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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: Global Investment Roundtable, April 2021

    In the long years between the 2008-09 financial crash and the 2020 Covid crisis the US stock market massively outperformed equities in the rest of the world. In recent quarters, however, the US market has lost its edge. Yesterday, Louis, KX and Udith weighed the merits of ex-US equities versus US stocks in a post-pandemic world.

    0
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    The Eurozone’s Sub-Surface Slack

    At first glance, with the unemployment rate down from a peak of 8.7% last September, it looks as if the degree of slack in the eurozone’s labor market may be small by historical standards. However, a look at the level of employment (including employees and self-employed) shows that employment is down by 3.1mn compared with the pre-pandemic baseline.

    0
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    Living With The Next Covid Wave

    Global markets are looking ahead to a post-pandemic world, but Covid-19 is still very much with us. Globally, new infection rates have risen sharply since late February, reversing their earlier decline. In the last few weeks, the US has experienced an alarming uptick in infections. The European Union is struggling to contain its latest Covid wave, which in several major countries compares with November’s for severity. And across the developing...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: The Macro And Market Implications Of Europe’s Pandemic Response Shambles

    As the European Union’s vaccination program stumbles from one misstep to another, investors are being forced to put back their expectations for European economic recovery, while a procurement scandal in Germany raises the probability that the pandemic will have a long-term effect on the EU’s political landscape. Anatole, Cedric and Nick examined the near-term market impact and long-term economic policy implications.

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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: The Case For Ex-US Equities

    The US trade deficit cycle suggests the world is heading towards a protracted period of US dollar depreciation. With valuations outside the US relatively attractive, and deglobalization meaning ex-US equities will offer greater diversification benefits in future, investors should consider increasing their exposure to ex-US equities.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Abundance And Shortages

    Over decades, investors have gotten used to living in a world of plenty, in which capital, labor, commodities and knowledge have all been in abundant supply. Today, however, while the world remains awash with cheap capital, there are signs that the supplies of labor, commodities and—most ominously of all—knowledge may be facing tightening constraints. In this paper, Louis asks whether, after years of abundance, the world may be facing a...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Yield Differentials Matter—For Now

    As the first quarter draws to a close, the US dollar has confounded December’s bearish consensus expectations by generating a positive total return versus the euro of 3.8%. As Louis and Will and KX explained last week, in retrospect the US dollar’s performance over the last three months is not that surprising. The question now is: how long will these near-term factors persist?

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    When Will Borders Reopen?

    Even as a new Covid wave sweeps across Europe, the European Union has gotten to work on a Digital Green Certificate to allow resumption of travel, within the bloc and beyond. Health passports that securely document vaccines and test results for travelers are key to opening up borders again. But as Tom explains, getting countries to agree on rules and standards will be a painful slog.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Rewind To Look Ahead

    There has hardly been a single piece of news in the last three months that could have been construed as euro-bullish. And yes, the euro has weakened. But given the newsflow, it is remarkable that the euro is not down a whole lot more. So, considering the newsflow and the 200bp spread between 10 year treasuries and bunds, why hasn’t the US dollar rallied more?

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Future’s Clear, The Future’s Green

    Europe’s Green parties used to be denigrated by their political opponents as “watermelons”: green environmentalists on the surface, red hard-leftists beneath. In Germany, this attempt to marginalize the Greens by associating them with the discredited revolutionary socialists of 50 years ago failed dismally. Having established their credibility in regional politics, notably in Germany’s third richest state of Baden-Württemberg, where they have...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Extent Of Turkish Contagion Risk

    After four and a half months in which Turkish central bank governor Naci Ağbal had raised policy rates and restored a measure of confidence in the Turkish lira, on Saturday Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan fired Agbal and replaced him with a loyalist who has echoed the president’s conviction that higher interest rates lead to higher inflation.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    How Bad Is Europe’s Vaccine Problem?

    The Covid news from Europe only seems to lurch from bad to worse. The suspension by several European Union countries of distribution of AstraZeneca's Covid vaccine over possible side-effects threatens to disrupt the EU’s vaccination programs and damage public confidence in vaccines in general. So how bad are things likely to get?

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    When Currencies Misbehave

    In recent days, investors have had to absorb a series of troubling headlines from Europe, yet news that should be either bearish for the euro or bullish for the dollar failed to keep the euro from gaining last week. Meanwhile, the yen continues to grind lower. Why is that, and what does the inability of the dollar to rally tell us about the future?

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    The Yield Curve Control That Dare Not Speak Its Name

    A year ago today, European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde said “we are not here to close spreads”. With a fair amount of water having flowed under the bridge since then, the spread between 10-year Italian BTP’s and bunds has fallen from 261bp to just 94bp. So when on the anniversary of that proclamation, she said the “ECB is not doing yield curve control”, one could be forgiven for demurring.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Updating The Malthusian Constraint

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

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: Global Investment Roundtable, March 2021

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Problem With Europe’s Inflation

    Later this year, eurozone consumer price inflation should hit its highest level in more than a decade. We found out on Tuesday that February’s consumer prices rose by 0.9% year-on-year, and more price hikes are in the works. Alas, this is not the type of inflation that the European Central Bank has been seeking to engineer for the best part of a decade.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: The Threat Of Rising Inflation And Yields

    The roll-out of vaccines in the US is upending the investment environment, as the focus shifts beyond the pandemic to full-throttled economic recovery. With both monetary and fiscal policy set to remain loose, nominal growth could soon rip. Hopes for “normalization” have driven up inflation expectations and freaked out bond investors. Those getting fixed interest are right to be unnerved, as production capacity is fairly tight, inventories are...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: Europe And The Politics Of Exiting The Pandemic

    Europe is at a strange juncture, as governments remain committed to massive fiscal and monetary support and refuse to rush into any economic reopening before Covid vaccinations are deployed. Yet despite this collective risk aversion, Italy has appointed a new technocratic government run by Mario Draghi that looks to have broad political support and a fairly radical plan for change. Our team explored Europe's exit from the pandemic and asked...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    No Exit

    “We are not here to close spreads,” proclaimed European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde last March. “This is not the function or the mission of the ECB.” After the market took her at her word, Lagarde hastily back-tracked, and the ECB duly spent the following months doing exactly what Lagarde had said it would not.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Can Covid Vaccines Cure The Pound?

    The British pound has been the strongest major currency so far this year, contrary to Anatole’s expectations at the end of 2020. In this piece he outlines three reasons for sterling’s outperformance, but maintains that in the long term the pound will be forced lower.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Draghi’s Reform Plan And Asset Prices

    Newly installed as Italy’s prime minister at the head of a broad coalition, on Wednesday Mario Draghi outlined an ambitious agenda of structural reforms. Notably, the former European Central Bank chief wants to oversee a root-and-branch overhaul of Italy’s tax system, while investing in the education system and streamlining public administration. His first task will be to steer Italy through the pandemic. But beyond that, Draghi’s plans could...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Discussion On Treasury Yields

    In recent days, long-dated US treasury yields have made a clear move higher. Unless there’s a violent turnaround in the coming days, February will mark the seventh consecutive month of flat-to-negative returns for treasuries This is an important development, with potentially far-reaching investment implications. Anatole and Louis discuss the outlook for yields, and the consequences for asset prices.

    11
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    Gavekal Research

    Optimization And Fragility

    I have played rugby for most of my life, but in recent years I have seldom been injured. This is because I have grown heavier and slower. It is the guys who are fast and agile that tear knee ligaments and strain hamstrings. Why do I bring this up? Because investors need to ask whether the global economy is a slow but resistant lumbering beast of burden. Or is it a finely-tuned machine in danger of spinning off its axis? Gavekal has touched on...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    China Versus The Anglosphere

    Beijing’s ability to weaponize its global trade power is concentrating minds from Washington to Canberra. On Tuesday it was reported that China has proposed controls on the production and export of rare earths. This threat is the latest example of why reducing critical dependence on Chinese trade is now a strategic priority for many countries, in particular those in the Anglosphere.

    13
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    Gavekal Research

    The Long Bond Bait And Switch

    Ultra-long bond issuance is back in vogue in Europe. This month Spain has sold €5bn of 50-year bonds at a yield of 1.45%, while Belgium snapped out a 50-year issue at 0.69%. In January it was France, which sold a 50-year at 0.59%. Next up is likely to be Italy, which is expected to take advantage of the tightening in spreads following the appointment of Mario Draghi as prime minister (see Draghi’s Return) to come to market with a 50-year of its...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Vaccines, Efficacy And Variants

    Despite volumes of new information and the lightning creation of vaccines promising a path out of the pandemic, uncertainty remains. Almost daily we are bombarded with a mix of good news (the vaccines work really well!) and bad (new mutations resist vaccines!) that make it hard to know whether we should rejoice or despair. This note provides a framework for assessing these persistent uncertainties.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    A Canary Chirps

    In late January, just as the GameStop squeeze was beginning to attract attention, Louis advised investors “to keep European banks on their screens.” As the canary in the coal mine of global financial markets, eurozone banks would signal broader trouble ahead if they continued to fall. But if they rebounded, it would be a sign the global inflation trade was back on (see Third Time The Charm?).

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: Uncharted Territory And Portfolio Construction

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Six Reasons To Stay Bullish

    Is the recent speculative mania the beginning of the end of the post-2009 bull market in stocks? Or is it only the end of the beginning? Anatole argues that today’s speculation is reminiscent of the later stages of dot-com bubble, but he remains a confirmed bull on global equities. In this paper he offers six reasons why this is no contradiction.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    The Real Effect Of The Vaccine Row

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

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: Europe’s Troubled Trajectory

    For the eurozone, it seems everything went wrong at the end of 2020—and things have only got worse at the beginning of 2021. Unfortunately, hopes for recovery are pinned on a vaccination program which has been late to start, slow to gather speed, and beset by problems. Nevertheless, despite this gloomy prognosis, there will still be opportunities for investors.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Vaccine Slippage

    It is looking likely that most countries will miss their Covid-19 vaccination targets for 2021. This creates a risk of slower than expected economic growth, especially in Europe which take half a year to emerge from its double-dip recession. Moreover, any activity dependent on international travel or large-scale gatherings will remain severely depressed until well into 2022.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    What The VIX Spike May Mean

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: The UK — At The Center Of The Maelstrom

    It’s been an especially stormy start to the year for the United Kingdom, which finds itself at ground zero for the spread of a new and highly infectious strain of the coronavirus, even as it struggles to cope with withdrawal from the European Union’s single market and customs zone. Yet the UK’s financial markets are performing relatively respectably year-to-date as investors focus on the UK’s strong vaccination performance and look ahead to the...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Supply-Chain Risks For The Covid Vaccine

    The race to vaccinate the world in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic will be one of the most complex projects ever attempted. Most developed economies aim to fully vaccinate their adult population by year’s end. Dan outlines the manufacturing and logistical challenges involved the vaccine rollout

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Third Time The Charm?

    Wherever you look, it seems there are signs of market froth, and evidence abounds that we are in an environment of “more money than fools”. Yet amid all these signs, one is especially troubling: last year US investor margin debt rose by a record US$200bn. This is sobering because the two previous record-setting peaks in margin debt growth did not end well.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Where Europe Went Wrong

    Mass vaccination programs were always going to suffer teething troubles. But the rollout of Covid vaccination campaigns in European Union countries has been especially slow and troubled compared with the UK and US. This has left investors wondering about the reasons for the vaccine underperformance, whether it will persist and what the economic impact might be.

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    Risks In The Biden Era

    In December, Anatole outlined 10 disparate risks that could derail the bull market in 2021. That was before the Democrats won full control of the US government, paving the way for approval of Joe Biden’s new super-size stimulus package. In light of the developments over the last month, Anatole reassesses his 10 risks.

    9
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    Gavekal Research

    The Logos, Idiotes And Demagogues

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

    8
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    Gavekal Research

    Towards Stealth Debt Cancellation

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

    9
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    Gavekal Research

    Biden’s United Front Against China

    As the outgoing Trump administration exits with a flurry of executive actions directed against China, Beijing is not sitting around hoping for Joe Biden to spark a new era of détente with the US. The recent tightening of control in Hong Kong shows that President Xi Jinping has no intention of giving an easy early ride to a leader who has pledged to build a “united front of US allies and partners” to constrain a resurgent China. The European...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Europe’s New Political Cycle

    After a six-month respite, European political risk is back on the radar screen. Last Wednesday, ministers from the Italia Viva of former prime minister Matteo Renzi walked out of Italy’s cabinet in a dispute over how EU Covid recovery funds should be spent, leaving the coalition government of prime minister Giuseppe Conte scrabbling to survive. On Friday, the cabinet of Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte resigned over a scandal involving the over-...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The UK After Brexit

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

    9
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: Darkness Before Dawn? The Covid Vaccine Outlook

    As a new wave of Covid infections grips major economies, and social restrictions return, the hopes for a return to pre-pandemic normal rest on the rollout of vaccines. With vaccine production ramping up, most developed economies could reach herd immunity by late in 2021. But many emerging economies will take longer, and several risk factors could still derail the rollout.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Portfolio Construction Over The Next Two Years

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

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Europe’s New Lockdowns

    On Tuesday, Germany followed the United Kingdom by imposing fresh restrictions on activity and movement that in effect amount to a new lockdown comparable—and in some areas even stricter—than the anti-coronavirus shutdown imposed over the second quarter of last year. With infection rates across Europe stubbornly high despite the controls already in place, and with fears mounting about the spread of new viral strains, the risk is high that other...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Gravity Or Liquidity? Which Will Win In 2021?

    In hindsight, 2020 showed that if three conditions are met, a stock can break free from the earth’s gravity, and lift off for destinations only sci-fi writers could have imagined. Consequently, one of the most important questions for investors in 2021 is whether such inter-galactic travel can continue. Or will the coming year instead see a shift in investor behavior, with gravity once again exerting its downward pull?

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    A Very Merry Christmas From Everyone At Gavekal

    Unless something out of the ordinary happens (and given the year we’ve had, the bar is set quite high) this will be our last Daily of 2020. It is thus a chance for me to wish our readers a very Merry Christmas and to thank you for your support, friendship and interactions over the past year. As we never tire of saying at Gavekal, ideas presented in our research usually originate with our clients; or at least, the better ones do (we come up with...

    23
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    Gavekal Research

    Goldilocks And The 10 Bears Of 2021

    In recent years Anatole has written a series of articles describing 10 key risks for investors. He readily accepts that this year’s exercise was rendered redundant by the emergence of Covid-19 in January. Next year, however, he believes that a greater range of factors could weigh on markets and in this piece assesses them one by one.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Boom Of 2021

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

    10
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    Gavekal Research

    Deal Or No Deal: Should We Really Care?

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

    7
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    The 10 Important Changes Of The Past Year

    Two years ago, 10-year treasury yields were falling (and trading below their 200-day moving average), oil prices were falling (and also below trend) and the US dollar was rising (and trading above its trend level). Today, the situation has reversed for all of these anchor prices in the global system. This profound change can be explained with reference to 10 tectonic shifts in the global economy.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    The Real Bubble

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

    22
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    Gavekal Research

    The Limits Of Europe’s Rotation

    The last five weeks have seen an impressive rally in Europe’s formerly beaten- down equity market sectors. As hopes have grown that vaccines will bring the coronavirus pandemic to an early end in 2021, the stocks of Covid losers such as banks, oil and gas companies, airlines and airports have leapt sharply higher. The Stoxx bank index, for example, is up 44% since the end of October in euro terms, 50% in US dollar terms.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    The ECB And Euro Strength

    In the last couple of days the euro has broken higher against the US dollar. The last time the euro hit US$1.20, European Central Bank officials led by president Christine Lagarde emerged to talk the currency down, worried that euro strength would import deflation and erode European competitiveness. The question now is whether the ECB will again come out to jawbone the euro lower.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Fate Of Chinese Listings In The US

    Today, there are 365 Chinese companies listed on US markets. A handful of these have dual listings in Hong Kong, but for most, the US is their sole listing. Together, these 365 companies account for US$1.92trn of market capitalization. This increasingly looks like an anomaly. Why should Chinese companies choose to raise capital on Wall Street when they can tap the capital market in Hong Kong?

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    Yield Curves, The Euro And The Dollar

    The balance of probability points towards a steeper US yield curve over the short to medium term as US short rates remain pinned at zero and long-dated US treasury yields push higher. One might think that higher US long rates should attract capital inflows, but what matters is the relative shift in gradients, notably between the US dollar and euro yield curves.

    0
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    Dear Cedric And Nick, Allow Me To Disagree...

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

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: Europe And The Second Wave

    European markets were ebullient earlier this week on news that an effective Covid-19 vaccine may be approved for use early next year. In the meantime, regional lockdowns aimed at curbing the escalating pandemic threatens Europe's economic recovery. This all but guarantees loose monetary and fiscal policy for the foreseeable future. In yesterday's webinar Nick and Cedric discussed how this shakes out for investors.

    0
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    Limits To EU Solidarity

    This week, Hungary and Poland vetoed the European Union’s €750bn recovery fund in a fit of pique at a new mechanism that will stop money going to “bad boy” states deemed to impede the rule of law. With southern Europe waiting for EU cash to support its post-Covid recovery, the two eastern bloc countries hope to force a compromise that will stop outside interference in their domestic affairs. The issue tops the agenda of today’s EU leaders’...

    2
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    Biden And Brexit

    Despite the UK enduring another Covid lockdown and facing a key Brexit deadline on November 15, its political class spent this week obsessing over a personality struggle inside the prime minister’s office. The real significance of a Brexit-supporting aide to Boris Johnson quitting his post may be that the UK is about to accept a trade deal will leave it as an effective satellite of the European Union. After all, hopes for a plucky Britain going...

    3
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    After Consolidation, A Further Rerating

    Given the violence of Monday’s rotation-driven rally on soaring hopes of an early coronavirus vaccine rollout, it is small surprise that equity markets are now giving back some of those gains. Expectations are still high that developed economies will be able to begin vaccination programs as early as the first quarter of next year. But the intervening days have given investors a keener appreciation of the challenges involved. Meanwhile, the...

    0
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    Let’s Build A Second Maginot Line!

    With the coronavirus endemic in Europe, the new anti-Covid lockdowns being imposed by governments across the region, including in France, Germany and the UK, make about as much sense as a second, smaller, Maginot line would have done back in 1943 when the Germans were firmly entrenched in France.

    23
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    Webinar: US Election & Global Investment Roundtable (in French)

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

    0
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    Europe’s Bitter Winter

    Just a couple of weeks ago there were still reasons to be sanguine about the damage that rising coronavirus infections would inflict on Europe’s economy and financial markets. Today those reasons are looking a good deal thinner. Europe’s near term trajectory increasingly resembles a “W-shaped” recovery.

    0
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    The Three Key Prices: 10-Year Treasury Yields

    A core thesis for Louis is that in financial markets three prices matter above all others: the price of oil, the price of US dollars and the yield on 10-year US treasuries. In this second part of a three-part series, he addresses the bond market question. US treasuries are currently pricing in a highly deflationary future on both a cyclical and structural basis. Such an outcome would defy recent experience in the US bond market.

    4
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    No Fiscal Panacea

    It’s been a big week in Europe’s debt capital markets. The European Union sold €17bn of bonds for its SURE job support program and Italy issued €8bn of 30-year bonds yielding 1.76%. The strength of demand was an encouraging sign, given the outsize role that debt-funded government stimulus will have to play in driving the eurozone’s economic recovery from the Covid crisis.

    0
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    The Biggest Event Of 2020 (By Analogy With 2007)

    What’s the most important event of 2020? Easy, you will answer: the Covid-19 pandemic. Maybe. But will it really look that way in hindsight? Sure, Covid seems pretty momentous today. But years hence, will it really be seen as a key driver of structural change? Or will the most important event of 2020 be regarded as something else entirely?

    21
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    Crisis Averted, Hard Times Ahead

    This week, Boris Johnson got what he needed politically: a bromide from Brussels that will allow him to camouflage the compromises he must make to secure a trade deal with the EU before the year’s end. But it will be a minimalist deal that will leave the UK’s service sector out in the cold, increasingly shut out of the EU’s markets.

    6
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    Erdoğan’s Dangerous Game

    Turkey’s economy is in crisis. The International Monetary Fund is forecasting a -5% contraction in GDP this year, the Turkish lira is down -28% against the euro year-to-date, unemployment and inflation are both in double digits, and bond yields are soaring. Yet President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is pressing ahead with costly military adventures. Turkey tested its new Russian missile air-defense system in mid-October, defying its NATO allies. It is...

    0
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    Webinar: Understanding Chinese State Capitalism

    The advance of the private sector and the retreat of the state sector has been central to China’s long transformation from an isolated socialist nation to a globally connected economy. Yet the notions of China’s private sector being either in the ascendency, or facing a squeeze in the statist Xi Jinping era are not born out by the facts. Andrew Batson discussed the findings in his recent major piece of research on this topic.

    0
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    Europe Battens Down

    Having remained sanguine over recent weeks as coronavirus infection rates in Europe mounted, on Thursday investors sat up and paid attention. After the French government imposed a 9:00pm curfew on Paris and eight other cities, and after the German government tightened restrictions on Covid hotspots including Berlin and Frankfurt, the euro Stoxx index fell -2.2% during Thursday’s session. Clearly as infection rates have risen, and governments...

    0
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    The Three Key Prices: Oil

    In financial markets, there are three prices matter above all: the price of the US dollar, the yield on 10-year US treasuries, and the price of oil. Get the direction of these right, and the other pieces of the investment puzzle fall into place. In the first of a three-part series, Louis examines in depth what could cause the oil price to break out of its current trading range.

    6
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    New Tech, Same Fiat Money (For Now)

    This week saw seven western central banks and the Bank for International Settlements issue a joint report on central bank digital currencies. They come not to bury cash nor to undermine banks, but to modernize payments for a digital age. If so, the introduction of CBDCs is unlikely to upend the banking system and monetary policy, but would resemble the rollout of ATMs in the 1960s.

    2
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    Counting Europe’s Zombies

    Usually when an economy contracts, corporate bankruptcies go up. This time is different. In European countries, bankruptcies in the second quarter—the low point of the lockdown-induced economic collapse—were down by anywhere between -16% and -33% in year-on-year terms. By suspending normal bankruptcy regulations and offering generous liquidity assistance, European governments successfully prevented their lockdowns from causing a mass wave of job...

    0
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    A Typology Of Bear Markets Based On Wicksellian Analysis

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

    7
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    Keeping It Super Simple

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

    0
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    Webinar: Global Investment Roundtable, October 2020

    Yanmei Xie discussed the US team’s assessment of risks surrounding the US election, Anatole Kaletsky explained the reasons for his return to bullishness and Louis Gave talked about global asset allocation and how to find “anti-fragile” assets.

    0
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    Video: The Euro's Next Move

    The euro’s appreciation against the US dollar has stalled out as resurgent Covid-19 infections threaten new lockdown measures, and a possible upending of the economic recovery. Nick argues that the euro’s decade-long run as a “weak currency” was down to policy settings that kept domestic demand weak. A convincing reversal is not likely until those domestic drivers are again firing.

    0
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    European Divergence Is Back

    Like a car, the more excess weight you add to an economy, the slower it drives. Slapping restrictions on normal activities, even if income support measures are offered, makes it harder for an economy to grow. In Europe, the second wave of Covid-19 infections is having an uneven effect depending on the severity of the outbreak and the sector composition of the affected economy. The result will be to deepen the divergence in European growth and...

    0
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    A Dove With Ammunition

    Hawks want the European Central Bank to wind down its monetary stimulus once the immediate Covid crisis is over. On Wednesday, ECB president Christine Lagarde poured a large bucket of cold water over that idea. Speaking in Frankfurt about the central bank’s current strategy review, she made clear that the ECB regards deflation, not inflation, as the main monetary risk, and opened the door to a symmetric inflation target going forward. In the...

    1
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    The UK’s Savings Problem

    The British government's new job support scheme to take effect next month offers much less generous subsidies, and job losses are inevitable. Heightened job insecurity will mean increased precautionary savings, compounding the downturn in consumption. But the government faces institutional constraints on how much it is willing and able to borrow to plug the gap.

    0
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    Lockdown-Lite

    A series of controls have been announced by European countries in reaction to sharp increases in the numbers testing positive for the Sars-CoV-2 virus.This has raised fears of renewed lockdowns and economic havoc. But it appears European policymakers are opting for a lockdown-lite approach to public health restrictions in order to minimize the economic damage.

    4
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    Riding Europe’s Second Wave

    The latest Covid figures from Europe make sobering reading, with countries including France, Spain and others seeing pronounced second waves of new cases. Equity markets, however, have reserved judgment. Yes, the rebound that started in mid-March has been stalled for the last two months as infections have mounted. However, European markets have not sold off significantly, despite this month’s US volatility. And an examination of the opposing...

    2
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    The Challenge Of Valuing Gold

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

    0
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    When Export Strength Is A Sign Of Weakness

    China’s manufacturers are back to normal, and then some. Exports and manufacturing output are running faster than their pre-pandemic trend in 2019, even as global trade is contracting. In this piece, Andrew and Thomas explain what’s driving those strong numbers, and why they are actually a sign of continued weakness in the global economy.

    2
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    Death, Taxes And Covid-19: Things That Cannot Be Avoided

    Six months after the first western countries went into lockdown, data suggest that unless imposed very early on, lockdowns did little to avert excess deaths. With weekly death rates in many western countries now running close to decade lows, Louis argues that this leaves politicians in an awkward spot, with one of three possible policy paths.

    40
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    A British Mad Man

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

    2
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    The Trouble With Covid Testing

    Last week, professional rugby started up again in France. The authorities have decreed that if any team finds that three or more of its players test positive for Covid-19, its games must be played at a later date. This ruling is being rigidly enforced even though in reality a player who tests positive has less than a 50% probability of actually having the disease.

    12
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    Of Gold And Gold Miners

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

    3
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    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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    Webinar: Global Investment Roundtable (in French), Sept 2020

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

    0
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    Better Days For Europe’s Domestic Plays

    It is hardly surprising that euro strength is generally bad for European exporter stocks and good for domestically-focused firms; or that exporter-heavy markets, like Germany, tend to lag at such moments. We saw this in 2017, when the euro rose almost 12% against the dollar between April and August, spurring a -2.4% fall in the DAX and a 0.7% gain in the broad Eurostoxx. So how to explain this year’s topsy-turvy markets, where the sprightly DAX...

    0
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    Desperately Seeking Anti-Fragility (Part II): In The Eye Of The Beholder

    Previously, Louis outlined the four asset classes that investors appear to regard as anti-fragile, now that US treasuries no longer fit the bill. With each of these four asset classes enjoying a roaring bull-run, today Louis examines the typical life cycle that lifts an asset class from unloved hell to anti-fragile heaven.

    1
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    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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    Why I Was Right To Turn Bullish

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

    10
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    Strategy Monthly: Eight Questions, 11 Answers

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

    0
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    A Bottom In Sight For European Banks

    No sector has been so beaten down as eurozone banks. But although bad loan ratios are rising, and further big writedowns are on the cards, this bad news is in the price. What is less adequately priced in is the change in policy from the European Union which means there will be no early return to austerity. Eurozone banks may be better placed than investors believe to generate earnings.

    6
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    The Euro's Solid Ground

    After a breakneck 10% rally against the US dollar since mid-May, the euro faces headwinds as rising Covid-19 cases means that European nations must re-instigate social distancing measures. Still, Europe’s newly-agreed common purpose in facing such travails makes any sell-off in the single currency a buying opportunity as the unit looks set on a path of structural appreciation.

    1
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