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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The RMB's Depreciation Is Over

    After falling by 4% from mid-February to April, the renminbi has now appreciated for three months in a row, gaining 1% against the US dollar. Since February, we have argued repeatedly that the renminbi’s depreciation was stage-managed by the People’s Bank of China in order to curb speculative capital inflows and that it would prove relatively short-lived. Following the recent gains, we are now convinced the renminbi’s depreciation episode is...

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    Gavekal Research

    Growth & Markets Monthly (August 2014)

    This month saw a further improvement, albeit a small one, in our growth indicators. Risk appetite, on the other hand, now looks much more mixed compared with last month’s strong positive tendency. Also noteworthy is the recent spike in our diffusion index of US CPI components, which highlights the abatement of US deflationary pressures. On the asset side, government bonds continue to look expensive, especially in France. Meanwhile, equities are...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Wider Spreads And Weaker Equities

    Over the past five weeks, the spread between US high yield debt and US Treasuries has widened by almost a full percentage point. Admittedly, this move could be dismissed as an overdue correction after spreads for high yield debt narrowed to unsustainably tight levels. Unfortunately, it seems that equities markets are no longer in such a forgiving mood. In the past week, the widening of high yield spreads has weighed heavily enough on equity...

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    How Resilient Are Consumers?

    It’s increasingly clear these days that China has not one economy but two: the investment-driven complex of housing, infrastructure, materials, and the consumption-driven complex of services and consumer goods. Investment was the leader for many years, but since 2009 growth in capital spending has slowed very sharply. Heavy government stimulus and easy credit has smoothed rather than stopped this slump, which does not yet look to be over. The...

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    Gavekal Research

    5C China: Sticking To A Conventional Monetary Policy

    Is China’s monetary policy even looser than it seems? In July, central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan said that in preparation for interest rate liberalization, he will introduce a new tool called pledged supplementary lending (PSL) to guide medium-term interest rates. Soon after that, local papers reported that the People’s Bank of China had used PSL to hand RMB1trn to China Development Bank to support loans for slum redevelopment programs....

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Last Tiger

    The big game hunter has now bagged his finest trophy. On Tuesday, the Communist Party officially announced a corruption investigation into Zhou Yongkang, a former member of the ruling Poliburo Standing Committee. Over recent months investigators have already detained many of Zhou’s relatives and associates. But no official of Zhou’s rank has been formally disciplined for corruption in the reform era, and it has been uncertain when or if he would...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    China: Still Waiting For The Re-Rating

    China’s equity markets are finally beginning to play catch-up. Over the first half of 2014, the Shanghai composite index and Hong Kong’s ‘H-share’ China enterprises index were the worst performing markets in the region, both recording losses while the rest of emerging Asia enjoyed a great run. Lately, however, both the Shanghai market and H-shares have showed signs of renewed vigor. Over the last five trading days both have risen by around 5% to...

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    Gavekal Research

    Housing’s Quiet Period Is Over

    A turning point in China’s housing policy has arrived, half a year into a downturn in property sales and construction. Since late June, major cities such as Hohhot, Jinan, Haikou, Tianjin and Chengdu have moved to support their housing markets. This is a change from earlier months, when local governments were more hesitant and often failed to publicize their policies, limiting their effect. The central government’s implicit approval of the new...

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    Gavekal Research

    Playing Emerging Asia's New High

    Some 18 months after US stocks regained the ground lost in the 2008-09 crisis, emerging Asia has finally made a new high. Yesterday the MSCI emerging Asia US dollar total return index closed above its 2007 peak for the first time, having risen 10% year-to-date. That makes emerging Asia the best performing major regional market in the world so far in 2014. If you invest equally in the countries in the index’s universe, your gains are even better...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Beijing Battles With Bureaucrats

    It’s official: Li Keqiang is fed up. China’s mild-mannered premier has recently been described in official press releases as “speaking in an extremely severe tone” and “shaking his fist.” The target of this display of temper: government officials who are not moving fast enough to implement economic reforms. And Li’s temper tantrums are not just for show. Nine months after the publication of an ambitious modernization agenda, many of Beijing’s...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Price Of A Diminished US Dollar

    Nature, it is said, abhors a vacuum. In much the same way, geopolitics cannot tolerate a power vacuum. So it is small surprise that as a chastened and diminished United States has retreated from direct involvement in the Middle East and adopted a less interventionist diplomatic and military stance elsewhere in the world, ambitious opportunists have stepped forward to fill the gap. In East Asia, China has assumed a far more assertive attitude...

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Future History Of China’s Deleveraging

    If there’s one thing almost everyone can agree about on China, it’s that its rise in debt has been very rapid, and is not sustainable. But where does China go from here? In this chartbook, we use historical examples to think about how a future deleveraging process might occur.

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    Gavekal Research

    Emerging Asia's Leverage Problem

    Aggregate debt levels in Asia (ex-China) are back to levels seen just prior to the 1997-98 Asian Financial Crisis. This does not pose a near term macro-economic risk since most Asian economies have large foreign currency reserves and run flexible currency regimes. Indeed, this was the mercantilist lesson most Asian economies learnt from the late '90s crisis. Still, Joyce and KX show in this chart book that the likes of China, South Korea...

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    Gavekal Research

    5C China: Uncertainty Is The Real Problem

    Chinese equities look cheap, both in historical terms and compared with other markets. The price to earnings ratio for the Shanghai Composite has fallen from highs of more than 60 in 2007 to around 10, well below the MSCI World average of 15. But given the economic transition China is going through, neither its own history, nor other countries, are a good guide to whether current valuations are low. On examination, the earnings growth rates...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Fears For China's Growth Postponed

    The Chinese government has once again successfully stabilized the economy. Spooked by decelerating growth and a property market correction early in the year, the government has spent the last few months loosening credit and rolling out supportive policies. Today’s economic data release showed the pay-off: GDP growth in the second quarter picked up slightly to 7.5%, beating expectations it would be flat at 7.4%. This means that investors’ fears...

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Of Reform And Red Tape

    Is China’s reform drive for real? Since Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang took over the reins of government at the beginning of 2013, they have promised sweeping changes to economic policy, foreign affairs and public morality, among other areas. But they have also faced persistent skepticism that the substance of these changes lags behind their lofty rhetoric—and it is true that many of their biggest reforms remain mostly in the planning stages.

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    Fathom China

    The Crucial Smell Test For Investors In Chinese Companies

    With asset prices around the world continuing to rise, low-priced Chinese equities now look extraordinarily attractive to value investors. But investors should not check their skepticism at the border. Many investors in seemingly vibrant Chinese private sector firms have become victims of frauds, often later exposed by short sellers. However, the fear of falling for such scams is no reason to avoid investing in all Chinese firms. Straightforward...

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    Fathom China

    Profile: Due Diligence: Don't Get Fooled Again

    Many investors in Chinese firms check their skepticism at the border, and so have been easy prey for short sellers who benefit from exposing fraudulent companies. This report shows how investors can gain confidence that Chinese companies will be unlikely to come under successful short attacks. Solid due diligence can prevent a lot of pain.

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    Gavekal Research

    Five Corners (9 July 2014)

    Nothing should stay the same and so we are tweaking the format of Five Corners to make the whole report focus on a key thematic issue that impacts all major centers of the global economy. We kick off with an in depth look at inflation which is again rearing its head even as the specter of deflation continues to haunt the most growth-challenged regions.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Wrong Kind Of Leverage

    For years now the Chinese government has been trying to make it easier for private-sector firms to borrow. Its recent measures to encourage bank lending have privileged those banks that lend more loans to (overwhelmingly private) small and medium-sized enterprises. This is a worthy goal: since private firms make much higher returns on investment than their clumsy state-owned cousins, economic growth will get a boost if private firms borrow and...

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