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E.g., 23-02-2019
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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

    What Europe’s Political Ructions Mean

    European politics is again heating up. Yesterday saw the Spanish government fail to pass its budget in a move likely to spur fresh elections. Populists in Italy and yellow vests in France are keeping up their campaign of disruption. Given that few of these issues directly threaten the structures of the EU, the question for investors is: Does any of this matter?

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    Gavekal Research

    The UK's Limits To Growth

    For the British economy, it has been a case of “mustn’t grumble” since the 2016 Brexit referendum. However, the effect of a weak fourth quarter GDP report was to debunk any illusion that Brexit uncertainty has been weathered. Such a reckoning was inevitable with or without Brexit, as the UK has in effect hit limits to its growth.

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    Gavekal Research

    Not Such An Ugly Duckling

    A spate of weak data releases last week confirmed Europe as the ugly duckling of key economic regions, and things may soon get worse. The worry is that a weakening external sector negatively impacts the domestic recovery through lower investment and job creation at a time when policymakers face both technical and political constraints.

    1
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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

    Gaming Out Theresa May’s Gamble

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

    8
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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research Call February 2019

    In the call yesterday, Charles Gave and Cedric Gemehl presented their views on the economic and political situation in Europe. Cedric outlined key risks facing Europe’s economy. If the worst is avoided, he thinks Europe could get a soft landing. Charles took a different view, arguing that the eurozone was now an irretrievably diverging system.

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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: Europe's Containable Risks

    As China slows and the US expansion limps into its dotage, a heavily export-dependent Europe looks vulnerable to another downturn. The latest growth numbers from Italy and Germany make for especially grim reading. Potential shocks loom in the shape of a hard Brexit, populist discontent in France and Italy and the threat of auto tariffs from the US.

    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

    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

    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...

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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

    Video: Skirting Recession In Europe?

    This week the IMF has cut its GDP forecasts for European economies exposed to a synchronous global growth slowdown. Nick gauges the probability that core eurozone economies will fall into recession, examines the scope for stimulative policy responses and explores what the slowdown means for Europe’s financial markets.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Germany's Industrial Slump

    With leading indicators in Germany pointing south, and a host of external macro factors looming, things are likely to get worse before they get better. However, much of the potential bad news is already priced into the German stock market. As a result, there is scope for a pick-up in German equities later in the year should the worst of investors’ macro fears fail to materialize.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    The Future Of Italian Yields

    Since it became clear Rome and Brussels were moving towards a compromise to end their budget stand-off, Italian assets have outperformed. The yield on 10-year BTPs has fallen, narrowing the spread over bunds. But investors should be wary of positioning for a continued contraction; in both the short and long term, Italy’s deficit and debt dynamics are unpromising.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Musings On Brexit

    With the UK’s elite intent on frustrating the democratically-expressed will of the British people to quit the EU, the lesson for the rest of the continent is that there can be no legal or peaceful exit from the technocratic super-state. As Charles argues here, this increases the probability of disorderly exits in the future, and therefore greatly heightens European political risk.

    8
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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

    Brexageddon

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

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    Macron Is Muddling Through

    As the economy weakens, yellow-vested agitators show no sign of giving up on their campaign to block President Emmanuel Macron’s effort to change the way France works. I have argued against the increasingly mainstream view that Macron is a busted flush whose efforts to reform an unreformable France are doomed to fail and am sticking with that position.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    A Silly Recommendation

    The euro just celebrated its 20th anniversary to scant fanfare. Hardly surprising, given that it caused a Greek depression, decline in Italy’s private sector GDP and a German current account surplus that has exported deflationary pressure to Europe and beyond. Against this grim backdrop, today’s note will consider whether now is the time to buy eurozone financials.

    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

    Searching For A European Catalyst

    With 2019 not yet a week old, the eurozone is already looking uncomfortably like the odd man out. With the world’s big three economies heading more deeply into a synchronous slowdown, policymakers in the US and China are showing their readiness to alter course. European policymakers have displayed no comparable flexibility.

    0
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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 New Engine Needed

    As the European Central Bank halts net new asset purchases and ends its balance sheet expansion, European equities are back at almost exactly the same level as in December 2014, on the eve of the ECB’s announcement of quantitative easing. Clearly, with extraordinary monetary stimulus no longer in the mix, European stocks will need a different driver if they are to make gains in 2019.

    2
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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

    Perhaps The Most Important Chart I have Ever Published

    In my Wicksellian world, when the “market rate of interest” (cost of capital) moves above the “natural rate of interest” (return on capital) a recession usually follows. Italy offers an interesting case in point as it has spent so much time since the euro’s launch operating below this critical threshold.

    5
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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

    Europe's Changed Policy Mix

    Until last week it was possible to make the case that the EU could still push ahead with major structural reform under the current political configuration. After a continuity candidate took over as head of Germany’s governing party and Macron turned on the fiscal spigots in France to buy off political dissent, that is no longer the case.

    4
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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.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    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...

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    Drinking Red Wine And Buying Italy

    A Gavekal rule of thumb has it that investors can safely invest in economies where the “working class” mostly drink beer but should be careful in places where theymostly drink red wine. I make this observation as investors face a quandary among the wine drinkers: France versus Italy. The assumption in the spring was that holding Italian bonds was crazy, while French paper offered safety. But is that the case?

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    The Brexit Game Of Chicken

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

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    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.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    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...

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    The Real Gilets Jaunes

    France’s yellow vest protest movement may have been the first since 1789 not to stem from left-wing origins, argues Charles. Instead, it reflected a great uprising by the forgotten people of middle France who have had enough of being the piggy bank that funds the lives of an urban elite which has rigged the system to its favor.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Macron’s Reform Program Lives On

    At first sight, the French government’s decision to postpone its proposed fuel tax increases in the face of popular gilet jaune street protests looks a lot like the climb-downs of 1996, 2006 and 2016, all of which saw attempts at economic reform derailed by mass opposition. Cedric argues such a conclusion would be overly hasty.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    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.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Winter For Eurozone Credit Growth

    A depressing autumn is turning into a dismal winter in the eurozone, as November’s deteriorating PMIs follow weak third quarter growth—and even a quarter-on-quarter contraction in Germany. Much of the softness can be attributed to poor external demand, especially from China and the emerging markets, and to the ongoing disruption to car sales caused by the introduction of new emissions tests. Together these have hammered European manufacturing,...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Germany Is Rethinking But Not Rejecting China

    As the US-China trade conflict drags on, both sides are looking to Europe, particularly Germany, for support. Germany does share US concerns about China’s protectionism and expansionism. But it still sees China as an economic boon and is committed to engagement. Berlin is therefore unlikely to fully take the side of either Beijing or Washington.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Salvini, Part Deux?

    This weekend saw protests in France that united demonstrators from all parts of the political spectrum against President Emmanuel Macron. Louis wonders if this represents the beginning of a populist wave that rejects the president’s mushy centrism and joins political bed fellows who have never laid down before. After all, it happened in Italy.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    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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    Gavekal Research

    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.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    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?

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    The Winding Road To Vassalage

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Doom Loop Tightens

    The stand-off between Rome and Brussels over Italy’s 2019 budget claimed its first casualty on Monday. Italy’s major banks were forced to club together to support an emergency bond issue by Banca Carige, after the rise in Italian government bond yields triggered by the budget battle eroded the mid-sized lender’s capital base, pushing it to the brink of collapse.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The True Story Of Eurozone Equities

    Since the financial crisis, European equities have proven serial duds compared to their transatlantic cousins. Cedric argues this divergence is simple reflection of the higher earnings-per-share achieved by US firms. Looking forward, however, he says it will be almost impossible for US firms to maintain this profits gap.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Germany, And Europe, After Merkel

    All political careers end in failure. Doubtless Angela Merkel is already feeling the sting. Even as the long-serving German chancellor stands up on Tuesday to address the European parliament in Strasbourg, political observers and investors are looking beyond Merkel’s term in office to the identity of her successor. That is likely to be decided on December 7, when Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union is set to elect a new party chairman, so...

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