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    Gavekal Research

    Exponential Optimization

    The bull market of the last few years has been built on the twin assumptions that globalization will continue, and that interest rates will remain low for years to come. These convictions have propelled an exponential wave of optimization. As the coronavirus calls key assumptions into question, the worry is that the giant bubble which sits at the heart of the system may be about to burst.

    9
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    Gavekal Research

    When To Catch A Falling Knife

    Now that the Federal Reserve has hit the panic button, is it time to try to catch the falling knife on Wall Street? Technical analysis and investor sentiment suggest that equity prices may still have somewhat further to fall before they find a sustainable floor, even if the viral threat is probably overstated and stimulus by major governments will eventually outweigh the temporary economic collapse.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: Global Virus, Local Reactions

    In the last week of February, global investors woke up to the massive effect of China’s coronavirus lockdown and the risks of a global pandemic. The resulting disruption to global supply chains will be widespread and long lasting. But not all is bleak. The Fed has promised to support the US economy, and many emerging markets have room both for expansionary fiscal policies and interest rate cuts.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Last Shall Be First

    Just a week ago, the S&P 500, Nikkei 225 and Eurostoxx 50 were all looking healthy. But over the past week, every major market has fallen by anywhere from -6% to -12%. This is highly unusual. The S&P 500 has only fallen by -10% or more four times in its post-1945 history. Each of these drops ended up having hugely important investment ramifications.

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    The Fragility Of A Complex World

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Velocity Of Money In The Time Of Covid-19

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Doing On Monday What We Wish We’d Done On Friday

    Monday was the epitome of Charles’s observation that in a down-market, the temptation to sell on Monday what you wish you’d sold on Friday can become overwhelming. As markets sold off on Monday following a weekend of bad news, the following developments seemed especially relevant.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    What Will End The US Dollar’s Run?

    Among the confounding effects of the coronavirus has been its impact on foreign exchange markets. The last few weeks have seen heavy flows into the US dollar, on the grounds that the US economy is relatively insulated from the ill-effects of the outbreak. As fears have grown of a dismal first quarter for the eurozone on diminished external demand (see Just When Things Were Looking Up), the euro has slumped to a near three-year low against the US...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Will The Economic Contagion Hit Europe?

    Europe’s financial markets are sending mixed signals. On one hand, fears about the eurozone's exposure to China’s coronavirus-hit economy have pushed the euro to a 21-month low against the US dollar. On the other, euro-denominated stocks are hitting record highs. In this interview Nick examines the mixed message.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Time And Risk

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

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Q&A On The Coronavirus Situation

    Louis spent last week meeting with clients in the US and discussions centered on the coronavirus situation. His starting point is that the Chinese authorities now have every incentive to overstate, rather than understate, the severity of the viral outbreak. He explores the impact on growth in the rest of the world and asset price movements.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    The Long Term Risks That Matter, And Those That Don’t

    In the third paper of his series about the risks that threaten asset markets in both the short and long run, Anatole turns his attention to four longer term risks that are widely discussed—and even more widely misunderstood. Investors should worry about demographics and climate change, although not for the reasons many believe. In contrast, they can sleep relatively easily about debt and productivity growth.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Downing Street Putsch

    Ever since turning negative on sterling and the UK economy when Boris Johnson dropped his post-election bombshell announcing a new “No Deal” deadline of December 2020, I have been waiting for a chance to double-down on this bearish position. On Thursday, Johnson provided such an opportunity to extend short positions in sterling.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Hong Kong's Viral Woes

    For Hong Kong’s economy, already in recession after eight months of anti-government street protests, the Chinese coronavirus outbreak comes as a fresh blow falling on the existing bruise. Inevitably, the effect will be painful. Yet as Vincent explains, the Hong Kong economy has considerable resilience.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Paying Your Way In The UK

    A triumphant Boris Johnson is set on consolidating a new electoral coalition through big infrastructure projects that help “level up” forgotten regions, but he faces a weak economy and tough negotiations with the European Union over Britain's trading relationship. The worry is that investors begin to balk at funding a gaping current account deficit.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    The Fiscal Fallout Of Germany’s Political Ructions

    On Monday the uncertainty quotient in German politics jumped dramatically when Angela Merkel’s chosen successor quit as leader of the CDU. Her departure will trigger a new CDU leadership struggle which will further fragment an already fractured German political scene. The upheaval is likely to lead to a more expansionary German fiscal policy in the medium term.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Just When Things Were Looking Up

    It seems the European economy can’t catch a break. After a grim year in 2019, especially for the manufacturing sector, the old continent entered 2020 with reasons for cautious optimism. Survey-based indexes of business optimism appeared to bottom out late last year. Then the Wuhan coronavirus hit China.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: When Oil Hits The Floor

    No financial market has been hit more heavily by the Wuhan coronavirus than oil, with the price of crude falling by more than -20% from its early-January high on fears the outbreak will crush China’s demand for fuels. In this short video, Tom examines the global implications of the oil price slide, and asks “where next?” for the price of the world’s key commodity.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Don't Count On Oil To Fall Further

    Nowhere in markets has the impact of the Wuhan flu made itself felt as forcefully as in the oil price. The price of Brent crude has fallen -24% in just four weeks to US$54.58/bbl on Wednesday morning in Asia on fears of massive demand destruction in disease-hit China. WTI has fallen by a similar amount. This slide has great immediacy for investors in the energy sector.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Britain’s Soggy Prospects

    Despite a worsening coronavirus situation and worries that a Brexit bounce could be short-lived, the Bank of England defied the expectations of many by not cutting interest rates. The UK’s weak medium term growth outlook and difficult impending trade talks with the EU means that policy will remain dovish and sterling’s upside prospects are likely capped.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Playing The ECB Strategic Review

    When a government agency announces a “strategic review”, the presumption is that some knotty issue is being kicked into the long grass. That was the vibe yesterday when Christine Lagarde kicked off the European Central Bank’s year-long navel gazing exercise. In this case, however, investors would do well not to check out entirely from ECB watching.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Italy Gets Interesting Again

    After almost five months of calm, there is a quickening in Italian politics. Luigi Di Maio yesterday stepped down as head of the governing Five Star movement as it faces the prospect of a drubbing in a regional election this weekend. The man most likely to capitalize on his troubles is Matteo Salvini, whose Lega Party is the most popular in Italy, polling 30-35%. The result may be more volatility in Italian assets, but a return to crisis...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    How Sturdy Are The Zeitgeist's Five Pillars?

    The investment zeitgeist can be thought of as a set of assumptions that investors hold about structural growth drivers, key prices and policy approaches. An investment manager should understand what makes up the zeitgeist and how it is changing. Louis outlines five foundational pillars that he considers integral to the current situation.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Chickens Coming Home To Roost

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

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Reasons To Catch A Swedish Knife

    After Sweden's Riskbank in October said it would end negative interest rates as the dangers from the policy outweighed the waning advantages, the krona rose 5.3% against the euro and 3.8% against the US dollar until the end of the year. Since then, however, the unit has slumped -1.2% on a trade-weighted basis. This looks to be a good chance to buy the dip.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The European Recovery Lives, Just

    On the face of it, Germany’s industrial slump is still worsening. The worry has been that a cratering of Europe’s industrial economy proves bad enough to reverse the “internal” recovery spurred by super-easy monetary policy. In fact, such a contagion is unlikely in 2020 and the eurozone should see overall growth stabilize at around its potential level.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Taiwan Chooses, Hong Kong Reacts

    Taiwan goes to the polls on Saturday in a presidential election where pro-independence incumbent Tsai Ing-wen looks like a shoo-in against the more China-friendly Kuomintang candidate. Tsai is unlikely to push China’s red lines and cross-strait relations should not be imperiled. Vincent also addresses the related issue of Beijing replacing its top representative in Hong Kong with a senior apparatchik.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Ten Bears That Could See Off Goldilocks In 2020

    With interest rates low, and growth that is neither too hot nor too cold, Anatole remains firmly in the “Goldilocks lives on” camp. But while a continued bull run is the most probable outcome for 2020, bears still lurk in the shadows. In this paper Anatole identifies the 10 main macroeconomic, political and sector risks that could derail markets in 2020.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    The Surprises Of 2019

    As the year draws to a close, Louis has decided to review the key events of 2019 that he either didn’t see coming, or whose ramifications he under estimated. Such events could cast a long shadow in the coming quarters as their impact on markets may not yet be fully digested.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Nonsense Anatole, Boris Deserves Three Cheers

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

    10
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    Gavekal Research

    Audio — Gavekal Research Call December 2019

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Boris's Bearish Brexit

    We now know why markets reacted so nervously to Boris Johnson’s election landslide last Thursday. The lack of follow-through after that evening’s exit poll and the retreat when trading resumed on Friday morning was suspicious. But there were no clear explanations until Monday evening, when everything became clear. At 10.30pm Downing Street restated Johnson’s promise to finish negotiating a new UK-European Union trade deal within 12 months and...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Why Aren’t Markets Pricing In Global Reflation?

    Back in October, when the Fed said it would start expanding its balance sheet at the same time as the ECB and BoJ, Louis reasoned that powerful forces were aligning for a global reflation trade. A little over two months later, markets have ripped higher, but the reflation trade has not materialized quite as anticipated. In this paper, Louis examines why not, and asks what conditions will be needed for it to come good in 2020.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Is Brexit The Midwife To A New Investment Environment?

    With the confirmation of a conservative victory in the UK election, and a long awaited trade deal between the US and China, the pieces are falling into place for a weakening of the US dollar and a continuation of the global reflation trade. Already, both sterling and the euro have strengthened in response to the reports of a Tory victory.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Our 2019 Holiday Reading List

    “So many books,” lamented the late Frank Zappa, “so little time.” For readers wondering which of the 130mn books published since the invention of the printing press they should curl up with over the coming break, hopefully Gavekal’s annual holiday reading picks may help.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Towards A Green Supply Shock

    The “European Green Deal” announced with much fanfare on Wednesday was long on ambitious targets, short on implementation details about how they will be achieved. The lack of detail leaves investors to ask how Brussels’ green deal will affect the continent’s growth prospects. Here it is possible to set out some pointers.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: India’s Economic Malaise

    India’s economy has slowed down dramatically from around 8% growth a little over a year ago to 4.5% in the most recent quarter. Udith reckons the primary causes of this are domestic factors, as the financial system has continued to struggle while the policy response is too weak to be effective. The risk for the rupee is to the downside.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The French Resistance

    While most of the rest of Europe, including Germany, has run into stiff headwinds from the slowdown in global demand, the French economy has continued to trundle along largely untroubled, with growth closely in line with potential. Cedric argues France’s economy will continue to grow in steady, if unspectacular, fashion over the medium term.

    4
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    Video: Upside-down Europe

    Ever since the European debt crisis Germany has outperformed the rest of Europe thanks to booming external demand, while the rest of the continent suffered from a restrictive policy mix. However, lately these conditions seem to be reversing, with Germany suffering from a collapse in its crucial auto industry. Cedric discusses this shift and outlines the implications for investors.

    0
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    Is Energy Uninvestible?

    Who would have thought at the time of the September attacks on Saudi that the oil sector would perform so dismally in the weeks after? This has been in line with a longer term underperformance, which has led many investors to dismiss the energy sector as uninvestible. Louis examines some of the arguments underlying this belief, and comes to an intriguing conclusion.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    The Long Slow Road To German Fiscal Expansion

    To read the media headlines, you would either think that Germany’s coalition government is on the brink of collapse, or that Europe’s largest economy is on the eve of a massive fiscal expansion. The headlines are exaggerated. Yes, at the weekend the coalition’s SPD partner did elect a duo of free-spending leftists as its new leaders. But the government is likely to survive intact for its remaining two years. And although political thought in...

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Learn To Stop Worrying And Love The Pound

    Sometimes, markets just get things wrong. Since early January investors have been panicking about a “no deal” Brexit, and I have been urging clients to buy sterling. Not because I became less gloomy about the damage that will be done to Britain by any form of Brexit, but because a “no deal” rupture is the one version of Brexit that can be confidently ruled out.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: Risk Assets In 2020

    World stock markets have enjoyed a solid couple of months as geopolitical risks have abated and the manufacturing slowdown appears to have leveled off. With major central banks all printing money simultaneously for the first time since the financial crisis, and fiscal policy easing at the same time, there are good reasons to believe the rally will be sustained into 2020.

    0
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    Seminar Series Multimedia — Fall 2019

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Upside Of Downing Tools

    A year after the eruption of the gilet jaune protests forced Emmanuel Macron to scrap planned fuel tax increases, the French president is facing fresh opposition to his program of structural reforms.On December 5, a coalition of labor unions is promising to down tools in an “unlimited” strike against the government’s proposed overhaul of France’s state pension systems.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Questions On The Changes Of The Past Two Months

    Recent weeks have seen a turn in the investment environment, with global equities outperforming those in the US, cyclicals outperforming growth stocks, a steepening US yield curve and a stall in the US dollar’s rally. Louis recently met with a lot of US clients and outlined his explanation for these shifts. He got some push-back and this report is the product of those deliberations.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    There Is A First For Everything

    We live in the 21st century, and if a liquidity injection program by the Federal Reserve doesn’t want to identify as quantitative easing, then we should respect that choice, and call it by whatever name it chooses for itself—even if almost everyone now calls the US$60bn injection “non-QE QE”. However, lost within the debate over naming lies a long list of interesting “firsts”.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Signal In International Liquidity

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

    5
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Defending The Single Market

    Europe’s leaders are promising a more forceful approach to defending the bloc’s interests. But they do not fully subscribe to the view, widely held in the US, that China is a strategic rival and security threat. What they have been able to agree on, as Lance argues, is the need to protect the EU’s single market against Chinese state capitalism.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Europe's Political Paralysis

    With the Spanish general election unlikely to produce a proper government, the country looks increasingly ungovernable. For an economy that weathered the financial crisis intact but has chronic productivity problems, this is a worry. However, the result of Europe’s fragmenting political landscape is long-term policy stasis rather than a near-term collapse of the single currency.

    0
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