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E.g., 17-10-2019
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    Gavekal Research

    Will the BoT's Independence be Compromised?

    Earlier this month, prospective Thai Finance Minister Suchart Thadathamrongvej caused market jitters when he argued that Thailand should adopt a managed exchange rate regime similar to that in Singapore or China. Although Prime Minister-designate Yingluck Shinawatra countered Suchart’s outlandish statements two days later, these comments do remind us that there are three important monetary policy issues to consider in the wake of Thailand’s...

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    Daily - Slowing Growth Fails to Halt AUD's Rapid Rise

    In May we opined that the over-valued Australian Dollar was due to decline, as the resources boom was not flowing through to the rest of the economy (see Australia’s Boom Fades: What Next for the AUD?). Since then the economic releases have generally supported this thesis: leading indicators have continued their declines; house prices have dropped by -1% YoY and are now down –3% YTD; private credit is now shrinking (total credit -0.1% MoM in...

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    Daily - Rising RMB Leaves Room for Further Asian Appreciation

    Michael Pettis, a professor based in China, recently made an interesting point. He said he does not care who is to blame for the “great imbalances” of the past few years: whether the problem was due to excessive consumption in the US, or excessive savings in Asia. What matters in today’s world is that the Western consumption binge is over. The US consumer is deleveraging, and this trend shows no signs of abating. How will Asia deal with this new...

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    Private Equity in Cambodia

    We met up last week in Bangkok with Doug Clayton, founder of Leopard Capital, Cambodia’s first private equity fund, which also invests in Laos, Vietnam, Bangladesh and Haiti. We talked about the potential risks of investing in these frontier markets and the common perception that the assets of companies in places like Laos and Cambodia can sometimes be hard to quantify.

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    Daily - Is Weakness in Tech Hardware a Broader Indicator for Global Trade?

    There was some hope, after the Global Financial Crisis, that the tech hardware cycle would become less volatile. The idea was that tech firms in countries such as Taiwan, Japan and Korea would merge or step out of the game, reducing capacity and thus gaining future profitability power. This hope quickly died, in part because money has been so cheap and abundant in the post-GFC period that capacity-expansion discipline went straight out the...

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    South Korea's SOE Debt Problem

    After recording three years of budget deficits during Asian crisis in the late 1990s, South Korea has kept its fiscal budget in balance for more than a decade, and now is often highlighted by international organizations like the OECD and the IMF as one of the few governments with sound and stable fiscal policy. While the average G20 country’s debt-to-GDP rose sharply from 78% in 2007 to 97% in 2009, and is expected to rise to 115% in 2015, Korea...

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    Japan's Government Further Hampers Recovery

    Japanese corporations have generally been slow to embrace the offshoring benefits of globalization, and instead they have preferred to maintain production close to home. However, in the past few years, these preferences have been worn down by a stubbornly high Yen (at least relative to the Korean Won), which has persuaded companies to increasingly move segments of their supply chain outside of Japan (see A Catalyst for a Structural Shift in...

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    Daily - No Choice But Reform for the OECD Welfare State

    These days, it is easy to feel despondent about the fate of the developed world, what with the bills rising for the bailout of the weaker EMU countries, Japan struggling under Herculean debt loads as it rebuilds from natural disaster, and now Moody’s putting the US on watch for a credit downgrade as Congress and the administration haggle over a debt-ceiling deal. And unlike even just three years ago, rich-nation governments now have much less...

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    Daily - Pyeongchang 2018 Brings Korean Equities Into Focus

    There are really only a few sporting events that we like to attend: the Rugby Sevens (when you get bored, you can always watch the rugby), the six nations (assuming France does not lose to Italy), the Rugby World Cup (incidentally, the last batch of tickets have just gone on sale on the official website. We have our allocation so are happy) and the Winter Olympics. We were secretly hoping that Annecy would get the nod for the 2018 games. After...

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    A Speech By Mongolia's Ambassador to China

    We recently attended the opening launch cocktail event for Quam Asset Management’s Mongolia fund, which included a speech and presentation by the Mongolian Ambassador to China in Beijing, as well as a number of prominent HK businessmen. The ambassador ticked off a number of the positive forces driving the Mongolian economy and welcomed private investors, citing the country’s lowest corporate tax rate in Asia (10%), its possession of over 60% of...

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    A Deal With Thaksin?

    As we pointed out in yesterday’s Daily, the electoral victory of the pro-Thaksin Puea Thai Party was decisive enough to hope for a peaceful transition of power. A closer outcome might have left more room for the military to intervene, claiming “vote-buying,” fraud or some other pretext. But there is another reason for an expected peaceful transition: according to Shawn Crispin, a 30 year veteran correspondent in Thailand, in the run-up to Sunday...

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    The Tangled Web of India's Fuel Policy

    As we have highlighted in previous research (see Subsidies – Pushing Beyond The Tipping Point, Peels of Discontent, India’s Surprisingly Tough Budget), high inflation and budget deficits remain two of India’s most pressing macroeconomic concerns. One significant contributor to India’s deficit is its fuel policy—which will likely cost the government some 2.4% of GDP in the current fiscal year. Yet the country’s fuel policy is so convoluted, that...

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    Will the Australian Housing Boom Turn to Bust?

    We argued in Australia’s Boom Fades that the Australian Dollar is over-valued, even before considering the impact of a potential commodity slowdown or housing bust. Here we consider one of these bear cases—that of a housing bust.

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    Daily - The Good and the Bad in Thailand's Election

    Even those who consider the return of “Thaksinomics” to Thailand a potential disaster, have to concede that it has happened in the best possible way. With the decisive victory of the populist Puea Thai party in yesterday’s parliamentary vote, Thailand will likely be spared a post-election “event.” Were the election closer (PT won an estimated 264 of 500 seats), then the opposition could have considered claiming fraud, which might have propelled...

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    "Vote No" in Thailand

    Casual observers of Thailand’s elections culminating on July 3rd, mistakenly equate the royalist Yellow Shirt PAD (i.e. those who helped oust Thaksin and shut down Bangkok’s airport a few years ago), with the ruling Democrat DP party. In fact, for the upcoming election, the PAD has basically split from its own political party, and has been publishing campaign posters urging voters to vote “no!”, in other words to tick the option on the ballot...

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    Daily - The Important Level in the World MSCI

    In April 2010, the MSCI peaked around 880 on fears over Greece and the end of QE1. In November 2010, the World MSCI pulled back from that level as emerging markets stopped being the force pushing global markets and economic activity higher. In March 2011, following the devastation in Japan, the World MSCI fell to 876 before rebounding hard; and today, the global equity index stands roughly at the same level, below its 200-day moving average, on...

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    A Lunch with a Malaysian Chief Minister

    When attending one of those functions where a politician tries to attract economic investment to his area of domain, it is unusual for the speaker to start off by making jokes about his time spent in jail. But this was the case at a luncheon hosted by Lim Guan Eng, chief minister of Penang, the small but economically busy Malaysian state. Lim is also the secretary general of the Democratic Action Party, the predominantly Chinese party that is...

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    Japan's Current Sword of Damocles

    The potential restructuring for TEPCO continues to cast a long shadow over Japan’s equity market. For investors the questions are simple and straightforward: is Japan’s largest electric utility solvent, and if not, who will compensate the victims of the nuclear meltdowns? Will the burden fall on creditors, or will taxpayers pick up the bill? And is there any hope for equity holders? Unfortunately, while the questions are simple, the answers are...

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    Will Korea's "Construction Boom" Take Place?

    With his professional background as a long-time former employee and CEO of one of South Korea’s major construction companies, Korean President Lee Myung-bak’s passion for construction and civil engineering projects are well-known to investors. But even so, President Lee’s release of 11 different sets of market deregulation in his first three years in office are impressive. And undeniably, the administration’s efforts to encourage development...

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    Daily - Crisis & Opportunity and the Asian Bond Market

    Investors may recall that after international capital fled the region in the Asian Financial Crisis, regional leaders vowed to create deeper local bond markets as a way to lower their dependence on fickle foreign financing. In the Chiang Mai Initiative, policymakers agreed to normalize bond-trading rules across nations, strengthen trading platforms, issue more sovereign local-currency debt to provide benchmarks for corporate issuers, etc. The...

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    Daily - Japan, Tepco and the Lack of Political Leadership

    The tragedy which struck in Japan three months ago undeniably laid bare the best, and the worst, of the country. The best has been the courage, stoicism and sense of community displayed by the Japanese people; a moral strength which reminded us that the pain threshold in Japan, and the willingness to sacrifice oneself for the greater good, is so high as to make widespread beliefs of a looming default unlikely. Meanwhile, the worst has been the...

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    Politics, Populism and Uncertainty in Thailand

    Despite the political schisms that still loom over Thailand, local investors have been supporting the stock market even as foreigners are losing faith (foreign investors net sold of -US$220mn for May). Thais are feeling confident because the economy is running at full steam, with robust exports, expanding domestic demand and strong foreign investment (e.g., FDI applications increased +58%YoY in 1Q11 alone, of which three fifths is from Japanese...

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    GaveKal Daily - To What Extent is Japan Behind the Current Soft Patch?

    Most recent economic releases point to a “soft patch”—not just in the US, where housing, consumer confidence and manufacturing PMIs have lately been weak, but in many other parts of the world as well. Recent days have witnessed negative surprises from countries as varied as Korea and India, Spain and Norway. With that background, yesterday’s disappointing US manufacturing ISM data and poor ADP employment report caused a significant flight to...

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    Political Skies Darken for the Chaebols

    When South Korea’s President Myung-Bak Lee took office in early 2008, he quickly set about empowering Korea’s chaebols. Himself a former CEO of a large construction company back in the days when Korea’s politically spoiled conglomerates enjoyed privileges at the expense of consumer rights and individual political freedom, President Lee did his best to re-establish the chaebols’ old clout. The government deregulated restrictions on cross-...

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    GaveKal Daily - Why Singapore's Growth Rate May Have to Slow

    It seems ironic that, at a time of eye-popping economic growth in Singapore (1Q11 GDP +8.3% YoY and 22.5% QoQ), and just after a very generous government budget, the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) experienced the worst-ever blow to its legitimacy in this month’s general election. Although the PAP is nowhere near losing its supremacy (the PAP’s 60% vote share translated into 81 out of 87 parliamentary seats), the city-state’s opposition...

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    Gavekal Research

    Australia's Boom Fades: What Next for the AUD?

    Carry-trading is sometimes described as picking up pennies in front of a steamroller; but sometimes, the gains can amount to more than pennies! Take the AU$-US$ trade of the past twelve months as an example. Investors long the AU$ and short the US$ are sitting on total returns of 25.5% over the past 12 months—that’s quite a handful of pennies. However, in recent trading sessions, it has felt as if the AU$’ momentum has been rolling over. So is...

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    Vietnam: Rising Dragon-by Gavin Bowring

    There were once hopes that Vietnam was on the fast-track to BRIC-like emerging market status. But in spite of high economic growth, Vietnam is still plagued by widespread economic mismanagement. This is perhaps most sharply illustrated by the fact that, while other high-growth Asian countries spent the last year trying to curb rapid currency appreciation amid strong inflows, Vietnam’s central bank has been forced to devalue the local currency....

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    Rising Currency Risks in Korea

    As most investors know, South Korea has a long and painful history of dealing with the aftermath of excess foreign borrowing. After it suffered a painful US$ crunch during the financial crisis, Korea responded with a two-pronged policy strategy: i) lowering the capital-account risk through sharper monitoring of foreign short-term debt levels, and ii) maintaining a weak KRW to boost the economy through exports. At first glance, this seems to have...

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    GaveKal Daily - The BoJ, Japanese Banks and Risk Assets

    In A Wall of Money, we reviewed how the Japanese tragedy of early March had triggered an impressive swell in the Bank of Japan’s balance sheet. Having learnt from its post-Kobe earthquake mistake, the BoJ this time around was making sure that banks would be supplied with as much liquidity as needed. This would prevent any fire-sales of domestic or foreign assets, repatriation of capital and a surge in the Yen, while also ensuring that any short-...

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    Mitigating the "Sell in May" Rule

    The ‘Sell in May and Go Away’ rule has a pretty good reputation on equity markets. Its accuracy is usually presented in these terms: on average since year Y, the performance of equity markets from May to September (or October, depending on the version) has been much lower than from November to April. For example, since 1998 the S&P500 declined on average by -1.3% during the May-to-October period, and gained +4.7% during November-to-April....

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    An Aging Dividend for Korean Stocks?

    Like many other Asian countries, South Korea faces the demographic challenge of a rising dependency ratio and the peaking of its working-aged population (see chart). The country’s so-called “1958 Year of The Dog Generation”— equivalent to Japan’s “Dankai Generation”, but about 10 years younger as Korean baby boomers were born after the Korean War—will gradually start retiring in the next 10 years. It seems reasonable to expect the Korean economy...

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    Gavekal Research

    Central Banks Pass the Parcel

    Despite successive rounds of tightening by many countries in the region, Asian central banks largely remain way behind the curve, with robust monetary aggregates and, in many cases, negative real interest rates. But given that the Fed has failed to lead by example in tightening, countries that should be reining in capital further have become hesitant and reluctant to tighten too fast, on fears of inviting destabilizing inflows and driving their...

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    GaveKal Daily - Is There a Way Around the Malthusian Roadblock?

    Viewed from a global perspective, one could characterize the Fed’s aggressively dovish monetary policy as a ‘Game of Chicken’ with the emerging market surplus countries. In this game, the US$ continues to decline, and commodities continue to rise, and the loser is the first country to give. The US would throw in the towel by raising interest rates to spare its economy the pain of rising energy prices; the surplus countries would cry uncle by...

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    GaveKal Daily - Banks, Rates and Policy Risks in Korea

    There are many reasons the Bank of Korea chose to keep interest rates on hold yesterday, including, of course, fears of further currency appreciation after a +7.2% jump in the KRW/USD since December, plus a +7.1% jump against the currency of its arch-competitor Japan. However, yesterday’s news that Sambu Construction went into court receivership reminds us another reason for the BoK’s dovishness—namely, stress in the Korean financial system....

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    China And Indonesia: Together At The Coal Face

    China’s ravenous demand for natural resources, prompted initially by post-financial crisis stimulus spending and now by the knock-on effects of high economic growth, has helped forge stronger economic integration between China and its neighbors in southeast Asia. One of the most striking examples is the relationship with Indonesia, where a complex set of trade and investment ties are now emerging, led by China’s need for high-quality Indonesian...

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    GaveKal Daily - Important Recent Developments

    Every three months, we publish our Quarterly Strategy Chart Book and go on the road to meet as many clients as possible. This process allows us to identify new research themes, discover where our clients’ main concerns lie, and test our own premises. Meanwhile, markets continue to evolve and before we know it, events have taken over. This is definitely the case today as the past month has witnessed some very important developments. Specifically:

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    S.Korea’s Nuclear Industry- The End of Cheap Electricity?

    Two weeks ago, we briefly reviewed why Japan’s nuclear emergency was unlikely to derail China’s nuclear ambitions, but rather just raise the price tag (see No Nukes in China?) of new plants. South Korea offers a similar story of continued commitment, but at a higher price.

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    Subsidies - Pushed Beyond the Tipping Point? - Gaving Bowring

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    GaveKal Daily - The Yen, the BoJ and Japanese Banks

    The weakness of the Yen in the face of recent developments is hardly surprising. For a start, Japan’s trade balance in the coming months is bound to deteriorate sharply as imports surge and exports collapse (for example, Lloyd’s List reported that inventories of finished vehicles for exports have run out in Japan, leaving nothing to be loaded onto the container ships that usually carry some 350k+ Japanese cars every month). Secondly, pressure on...

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    GaveKal Daily - Can Capitalism Work Without a Cost of Capital?

    It is obvious that central banks operate with four policy gauges:

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    The Wall of Money

    Yesterday, the S&P 500 broke through its 50-day moving average with gusto and simultaneously reclaimed the 1300 level which, just a few days ago, had seemed a possible near-term ceiling. Most impressively, the past week’s rebound has occurred in the face of overall lackluster data. Leaving aside the issues of rising oil, Middle-East unrest and Japanese shocks to the global supply chain, the past few days have also witnessed:

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    A Catalyst for a Structural Shift in Japanese Trade?

    The 2001 recession was followed by a ‘jobless recovery’ in the US—at least in the US manufacturing sector, where basically all of the layoffs occurred (see chart). That jobless recovery was soon followed by another sharp decline, courtesy of the Great Recession. In a lunch we attended last week, Yale’s Dr. Peter Schott explained that leading up to the 2001 recession, the seeds were already sown for a wave of outsourcing of relatively low-end,...

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    GaveKal Daily - Climbing the Wall of Worry or Riding a Wall of Money?

    In light of rising prices at the pump and at the grocery store, along with many planned price hikes telegraphed in so many recent company result reports, it seems strange that a decline in the PCE deflator partly accounted for Friday’s upward revision in the US 4Q GDP. But perhaps it is not so much strange as it is lagging. The fact is, price pressures are rapidly building up:

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    GaveKal Daily - Will Japan Default on its Large Government Debt?

    In the days that followed the Japanese earthquake, default swaps on Japanese debt surged and reached levels similar to those prevailing for South Korea (a country threatened with a massive bill the day re-unification with North Korea occurs) or Thailand (where people were shooting at each other in the streets of Bangkok just a few quarters ago). And of course, we received multiple enquiries as to whether the threat of a debt default in Japan was...

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    GaveKal Daily - Does the BoJ Intervention Mean the Age of the Carry-Trade is Back?

    We have often argued that there are three ways to make money in financial markets: through ‘return to the mean’ trades, ‘momentum’ trades or ‘carry’ trades. Of the three, we have historically been the most skeptical of carry-trades as carry-traders get carried out on monetary tightening, flattening of yield curves, and deceleration in growth. And right now, with the likelihood of tighter central banks growing by the day (note Fisher’s hawkish...

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    No Nukes in China?

    Japan’s nuclear emergency has caused a sharp sell-off in global nuclear energy plays on concerns the disaster in Fukushima could snuff out the recent renaissance in the sector. These fears were crystallized when China—a country with one of the world’s most ambitious nuclear programs—announced last week that it will suspend approvals for new nuclear plants until authorities complete a comprehensive safety review. In the short run this will slow...

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    Japan’s Reconstruction Bill

    In Thoughts on the Japanese Earthquake, we argued that the 1995 Kobe earthquake was not the right parallel to draw for how markets would react to the latest Japanese tragedy. Of course, this was written before the Tsunami hit and much before fears surrounding the Fukushima plant had developed. Since then, the scale of the devastation and the tragic losses of life have come clearly into focus.

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    GaveKal Daily - Should We Buy Japanese Equities

    The collapse, and subsequent rebound, in Japanese equities has left most investors scratching their heads: will recent events end up marking the lows for the Japanese equity markets and a tremendous buying opportunity? Or will Japan enter into a funk similar to the one that prevailed post the 1995 Kobe earthquake and deliver paltry returns for investors?

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    GaveKal Daily - Odd FX Movements and Disruptions to the Global Supply Chain

    The movement in the exchange rate markets have, in recent days, been somewhat counter-intuitive. Why should an overvalued Yen move higher on the face of utter devastation and the fear of economic gridlock? Why would the AUD head lower while Japan looks set to order more coal, iron-ore and copper in the future? The usual explanation of ‘capital repatriation’ is, we believe, unsatisfactory as Japanese institutions have already spent the past few...

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    GaveKal Daily - Don't Fight the BoJ?

    As everyone is acutely aware by now, there are innumerable uncertainties and questions regarding the situation in Japan, as the nation battles to cool down the damaged nuclear plant. Added to the list of questions is a comparatively pedestrian one: why has the Yen rallied so hard, even as investors are selling out of Japanese equities? Yesterday saw a breathtaking spike to a post-war high of JPY76.3 to the US$ before settling back some, but is...

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    Nuclear Power in Asia

    Back in 2009, we wrote a Five Corners piece titled Just How Nuclear Will Asia Get?, detailing and outlining the various plans by individual Asian countries for nuclear power, the growth of which is strongest in this region of the world —of the 62 nuclear reactors currently being constructed around the world, 40 are in Asia, with many more planned. So where does the nuclear accident in Japan leave us now? China, which alone accounts for almost 60...

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    GaveKal Daily - Should Investors Buy on Dips?

    As investors think through the crucial question of whether to buy on dips amid the current turmoil, there are not too many comforts or certainties on which to cling. The price of oil is worryingly high and Middle East tensions remain heightened. And while most of the global media coverage from Japan has tended towards the hysteric, there is still a lack of clarity on the radiation threat in Japan and what a potential global “no-nuke” backlash...

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    GaveKal Daily - The Latest, and Most Devasting Supply Shock

    It has been a rough year so far in Asia, with unprecedented floods across Queensland, droughts in Sri Lanka, southern India and northern China, the Christchurch earthquake and now, most devastating of all, the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. Of course, there is already no doubt that in terms of human suffering and economic cost, this latest tragedy dwarfs all the others; at times like these, it is very hard to not feel either highly emotional,...

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    Thoughts on Japan's Earthquake

    In the immediate aftermath of Japan’s shockingly strong (8.9 on the Richter scale) earthquake (the fifth largest earthquake since 1900 and largest ever in Japan), it is only natural for people to fall back on the memories of the devastation wrought by the Great Hanshin-Kobe earthquake of January 1995. Thus, while most people endeavor to find out how loved ones are faring, or what help and assistance they can provide, and while the Japanese...

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    Gavekal Research

    QSCB - 2Q11 - A Structural Turning Point for Markets?

    We would first like to offer our readers an apology: not only are we publishing our Quarterly Strategy Chart Book just 24 hours after the publication of our China Economic Quarterly (with can't miss articles on alternative energy, insurance, RMB deregulation, Mongolia, and the property slowdown), but this quarterly is long as well: a full 74 pages!

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    A Case Study in Korean Policy Risk

    The restructuring of the South Korean financial industry seems to be a never-ending story. Even after 30 Korean commercial banks were consolidated into ten banks in the years following the Asian Financial Crisis, seven of them are still owned by the government. Moreover, the three private banks have high CEO risks as indicated by scandals that last year engulfed KB Financial Group and Shinhan, the country’s two largest commercial banking groups...

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    Gavekal Research

    Why Singapore Has No Choice But To Be Populist

    Singapore’s paternalistic government has long practiced a policy of “targeted assistance” while paradoxically adopting fiercely anti-welfare rhetoric, e.g., strongly rejecting minimum wages and entitlements. This oxymoronic tendency was apparent in last week’s populist budget. By the government’s own estimates, the average household is to receive SG$3,000 in benefits under the new budget—versus a SG$1,400 projected increase in living costs this...

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    Gavekal Research

    Sharing the Wealth in Hong Kong and Singapore

    If it is any consolation to politicians from the deficit-ridden West, it turns out that having money in the coffers is not much of a political perk either. Just ask Hong Kong’s Financial Secretary John Tsang, who saw his approval rating plunge by -15 percentage points, to 36%, after announcing a surplus-richened budget last Wednesday. Citizens are angry because Hong Kong has a US$9bn annual budget surplus (4.1% of GDP), bringing its fiscal...

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    India’s Surprisingly Tough Budget

    Analysts may have been highly skeptical of India’s budget proposal released yesterday, but markets cheered. Admittedly, this sigh of relief was partly over a surprise on the tax front—overall taxes were trimmed, and an expected increase in excise taxes did not materialize. But in light of the political pressures facing the Singh-led coalition—which is losing popularity amid corruption scandals and soaring inflation—this budget sends a reasonably...

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    Chinese Growth & Thai Exports

    The Thai export numbers were a good reflection of the effects of Chinese economic growth on Thai trade data. China last year became Thailand's top export destination, replacing the United States, as it imported 11% of all Thai exports. The value of Thai exports to China rose to a record-breaking US$2.09 billion in December 2010, while the figure for the whole year rose to $21.5 billion However, increasing moves in Beijing to cool the...

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    GaveKal Daily - The Middle Eastern Turmoil from an Asian Perspective

    The news from Libya is increasingly tragic, with reports of warplanes being used against civilians as the violence and bloodshed escalates. A number of recent defections (from ambassadors, air force pilots who refused to participate in attacks on civilians) point to the possibility of regime change, but no one knows how the situation will play out.

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    Asia's Ongoing Budget Season

    It is budget season in Asia at the moment—and looks noticeably different than the OECD’s. Singapore on Friday announced a highly populist package that includes almost US$10bn in benefits to households and businesses, in the form of rebates, tax cuts, top-ups and hand-outs, and planned infrastructure spending. On the back of last year’s high economic growth which fed into the government’s coffers, Singapore is essentially re-distributing some of...

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    A Political Breakthrough in Thailand

    If it weren’t for its messy politics, Thailand might be considered one of the best emerging markets stories out there: growth is robust, inflation is reasonably tame compared to its EM peers, and the country is in a good position to gain from the rebound in global trade. Unfortunately, the country’s assets carry (very justifiably) a pretty heavy risk premium because of perennial political instability. In that context, the recent political...

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    GaveKal Daily - The Tighter Liquidity Environment Reveals the Ugly Ducklings

    Of the many insightful sayings from Warren Buffett, the best one has to be his analogy of a tighter liquidity environment with low tide at the beach. This analogy is once again being proven right, this time around in Asia: as the easy money tide withdraws, we are finding out who has been “swimming naked”. Indeed, what started before Christmas with a squeeze on Indian micro-finance providers has now evolved into discoveries or rumors of ‘...

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    GaveKal Daily - Strong News and Stronger Markets

    With snow hitting the Super Bowl in Dallas, there is little doubt that we are in the midst of a severe winter. And of course, in winter, bears hibernate. Which is just as well, for bears have little to munch on right now: economic activity is bouncing back strongly, jobs are being created (albeit at a slow pace), global trade is soaring, the great majority of companies are reporting better than expected sales, and US profit margins are making...

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    Taiwan's Benign Inflation?

    Despite the pervasive threat of inflation throughout Asia, headline inflation has been comparatively mild in Taiwan, with the lowest CPI in the region (ex Japan of course). Taiwan CPI was up +1.3% YoY in December, down from 1.5% YoY in November. How can we explain Taiwan’s comparatively mild inflation?

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    Korea's Inflation Dispersion

    The upcoming Lunar New Year celebration is one of the biggest holidays for Koreans and is usually characterized by massive shopping sprees for food and gifts for traditional family gatherings. But this year may be different since soaring food prices and other inflationary pressures are forcing many Korean households to tighten their spending.

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    Short Australia to Hedge Chinese Risks

    As everyone knows, Australia has ridden the Chinese-driven commodity boom of the past decade. But the flip-side is that the Australian economy is now more dependent on China than ever, as was amply demonstrated in 2007/08. Chinese equities peaked in November 2007, and Australian equities followed them south, although not to the same savage extent. Then commodities peaked in July 2008, causing a second, larger equity sell-off. The Aussie Dollar...

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    GaveKal Daily - The Reflation Play is Not Back On

    The Fed confirmed a dovish stance yesterday, with no dissenters—the one outlier from last year (Hoenig) has been rotated out off the voting panel as scheduled, and the new members backed the status quo behind QE2. Given the recent statements of Mr. Plosser and Mr. Fisher, this was perhaps somewhat surprising. Some of our readers were quick to ask—does this mean the “reflation trade” back on? Should we expect a weaker US$, stronger commodities...

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    Is Japan’s Outperformance Sustainable?

    Since making a low for 2010 on November 2nd, the Japanese equity market has been one of the best performing markets in the world, rising some +16.75% up to January 13th. Now interestingly, this strength has occurred:

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    Mahabharata In Polyester (Hamish McDonald)

    Mahabharata in Polyester by journalist Hamish McDonald is excellent reading for anyone who wants to understand India Inc—the intricate ways in which India’s corporate and political worlds are intertwined. The book is a follow-up to the author’s previous work, The Polyester Prince, and is a riveting analysis of the split-up of India’s largest conglomerate, Reliance, following the death of Dhirubhai Ambani in 2002, and the ensuing feud between his...

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    The Cost of Onions, and Money, in India

    India is obviously not sitting pretty at the moment. Like all emerging markets, its CPI and WPI are very sensitive to rising energy and food prices, as reflected in the political fallout over soaring onion prices, which has led to raids on “hoarders,” strikes by onion traders and opportunistic sit-ins staged by the opposition BJP (which protested wearing onion garlands—see picture). And unlike some emerging markets, India’s pain is not offset by...

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    Bank Indonesia Versus the World

    Investors have not cheered Bank Indonesia’s (BI) decision last week to maintain rates at 6.5%, unchanged since 2009. Fears of inflation have clouded the outlook for all emerging markets, and front page news that Indonesians—who spend 50% of their income on food & transport—are being urged to grow chilies at home have stoked fears that the BI is behind the curve. Even the IMF felt compelled to come out urging the BI to raise. Consequently,...

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    GaveKal Daily - China Selling JGBs

    A legendary macro investor once told us: 'you have not been a macro trader until you have lost money shorting JGBs'. Indeed, with its low yields, its terrible demographics and deteriorating fiscal position, shorting Japanese bonds has for years appeared to be the best 'low risk' trade out there. An underlying reality which probably explains why 94% of outstanding JGBs are held by the Japanese themselves: given the...

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    GaveKal Daily - What Hedges Against the Consensus Trade?

    Even the most ardent bears seem to be throwing in the towel and acknowledging the strong momentum in overall US growth. Simply put, the risk of a double dip recession has now vanished. And aside from very real fears on Europe (spreads on the weaker EMU sovereigns continue to make new highs every day), most investors we talk to seem content running higher risk in their portfolios. But with almost everyone expecting positive returns on equity...

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    An Easy Fed and a Strong Dollar

    Whatever central bankers may think about the rights and wrongs of Charles’s arguments about the natural rate of interest (and many official economists, especially in Europe and Japan, certainly share Charles’s concerns), the reality is that the Fed is not going to start raising interest rates in the first half of 2011. This can be almost guaranteed following last week’s disappointing non-farm payroll figures. Such is the political importance of...

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    GaveKal Daily - The Supply Shock Asia Did Not Need

    With an area the size of France and Germany combined currently under water, one might think that the devastating floods wreaking havoc on Queensland would be generating a little more press than they have thus far. And that's before one even gets into the troublesome economic consequences of the record Australian rains; with a sizable proportion of Australia's coking coal export capacity now compromised, along with the region's...

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    GaveKal Daily - Positive Developments in South Korea

    This document is part of our old archive. It was published on 2010-12-21.You can download it here: GKDailyReport101221.pdf

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    GaveKal Daily - Japanese Equities May Surprise on the Upside

    This document is part of our old archive. It was published on 2010-12-17.You can download it here: GKDailyReport101217.pdf

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    Asia: Betting on Ever-Wider Growth Differentials

    This document is part of our old archive. It was published on 2010-12-13.You can download it here: GKFiveCorners101213.pdf

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    GaveKal Daily - The Meaning of the Rise in Bond Yields

    This document is part of our old archive. It was published on 2010-12-09.You can download it here: GKDailyReport101209.pdf

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    GaveKal Daily - India's Monsoon Season of Scandals

    This document is part of our old archive. It was published on 2010-12-07.You can download it here: GKDailyReport1012071.pdf

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    The 'Korea Discount' is Back

    This document is part of our old archive. It was published on 2010-12-07.You can download it here: GKFiveCorners1012073.pdf

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    The New Bridge on the River Kwai

    This document is part of our old archive. It was published on 2010-12-07.You can download it here: GKFiveCorners1012074.pdf

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    QSCB - 1Q11 - Where Will Earnings Growth Be Found?

    This document is part of our old archive. It was published on 2010-12-01.You can download it here: GKQuarterlyStrategy101201.pdf

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    GaveKal Daily - The Intriguing Inability of Safe-Haven Bonds to Rally on EMU Crisis

    This document is part of our old archive. It was published on 2010-11-30.You can download it here: GKDailyReport101130.pdf

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    GaveKal Daily - More Trouble Brewing on the Korean Peninsula

    This document is part of our old archive. It was published on 2010-11-26.You can download it here: GKDailyReport1011262.pdf

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    GaveKal Daily - Don't Miss the Global Growth Story

    This document is part of our old archive. It was published on 2010-11-25.You can download it here: GKDailyReport1011252.pdf

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    ASEAN, What Inflation?

    This document is part of our old archive. It was published on 2010-11-22.You can download it here: GKFiveCorners1011223.pdf

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    Who Has the Upper Hand in South Korea?

    This document is part of our old archive. It was published on 2010-11-22.You can download it here: GKFiveCorners1011227.pdf

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    GaveKal Daily - Korea Closes the Barn Door

    This document is part of our old archive. It was published on 2010-11-19.You can download it here: GKDailyReport1011191.pdf

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    GaveKal Daily - The Political Winds Have Shifted; So Should Portfolios

    This document is part of our old archive. It was published on 2010-11-16.You can download it here: GKDailyReport1011162.pdf

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    GaveKal Daily - Inflation and Reform

    This document is part of our old archive. It was published on 2010-11-12.You can download it here: GKDailyReport1011121.pdf

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    GaveKal Daily - A Noteworthy Move in the Topix

    This document is part of our old archive. It was published on 2010-11-11.You can download it here: GKDailyReport101111.pdf

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    Rupee Risks and Rewards

    This document is part of our old archive. It was published on 2010-11-09.You can download it here: GKFiveCorners1011091.pdf

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    The Flipside of Korea's DRAM Dominance

    This document is part of our old archive. It was published on 2010-11-09.You can download it here: GKFiveCorners1011092.pdf

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    The Political Courting of SE Asia

    This document is part of our old archive. It was published on 2010-11-09.You can download it here: GKFiveCorners1011094.pdf

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    GaveKal Daily - Wrong-Footed in Japan, Again

    This document is part of our old archive. It was published on 2010-10-29.You can download it here: GKDailyReport101029.pdf

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    Japan Gives Korea an Opening

    This document is part of our old archive. It was published on 2010-10-25.You can download it here: GKFiveCorners1010253.pdf

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    Japanese Liquidity Will Continue to Leak Abroad

    This document is part of our old archive. It was published on 2010-10-25.You can download it here: GKFiveCorners1010254.pdf

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