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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Search For Safe Food

    Since the horrifying melamine scandal of 2008—when 300,000 children were sickened by milk products tainted with an industrial chemical—the safety of food in China has been in permanent crisis. Hardly a month seems to pass without a media exposé of real or exaggerated problems: pesticides in produce, banned drugs in meat, cadmium in rice, the re-use of cooking oil. The result has been a dramatic and sustained shift in Chinese consumer behavior as...

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    Gavekal Research

    5C Asia: Hong Kong’s Diminished Prospects

    Even as Chinese growth has ebbed, Hong Kong has defied the downturn. The territory effectively has full employment and real wages have risen nicely. Over the last year, hot money flows continued to enter Hong Kong and tourists from across the border kept arriving. This, at least, was the case until recently when cracks started to appear in the prosperity of China’s preferred haven for tax-avoidance and luxury shopping.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Renminbi Reconsidered

    The fall in the renminbi over the last two months has prompted much anxiety. For the past nine years one of the few certainties of global markets was that the Chinese currency would end the year stronger (or at least no weaker) than it began. That certainty has been demolished—which indeed was the goal of the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) when it engineered the depreciation. There are now two questions to consider. First, how much further might...

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    Gavekal Research

    Growth & Markets Monthly (May 2014)

    For a second straight month, our growth indicators have weakened, suggesting the possibility of another summer lull. The outlier is US employment, as evidenced by last week’s very decent non-farm payroll report. We were also intrigued by the recent pick-up in US 5-year inflation expectations, which does not seem to fit with the narrative of constant deflationary pressures. Combined with recent US wage growth, could this imply that there is a...

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    Gavekal Research

    Five Corners (30 April 2014)

    In the latest bi-weekly review of global economics and investment, Arthur Kroeber considers the implications of Asian deflation. Will Denyer & Tan Kai Xian consider the strong rental market for US homes and wonder what this means for the broader housing sector. Nick Andrews looks up close at reduced liquidity in the eurozone’s financial system. Chen Long looks at a favorable convergence between national GDP numbers and the growth claims made...

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    Gavekal Research

    What Ails The Dollar

    A curious brew of cheap money, a grinding cyclical recovery and “new economy” verisimilitude has helped drive Wall Street to new highs. And yet even as equity investors have scaled the wall of worry, the dollar has remained uninspired. The unit arguably started a structural upswing in 2008 but the recent performance has been lackluster with the DXY index at the bottom of its trading range.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    A Supply-Side Correction In Property

    The supply side of China’s property market is looking surprisingly weak. Indicators of property developers’ desire to expand future housing supply are turning down: construction starts have fallen outright by more than 20% YoY for each of the first three months of 2014, and land purchases swung to a sharp 17% decline in March from slow growth in earlier months. This deterioration in the supply side looks out of proportion to the more gentle...

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    Gavekal Research

    Beijing’s Peruvian Copper Play

    Earlier this month a consortium of Chinese state-owned companies agreed to buy a huge Peruvian copper mining project from Glencore Xstrata for US$5.9bn. The new Chinese owners will need to invest another US$2.4bn to bring the project on stream by its scheduled start date in 2015, bringing their total investment to US$8.3bn. Is this massive deal yet another example of China Inc. overpaying for resource assets? Probably not: tight global supplies...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    What's Going On With The RMB?

    Even though the renminbi fell steeply in the first quarter, sliding 2.7% against the US dollar, capital continued to flow heavily into China. Balance of payments data published last Friday show China’s current account surplus for the period was just US$7.3bn. The capital account, however, notched up a surplus of US$118.3bn.

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    Gavekal Research

    Beijing's Peruvian Copper Play

    Earlier this month a consortium of Chinese state-owned companies agreed to buy a huge Peruvian copper mining project from Glencore Xstrata for US$5.9bn. The new Chinese owners will need to invest another US$2.4bn to bring the project on stream by its scheduled start date in 2015, bringing their total investment to US$8.3bn. Is this massive deal yet another example of China Inc. overpaying for resource assets? Probably not: tight global supplies...

    0
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    Fathom China

    Profile: UnionPay: Breaking The Monopoly

    The way that billions of people pay for things is in flux across the world. No sooner had consumers grown accustomed to using bank cards instead of cash than the next big thing, online payments, swept onto the scene. In China, a giant state-owned firm called China UnionPay (“UnionPay”) has long straddled most payment channels as the only authorized bank card network. UnionPay is a government-controlled cousin to Visa or MasterCard, with its logo...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Watch Capital Flows For The Central Bank’s Next Move

    How will China’s central bank respond to the country’s slowing growth? Speculation about the next move from the People’s Bank of China has been rising as economic indicators continue to be tepid, credit growth continues to slow and the currency remains weak. Similarly, in early 2012 GDP growth was also weak, credit was cooling and the RMB was depreciating—and shortly afterward the central bank cut banks’ reserve requirements and credit growth...

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    Gavekal Research

    5C China: Regional Growth Gets Uglier, But More Accurate

    In China, the whole is not necessarily greater than the sum of its parts; in fact it can be less. China’s provincial GDP figures are viewed skeptically because of two obvious problems: the sum of provincial GDP is often much higher than national GDP, and most provinces report GDP growth faster than the national average. In what could be a sign of higher-quality data at the local level, both of these trends are now changing: the gap between the...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Defaults Are Coming: Where, When And How

    In early 2014, China’s financial markets witnessed a milestone: for the first time, issuers of local, domestic-currency corporate bonds went into default. With China’s economy slowing and many debts coming due this year, these will be only the first of many defaults on corporate bonds.

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    Gavekal Research

    5C Overview: How Much More Asian Deflation?

    The latest news from Asia’s biggest economies is uninspiring. China’s growth grinds lower, and the renminbi has declined by 3% against the US dollar since January. Japan is suffering the anticipated effects of this month’s consumption tax hike, and Anatole has predicted that the BoJ will respond later this year with a fresh round of money-printing which could push USD/JPY well above its established level of 102 to the dollar.

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    Gavekal Research

    Five Corners (16 April 2014)

    In the latest bi-weekly review of global economics and investment, Charles Gave explains why it still pays to run a balanced portfolio, despite the market’s rotation. Will Denyer argues that outlook for US consumption remains favorable, even though consumer cyclicals have taken a beating. François-Xavier Chauchat examines the reasons behind the euro’s persistent strength. Andrew Batson looks at Beijing’s new focus on jobs and finds the...

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    Gavekal Research

    Running The Red Queen's Race

    By reporting the relatively low figure of a 7.4% rise in first-quarter gross domestic product, down from 7.7% in the previous quarter, China has confirmed that the current pace of economic expansion is now roughly as weak as it was during previous downturns in 2008 and 2012. While the headline number was better than market expectations, and growth clearly picked up a little in March from the lows of January and February, there are worrying signs...

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    Gavekal Research

    Breaking The Bad News Cycle

    Alarm bells have been ringing over China for a while, and there have been plenty of Quasimodos to sound them. With a poorly-understood “shadow financing” system that accounts for 20% of total credit, an overbuilt real estate market, deficit-ridden local governments and under-capitalized banks, China’s financial system has been looking shaky. Financial stress, along with the relative tightness of central bank policy since last May, helps explain...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Breaking The Mold Of Capital Markets Reform

    For more than 20 years, China has been experimenting with ways of bringing in capital from equity investors overseas. What has characterized all of its various programs, with their bewildering array of names—red chips, B shares, QFII—was extremely tight central-government control over who could participate and how large the fund flows could get. But the tie-up announced last week between the Hong Kong and Shanghai stock exchanges shows that a...

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    Gavekal Research

    5C China: A Blurry Target For Job Growth

    China’s top policymakers have spent the past week preparing the public for today’s weak GDP reading—a rise of 7.4% in 1Q14—by emphasizing that as long as enough jobs are being created, it doesn’t matter if growth is a bit below the 7.5% official target. This is a laudable attempt to wean the system off its obsession with GDP numbers and get officials to focus on more relevant indicators.

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