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    Gavekal Research

    From Black Hole To Muddling-Through

    Over the past few months, sentiment towards China has shifted dramatically. Fears that China was a black hole at the heart of the global financial system have morphed into mild optimism, as growth indicators have stabilized. There remain plenty of longer-term problems, but muddling through rather than collapse is the likely scenario for 2016.

    4
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    A Turn Too Soon

    The biggest surprise in China’s latest data was the rally in property: housing sales surged and real estate investment picked up in the first two months of 2016. But this improvement is unlikely to be sustained: the turn in property has come far earlier than fundamentals warrant, and suggests the government does not have a firm grip on the market.

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Embracing Housing Debt

    China’s latest wave of supportive policies for the housing market won’t generate a huge bounce, but they do show the government is happy to use easy credit to keep housing sales going. Helping the market digest the oversupply of new housing is clearly a major priority. But the consequences will be rising household leverage and frothy prices.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Hong Kong Finally Rolls Over

    One of the world’s great bull markets may finally be rolling over. In the 12 years to August 2015, Hong Kong’s residential property prices climbed 557%, with most of the increase occurring since the 2008 financial crisis as prices surged on the back of plentiful liquidity and ultra-low mortgage rates. Now evidence is mounting that the market has peaked. Over the last three months, secondary market prices have slipped by -5%. With the US Federal...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Housing Recovery Is Fading

    One of the few recent bright spots in China’s economy has been the recovery in housing sales. Unfortunately, a number of indicators show that recovery losing steam: gains in sales and prices will slow in coming months. This turn in the cycle reinforces our view that construction activity will be weak in 2016, and that more rate cuts will come, says Rosealea.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Housing & Construction Review 2015

    Our annual overview of China’s housing and construction markets summarizes the short- and long-term outlook for these crucial economic drivers. In this concise chartbook, Rosealea explains the structural challenge from stagnant demand, the new focus of housing policy, and the role of inventories in shaping the construction cycle.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    When Will Construction Rebound?

    Given the huge role that real estate plays in China’s economy, we can’t expect growth to rebound much until construction recovers. In this piece we propose scenarios for how this could happen, focusing on the inventory cycle. We conclude that construction starts will decline again in 2016, with a cyclical rebound not arriving until 2017 or 2018.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Spreading The Urban Wealth

    President Xi Jinping is promoting a plan for integrating Beijing and Tianjin with poorer Hebei province, ev even declaring it a national strategy to drive future growth. If successful, the plan will spread some of the resources in central Beijing more evenly around the region. This in turn will push up property prices in suburbs and smaller cities.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Taking The Pulse Of The Construction Cycle

    China’s housing-driven industrial cycle is stuck in low gear, but has not worsened dramatically. What is getting worse are the parts of the economy that had been doing better earlier in the year: exports, consumer spending and finance. The result will be headline GDP growth that (finally) falls below 7% in the third quarter.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Is The Bull Market Over? (I)

    Is the bull market in equities over? As our readers might imagine, this is a question we have been asked more than once over the past few weeks. Notwithstanding the bounce of the last two days, the simple fact that clients are wondering about the answer is troubling in itself. Their doubts are embodied by three ominous developments:

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    The RMB, The HKD And A Flood Of Cash

    If nothing else, yesterday’s announcement that China spent US$94bn of its foreign reserves in August to prevent the renminbi from falling against the US dollar should convince the doubters that China has no intention of being a mercantilist “currency warrior”. As a result, any bearish case against the renminbi should not rest on the government’s intentions—in spending its US$94bn, the People’s Bank of China has made it clear that it will hold a...

    3
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Housing: From Suppression To Support

    After two rounds of relaxing housing policies, China’s authorities have almost run out of ammunition within the existing policy framework. As a result, the authorities are eyeing new tools to support demand: a greatly expanded market in mortgage-backed securities and a housing policy bank to help finance home purchases.

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Inventories Still Weigh On Housing

    Many Chinese cities are still working off the overbuilding of recent years, so developers have little reason to start new housing. Until this is resolved, improving housing sales will do little to boost the economy. This excess supply will continue to weigh on construction for at least another year.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Turning Cautious On Land Reform

    The Chinese leadership’s recent enthusiasm for “modern agriculture” featuring large, mechanized farms has waned in recent months, as abuses mount and efficiency gains fail to appear. The evolution of land reform policy is thus an excellent lesson in how reformist ambitions do not always survive an encounter with China’s messy reality.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Property Responds To Treatment

    Although China’s economic data for April were generally mediocre, property was a bright spot. National property sales rebounded to a 7% YoY gain, after 1% decline in March, marking the first positive growth in 15 months. The latest interest rate cut is likely to further fuel the recovery, and indeed preliminary data point to continued sales gains in May. Broad-based monetary easing has proved a more effective remedy for weak housing demand than...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Property Is Still Too Big To Let Go

    While the share of China’s economy driven directly and indirectly by real estate and construction has declined over the past three years, it is still substantial at roughly one-third. This means that the government cannot afford to be relaxed about the housing market as fundamental demand starts a long-term decline.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Developers Fatten Up For The Long Winter

    China’s beleaguered property developers are finding their way to a new strategy. While the real-estate boom of the past decade rewarded those who could build the most the fastest, the structural slowdown in housing demand that is now underway (see Housing’s Next Decade) calls for a different approach. Consolidation not expansion is the order of the day: in 2014, developers sharply increased their spending on mergers and acquisitions, even as...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Managing The Disappointment In Housing

    China’s housing market has gotten off to a very bad start for the year, with housing sales falling 18% YoY in January and February, the worst decline since 2009. The terrible data are another reminder that we have entered a structural downward trend in housing demand, which means that sales are more likely to undershoot than to overshoot. But the negative trend also means that previous government concerns about overheating housing prices and...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Five Corners (25 February): Global Property Wrap

    Overview: Property gets a bad rap from macro-economists as an “unproductive” asset. This mistakes its true value in modern economies, argues Anatole Kaletsky. United States: Despite recent soft housing data, the US housing market is ready to rip, say Will Denyer and Tan Kai Xian. Europe: Francois Chauchat argues that Europe’s housing market may have entered a gently rising cycle for the first time since 2007. China: Property sales have picked...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    5C Overview: The Importance Of Property

    Property, both residential and commercial, is the world’s oldest investment and, in the long run, the most reliable and profitable store of economic value. Like the world’s oldest profession, however, it operates in the financial shadows. Property lacks the transparency of mainstream asset classes such as equities, bonds and currencies, with no completely objective price benchmarks to measure returns reliably even in sophisticated markets such...

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