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    Gavekal Research

    The Case Of The Missing Inflation: Energy’s Impact

    When the Fed launched QE2 in 2010, there was widespread fear that a great inflation beckoned. It has not exactly worked out that way. Louis considers the role energy played in a decade of becalmed US consumer prices. Yet, with oil prices again rising, he asks whether the market has grown complacent in its analysis of the relationship between oil and inflation.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Iran Waivers And The Oil Price Spike

    US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has announced that the US will not roll over waivers on its sanctions on Iranian oil exports when they expire in May. The question for investors is this: If Washington does make good on its threat, to what extent are other oil producers able and willing to increase output in order to make up any supply shortfall in global markets?

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Case Of The Missing Inflation

    As the Federal Reserve launched the second round of its quantitative easing, the fear was that the unorthodox monetary policy would ignite a new round of inflation—even hyper-inflation—throughout the world, with dramatic effects on asset prices. But inflation failed to materialize, and now nobody seems to be worried about it anymore.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    US Financial Asset Valuations Stretched Every Which Way

    Charles dusts off his equity and bond valuation models for the US and is disturbed to see that for only the fourth time since the mid-1980s both asset classes are simultaneously overvalued. In this piece, he asks: what gives?

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    Hong Kong Seminar — April 2019

    Louis Gave examined the reasons for equity markets' good performance amid a global trade slowdown; Thomas Gatley assessed the state of the Chinese economy and whether the current Chinese equity bull market still has legs; Udith Sikand reckoned it is time to be positive on emerging markets, especially EM Asia.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    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.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Europe's Export Problem

    Europe is the world’s most export-dependent big economic region. In such a precious position, the effect of external weakness can be debilitating, as shown by the eurozone manufacturing PMI having just fallen to its lowest in nearly six years at 47.5. The question is whether any respite can be found in overseas markets.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Play A Longer US Cycle With Small Caps

    After a wobble late last year, the US economy looks to be stabilizing. The Atlanta Fed has revised up its estimate for 1Q19 GDP growth to 2.1%, while more timely indicators such as mortgage applications, PMI readings and durable goods orders indicate a steadying of the ship.The question is how to play this development.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    London Seminar — March 2019

    Cedric Gemehl examined the possibility of a European rebound; Charles Gave argued the world is splitting into three distinct monetary zones; Tom Miller presented on the state of the US-China trade talks and the health of the Chinese economy; Anatole Kaletsky examined the risks to the bull market, and arrived at a bullish conclusion.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Good News For Goldilocks

    Last Thursday, with the price of oil approaching a four-and-a-half month high, Donald Trump took to Twitter. “Price of Oil getting too high.” Trump’s tweet had little effect, with Brent crude hitting US$69/bbl on Monday. Prices are likely to continue to push higher over the coming months towards 2018's highs—a troubling prospect.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    Beyond The Yield Curve Inversion

    The current yield curve inversion and softness in growth data are curious developments, given that the four prices that matter most for the global economy—long bond yields, corporate credit spreads, the oil price, and the value of the US dollar—are all relatively favorable. Louis and Charles weigh five different explanations for what may be going on—from bullish to highly bearish—and examine the investment implications.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    A Week Is A Long Time

    Harold Wilson, the former British prime minister’s, quip that “a week is a long time in politics” has become an over-used cliche. Still, in the last week, there has been good reason to dust it off.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Europe's Response To China

    Europe has an ambivalent relationship with China that is increasingly under scrutiny. The European Commission recently labelled China a “systemic rival” and France and Germany want to create corporate champions to compete against Chinese state owned enterprises. Europe, however, is not singing from the same hymn sheet.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Recession Warning, Or False Alarm?

    On Friday, the three-month to 10-year portion of the US treasury curve inverted for the first time this cycle, heightening investors’ fears of impending recession. But although every US recession of recent decades has been preceded by an inversion of the yield curve, not every inversion has been followed by a recession; there have been cases of false positives.

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    Vox Clamantis In Deserto

    Some say, “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Others regard repeating the same mistake over and over again, and expecting the results to change, to be the very definition of insanity. I fear that the majority of “respectable economists” (meaning they always side with the consensus) inhabit the first of the two camps.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    Believe In The US Consumer, Still

    Just as the Federal Reserve eases up on monetary tightening and negotiators struggle to avert a trans-Pacific trade war, the US consumer is emerging as the next source of worry. Americans are deferring big-ticket purchases, consumer confidence readings have softened and retail sales growth has slowed. Suddenly, the picture looks similar to the 2015-16 soft patch, or worse still it resembles the phase leading up to the 2008 crisis, when an...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The End Of China's ODI Party

    Beijing’s decision to use foreign acquisitions as a tool of state industrial policy has badly backfired. With advanced economies stiffening their resistance to Chinese investment, China’s decade-long outward direct investment spree looks spent. In this piece, Tom explains how the boom ended and where funds will flow in the future.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    Productivity To The Rescue, For Now

    On first reading, Friday’s US payroll report for February made grim reading for most investors. The screeching slowdown in non-farm hiring seemed to point to a US economy that is flirting with recession. To compound matters, wage growth seemes to point to a very tight labor market. On closer inspection, however, a less concerning picture is revealed.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Not Modern, Not About Money, And Not Really Much Of A Theory

    Charles has had enough of all the talk going round about Modern Monetary Theory. In this forceful polemic he lets fly with both barrels at the proponents of MMT, arguing that they have no knowledge of financial history, little understanding of the nature of money, and are clueless about what constitutes a theory.

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    Get Ready To Buy The Dip

    With the S&P 500 up a nifty 18% from its Christmas eve low, propelled by the Federal Reserve’s dovish turn and hopes of a US-China trade truce, it is natural to wonder if US stocks are due for a correction. The question for investors is whether they should fade the rally now before it is too late, or stay invested and look to buy the dip should a correction occur.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The US Technology Control Toolbox

    The US and China appear to be moving toward a trade deal that will at least halt further hikes in tariffs. But as Dan shows in this piece, the US still wants to constrain China’s technological rise, and has many tools it can use. US-China technology exchanges are becoming politically and legally fraught, causing collateral damage on both sides.

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    What To Expect From Trump-Kim II

    The the eight months since Trump and Kim's historic handshake in Singapore has seen no progress on North Korea’s denuclearization, with the two sides still leagues apart. Although their second meeting this week will do nothing to bridge the gap, Trump’s determination to be seen as a peacemaker will further reduce tensions in North East Asia.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    After A Trade Deal, Then What?

    So far, so predictable: President Donald Trump’s weekend tweets extending the deadline for US-China trade talks past March 1 made clear his intention to get a deal done, most likely in the second half of March when Xi Jinping pays a visit to Mar-a-Lago. A deal is now almost certain to happen; the live questions are what will be in it and what impact it will have.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Mystery Of The Missing Stimulus

    Since late 2016, the US trade deficit has been widening. Usually, when the US trade deficit expands, the effect is stimulative for the rest of the world. However, this time around there have been no signs that non-US economies are enjoying a resulting pick-up. In this report, KX examines possible explanations for the failure of this longstanding relationship.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Back To The Barbarous Relic

    Going back to the mid-1980s, I have worked on the assumption that the US economy has been in the “deflationary” lower half of my four quadrants framework. My fear is that we may be moving into the inflationary top quadrants. If so, this means that in the bust phase of the cycle equities will have a positive correlation with bonds, and those bonds will offer much lower returns

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    A Catspaw, Not A Tailwind

    The publication of minutes from FOMC’s January meeting confirmed that the Fed has executed an about-turn in its policy stance and is now in dovish mode. More specifically, the minutes confirmed that the Fed is planning to halt the contraction of its balance sheet later this year, putting an early end to the quantitative tightening that began in October 2017.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: What Kind Of US-China Deal?

    In recent weeks, the US dollar has rallied, emerging markets have been strong and gold seems to be breaking out to the upside. That is an unusual combination, and in this video Louis outlines three possible explanations for the moves. Most provocatively, as the US-China trade talks get critical, he wonders if China is gearing up to accept a one-off revaluation of the renminbi.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Three Odd Things

    Reserves held by foreign central banks at the Fed are shrinking, which implies there aren’t enough US dollars in the system. This would make sense: the Fed has been draining excess US dollars for the past couple of years. So with shrinking central bank reserves and a shrinking US monetary base, the US dollar should be going up, and most risk assets should be hurting. Oddly, this isn’t happening.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    The Biggest Investment Story Of 2019

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

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Containing China's Tech Ambitions

    More constructive rhetoric suggests the US and China may be about to strike a truce on tariffs and market access. However, that does not mean they are about to bury the hatchet. Powerful groups in Washington want to contain China’s rise as a technological power, and the US has many tools at its disposal even if it drops tariffs.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    Fear Not The ‘Earnings Recession’

    US earnings growth is clearly slowing. As global growth ebbs and the effect of last year’s US tax cut wears off, 1Q19 will be worse according to US analysts who in aggregate are predicting EPS to fall -1.4%. Some commentators are even declaring an “earnings recession.” Time to take profits for the year and run to the hills? I’d say “no”.

    5
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Long Arm Of US Export Controls

    While investors eye the progress of US-China talks to avert tariff hikes, the US is mobilizing on another front. In this piece, Dan explains how the US is preparing for more aggressive use of export controls to disentangle the US and Chinese tech sectors. This can certainly hurt Chinese firms, but will also affect US and other tech companies.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Three Separate Battlefronts In The Unfolding Cold War

    As the clash between China and the US intensifies, Louis notes the primacy that Mao Zedong’s guerrilla tactics would have had in forming the current Chinese leadership’s political consciousness and setting a template for the way they handle conflict. As such, he sees the struggle between the two superpowers playing out on three distinct fronts.

    19
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    Gavekal Research

    The Global Car Industry Catches Chinese Flu

    If the auto industry is a bellwether of global economic health, then much of the world is looking sick. The second half of 2018 was painful for carmakers in all the major auto markets, and 2019 is shaping up to be as bad. Is this just a passing malady that carmakers will soon shrug off, or a chronic condition they will have to manage for years to come?

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    A Vital Portfolio Construction Lesson

    I am a rules-based investor, and over the years few financial relationships have been more useful to me in reading the economic cycle than the yield spread between long-dated US corporate bonds and 30-year US treasuries. Going back to the late 1970s, no US bear market has unfolded with key spread being below 200bp. It is now 210bp.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Fed To The Rescue

    It was no surprise on Wednesday that the US Federal Reserve promised to be “patient” about further interest hikes and flexible on the pace and extent of its balance sheet reduction. The Fed’s more dovish stance had been clearly signaled in a series of speeches ahead of yesterday’s policy meeting. As Fed chairman Jay Powell explained, with US inflation data subdued and other major economies slowing, it makes good sense for the Fed to take a “wait...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Recession Of 2019: Revisited

    Six months ago Charles posited the idea of a global recession starting in and around March 2019. He revisits that idea in this piece and concludes that there is clear evidence of the global system suffering a marked slowdown. Here, he seeks to identify the source of the problem by a process of elimination (spoiler alert, the problem isn’t China).

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    A Huawei-Scale Problem

    The charges that US prosecutors have now filed against telecom equipment supplier Huawei are similar to those thrown at two other Chinese tech firms last year. The eventual outcome is likely to be similar: the imposition of export controls that will threaten Huawei’s survival and force it to accede to a restrictive deal with the US government.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Favor Local Bonds Over EM Equities

    After a dismal year for emerging market assets in 2018, emerging markets have started 2019 on a positive note, with equities rising 6.5% and local currency bonds up 3% year-to-date. On Friday, Louis looked at shifts in the US dollar, long term US interest rates, credit spreads and the oil price, and concluded they favor emerging market assets through the rest of 2019. Broadly I agree, but I would take a slightly more nuanced stance. The shifts...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Four Prices That Matter

    It is Gavekal’s longstanding mission to develop simple principles that investors can use to navigate complicated financial markets. In this vein, one of our core tenets is that four prices matter more than all others, and together these determine the level of global economic activity and of investor risk appetite. Let us see where they stand as we head deeper into 2019.

    12
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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    Mexico 1, Brazil 0

    When Brazil met Mexico in last year’s football world cup, the Brazilian team walked away the victors by two goals to nil. In financial markets too, Brazil has lately been beating Mexico. In recent weeks each country has installed as its president a fiery populist—although they hail from different ends of the ideological spectrum. In Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro is an unabashed right-winger, while his Mexican counterpart Andrés Manuel López Obrador, or...

    8
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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    Trump's Next Trade Target

    Just when the risk from trade politics seemed to be dying down, it’s getting complicated again. Trade talks between the United States and China are in full swing, but just as important are imminent negotiations between the US and the European Union, which are clouded by the US threat to impose tariffs on cars and car parts.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    The Big Questions For 2019

    The last quarter of 2018 proved to be something of a horror show for most investors and despite this year starting with a firmer tone, the investment landscape looks to have changed in a fairly profound way. In this report, Louis considers the major shifts in the investment environment and asks whether these conditions will persist through 2019.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: The Hope-Vs-Despair Smackdown Of 2019

    The massive sell-off in December left global equities on the precipice of a real bear market. Hope and despair are finely poised, but we find a bit more reason for hope. The US and China will both slow, but the US should avoid recession and Chinese growth should stay above 6%. Political and trade-war risk is lower, and liquidity pressures will ease. US equities and EM assets, especially local-currency bonds, both promise positive returns.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    This Century's Suez Crisis

    China’s “Belt and Road” initiative is a clear bid by Beijing to challenge the incumbent imperial power: the US. And in an age when the highest-value commodities are not physical goods, but the binary digits zipping around the world at the speed of light, the battleground of this struggle for dominance will be telecommunication networks.

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    China And The US Still Hold The Keys To Markets' Fate

    In 2018 liquidity tightening in the US and China combined with trade war fears to make a miserable year for markets. In 2019 the same forces will be at work but the outcomes may differ. The key questions are: can the US and China work out a trade deal? How bad is the Chinese slowdown and how will Beijing respond? And how much will the Fed tighten?

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    The Market Weighing-Machine

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

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    A Future For Value Investing

    Financial theory teaches that, in order to determine the price of an asset, we should take its foreseeable future cash-flows, discount them by a risk-free rate to which we can add a risk premium, and then beyond these cash-flows ascribe a “residual value” to the business. So it’s an easy game—we only need to determine four things: the future cash-flows, the direction of the risk-free rate, the level of the risk premium, and the residual value....

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    A Sober End To The Year

    For investors around the world, 2018 proved to be “challenging”. Yet to Gavekal’s clients, hopefully the year’s difficulties did not come as a surprise. Just over 12 months ago, early in December 2017, I published a paper entitled From A Ferrari To A Jeep advising investors to reduce the volatility of their portfolios.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    Getting Out Of The Liquidity Squeeze

    With the Trump-Xi summit, compromise between Rome and Brussels, and the oil price down, all the ingredients should have been in the mix for a Santa Claus rally. Instead it's been an ugly few weeks in the markets, which strongly suggests no let up yet in this year's liquidity squeeze. In this detailed report, Louis looks back at recent history to determine what forces might bring the squeeze to an end next year, and therefore what asset...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A New Risk-Reward Equation In EMs

    US markets have come back to earth with a bump on a reassessment of risk and growth prospects. As a result, investors are betting on a less hawkish Federal Reserve and a weaker US dollar, both of which are a boon to hard-pressed emerging markets. The question is: do investors gain more from a more favorable US dollar liquidity environment than they lose from a growth picture clouded by a slowing China and unresolved trade tensions?

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Our 2018 Holiday Reading List

    “Books,” wrote Anthony Powell, “do furnish a room.” As author of the million-word, 12-volume A Dance To The Music of Time, Powell was something of an authority on the subject. But it is unlikely even his library was as eclectically furnished as Gavekal’s. If anything, our 2018 holiday reading list is even more varied than those of recent years. Sure, we’ve read and reviewed the economic and financial heavyweights: Barry Eichengreen on currencies...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research Call December 2018

    In the final Gavekal Research Conference Call of the year, Louis-Vincent Gave, Anatole Kaletsky and Charles Gave shared their perspectives on a year which has been challenging for all asset classes, and offered their thoughts on what could be in store for investors in 2019.

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    Understanding The Next Bear Market

    My career in financial markets began in January 1971, which means I’ve seen a few bull and bear markets. A common trait of bear markets is that as the big decline starts, most investors have no idea why asset prices are falling. At some point, perhaps much later, the root cause of the marauding bear becomes clear and this revelation triggers the final phase of the sell-off. Hence, in light of the recent pull-backs, readers may like to consider...

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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...

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    What Huawei To Go

    The arrest last Saturday in Vancouver airport of the CFO of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei at the request of US prosecutors will have major consequences for investors beyond the short term market volatility it contributed to this week. Reaching a permanent US-China agreement is now much more complicated, and the arrest shows the US can use more than tariffs against China.

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    Strategy Monthly: Three Questions For The Year Ahead

    This has been a miserable year across most asset classes, with markets roiled by tighter US dollar liquidity. Looking into 2019, Louis sees the investment environment being dictated by whether the US dollar liquidity situation really is easing, the overall US policy and the possibility for the “Chimerica” relationship to rupture.

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    The Evolving Trade War

    There is little doubt that the US president is surrounded by advisers who see China as a genuine threat to the long term economic health and geopolitical strength of the United States. But, it is likely that Donald Trump’s most immediate concerns are more down to earth. Specifically, in order to be re-elected in 2020, Trump needs once again to carry states such as Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin. And it is unlikely that he will be able to win the...

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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?

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    The Next Target Of Trump’s Firepower

    In today’s Daily, Arthur Kroeber offered his analysis of the weekend’s Trump-Xi summit in Buenos Aires. In this short report, Louis takes a slightly different tack, reviewing the series of tumultuous events in recent weeks. His conclusion is that few investors’ portfolios are well positioned for the probable outcome.

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    The Durability Of The Trump-Xi Rally

    The Trump-Xi showdown at the G-20 has produced a truce, and Asian equity markets rallied in response. But Arthur is skeptical of the durability of the rally, as the structural nature of the US-China rivalry was not addressed by the deal, and hardliners in Washington are likely to keep ratcheting up the pressure on Beijing.

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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...

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    What If Oil Stays At US$50?

    Since early October, oil prices have plunged more than -30%, while the US equity benchmark is down -8%. You don’t have to be Inspector Clouseau to wonder if these moves are related. Since this oil sell-off has unfolded at a time when US economic growth is slowing, my bet is for a negative short-term effect, but a medium term outlook that is fairly cheery.

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    Positioning Ahead Of The G20

    Over the summer, the US administration’s aggressive trade stance towards China helped trigger sell-offs in most non-US equity markets, even as the US market continued to make new highs. But, in the past six weeks, the massive outperformance of US equities has stalled. Louis asks where it makes sense for investors to hide until the outcome of the G20 meeting is clear.

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    The Failure Of The Bond Cushion

    If you had been told on September 20, when the US stock market made its high, that two months later the MSCI US would be entering correction territory, down almost -10%, and that oil would be in a full-blown bear market, with Brent down almost -30%, you would probably have concluded that long-dated US bonds would be the place to be. The US dollar delivered; the DXY is up 2.7%. But long bonds did not; over the two-month period, the TLT ETF has...

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    The Conflict Between Liquidity And Growth

    In recent days my colleagues Anatole Kaletsky and Arthur Kroeber have debated the strained relationship between China and the US, and what it may mean for emerging markets. I agree that this standoff matters greatly for the world, but I’m not convinced it’s the main issue driving markets and therefore a resolution—or not—at the G20 next weekend may end up as a damp squib for investors. A range of issues have me concerned, from widening credit...

    6
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    Don't Bet On Détente

    Yesterday my colleague Anatole Kaletsky explained his optimism ahead of the meeting between presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping in Buenos Aires later this month. He thinks the chances of at least a tariff cease-fire are pretty good, and investors should buy Chinese and emerging-market assets. I remain skeptical.

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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.

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    Reasons To Believe In Détente

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

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    Countering The Belt And Road

    In its escalating rivalry with China, the US has a new target: the Belt and Road Initiative. But both the US and Europe are struggling to redefine the way they win friends and influence people with development finance. Tom argues that the somewhat quieter middle way being pursued by Japan is delivering it both influence and profits.

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    The Uphill Struggle For Equities

    Last week saw the MSCI World turn in its sixth negative week in eight, while the only sector to record gains over the last two months has been utilities; cyclical sectors like materials, industrials, IT, energy and consumer discretionary have mostly entered correction territory. That begs the question: Is this a dip to buy, or will the environment remain harsh?

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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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    Credit Availability As An Asset Allocation Tool

    US analyst KX bases his equity calls largely on a Wicksellian model that compares the cost of capital with the returns earned by the corporate sector. We remain comfortable that this “spread” remains favorable for US firms, and so recommend a roughly 70% allocation to equities. Yet even if credit is reasonably priced, there is the question of its availability. For this reason, we watch lending standard measures closely, and just got a benign...

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    Video: The Battle For Chinese Tech

    China imports more semiconductors than it does crude oil, highlighting its dependence on foreign technology and know-how. The US recognizes this weakness and is intent on squeezing China’s tech sector before it is able to produce the most advanced chips at home and in scale. For this reason, tech sits at the heart of the US-China tensions.

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    This Really May Be The Start Of A Year-End Rally

    Although this week started with a violent sell-off, Anatole argues that the stars are aligned for a year-end equity rally, especially in emerging markets. This is because EMs have sold off not on US interest rate worries but a combination of rising oil prices and heightened political risk. Those headwinds now seem to be abating and beaten up markets could surprise before year-end.

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    London Seminar — October 2018

    At Gavekal’s seminar in London last month Charles Gave and Anatole Kaletsky presented on whether the world is breaking up into three different monetary zones, and whether this is a correction to, or an end to, the long-running global bull market. Micahel Clendenin of Gavekal RedTech explained how they conduct research on the Chinese technology and internet sector.

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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.

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    A More Timely Wicksellian Tool

    According to my Wicksellian analysis of the US, when the market rate of interest moves above the natural rate (essentially the structural growth rate of corporate profits), then a recession is coming, and investors should exit US equities and load up on treasuries. I now propose an updated and more timely proxy for the "Wicksellian market rate".

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    What's Changed In The Oil Market

    “Sanctions are coming,” proclaimed Donald Trump in a tweet last week, three days before the imposition of the latest US embargo on Iranian oil exports. The oil market was not impressed. Since late September, when crude hit four-year highs, the Brent price has slumped -16.7% from US$86.29 to US$71.91, with WTI falling -19.1%.

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    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.

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    Handicapping The Trump-Xi Summit

    As the US prepares to wrap up its Congressional election season, Donald Trump’s administration is sending mixed signals on its China policy. The outcome of the upcoming G-20 meeting between Donald Trump and Xi Jinping is now basically a coin-flip. Either way, argues Arthur, US pressure on China’s technology sector is likely to intensify.

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    Hot, But Not Too Hot

    It remains unclear if the US is moderating its approach to trade war, but there are other factors to keep equity investors on edge. Friday’s US payroll report showed average hourly earnings rising to a cycle-high of 3.1%, confirming the picture of a tight labor market. Hence, with 10-year treasury yields just below their recent peak of 3.23%, the question is whether the US economy can weather a higher cost of capital. For now, I think the answer...

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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.

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