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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research Call March 2020

    In Thursday’s conference call, Louis-Vincent Gave, Andrew Batson and Cedric Gemehl discussed the policy and market reactions to the Covid-19 outbreak.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Unfolding Rotation

    Last Friday, the markets rallied hard into the close as investors anticipated a coordinated policy move over the weekend. With policy responses in the rear view mirror, this weekend will likely prove different. Markets will continue to be choppy in the immediate future. Even so, amid all the volatility, some interesting developments are emerging.

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    Gavekal Research

    Behind The A-Share Rebound

    Although China is ground zero for the coronavirus outbreak, its onshore stock markets are the world’s best performing major markets so far this year by a considerable margin. For the most part this is due to mood-enhancing domestic policy support, which is likely to continue to counteract the catastrophic near term earnings outlook.

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    Gavekal Research

    Exponential Optimization

    The bull market of the last few years has been built on the twin assumptions that globalization will continue, and that interest rates will remain low for years to come. These convictions have propelled an exponential wave of optimization. As the coronavirus calls key assumptions into question, the worry is that the giant bubble which sits at the heart of the system may be about to burst.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    A Month Of Lost Wages

    As the rise in new cases of Covid-19 in China has slowed, provinces are easing their drastic restrictions on movement and businesses are reopening. But the extended shutdown has already imposed great costs on migrant workers. Ernan estimates lost wages will be 3-4% of annual household income, though with a smaller impact on total consumption.

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    Gavekal Research

    When To Catch A Falling Knife

    Now that the Federal Reserve has hit the panic button, is it time to try to catch the falling knife on Wall Street? Technical analysis and investor sentiment suggest that equity prices may still have somewhat further to fall before they find a sustainable floor, even if the viral threat is probably overstated and stimulus by major governments will eventually outweigh the temporary economic collapse.

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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: Global Virus, Local Reactions

    In the last week of February, global investors woke up to the massive effect of China’s coronavirus lockdown and the risks of a global pandemic. The resulting disruption to global supply chains will be widespread and long lasting. But not all is bleak. The Fed has promised to support the US economy, and many emerging markets have room both for expansionary fiscal policies and interest rate cuts.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Worst Is Yet To Come For Steel

    Steelmakers have continued production despite a precipitous drop in demand, resulting in a short-term inventory glut. As Rosealea explains, this will lead to continued downward pressure on steel prices, at least until the construction sector recovers from the coronavirus crisis and drives demand back up to meet supply.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Last Shall Be First

    Just a week ago, the S&P 500, Nikkei 225 and Eurostoxx 50 were all looking healthy. But over the past week, every major market has fallen by anywhere from -6% to -12%. This is highly unusual. The S&P 500 has only fallen by -10% or more four times in its post-1945 history. Each of these drops ended up having hugely important investment ramifications.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Fragility Of A Complex World

    The question investors must confront is whether the global economy is a slow but resistant beast of burden, or a finely tuned machine which has now been thrown off its axis.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Next Infrastructure Stimulus

    As size of China’s growth shock from the coronavirus shutdown becomes clear, yet another infrastructure stimulus looks to be on the way. In this piece, Wei assesses the scale of the possible boost. The most likely outcome is that public-works spending accelerates to 8-9% in 2020 from just 3.3%, a nice boost but still well below historical peaks.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Velocity Of Money In The Time Of Covid-19

    Most serious investors know MV=PQ, where M is the money supply, V is the velocity of money, P is the general price level and Q is output. The typical approach is to wait for M, P and Q to be published and so derive V, which renders the equation a mere tautology. In contrast, Charles has long thought V to be an independent variable whose variations impact P and Q.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Covid-19 Cost To Corporate Cashflow

    The shutdown of normal economic activity during the coronavirus outbreak is going to mean a huge hit to corporate cashflow in Q1. In this piece, Thomas outlines the difficult road ahead for Chinese firms: many will have no choice but to default on cash obligations to staff, banks and suppliers, as well as curtail their capex plans for the year.

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    Gavekal Research

    Doing On Monday What We Wish We’d Done On Friday

    Monday was the epitome of Charles’s observation that in a down-market, the temptation to sell on Monday what you wish you’d sold on Friday can become overwhelming. As markets sold off on Monday following a weekend of bad news, the following developments seemed especially relevant.

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    Gavekal Research

    Far From Priced In

    Asian markets switched to risk-off mode Monday as investors reacted to further coronavirus news outside of China. Yet in onshore markets, investors are optimistic that the economy will quickly normalize as the spread of the virus comes under control, and that the central bank will provide policy easing. Neither belief looks well-founded at the moment.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    A Looming Private Liquidity Squeeze

    A March spike in maturing bonds is going to mean significant liquidity challenges for many companies, particularly as they continue to grapple with the coronavirus and its economic fallout. The government has announced some supportive policies, but as Xiaoxi explains these measures are likely to favor large and state-owned companies, leaving smaller firms at risk of going under.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Multinationals Take The Long View

    The coronavirus outbreak has undoubtedly had a significant impact on multinational companies’ operations in China. Nonetheless, drawing from a dozen interviews with China-based executives, Lance argues there is little evidence the outbreak will cause firms to rethink their long-term China strategies.

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    Gavekal Research

    Time And Risk

    The financial world is organized around two axes: time and risk. If some authority manipulates the time axis, the effect will be to compromise the risk axis. This is not an abstract formulation. It has the potential to threaten portfolios and the solvency of major institutions.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Kinks Appear In The Tech Supply Chain

    Chinese electronics manufacturers are struggling to get their operations back to normal amidst the coronavirus outbreak. Dan outlines how this might lead to larger disruptions in the tightly scheduled mobile phone production cycle, and why smaller companies are more likely to postpone launching new products than their larger counterparts.

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    Gavekal Research

    Q&A On The Coronavirus Situation

    Louis spent last week meeting with clients in the US and discussions centered on the coronavirus situation. His starting point is that the Chinese authorities now have every incentive to overstate, rather than understate, the severity of the viral outbreak. He explores the impact on growth in the rest of the world and asset price movements.

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