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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The End Of China's ODI Party

    Beijing’s decision to use foreign acquisitions as a tool of state industrial policy has badly backfired. With advanced economies stiffening their resistance to Chinese investment, China’s decade-long outward direct investment spree looks spent. In this piece, Tom explains how the boom ended and where funds will flow in the future.

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    Gavekal Research

    Video: The Fed's Potential Paradigm Shift

    The Federal Reserve is debating a fundamental shift in its inflation targeting. Right now it's targeting 2% inflation no matter what it has been in the past, a so-called "bygones" policy. In this video interview Will discusses the consequences of switching to price-level targeting, where the aim is to keep average inflation over time at 2%.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    That Wasn't So Bad, Actually

    China watchers have been bracing themselves for some ugly economic indicators in January and February. Yet the first official data for 2019 were not actually that bad. As Andrew explains, the economy is clearly slowing, but it’s not going into an uncontrolled dive. The government’s moderate policy response is thus still on track to steady growth.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Springtime For Steel

    It’s looking like a good spring for China’s steel industry. In this piece, Rosealea reports on her findings from a recent visit to the steelmaking capital of Tangshan. Steel and iron ore prices are being supported by a combination of stable demand from property, recovering demand from infrastructure and supply constraints from scrap shortages.

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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research Call March 2019

    In this research conference call, Andrew Batson and Chen Long discussed the improving outlook for the Chinese economy in 2019 and the implications for financial markets. Confirmation that the government is both willing and able to support growth has ignited an equity rally, while expectations of further easing measures still support bonds.

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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Shifting Sands At The Fed

    The US Federal Reserve has said it is likely to end its process of balance sheet “normalization” sooner than previously planned. This sounds like an obscure monetary technicality, but it has important implications for investors. In this video interview Will explains why.

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    Gavekal Research

    Towards A New Triple Merit Scenario

    Emerging market equities have benefited handsomely from the global risk-on move so far this year. With the prospect of a US-China tariff truce and the likelihood that China’s growth rate will stabilize in the coming months, EM may be on the cusp of a new “triple merit scenario” that could extend the equity rally through the rest of 2019.

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    Gavekal Research

    Stability, Beijing-Style

    After a decade of rapid growth in debt, China’s government claims to be pursuing a different course. At this year’s legislative session, leaders dialed back growth targets, and pledged to control leverage and instead use fiscal policy to steady growth. Neither pledge can be taken at face value: growth will stabilize this year, but leverage will expand.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Believe In The Chinese Bull Market

    After turning in the world’s worst performance in 2018, Chinese A-shares have bounced back with a vengeance in 2019. The three factors driving sentiment—liquidity conditions, the US-China trade war and Beijing’s policy stance—have all improved markedly. Thomas thinks the bull market has room to run, but exuberance creates its own set of risks.

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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: China After The Trade War

    The prospect of a US-China deal on tariffs has already boosted China’s stock market and currency. But it won’t reverse China’s growth slowdown, which is largely the result of Beijing’s efforts to de-leverage the financial system. The good news is that credit growth is rebounding, which will stabilize growth in 2H18. Chinese bonds will rally a bit more, the renminbi will move up further against the US dollar, and Chinese and EM equities should...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The US Technology Control Toolbox

    The US and China appear to be moving toward a trade deal that will at least halt further hikes in tariffs. But as Dan shows in this piece, the US still wants to constrain China’s technological rise, and has many tools it can use. US-China technology exchanges are becoming politically and legally fraught, causing collateral damage on both sides.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Look Beyond The Budget

    It is now conventional wisdom that China is using fiscal policy more than monetary policy to stabilize economic growth. Chen Long disagrees, and in this piece explains why the official budget, to be announced on March 5, is not that important to the business cycle. What matters more is the direction of total credit growth—which is picking up.

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    Gavekal Research

    What To Expect From Trump-Kim II

    The the eight months since Trump and Kim's historic handshake in Singapore has seen no progress on North Korea’s denuclearization, with the two sides still leagues apart. Although their second meeting this week will do nothing to bridge the gap, Trump’s determination to be seen as a peacemaker will further reduce tensions in North East Asia.

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    Gavekal Research

    After A Trade Deal, Then What?

    So far, so predictable: President Donald Trump’s weekend tweets extending the deadline for US-China trade talks past March 1 made clear his intention to get a deal done, most likely in the second half of March when Xi Jinping pays a visit to Mar-a-Lago. A deal is now almost certain to happen; the live questions are what will be in it and what impact it will have.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Mystery Of The Missing Stimulus

    Since late 2016, the US trade deficit has been widening. Usually, when the US trade deficit expands, the effect is stimulative for the rest of the world. However, this time around there have been no signs that non-US economies are enjoying a resulting pick-up. In this report, KX examines possible explanations for the failure of this longstanding relationship.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Trade Deal Scenarios

    In recent days, news reports have pointed to an impending trade deal between the US and China. A tweet by the US president that seemed to favor Chinese tech firms has added to that expectation. In this piece, Louis considers two possible outcomes to these talks, with one offering markets a short-term fillip, and the other being a likely gamechanger that will impact investors’ performance for years to come.

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    Gavekal Research

    Video: What Kind Of US-China Deal?

    In recent weeks, the US dollar has rallied, emerging markets have been strong and gold seems to be breaking out to the upside. That is an unusual combination, and in this video Louis outlines three possible explanations for the moves. Most provocatively, as the US-China trade talks get critical, he wonders if China is gearing up to accept a one-off revaluation of the renminbi.

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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.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Sunset Of Housing Subsidies

    China’s local governments are cutting back their slum redevelopment plans, which points to lower government subsidies for housing in 2019. As a result, Rosealea argues, housing sales are likely to have a deeper decline this year, although Beijing will manage the phase-out of subsidies with a careful eye on how it affects the market.

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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

    China’s Credit Cycle Turns

    China’s easing of monetary policy is finally showing some results, with total credit growth delivering a surprising rebound in January. This pick-up suggests that the credit cycle has now bottomed out. But, Chen Long argues, the rebound in credit growth is likely to prove moderate, and economic activity will take more time to stabilize.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Thirty Years Later: Tiananmen's Long Shadow

    On Monday we published a piece from Louis in which he assessed the three economic fronts where the US and China are doing battle. In this second part of the series, Louis steps back and considers the chief monetary priorities that China has settled on since the tumultuous events at Tiananmen Square almost 30 years ago.

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    After The Crash In Car Sales

    Is the long boom in China’s car market finally over? In this piece, Ernan takes stock of the prospects for auto sales after 2018’s historic decline. Since that drop was caused by expiring stimulus policies, sales can stabilize and recover. Future growth, however, is likely to be much slower than the industry has become accustomed to.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Long Arm Of US Export Controls

    While investors eye the progress of US-China talks to avert tariff hikes, the US is mobilizing on another front. In this piece, Dan explains how the US is preparing for more aggressive use of export controls to disentangle the US and Chinese tech sectors. This can certainly hurt Chinese firms, but will also affect US and other tech companies.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Three Separate Battlefronts In The Unfolding Cold War

    As the clash between China and the US intensifies, Louis notes the primacy that Mao Zedong’s guerrilla tactics would have had in forming the current Chinese leadership’s political consciousness and setting a template for the way they handle conflict. As such, he sees the struggle between the two superpowers playing out on three distinct fronts.

    19
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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 Dragonomics

    It’s Not 2015 All Over Again

    The profits of China’s industrial sector are turning down—but as Thomas argues in this piece, a repeat of the traumatic downturn of 2014-15 is not in the cards for 2019. Heavy industry will hold up better this time around, but consumer-facing sectors will do worse. This downcycle will be more broad-based, but less severe, than the last one.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Large Print Giveth, The Small Print Taketh Away

    China’s government has made a cut in personal-income taxes, rushed out in August 2018, a centerpiece of its response to a slowing economy. Additional tax deductions were unveiled in January, but as Ernan explains, the new details are not that bullish for consumer spending. Enforcement is tightening, and some tax breaks will be phased out.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Long Plateau In Housing Demand

    While many forecasters had expected China’s steel demand to enter long-term decline as housing construction peaks, in fact it has stayed surprisingly strong. In this piece, Rosealea revisits her housing model, and finds it is consistent with recent trends. Construction should peak in 2020-22, so steel demand can stay elevated for a few more years.

    0
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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).

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    Gavekal Research

    A Huawei-Scale Problem

    The charges that US prosecutors have now filed against telecom equipment supplier Huawei are similar to those thrown at two other Chinese tech firms last year. The eventual outcome is likely to be similar: the imposition of export controls that will threaten Huawei’s survival and force it to accede to a restrictive deal with the US government.

    0
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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...

    0
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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.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Next Liquidity Squeeze On Private Firms

    China’s private firms suffered a big liquidity squeeze in 2018 as regulators cracked down on shadow financing. But in 2019 they must also contend with the threat of another liquidity squeeze: state-owned enterprises hoarding cash and delaying payments. Unless officials force them to stop, SOEs could squeeze another RMB1trn from private firms.

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Not Out Of The Woods Yet

    China’s growth in the fourth quarter slowed to 6.4%. There were some bright spots, notably the resilience of the property market. However, the export sector was weak, and the removal of policy constraints on industry gave a mixed picture. All in all, Beijing’s policy measures so far have at best only cushioned the impact of the slowdown.

    7
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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 Dragonomics

    The Incredible Shrinking Current Account

    China once had the world’s largest current-account surplus, but that surplus headed rapidly toward zero in 2018. In this piece, Chen Long unpacks the structural and cyclical factors behind this shift. He doubts China is headed for a persistent current-account deficit just yet, but thinks the smaller surplus will make the currency more volatile.

    6
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    It's Not All Bad News In Property

    China’s property market keeps delivering bad news: declines in housing sales, land sales and prices have deepened in recent months. But Rosealea sees some positive signs in easing local government policies, lower bank funding costs, and strong momentum in construction. In this piece, she explains why she is not joining the property-market bears.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Video: China In 2019

    Washington and Beijing will likely find some kind of accommodation on trade and China’s economy will suffer a tough first quarter that sees the authorities adopt a range of counter-cyclical measures. In this video interview, Arthur outlines our key China views for 2019 and offers investment recommendations for the renminbi, bonds and the Chinese equity market.

    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 Dragonomics

    A Cold Winter In China's Job Market

    China’s job market was an early casualty of the US-China trade conflict, with industrial layoffs accelerating to a pace last seen in 2015-6. But Ernan argues that the situation is worse this time, as service-sector employers are being squeezed by tighter regulations. The weaker job market means a worsening outlook for household spending in 2019.

    0
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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

    What To Watch In Chinese A-Shares

    Chinese A-shares were the world’s worst-performing major equity market in 2018. For the market to rally in 2019, three factors will need to show signs of clarity and improvement: China’s macro policy direction, liquidity squeezes in the bond and equity markets, and the trade war with the US.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    More Than RRR Cuts Needed To Stabilize Growth

    After the central bank's latest cut in bank reserve requirements, the key question is not whether Beijing will continue to loosen policy, but when its measures will begin to have a visible impact. In this piece, Chen Long argues that it will take several more months of easing before the economy and stock market begin to feel the benefit.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    This Century's Suez Crisis

    China’s “Belt and Road” initiative is a clear bid by Beijing to challenge the incumbent imperial power: the US. And in an age when the highest-value commodities are not physical goods, but the binary digits zipping around the world at the speed of light, the battleground of this struggle for dominance will be telecommunication networks.

    7
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    China And The US Still Hold The Keys To Markets' Fate

    In 2018 liquidity tightening in the US and China combined with trade war fears to make a miserable year for markets. In 2019 the same forces will be at work but the outcomes may differ. The key questions are: can the US and China work out a trade deal? How bad is the Chinese slowdown and how will Beijing respond? And how much will the Fed tighten?

    4
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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 Dragonomics

    Why China Can Succeed In Tech

    Technology is at the heart of the US-China trade conflict. The US fears that China will challenge its technological leadership, and those fears are not without foundation. In this piece, Dan argues that China is in fact likely to succeed in many of its technological goals—but because of successful companies rather than big government plans.

    0
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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

    A New Risk-Reward Equation In EMs

    US markets have come back to earth with a bump on a reassessment of risk and growth prospects. As a result, investors are betting on a less hawkish Federal Reserve and a weaker US dollar, both of which are a boon to hard-pressed emerging markets. The question is: do investors gain more from a more favorable US dollar liquidity environment than they lose from a growth picture clouded by a slowing China and unresolved trade tensions?

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