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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Consumer Outlook & Thematic Review

    As the investment boom of the past decade-plus unwinds, China is shifting to a more consumer-driven economy. So goes the conventional wisdom—but the actual dynamics of consumer spending remain relatively poorly understood. In this concise presentation, we outline both the key drivers of consumption in the aggregate, and a number of important growth themes in consumer spending. In macro terms, we find that the “rebalancing” toward consumption is...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Lots Of Capital Flows, No Capital Flight

    China may have a mostly closed capital account, but the size of capital flows across its borders are nonetheless very large. So is China now experiencing big capital inflows, or capital outflows? In fact, this question is surprisingly hard to answer, as we see very mixed signals in the latest data. The messy reality is that the scale of both capital inflows and outflows has increased, and both have become more volatile. China’s capital account...

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    Gavekal Research

    Growth & Markets Monthly (November 2014)

    In this edition of our monthly report we note that economic activity continues to register weaker momentum while deflationary pressures remain stubbornly present. On the primary liquidity side, the Fed has ended its quantitative easing program, while the Bank of Japan has committed to a more aggressive policy, which may yet inspire the European Central Bank into similar action. Private sector credit multiplication, or the velocity of money, has...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The True Meaning Of The September October Sell-Off

    The World MSCI stands marginally higher than its position on August 1st. So someone who went on holiday for three months might conclude that not much has happened. Yet, in doing so, our Frenchman (for who else takes three month holidays?) would have overlooked an important question that is highly relevant to the here and now. Specifically, why did markets unravel so aggressively in a six week period from early September to mid-October? To this...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    London Seminar October 2014 - Anatole, Francois, Tom, Will & Charles

    We held our autumn seminar in London on October 28 with Anatole, Francois, Tom, Will and Charles offering their take on the state of the world economy and the outlook for financial markets.

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Housing’s Next Decade

    China’s housing market is not collapsing, but it is maturing and will decline. Our model shows that China’s housing demand is past its high-growth phase, and has been bouncing around its peak level since 2011. We project construction volume will decline 15-20% from current levels by 2025, hurting demand for steel and other construction materials.

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    Gavekal Research

    Five Corners (October 29): The Fiscal Imperative

    Overview: Anatole Kaletsky explains why monetary policy has become an effective irrelevance and fiscal policy is really the only game in town.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Inexorable Decline Of China's Housing Market

    Since the turn of the century, China’s booming housing market has been one of the most important drivers of the global economy. Between 2000 and 2013, annual housing completions tripled. Largely because of the demand from housing and related infrastructure, Chinese steel use quadrupled. Prices of iron ore and many other commodities soared.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Lies, Damn Lies And The Li Keqiang Index

    Even when China’s economic data are bad, there are those who think they should be even worse. GDP growth is now officially just above 7%, and it seems quite likely that the growth rate will dip below that totemic level next year. Still, skeptics of the official GDP numbers point to indicators like electricity generation or steel output to argue that growth is actually much weaker. While GDP is a problematic indicator in all countries, and the...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    5C China: A Fiscal Reform Too Far (Probably)

    The Chinese government is determined to tighten up central control of local government debts which soared after the global financial crisis to RMB18trn by June 2013. Prophets of a Chinese hard landing have often pointed to this local debt splurge as a key trigger for China facing some kind of financial crisis.

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    Gavekal Research

    Travels Along The New Silk Road: The Economics Of Power

    China’s economic expansion overseas is one of the defining geopolitical shifts of our time. Chinese firms have already invested in excess of US$500bn abroad, and the annual flow of overseas investment is set to overtake the flow of foreign direct investment this year (see More Deals, More Players). The push into Africa has captured most attention, but China’s economic tentacles are spreading across developing Asia, too—not least in Central Asia...

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    Gavekal Research

    Buying The Dip? Choose Asia

    Markets remain jittery, but the last week has at least seen a break in the downward momentum. Hence it may be worth taking stock of relative performance by the big regions. Looking across the MSCI benchmarks, the All Country World index is down –4.7% since its peak in early September, while the US, Eurozone, Emerging Markets (ex-Asia) and Emerging Asia declined respectively by –3.9%, -5.2%, -8.4% and –5.4%.

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    Gavekal Research

    Blood And Bazaars On The New Silk Road

    After more than three decades of passive foreign policy, China has a strong leader unafraid of articulating a vision of expansionism. Like Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping wants to re-establish his country’s historical sphere of influence—but Xi’s vision is based on economic logic rather than political machismo. Across Asia, China is using its enormous domestic market, financial power and prowess in building infrastructure to suck its neighbors into...

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Slouching Towards 7% Growth

    Global growth is slowing and anyone looking for cheer is not going to find it in China, where third quarter GDP grew 7.3% year-on-year—the lowest growth rate since the first quarter of 2009. The slowdown is hardly unexpected, given the limited effects of Beijing’s growth-supporting policies earlier in the year and the long downward slide of private sector investment (see So Much For China’s Mini-Stimulus and Can Reforms Revitalize The Private...

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    Gavekal Research

    Give Last Week Back To The Indians

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Torschlusspanik!

    The Germans, it is said, have a word for everything—and their word for what we saw in European and US markets on Wednesday and in Asia on Thursday morning is Torschlusspanik. Literally ‘gate-shut-panic’, this describes the nasty crush that develops when everyone rushes at once for an exit that is fast closing; inevitably someone gets injured.

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Can Reforms Revitalize The Private Sector?

    China’s heavy reliance on local governments and state enterprises for its stimulus efforts in recent years has diverted attention away from the true driver of growth: the private sector. But unfortunately investment by private firms has been steadily slowing for years, and so has overall growth. In this presentation, Andrew explains why private-sector investment has been weak, and what the government can do about it. There is potential for...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Five Corners (October 15): The Equity Rout

    Overview: François Chauchat asks whether a US recovery is enough to drive global equity markets or has the world changed.

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    Gavekal Research

    Oil Markets On The Brink

    Welcome to the “new normal” of the global oil markets. Investors are waking up to the reality that supply-demand fundamentals have gotten out of whack and are now readjusting. The price of Brent has fallen from its June high of US$115/barrel to around US$88/bbl, its lowest level since late 2010. This report will contend that prices could fall further before settling into a lower range and remaining there for a significant period.

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    Gavekal Research

    Behind The Equity Market Meltdown

    Why are stock markets around the world falling? The surest explanation is one that works whenever the markets move in a big way: there are more sellers than buyers after a long period without a meaningful correction (it is three years since the 20% decline that ended in October 2011). A more sophisticated account of the correction might point to the collapse of oil prices and its impact on natural resource shares. While falling oil prices are...

    3
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Shanghai A-Shares: The Illusion Of Value

    China’s domestic stock markets have been on a tear: Shanghai stocks are up 15% since July, despite recent weak macro data and the absence of aggressive policy easing. Soon, overseas investors will be able to join in the rally: later this month, China will launch a new link between the Shanghai and Hong Kong stock exchanges. But should foreign investors really be eager to pile into Shanghai?

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Normal Or Systemic Markets?

    In The Crucible Arthur Miller wrote “until an hour before the Devil fell, God thought him beautiful in Heaven”. Granted, equity markets have not exactly suffered Lucifer-like de-ratings lately. Nonetheless, the price action in stock markets around the world is looking less and less healthy by the day. Let me explain: when examining the performance of a given index over a very long period of time, one typically finds that, like most things in...

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    If You Keep On Doing What You’ve Always Done...

    ...you'll keep on getting what you’ve always got. At least, that's what any sports coach worth his salt would tell a losing team in the half-time huddle. And perhaps this is the problem facing the big developed economies. Not enough of today's bien-pensants (Hollande, Merkel, Yellen, Bernanke...) or their advisers (Summers, Piketty, Krugman...) have spent time chasing a ball around a field. Let me explain.

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Hidden Trade Deficit

    China’s current account surplus, once the focus of global economic anxiety, is shrinking dramatically: it fell to US$182bn in 2013, from its peak of US$420bn in 2008, and as a share of GDP has fallen to 2% from 10%. The conventional wisdom is that this fall reflects much weaker export growth in the poor global environment that followed the financial crisis. In fact the problems of traditional goods trade are overstated: China’s merchandise trade...

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    Gavekal Research

    5C China: Calling Time On The A-Share Rally

    Stocks on the Shanghai exchange have rallied 15% over the last three months, and international investors are poised for the opening of relatively untrammeled access to onshore equities when the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect program kicks off later this month (though the rumor-mill suggests it will be pushed back for technical reasons). Tracker funds have been capitalizing on this renewed interest: Deutsche’s year-old Harvest CSI 300 China A-...

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    Gavekal Research

    5C Overview: Waiting For The Regional Rotation

    After years of doubt about the efficacy of US economic policies, the revival of confidence in America stands out as one of the key developments of 2014. This turnaround has been attested by the recovery of capital investment, by the resilience of the US economy to the Federal Reserve’s tapering process, and more recently by the strength of the US dollar.

    0
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    Fathom China

    Profile: Great Wall Motor: Off The Road

    Great Wall Motor was once considered China’s most promising private car company. It had an excellent reputation, a strong and charismatic founder, a strong position in the fast-growing market for SUVs, and a head start in exporting cars to developed markets. Today, Great Wall risks losing its way.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Hong Kong Endgame

    Today, after a week of excitement, the democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong have largely fizzled out—at least for now. As the city returned to work on Monday morning, the remaining protesters did not try to prevent civil servants from reaching their offices in the government’s downtown headquarters. By midday the numbers outside the complex had dwindled to just a few scores, down from the many tens of thousands that had jammed surrounding...

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    Gavekal Research

    Five Corners (1 October): The Energy Selloff

    Overview: Louis looks at the decline in oil prices and wonders whether the genesis can be found back in May when the leaders of China and Russia met for an historic summit.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Dr Copper Comes A Cropper

    It’s been a brutal year for commodities. Slower growth in China, and stalled economies in Europe and Japan, have eroded end-user demand even as the prospect of higher interest rates in the US has blunted investor appetite for zero-yield assets. At the same time the heavy investment of recent years is now bringing new sources of supply to market. In response, the S&P GSCI commodity index is down -7.2% over the year to date. Even copper, long...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Hong Kong's Democracy Protests

    The inhabitants of Hong Kong were treated over the weekend to the unusual spectacle of police battling political protesters in the city’s streets. Baton charges and volleys of tear gas might be common enough tactics in New York or London, but not in Asia’s leading international financial center. The rapid escalation of the protests over the weekend and the police’s strong-arm response shocked locals, and triggered a -2% fall in the city’s...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Property Digs A Deeper Hole

    China’s local governments held a party for the housing market, but no one came. Most major cities (with some exceptions including Beijing and Shanghai) have rolled back measures restricting housing purchases since June, but housing sales are still weak. Previously, we had argued that the combination of a pickup in credit growth and the relaxation of purchase restrictions would help the downturn in property sales find a bottom relatively soon (...

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    5C China: The Losers From Lower Energy Prices

    China should cheer a decline in global energy prices: as the world’s largest consumer of coal and second-largest consumer of oil, cheaper energy cuts its import bill and gives consumers and businesses more money to spend on other things. But falling energy prices have in fact brought significant pain to parts of the country.

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    Gavekal Research

    5C Overview: A Changed Energy Dynamic

    As we see it the big developments impacting the global economy over the summer would roughly run as follows:

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    The Rise In Volatility

    First it was the foreign exchange markets, then commodities, followed by fixed income markets. Now it’s the equity markets. Wherever we look, volatility has been creeping higher. To some extent, this is not surprising. At the end of the US Federal Reserve’s first round of quantitative easing, and at the end of QE2, the markets wobbled. So with QE3 now winding to a close (and with the ECB still behind the curve), a period of uncertainty and...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Learning To Live Without Zhou Xiaochuan

    For the past few weeks Beijing has been buzzing with rumors that Zhou Xiaochuan, the head of the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) for more than a decade, will step down in coming months. We do not know if these rumors are true, but what is clear is that even if Zhou does not leave this year, his time left in office is limited. Zhou has already passed the customary retirement age and has stayed in office only through an unusual bureaucratic dodge....

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The PBOC Hangs Tough

    These are nervous times for global investors as volatility creeps back into asset markets and growth indicators disappoint—witness recent sharp declines in commodity prices and currencies such as the Australian dollar. The eurozone economy continues to weaken as shown by yesterday’s soft French PMI, Japan is moribund and China, while far from collapsing, continues to slow. Given the Federal Reserve’s tightening bias and a continued failure to...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Asia Can Handle A Strong Dollar

    Can emerging markets handle a strong US dollar? This is a crucial question for investors in emerging Asia since an appreciating dollar has often spelt trouble for the region’s markets. The worry is that the dollar now looks to be on a secular strengthening trend with the DXY up 6% since July 1. For its part, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index has lost 3% in less than two weeks.

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Accepting The Inevitable

    Weakening growth pushed China’s reform-minded government into some reluctant and half-hearted stimulus measures earlier this year. But the effect of the “mini-stimulus” was in fact pretty minimal, and growth has since turned downward again. In the latest installment of our China Macro Chartbook, we summarize the state of the economy in a few well-chosen slides. Current signs point to the government becoming somewhat more accepting of the...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Genesis Of The Capitalist Farmer

    The world’s biggest farm is running out of farmers. So to continue its impressive record of boosting agricultural production, China needs to change how it raises crops—shifting from techniques that rely on lots of labor to ones that use more capital and technology. If this structural transformation is going to happen, China will need a sustained boom in agricultural capital spending.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Five Corners (17 September): World Bond Markets

    In our latest bi-weekly review of global economics, we take a searching look at the state of global bond markets. As the US Federal Reserve inches closer to a tightening bias, bond investors must climb a wall of fear. Recent weeks have seen yields rise globally. The issue is whether this represents a nervous short-term move or a bigger shift in the cycle. Gavekal Dragonomics analysts consider the picture from the major economic regions.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    How To Game A Rigged Market

    Markets are on alert in a week that could see more great insights from the gods of central banking on high. Investors seem a little spooked with the MSCI emerging markets index off 4% in the last eight trading days, while currency volatility has picked up as the US dollar has strengthened. And yet despite these minor ructions, there remains a deeper sense of calm. It is the sort of quiescence born of insiders’ knowledge that the nature of...

    3
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    So Much For China's Mini-Stimulus

    So much for the ‘mini-stimulus’. The data on China’s economic performance in August released over the weekend were dismal, showing a significant and unexpected decline in growth. The boost from the government’s suite of supportive policies was always going to be temporary, but renewed weakness is appearing much sooner than expected. We had previously thought that policy could keep growth stable for a couple of quarters (see Fears For China’s...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    5C Overview: Weatherproofing Bond Portfolios

    For much of this year bond investors have been in ‘risk-on’ mode. When in April the European Central Bank first hinted it was preparing to embark on its own unconventional easing measures, investors concluded that with all the world’s major central banks now offering a put on growth, it was safe to head out in search of extra yield. Global bond markets duly rallied across the board, with volatility falling to near-record lows.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Behind The RMB's Strength

    When Michael Milken invented junk bonds in the early 1980s, few foresaw that his new market would change the way companies financed themselves. Nor did they think it would alter how businesses looked at their cost of capital, trigger an M&A boom, midwife the birth of the private equity industry or change the way banks were run. However, with hindsight, it is obvious that the creation of junk bonds was one of the most important financial...

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Korea Thriving In China's Chilly Investment Climate

    Many multinational companies are under pressure in China, facing a slowing economy and slowing sales, as well as increased regulatory scrutiny. This is beginning to show up in business plans: annual surveys of American and European businesses by their Beijing-based chambers of commerce show that while China still ranks as a top-three global investment priority, more and more companies are scaling back their expansion plans. For Japanese...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    5C China: RMB Bonds Are Still The Place To Be

    In 2008 China’s leaders learnt the hard way that US bankers were no smarter and US regulators no more capable than bankers and regulators anywhere else. With the instability of the US financial system brutally exposed by the crisis, it no longer looked sensible for China to depend on the US dollar for 100% of its foreign trade. In response, Beijing invited other developing economies—Russia, Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia—to settle their trade...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Asia’s New Credit Cycle

    The US dollar’s renewed strength has seen most major currencies swoon before it in recent weeks. A notable exception has been the emerging Asia basket which has seen declines of less than 1% against the dollar compared to falls of up to 5% for the euro, yen and sterling. We don’t think this is a case of emerging Asia being the next shoe to drop. Instead, under-owned Asian markets look to be in an early phase of a new credit cycle following the...

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Slums Are Still With Us

    One of the paradoxes of China’s housing market is that excess supply in many areas coexists with a shortage of housing for the worst-off. We have long argued that a significant portion of the Chinese urban population is under-housed, lacking access to modern living arrangements. Given continued worries over excess housing supply in China, we recently decided to test this analysis by re-estimating the housing stock from different data sources....

    15
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ: Is It Safe? Pollution And Food Safety

    Unbreathable air and toxic food top the list of urban China's anxieties, and the government has finally started to take notice. Since taking office in 2013, President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang have aggressively stepped up efforts to clean up the polluted skies and improve the safety of the food supply. The air pollution efforts have borne some fruit: average levels of fine particulates fell by 9% in the first half of 2014. But a lot...

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