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    Gavekal Research

    Quarterly Strategy Chart Book - Look To Asia, Tapering Or Not

    In our previous Quarterly, we argued that investors should consider increasing their exposure to the emerging markets, and Asia in particular. The logic being that the taper tantrum sell-off in the summer was overly violent and that the valuation gap with the developed markets had grown too wide. Since then, our conviction on Asia has hardened. One reason for this is China, where a pretty decisive supply-side reform agenda has emerged in the...

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    Gavekal Research

    A Thatcherite China

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    China Economic Quarterly December 2013 - Internet Companies

    In the December issue of the China Economic Quarterly, we examine the state of the Chinese internet, with a focus on the Big Three internet companies: Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu. Despite continued government crackdowns on online discussion, China’s internet is booming: 600m people are online, including approximately 450m using mobile devices, and ecommerce may account for close to 10% of total retail sales in 2013. Nearly all this economic...

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    Gavekal Research

    5C Resources: A Dark Outlook On Coal

    After two years of carnage in the coal sector, Asian thermal coal prices clawed back a bit of ground this autumn—rising US$5 to settle around $85 a ton. Prices are now down a mere –40% from their 2011 peak.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ Q4 2013 - Books

    In June 2011, mainland China-born banker Joe Zhang upped and left a successful career at UBS in Hong Kong to run a micro-credit firm in Guangzhou. Fourteen months later he returned to Hong Kong, frustrated at the obstacles that had prevented him from achieving his goal of turning Wansui Micro Credit into a lucrative money-making machine. Inside China’s Shadow Banking is an astonishing account of the messy business that is on-the-ground banking...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ Q4 2013 - Wasteful Investment

    For the past few years, worries about China’s over-built, under-populated “ghost cities” were mainly the province of journalists and hedge funds. Now the central government is getting into the act, and while it has not yet hired Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd to cleanse the nation of paranormal construction, it does seem increasingly serious about urban ghost-busting. A recent study by the National Development and Reform Commission, which found...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ Q4 2013 - Urban Development

    For three decades China’s cities have grown by gobbling up fields and chopping down trees. But in a country that must feed one-fifth of humanity with just 8% of the world’s farmland, land is a scarce commodity. The government believes that it must maintain a minimum 120m hectares of cultivated land to ensure basic food self sufficiency. And since the current area is already very close to this so-called “red line,” cities must somehow grow...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ Q4 2013 - Economic Reform

    Everyone agrees that China needs reform. It is facing rising inequality, worsening pollution, rampant corruption, and an increasingly restless society. Its debt-fueled economic model is plagued by inefficiency and waste. In November, China’s Communist leaders finally showed the world that they are serious about addressing these monumental challenges. The “Decision on Deepening Reform,” approved at the Third Plenum, is a broad and ambitious plan...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ Q4 2013 - Baidu

    Baidu Inc has gone from strength to strength since its founding in 2000, but now China’s dominant search engine is facing its toughest competition since Google withdrew from China in 2010. Baidu’s execution in the internet search space has been top-notch, but it has never had to innovate to survive. Now the ground is shifting as the mobile internet grows more important to both consumers and investors. And upstart search engine Qihoo 360...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ Q4 2013 - Tencent

    China’s biggest listed internet company, Tencent Holdings, stands nearly alone in figuring out how to earn money by offering free technology. Common online business models like advertising and ecommerce contribute little to Tencent’s revenue, though they comprise nearly all revenue both at Tencent’s competitors in China and at global giants like Google, Facebook and Amazon. By contrast, Tencent earns billions of dollars selling virtual goods,...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ Q4 2013 - Alibaba

    Alibaba is ecommerce in China. About 80% of China’s consumer ecommerce transactions pass through its Taobao and Tmall units, accounting for an astonishing 5% of the country’s entire retail sales volume. Chinese spent Rmb1.4 trn at online markets and malls in 2012, 10 times more than in 2007. This growth will continue: we expect the industry to quadruple in size during the next several years, reaching Rmb9trn in annual sales in 2020, or around 18...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ Q4 2013 - Chinese Internet

    Cognitive dissonance is helpful in trying to understand the Chinese internet. China’s virtual town square remains crowded and rambunctious— even as members of the Public Security Bureau mingle in the throng and grab those who step too far outof line.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ Q4 2013 - Capital Markets

    For adecade, Chao has followed mainland Chinese equities with a wary eye. Back at the end of 2003, China’s GDP stood at Rmb13.6 trn and the Shanghai Composite Index was a whisker below 1,500. Ten years on, China’s GDP is set to surge past Rmb55 trn, yet the index is languishing around the 2,200 mark. The economy is four times bigger than it was a decade ago (and nearly six times bigger in US dollar terms), but stock prices have risen by less...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ Q4 2013 - Property

    Forecasting future construction volumes is a tricky business, as any calculation must be based on a number of different moving parts. One of those parts is the volume of demolition: the more shoddy old flats that are torn down, the greater the volume of construction needed to replace them. Over the past decade, demolitions proved a significant driver of construction demand, as millions of home owners demanded newer and better apartments. But...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ Q4 2013 - Retail

    China’s retail landscape is changing at incredible speed and traditional channels are struggling to fend off the onslaught from online shopping. As growing hordes of Chinese consumers prefer to shop at home rather than on the high street, jumping on the e-sales bandwagon is now a matter of survival. We are clearly going through a period of retail Darwinism in China, and not every retail species will survive. Retailers that remain wedded to a...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ Q4 2013 - Metals Man

    In September, a unit of China’s sovereign wealth fund acquired a 12.5% stake in Russian potash miner OAO Uralkali, the world’s second-largest producer of the potassium-rich ore. The US$2 bn deal has not provoked as much interest as it should: after years of failed attempts to lock in affordable supplies of potash, China will finally be able to influence the price it pays for this vital, but expensive, fertilizer additive. The investment also has...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ Q4 2013 - Income Inequality

    Most of the news about China’s economy over the past few years has not been very good: growth has been on a steady downward slide, debt has piled up, and housing prices have continued to climb. Yet there is at least one exception: while other things have been getting worse, China’s income inequality has been quietly getting better. Most observers have either not recognized this trend or actively denied it (the OECD’s China desk is an honorable...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ Q4 2013 - Economic Survey

    After a notably weak start to 2013, China’s economic growth staged a genuine if modest comeback in the third quarter of the year. Headline GDP growth picked up to 7.8% year on year, as the industrial sector benefited from the combination of stronger housing construction, improving exports to the US and Europe, and the end of inventory destocking. Even consumer spending, which had slowed sharply from mid-2012, started to turn around. And...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Property After The Plenum

    For ordinary Chinese, high housing prices remain one of their biggest concerns, and for economic analysts, the risk of a construction slowdown one of their biggest worries. For our part, we have argued that China’s housing market is moving into structural oversupply, after a decade of structural undersupply, and that significant adjustments are necessary. So it is surprising that the 60-point reform plan from the Communist Party’s Third Plenum,...

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    Gavekal Research

    Xi's China Flexes Its Muscles

    Having celebrated Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s bold economic reform agenda, we must now take stock of a less appealing element of the new regime: a more determined and muscular effort to throw China’s weight around Asia. Beijing’s declaration on Saturday of a new “air defense identification zone” (ADIZ) covering a huge swathe of the East China Sea and including the disputed Senkaku Islands, came as an unwelcome surprise to Japan and the United...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    DragonWeek - Interpreting Rates And Reform

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    An Exit Strategy For China's SOEs?

    One of the many surprises in the ambitious reform agenda just announced by China’s Communist Party leadership (see Xi Jinping Changes The Rules Of The Game) was how much it had to say about the vexed subject of state-owned enterprise (SOE) reform. The conventional wisdom in Beijing had been that the plan would focus on technical policy changes on which there was already agreement—such as financial system reform—while putting off difficult...

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    Gavekal Research

    Five Corners (20 November 2013)

    In our the latest bi-weekly review of global economics and investment, Anatole bullishly notes that central bank doves are back in the ascendency; Will Denyer’s wrap on the earnings season has a shale twist; Francois Chauchat argues that China reforms spell opportunity for Europe; Andrew Batson and Rosealea Yao assess the deleveraging process; and Nate Taplin writes on energy price liberalization in China.

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    Gavekal Research

    How Can Chinese Assets Boom?

    Some clients have taken us to task for translating our positive call on China’s economic reform agenda into a positive call on Chinese risk assets. Over the next year or two, structural reform means slashing broad credit growth from the current 19% down to the very low teens, accepting a lower GDP growth rate, and reining in the excesses that have pumped up the property market, construction and materials demand. Even if we accept that all these...

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    Gavekal Research

    Xi Jinping Changes The Rules Of The Game

    The blockbuster policy package delivered by China’s Communist Party leaders last Friday dispelled doubts about whether Party boss Xi Jinping is a strong reformer. It is clear that he is: the complete “Decision on Deepening Reform” laid out a host of major initiatives including a decisive shift in favor of markets, a relaxation of the one-child policy, the elimination of repressive “re-education through labor” camps, and big proposed reforms in...

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    Gavekal Research

    China Changes Course

    China has turned around. The reform plan unveiled by Communist Party chief Xi Jinping last Friday represents a decisive shift away from the increasingly statist policies of the previous government, and towards a far more market-oriented organization of China’s economy. Worries about whether Xi is strong enough to impose his reformist vision over entrenched opposition from state owned enterprises and local governments will soon disappear. All...

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    Gavekal Research

    5C China: Deleveraging With Chinese Characteristics

    The reform blueprint delivered by China’s leadership has eased some of the doubts about the direction the country is heading (see Xi Jinping Changes The Rules Of The Game). But the plan did not say much about how to manage the economy in the shorter term. And we have argued that for these longer-term reform plans to be successful, they need to be matched with tighter monetary policy and hard budget constraints on state firms and local...

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    Gavekal Research

    5C Resources: Xi Aims To "Perfect" Price Reform

    After a remarkably detail-light initial statement from the Chinese Communist Party’s “Third Plenum” last Tuesday, reformers came out swinging on Friday. As we argued in Xi Jinping Changes the Rules of the Game, the “Decision on Deepening Reform” showed two things very clearly. First, China’s new President Xi Jinping is serious about reform. And second, Xi is playing with a far stronger political hand than any Chinese leader since Deng Xiaoping.

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    Gavekal Research

    China's Plenum Ends, Uncertainty Remains

    The Communist Party leadership emerged from a four-day meeting (formally, the Third Plenary Session of the 18th Chinese Communist Party Central Committee) to find a world breathlessly awaiting its master plan for overhauling the economy. The meeting did indeed approve a reform plan and issued a shorter communique, but perhaps inevitably, raised more questions than it answered.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    DragonWeek - Corporations Underwrite A Consumer Recovery

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    Gavekal Research

    The Meeting That Matters

    The ponderously named Third Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, which takes place this weekend, is a more important event for the world economy and for global geopolitics than the budget battles, central bank meetings and elections that attract much more attention in the media and financial markets.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Take The Pain, Wait For The Gain

    For multinational companies operating in China, it’s been a challenging few months. Mead Johnson, Danone and others were fined US$109m in August for supposedly fixing the prices of infant formula. Dairy giant Fonterra has come under the microscope due to worries about botulism. Apple has been accused of having second-class warranties for its Chinese consumers. Drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline's sales in China have plummeted following bribery...

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    Gavekal Research

    Another Milestone For Chinese Offshore Bonds

    On Friday the three-year-old Chinese offshore renminbi bond market marked a new milestone: the first AAA issue by a foreign government. The Canadian province of British Columbia issued a one-year, RMB2.5bn (a little over US$400mn) bond yielding 2.25%. This is big news, for many different reasons.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Inequality Is Improving, Discontent Is Not

    Most of the news about China’s economy over the past few years has not been very good: growth has been on a steady downward slide, debt has piled up and housing prices have continued to climb. Yet there is at least one exception: while other things have been getting worse, China’s income inequality has been quietly getting better. Most observers have either not recognized this trend or actively denied it (the OECD’s China desk is an honorable...

    3
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Less Than Meets The Eye

    As China’s growth readings improved over the last few months, Premier Li Keqiang was quick to claim that the recovery was achieved without wasteful government stimulus (see Stability Without Stimulus). In doing so he drew a clear if implicit contrast with the last administration, which presided over two rounds of infrastructure-focused stimulus plans. But is this contrast so stark as Premier Li would have us believe? After all, since June his...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    DragonWeek - Passing The Growth Baton

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Time To Stop Worrying About Shibor

    Once again all eyes are on the China interbank market, as a modest spike in rates has raised fears of monetary tightening in what is still by a wide margin the world’s fastest growing major economy. We have three things to say on this subject.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Ghostbusting China's Cities

    For the past few years, worries about China’s over-built, under-populated “ghost cities” were mainly the province of journalists and hedge funds. Now the central government is getting into the act, and while it has not yet hired Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd to cleanse the nation of paranormal construction, it does seem increasingly serious about urban ghost-busting.

    1
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    Fathom China

    Profile: Baidu: In Search Of A Mobile Strategy

    Baidu is heading into its toughest period of competition since Google withdrew from China in 2010. Of the country’s three internet giants, Baidu has been the slowest in adapting to the mobile internet. Its main competitors, Tencent and Alibaba, have market-altering mobile apps that can likely earn huge profits: Tencent with WeChat and Alibaba with its stake in Sina Weibo. Those two companies now dominate mobile e-commerce and social media,...

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    Gavekal Research

    5C China: Growth Is Stronger, Time To Step Up Reforms

    China’s third-quarter GDP came in at 7.8% YoY, the fastest pace this year. The main driver of the pickup was expectations. In the first six months, companies ran down inventories on the fear that the new leadership planned painful structural reforms, including further property market curbs and sharp monetary tightening. Then at a conference in July, Premier Li Keqiang, while eschewing a major stimulus, nevertheless offered assurances that growth...

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    Gavekal Research

    5C Resources: To The least Dirty Go The Spoils

    The fallout from China’s slower industrial growth since 2012 has been pervasive, but perhaps nowhere more so than the global coal market. The price for Aussie thermal coal out of Newcastle port — the main Asian benchmark — is down 40% from its 2011 high and 20% this year alone. Coal producers everywhere are hurting badly.

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    Gavekal Research

    China Bulls And Bears Through The Looking Glass

    It used to be easy to tell China bulls and bears apart. A China bull was someone who thought that economic growth would be pretty good in the near future, because of the country’s basically bright long-term prospects. A China bear was someone who thought near-term growth would be poor, since the economy’s huge long-term problems were about to come home to roost.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    DragonWeek - A New Strategy For Foreign Investment?

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    A Secret Plan For World Domination

    Despite US President Barack Obama’s enforced absence, this week’s gathering of the leaders of Asia-Pacific economies made “significant progress” on one of his signature priorities: a new trade agreement that would join the US and 11 other countries. Negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) have been underway since 2009 and are scheduled to wrap up by end-2013. Trade talks are usually as dry as unbuttered toast and attract similar...

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    Gavekal Research

    Time For China To Be Bold

    Communists are good at delivering pomp and circumstance, but not so good at articulating their vision. Next month, at the fusty-sounding Third Plenary Session of the 18th Chinese Communist Party (CPC) Central Committee, China’s leaders will set the direction of economic policy for the coming decade. Much of the language that emerges will prove opaque, but a careful reading should give us a better idea of whether the new leadership will honor its...

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    Gavekal Research

    5C Overview: East Asia's Reforms: Thank The US

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    Gavekal Research

    5C Resources: Metals Take A Breather

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    China Housing & Construction Review 2013

    China’s housing market is in transition. After a decade of severe under-supply of housing, the market is now flirting with over-supply thanks to a redoubling of construction volumes. Urbanization is continuing, but its place is likely to slow, and all cities will not benefit equally. Yet housing prices continue to rise, and the government continues to try to restrict many types of purchases. To understand how all these different trends fit...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    What Happens When The Land Runs Out?

    For three decades China’s cities have grown by gobbling up fields and chopping down trees. But in a country that must feed one-fifth of humanity with just 8% of the world’s farmland, land is a scarce commodity. The government believes that it must maintain a minimum 120m hectares of cultivated land to ensure basic food self sufficiency. And since the current area is already very close to this so-called “red line,” cities must somehow grow...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The New Asian Landscape

    By now, I hope we have telegraphed our message on emerging market Asia: this is not a balance sheet crisis but a case of crumbling growth drivers. After a decade of galloping growth—with EM Asia outpacing the OECD’s real economic expansion rate by as much as 7.5pp—the growth gap with the OECD is narrowing. An easy street paved by accelerated globalization and massive Chinese investment spending is giving way to a more complex macro landscape for...

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