules-based system.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    An Ugly Trade War And An Inverted Yield Curve

    Will a trade war boost US growth and inflation, or instead cause a deflationary recession? The bond market is basically saying that a trade war will dent US growth and force the Federal Reserve into easing. Bear with my two-handed explanation, but there are also good reasons why it could also boost nominal growth.

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    How Long Can Productivity Contain US Inflation Pressure?

    April’s US payrolls report showed job creation was stronger than expected and unemployment lower, yet wage pressures were softer. This suggests weaker unit labor costs will allow the Fed to remain dovish, at least for now. All else being equal this is positive for equity investors. The question is: How long can this benign combination persist?

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Managing Today’s Biggest Risk

    The US first quarter GDP data released on Friday proved consistent with the picture of slower—but still positive—growth through 2019, and a continuation of the Goldilocks tailwind for asset markets. But after a strong run-up in equities this year, it might be time to ask what the greatest risk is to the current environment, and how to position for it.

    0
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    Inflation Is The Real Risk

    Happy days seem to be here again as risk assets soar on a dovish Federal Reserve and better growth outlook. Yet, investors should take note. The Fed has three official mandates; namely, to keep inflation low and stable, keep unemployment down, and keep interest rates low and stable. Yet among those “equals”, the first is thought to be bearing down on inflation.

    5
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    A New Look At The Housing Market

    When the US slides into recession, it generally does so because of a contraction in investment, either in the corporate sector or in the housing market. Today, returns on capital invested in housing exceed the cost of capital, signalling a positive outlook for US residential investment, construction, house prices, and the shares of homebuilders.

    3
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    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research Call April 2019

    In yesterday’s Gavekal Research Conference Call, Will Denyer and Udith Sikand addressed the changing US dollar liquidity environment, and its impact on markets.

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    Strategy Monthly: A New Liquidity Environment

    The prospect of easier liquidity conditions helped make 1Q19 one of the best ever quarters for US equities. Confirmation of the Federal Reserve’s newly dovish policy stance means that US equities should continue to do well through 2019. Other big winners in this environment may be equities in northeast Asian emerging markets that do not rely on Chinese commodity demand.

    0
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    Gather Round The Punch Bowl

    US monetary policy tightening is over, at least for now. While the Federal Reserve is not adding any more hooch to the punch bowl, chairman Jay Powell has promised to stop cutting his serving sizes. Although not much of a surprise, the Fed’s guidance is broadly positive for just about everything but US dollar cash—especially equities and real assets.

    0
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    Video: The Fed's Potential Paradigm Shift

    The Federal Reserve is debating a fundamental shift in its inflation targeting. Right now it's targeting 2% inflation no matter what it has been in the past, a so-called "bygones" policy. In this video interview Will discusses the consequences of switching to price-level targeting, where the aim is to keep average inflation over time at 2%.

    0
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    An Investor's Rough Guide To Modern Monetary Theory

    Modern Monetary Theory—the idea that governments can spend as much as they want, free from funding constraints—is attracting more and more attention. Will examines the precepts of the theory, explores whether it really brings anything new to the table, and outlines some of the implications for investors should it ever be applied as practical policy.

    16
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    Video: Shifting Sands At The Fed

    The US Federal Reserve has said it is likely to end its process of balance sheet “normalization” sooner than previously planned. This sounds like an obscure monetary technicality, but it has important implications for investors. In this video interview Will explains why.

    0
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    The Trouble With Price Level Targeting

    The Federal Reserve is talking about changing the way it targets inflation. Currently it tweaks policy in an attempt to zero in on a specific inflation rate: 2%. Under the framework it is discussing, instead it would aim to hit a price index level consistent with a particular long term average inflation rate. The distinction might sound subtle, but by targeting a price level, the Fed would compensate for any undershooting by attempting to...

    6
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    The QT Endgame

    A voting member of the FOMC said yesterday that the Federal Reserve should quit shrinking its balance sheet later this year. This was the clearest indication yet that the US central bank will end quantitative tightening one or two years sooner than the 2020-2021 estimate put forward by Chairman Jay Powell last July. I suspect Brainard will get her wish.

    2
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    A Looser Fed And Tighter Banks

    News flow from the US and beyond over recent months has pointed to an easing of financial conditions. A notable exception has, however, emerged: US commercial banks have stopped loosening lending standards and have started to tighten them—just a touch. I remain constructive, but have gotten more cautious about US risk assets.

    0
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    Video: Conflicting Signals From The US Labor Market

    The US labor market is sending apparently contradictory signals. On one hand the unemployment rate ticked higher in January. On the other, job creation was much stronger than expected. Will looks behind the latest data points to examine the labor market’s underlying trends, and concludes they spell relatively bullish news for the US economy and risk assets over the coming months.

    0
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    Don't Fear Corporate Leverage (Yet)

    With Brexit, the US-China trade war and a synchronous global slowdown, these are anxious times for investors. But apparently, all these concerns pale in comparison with worries about US corporate leverage. According to a BofAML survey this month, corporate indebtedness is the biggest single worry among fund managers. We beg to differ.

    17
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    The Bull Case For US Housing

    As the US government shutdown drags on, US-China tariff talks stutter, the Chinese growth engine slows, global trade slumps and GDP forecasts get cut, the stream of macro-misery in recent days has seemed relentless. On Tuesday, the US National Association of Realtors added its voice to the dirge, reporting that sales volumes for existing homes fell -10% year-on-year to a three year low in December. With new home sales and construction equally...

    10
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    Video: Beyond The Government Shutdown

    As the US government shutdown threatens to enter its fifth week, Will looks back at previous shutdowns to weigh the likely impact on America’s economy and financial markets, against the backdrop of an aging economic cycle, flattening yield curve and tighter financial conditions.

    0
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    A Good News Story From The US

    As the record government shutdown denies Americans vital services and federal workers paychecks, the US has hardly been putting its best foot forward. While we don't expect this political impasse to change the growth trajectory, it does weigh on the market mood. Against such a dour backdrop, we think a good news story from the US economy can be easily missed.

    0
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    Rollover In The US, Not Recession

    This week’s revenue forecast downgrades from Apple and Delta Air Lines and Thursday’s steep dive in the ISM manufacturing PMI only appeared to confirm what market participants already knew: US growth is rolling over. Yet despite the recent sell-off in equities and the further flattening of the US yield curve, we see no recession on the horizon.

    0
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    More Half Full Than Half Empty

    Despite dovish comments from the Federal Reserve about the future trajectory of interest rates, US equities fell further on Wednesday. The S&P 500 has now fallen -14% since early October. Meanwhile, 10-year treasury prices have risen almost 5%. Momentum traders will therefore find good reason to shun equities and add exposure to long-dated treasuries. We suggest doing the opposite.

    0
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    Opportunities Beyond The Death Cross

    November’s payroll report gave investors in US equities reason to cheer on Friday as it suggested reduced inflationary pressure, yet they chose to focus on an escalating row over the fate of a top Chinese telecom executive that is intensifying trade tensions with China. A -2.3% fall in the S&P 500 had the technically-inclined scrambling to glean meaning from a “death cross” as the 50-day moving average fell below the 200-day level. We remain...

    2
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    Don’t Sweat About The Yield Curve

    At least as interesting as the 1.1% rise in US equities on Monday, following the weekend’s news of a three-month US-China tariff truce, was the day’s decline in long-dated US treasury yields and the concomitant flattening of the US yield curve. But was this bond market action good news or bad for investors?

    5
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    Christmas Comes Early

    The most cherished gifts often come in small packets, and investors duly cheered just two small words yesterday by the Federal Reserve chairman. In a speech, Jerome Powell said policy rates were “just below” the neutral level. That was a big change from a month earlier when he said they were “a long way from” the not-too-hot-not-too-cold level. This suggests that the pace of interest rate hikes may lessen, while on the same day data was released...

    0
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    The Drag Of US Housing

    Despite the overall US growth outlook remaining decent, markets have taken on an ugly tone, with US equities having given back their 2018 gains and credit spreads gapping wider. Adding to grim tidings, yesterday saw weak housing data released, which is a worry as the sector often leads the broader US economy.

    16
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    GE Is More Fish Than Fowl

    There is suddenly a flood of commentary speculating that General Electric is a canary in the proverbial coal mine for the US corporate credit market. With investors focused on the troubled conglomerate’s underfunded pension scheme and ailing power business, GE has seen its credit rating downgraded and become a focal point for broader fears that US corporates have taken on too much debt and bought back too much equity. Without taking a view on GE...

    5
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    Hong Kong Seminar — November 2018

    At Gavekal’s seminar in Hong Kong this week, Yanmei Xie, Arthur Kroeber and Will Denyer presented their latest views on China's economy, trade war, and how to approach asset allocation in the US.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Gridlock is Good

    The Democrats have wrested back control of the US House of Representatives, while Republicans have expanded their Senate majority. Hence, the US’s bicameral legislature is set for two years of gridlock. This was the most benign result possible from this midterm election. While largely expected, confirmation is probably positive for risk assets.

    0
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    Strategy Monthly: Yes, We're Still In A Bull Market

    Anatole and Will believe that continued exposure to US equities makes sense, since underlying corporate profitability remains strong. So long as one avoids the most rate-sensitive sectors, US portfolios should be 70-75% in stocks, with the rest mainly in cash. Moreover, they argue that the period of EM underperformance is now done, and emerging markets are poised for a significant rally.

    0
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    US Macro And The Market

    Coming after another bruising week in the market, which saw the S&P 500 flirting with correction territory, down -9% from its late-September high, Friday’s third quarter US GDP report is heartening. Although 3Q’s quarter-on-quarter annualized growth rate of 3.5% was slower than the 4.2% rate recorded in 2Q, it was still strong relative to the expected 3.3% and compared with the US economy’s structural growth rate. While US growth will...

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