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    Gavekal Research

    Why Is Yen Weakness ‘Good’ But Renminbi Weakness ‘Bad’?

    When the yen falls, global markets think it is A Good Thing, and risk appetite increases. But market moves early in January demonstrated that the opposite applies to China: when the renminbi falls, markets think that is A Bad Thing, and risk appetite vanishes. So why do investors like a weak yen but fear a weak renminbi?

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  • Gavekal Research

    Red Herrings, Margin Calls And Heart Attacks

    Most recent commentary we have read suggests that January’s turmoil can be blamed on either the slowdown in China or the fear of an impending US recession. But let us suggest an alternative: these are red herrings which only distract from the real analytical challenges faced by investors.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    The Gavekal Monthly: Enter Ursus Magnus?

    January was a hair raising month for investors with a deeply worrying combination of falling oil prices, plunging equities and soaring yields for sub investment grade debt. In this edition of the Gavekal Monthly we seek some answers to the “what next” question, kicking off with Charles and Anatole who take very different views on whether a bear market is upon us.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Bank Of Japan Surprises

    The Bank of Japan just got all European in its battle against deflationary forces by adopting a negative interest rate policy. By changing its main interest rate for the first time in five years the BoJ genuinely surprised the market; some form of easing was expected given the recent strength in the yen and growth worries, but only a week ago Governor Haruhiko Kuroda ruled out the negative rate option.

    18
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    Gavekal Research

    Anatomy Of The Bear

    I wish I shared Anatole’s degree of conviction. In yesterday’s Daily he set out his belief that the current sell-off in financial markets is not the start of “a structural ‘bear market’, still less a structural Ursus Magnus likely to last for many years” (see Is Wall Street In A ‘Bear Market’). I am not so sure. I suspect that what we are witnessing may indeed be the emergence of an Ursus Magnus, the sort of bear market so deep and prolonged...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Don’t Buy The BoJ Bluster

    Haruhiko Kuroda, the Bank of Japan Governor, has presided over a pick-up in domestic demand and seems loath to have it extinguished by a global growth scare. Last week he hinted that he was ready to do more, and subsequent press leaks point to a further expansion of his quantitative easing program. One reason to think a big bazooka may be rolled out at Thursday’s policy-setting meeting is that a month ago the BoJ mildly expanded its QE operation...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Looking For The Bright Side

    By most measures, the first two weeks of 2016 have been the worst-ever start of the year for risk assets. With the MSCI All-Countries index down nearly -20% from last May’s high, we are now in a global bear market.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Is Japan’s Building Boom For Real?

    As followers of our specialist Gavekal Japan Alpha service will know, something of a construction boom is emerging in Japan. At first glance this seems surprising, especially given that Japan is pedaling into some severe demographic headwinds. According to the 2010 national census, Japan’s population did grow between 2005 and 2010—but only by 0.2% over the five-year period, to reach 128mn. Over the coming decades, that anemic demographic growth...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Going Down With The Renminbi

    Emerging markets have faced significant headwinds ever since the “taper tantrum” of mid-2013 when investors began to factor in tightening moves by the Federal Reserve. Their headache got much worse last summer when China allowed a mini-devaluation of the renminbi, and 2016 is hardly starting well. The root problem is that most emerging markets are over-geared and need to ease policy if growth is to be kick-started. Unfortunately, easing is...

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    The Gavekal Monthly: The Balance Of Risks

    The new year has been a wild ride so far, with sharp drops in the renminbi, Chinese stock markets, and oil prices leading global markets down. In our first Gavekal Monthly of 2016 we try to make sense of the risks facing investors today. As usual there are some strong differences of opinion: Anatole argues that developed economies are in decent shape, the dollar's rise will soon be over, and equities should post a better performance than...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    ASEAN Could Yet Matter

    Until the Asian Financial Crisis of the late 1990s, Southeast Asia’s export-led development was driven by ethnically-Chinese entrepreneurs who ran dispersed production that mostly supplied the garment, electronics and consumer goods sectors. By the mid-2000s these relationships had greatly simplified, with the economies of the Association of South East Asian Nations either slotting into the Chinese manufacturing supply chain, or alternatively...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Forget About Oil And China, Look To The US In 2016

    On the whole, 2015 was a year for investors to forget. US bond and equity prices were both flat, equity gains in Europe were mostly wiped out (for US dollar investors) by the fall of the euro, and commodity plays and high-yield issues crumbled. China sparked a brief panic after a clumsy intervention to cushion a stock-market collapse and an unexpected currency devaluation, but by the end of the year the Shanghai index was still up nearly 5% in...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Clash Over Fossil Fuels

    Over the weekend in Paris, the leaders of 195 nations announced a landmark deal to address climate change that its more optimistic supporters say heralds “the end of the fossil fuel era.” But both market action and many government policies point in the opposite direction. Crude oil prices continue to tumble towards the US$30 mark, and coal prices have also collapsed—both moves that reflect abundant global supplies of fossil fuels. The Paris...

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    The Cure For Low Prices Is Low Prices

    What is the latest rout in commodity prices telling us? Certainly, China’s demand for many commodities is weak—but everyone knows this. The most important signal is rather on the supply side: low prices are finally pushing commodity producers to cut output. It is this restructuring that will eventually bring stability to commodity prices.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Year-Defining Week

    Four hugely important events occurred last week which between them have largely determined the course of the world economy in the year ahead: the strong US payrolls, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ decision not to reduce production, the European Central Bank’s escalation of monetary stimulus and the inclusion of the renmimbi in the International Monetary Fund’s Special Drawing Rights basket. While all these events were...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Are Emerging Markets Cheap?

    On the face of it, the valuation of emerging markets looks compelling. After declining -30% from its 2011 high, the MSCI Emerging Markets index is now at a forward P/E ratio of 12, a third cheaper than the S&P 500. As a result, the valuation premium of developed over emerging equity markets is close to its highest in more than ten years. What’s more on average, emerging-market currencies are now below fair value against the US dollar,...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    The Gavekal Monthly: A Cloudy Currency Outlook

    The Gavekal Monthly outlines our highest conviction ideas and summarizes the key economic, market and thematic views held by the firm’s partners and analysts. This report is an attempt to answer a question that we are often asked, but find it hard to answer: "What does Gavekal think?".

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    No Savior On The New Silk Road

    Over the last year China has stepped up its efforts to build an informal empire in Asia. This “One Belt, One Road” initiative has the potential to boost regional development and strengthen China’s geopolitical heft. But in the shorter term, can Beijing’s grand plan absorb China’s industrial overcapacity and revive commodity demand? Sadly, no.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Indonesia: After The Pain Trade

    Indonesian assets did well out of the late summer pain trade, with equities and rupiah bonds both rallying by around 20% in US dollar terms. Even more encouragingly, they have since held on to most of those gains as commodities have tested new lows. This is a signal that the rupiah has fallen enough over recent years to allow Indonesia’s economy to adjust to the end of the commodity boom. That makes the high yields on rupiah-denominated bonds...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Not So Bad In Japan

    Japan, as of Monday, was back in recession after GDP in 3Q15 shrank by -0.8% YoY, a second successive quarterly contraction. Such weakness supports a growing consensus that the economic renewal program of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe—based on the idea that monetary easing would spur domestic reflation—is a busted flush. For the bears, the question is when, not if, Japan tilts back into full-blown deflation. We are not so sure about this view, and...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Happy Apologist

    At Gavekal the conversation with clients never stops and from time to time we like to offer up a taste of debates that strike us as interesting. Louis got into just such a discussion earlier this week with one of our smarter, free-market embracing US clients. The topic of discussion was China and why Louis is such an apologist for the Chinese Communist Party when he clearly has little time for governments meddling with markets elsewhere?

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Limits Of Xi Jinping’s Grand Plan

    As China’s growth slowdown deepens, making even the government’s reduced growth target of 6.5% a year for the rest of this decade look less and less realistic, policymakers are increasingly pinning their hopes on Beijing’s much-touted “Belt and Road Initiative”. Not only do they hope that the plan to build new trading networks across Central Asia and the Indian Ocean will boost China’s flagging exports, but that the demand for commodities and...

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Chinese Dream (II): Great Leap Outward Along The New Silk Road

    The Belt-and-Road Initiative promises an infrastructure bonanza for Asia’s least-connected regions. How much it will extend China’s political influence is an open question.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Chinese Dream (III): Should We Fear It?

    As a ‘peace-loving’ China flaunts its military, political and economic might, Asia and the US puzzle over how to respond.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ: China Reshapes Asia

    In the last two years China has made a bold push to expand its influence in Asia, using both the carrot of well-funded infrastructure diplomacy and the stick of forceful assertion of territorial claims in the South and East China Seas. What explains this newly assertive foreign policy, and what are its effects likely to be? This special issue of the China Economic Quarterly tries to answer these questions.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Now Or Never For Vietnam

    Vietnam is South East Asia’s standout economy with growth likely to hit 6.5% this year, the fastest pace since 2010. It has emerged as a low-cost export-processing powerhouse and a gradual revival in domestic demand points to a generalized upswing in the cycle. There are also reasons to think that Vietnam may be about to embark on significant market-based reforms, driven by its inclusion in free trade groupings. The problem is that the current...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: "Now Or Never For Vietnam"

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Danger Of Further BoJ Easing

    There is growing speculation that the Bank of Japan may follow the European Central Bank, which last week signaled additional easing, and the People’s Bank of China, which cut rates on Friday, and surprise the markets with further credit easing. But while extra action from the BoJ could be a short term shot in the arm for the equity market (or not, given the underwhelming response to China’s easing), it is doubtful whether additional easing will...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    London Seminar Audio And Slides

    We held our main fall seminar on October 27 in London, where Anatole Kaletsky, Francois-Xavier Chauchat, Neil Newman, Tom Miller and Louis-Vincent Gave presented their views on the global economy. Anatole discussed the implications of recent developments in financial markets; Francois examined Europe’s resilience to global headwinds; Neil outlined three major investment themes in Japan; Tom explored China’s regional foreign policy ambitions, and...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    London Seminar: The Aggresively Friendly Giant

    What sort of country is China, and what sort of power does it want to be? In this presentation to our seminar in London, Tom Miller explains how to understand the signals China’s leaders have been sending. China wants to pursue great-power status, a process that may alienate its neighbors and will require adjustments from the US.

    0
  • Gavekal Research

    The Myth Of Secular Stagnation

    When the European Central Bank meets today, discussion will center on whether it should expand quantitative easing in an attempt to stave off deflation and support the eurozone’s painfully slow growth. In Japan too, talk is about whether the Bank of Japan needs to step up its stimulus efforts. And in the US, the Federal Reserve last month decided to delay calling an end to its own zero interest rate policy amid evidence that US growth is in...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Excerpt From Anatole Kaletsky's Hong Kong Seminar Presentation

    Excerpt From Anatole Kaletsky's Hong Kong Seminar Presentation

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Japan's Deal Of The Decade

    Today will be a day of celebration for many Japanese investors, as they find out whether they have hit the jackpot with an allocation of shares in the initial public offerings for Japan Post Bank and Japan Post Insurance. Together with the IPO of Japan Post Holdings, which will be priced next Monday, the three deals are expected to raise some ¥1.4trn (US$11.7bn), making the joint offering Japan’s largest since the 1998 IPO for telecommunications...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Fallacy Of Containment

    Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hailed this week’s deal on the Trans-Pacific Partnership as evidence that “the curtain is finally rising on a new Asian century.” The TPP is the biggest trade agreement for 20 years, its 12 members accounting for a full 35% of global trade (see The Big Winner From The TPP). Yet it is hard to get excited about a trade deal that deliberately leaves out the world’s biggest trading nation: China. The TPP is designed...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Birth Of A Pain Trade?

    The question we have received most in recent days is whether this week’s counter-trend rally in commodities, deep cyclicals and emerging markets can morph into a “melt-up” akin to that seen in 4Q98. Seventeen years ago the blowback from the Asian Financial Crisis culminated in late September with the failure of Long Term Capital Management. Within days of a hurriedly agreed creditor bailout, the Federal Reserve had made the first of three...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Big Winner From The TPP

    After a tough summer with little to cheer about, investors finally got some good news yesterday. After five years of negotiations, culminating in six days of round-the-clock talks in Atlanta, the US, Japan and 10 other Pacific Rim economies finally struck a deal on the Trans-Pacific Partnership. If ratified by the signatories’ parliaments, the TPP will be the biggest liberalization of global trade since China’s entry into the WTO, and the...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Asia's Good For A Bounce

    Financial markets offer a real-time snapshot of how humans, and increasingly computer programs react to new information. When they collectively engage in a fit of irrationality the opportunity arises to extract profits. With Hong Kong equities rallying hard in this morning’s session, it seems that enough investors reckon such a moment has arrived in Asia.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Gavekal Monthly: More Questions Than Answers

    With the Fed having put its rate hike decision on hold, investors face an uncertain environment of weak global growth and inflation, tottering emerging markets and continued worries about China. In this edition of The Gavekal Monthly, Louis-Vincent Gave surveys the crucial questions investors must grapple with and identifies the indicators to monitor in the coming weeks. In addition, we highlight three calls from our analyst team: Joyce...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    India’s Still Fertile Forest

    Earlier this week India cut interest rates by 50bp, making it one of the few emerging economies to do so in the face of an investor panic that has hit the asset class hard. The central bank’s actions contrast sharply with the 2013 “taper tantrum” when it was forced to ramp up rates to rein in inflation and prevent capital flight. The action shows that India has a fundamentally better macro-economic positioning than its EM peers, and in our view...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    QSCB: What Is The Trade Slowdown Telling Us?

    For the first time since the 1970s global trade is growing more slowly than global GDP, and if anything this growth is decelerating. One explanation is that slower world trade is a symptom of weak global demand, and perhaps a harbinger of worse economic news to come. That is possible, but in this Quarterly Strategy Chartbook we argue that the trade slowdown reflects structural changes in the world economy, and signals that a new phase of...

    0
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    A Worrying Set Of Signals

    Regular readers will know that we keep a battery of indicators to gauge, among other things, economic activity, inflationary pressure, risk appetite and asset valuations. Most of the time this dashboard offers mixed messages, which is not hugely helpful to the investment process. Yet from time to time, the data pack points unambiguously in a single direction and experience tells us that such confluences are worth watching. We are today at such a...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Has Abenomics Failed?

    Has Abenomics failed? On paper, the answer is an unequivocal “yes”. Almost three years after the election of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the “three arrows” of his economic revitalization program—stimulative fiscal policy, massive central bank monetary expansion, and far-reaching structural reforms—have missed all their declared targets. Far from accelerating to a trend growth rate of 2%, Japan’s economy has faltered, contracting at an annualized...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    How Much Does China Really Matter?

    How much does China’s slowdown really matter to the rest of the world? At first this might sound like a silly question. After all, China is home to a fifth of humanity, it is the world’s second largest national economy and its second largest importer, and in recent years has contributed between a quarter and a third of global growth. What’s more, the recent volatility in China’s stock markets and exchange rate caused shockwaves around the world...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Is The China Panic Abating?

    For the past six weeks, global markets have been in a China-centric panic, sparked partly by bad economic data, but mostly by policy bungling from China’s policymakers. Having spurred a huge expansion in equity margin debt, regulators turned tail in June and cracked down on the practice. As an equity market crash unfolded, policymakers took to swinging a big stick: price-keeping operations were tried, stock trading was halted and speculators...

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Why Malaysia’s Falling Knife Is Worth Catching

    The downgrade of Brazil’s debt last week to junk status has renewed fears that emerging markets may face another vicious sell-off. To date EM angst has mostly focused on resource exporters made fragile by the China-induced commodity bust. But the prospect of an imminent US interest rate hike has focused attention more generally on markets with heavy foreign currency debt exposure. Malaysia looks to face the worst of all worlds as its external...

    8
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    Gavekal Research

    Deleveraging In The Emerging World

    There has been a lot of talk in recent weeks about the collapse in emerging market currencies, with extravagant comparisons to the 1997-98 crisis. In reality, however, there is no “crisis”. Over the last three years an equally-weighted index of major emerging market currencies has fallen no more against the US dollar than an index comprising the euro and the yen. And despite all the recent turbulence in financial markets, there have been no...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Has The Asian Currency Collapse Run Its Course?

    The past four months have seen an unprecedented divergence in the performance of developed market and emerging market currencies, with Asian units getting sucked into the EM downdraft even though their manufacturing-heavy economies should, on paper, be beneficiaries of the commodity collapse. Or to be more specific the more than 10% decline in Asian currencies against the euro over the last four months has been a near two standard deviation...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The US Current Account Deficit And World Markets

    Spotting turning points in the US current account is central to Gavekal’s research method, as such shifts impact all other economic relationships. When the US dollar is strong the US tends to run a big current account deficit, providing the world with lots of “earned dollars.” Conversely, a weak dollar eventually leads to a shrunken US current account deficit and more incentive to borrow in dollars. Big moves in the dollar exchange rate create...

    0
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    The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse

    Markets are entering bear market territory and what vexes Charles and Louis is whether the root cause is a liquidity crunch, a solvency crisis or a deflationary bust. In this wide ranging chart book they explore the problem through the revelatory prophecy of four riders whose presence marked the coming of judgement day. We don’t mean to pile on the misery in what is shaping up as a tough week and the moderately good news is that the-end-of-times...

    0
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    No Light At The End Of The Tunnel

    Four years of grizzly underperformance has turned everyone into an emerging markets bear. First it was the currencies of the twin deficit countries that took a hit in the 2013 taper tantrum. Then it was the EM resource producers that faced the crunch when commodity prices halved in just 12 months. Now liquidity which had found its way into the healthier emerging markets in Asia is rushing out the door after China’s currency shock tilted the risk...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    A Solvency Crisis Or A Liquidity Crisis?

    Over the past five years, critics of zero-interest rate policies have typically fallen into one of two camps:

    0
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    Emerging Asia’s Nightmare

    The investment case for Asian currencies has been a tough one to make over the last year as stagnant global trade and a stronger US dollar has constrained the growth outlook. Still, until this week’s “renminbi shock”, the region’s reasonable fundamentals and decent yields continued to justify a holding in Asian currencies. After China’s “devaluation”, this risk-reward position has changed as regional currencies look like prime victims of Beijing...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Sorry Singapore Patriots, You Are A Great Short

    On most matters the Gavekal house view is best explained by the fact that we don’t have one. Charles for now stands out as the house bear due to his concerns about a global system enfeebled by policymakers’ misguided efforts to ameliorate all risks. Our more bullish group, led by Anatole, reckons that “creative destruction” is afoot, but outdated national income accounting tools are not capturing the benefits delivered by digital globalization....

    1
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    Japan’s ROE Revolution

    The adoption of a UK-style “stewardship code” and an officially sanctioned index of companies that satisfy minimum corporate governance standards (JPX-Nikkei Index 400) marks a serious attempt by Japan to boost both corporate productivity and shareholder returns. This effort is integral to the economic rejuvenation plan of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and arguably failure is not an option for an economy that a few years ago had started to flirt...

    0
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    Growth & Markets Monthly (August 2015) – by Pierre Gave

    Our latest monthly indicators look to have taken on a somewhat schizophrenic character. On the growth side, our main indicator of global economic activity is perking up, implying a stronger second half of the year. But our diffusion index of OECD leading indicators is clearly heading south, as are commodities. A similarly bifurcated story can be seen on the risk-appetite side. Our velocity indicator has registered improvement and short term...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Five Corners (July 29): The Slowdown In Trade

    Overview: After years in which the world’s major governments have been busy manipulating prices, Charles Gave finds it astonishing that anyone should be surprised by the current slowdown in global trade.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    5C Asia: No Escape From The Regional Trade Slowdown

    Asia’s trade performance has been disappointing. After a two-year post-crisis rebound in 2010-2011, export growth in the region has slowed to an annual average of 7.5% in US dollar terms and 6% in volume terms. Compare that with US dollar growth rates of 30% seen in the years before the crisis.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    5C Overview: Why The Surprise At Slowing Trade?

    I am afraid I am rapidly turning into Gavekal’s resident bear—asleep half the time, grumpy the rest. In particular, I am amazed how some people have suddenly discovered that world trade is going nowhere, and that they are so bamboozled by this strange pattern. Where exactly have they been for the last 15 years?

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Not A People’s Republic-An Empire

    We often say that money managers are not paid to forecast, but to adapt. The challenge, of course, is knowing what to adapt to. For example, an investor picking up a copy of today’s Financial Times will be left scratching his head over the importance of the Greek crisis to the future of the eurozone, the likely impact of coming US Federal Reserve rate hikes, and how the deepening oil supply glut will affect global markets. In our latest...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Indonesia: One Step Forward, Two Back

    Almost a year after Joko Widodo blew through Indonesian politics like a breath of fresh air to win the 2014 presidential election, international investors’ enthusiasm for his country has all but evaporated. Under Jokowi, as the president is known, policy has disappointed, growth has slowed further, the current account deficit has failed to improve significantly, the rupiah has slumped, and inflation has mounted—keeping interest rates high and...

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    For Beijing, It’s Goodnight Vietnam

    Vietnam recently scrapped foreign ownership caps across a swathe of industries as a spur to its stalled program to privatize state-owned enterprises. It has signed up to the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, a US-led attempt to boost trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific, and is pursuing a free trade agreement with the EU. Liberal-minded Vietnamese are hopeful that the reformist prime minister, Nguyen Tan Dung, will take over as Communist...

    0
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    For Beijing, It’s Goodnight Vietnam

    Vietnam recently scrapped foreign ownership caps across a swathe of industries as a spur to its stalled program to privatize state-owned enterprises. It has signed up to the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, a US-led attempt to boost trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific, and is pursuing a free trade agreement with the EU. Liberal-minded Vietnamese are hopeful that the reformist prime minister, Nguyen Tan Dung, will take over as Communist...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Five Corners (July 15): Deflation Redux

    Overview: When governments interfere with the price discovery mechanism, most people believe the inevitable result is runaway inflation. On the contrary, argues Charles Gave, official manipulation of prices threatens to plunge us all into deflation. United States: Tan Kai Xian examines the marked divergence between goods prices and services prices and ponders what it means for the overall US inflation outlook. Europe: As the eurozone inches its...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    5C Asia: Is Deflation Japan’s Disease, Or Just A Symptom?

    For a generation the words “Japan” and “deflation” have been inseparable in the minds of economists. The association is so entrenched that it is universally taken for granted that the central aim of Japanese economic policy must be to defeat deflation and, by extension, that any inflation must be a good thing. The result is the massive monetary expansion being undertaken by the Bank of Japan.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Growth & Markets Monthly (July 2015)

    With the drama in Athens casting a pall over markets, what is the message from the Gavekal dashboard of economic and risk indicators? Overall, reasonably positive. Our main growth indicator suggests that the momentum of economic activity should pick up in the second half of the year. If correct, this would mark a repeat of the pattern seen in the last few years. Still, given the uncertainty associated with the Greek situation, there has been a...

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    Japan’s Sustainable Bull Market

    Plenty of old hands who thrived in Japan’s 1980s bubble era spent the next 25 years watching a structural bear market unfold and are starting to opine that history may repeat itself. With due respect to this grizzled breed, we are skeptical about historical comparisons and reckon that the combined drivers of the modern Japanese market offer a rare opportunity. Ironically, one of the biggest factors supporting Japanese equity values is that...

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    Five Corners (July 01): Manufacturing Machinations

    Overview: Charles Gave argues that the manufacturing sector remains the last bastion of proper economic data in the US, and the message being sent is not good. United States: Tan Kai Xian somewhat demurs from Charles and argues that the US manufacturing sector is unlikely to be the fountainhead of the next US recession. Europe: Central Europe has emerged as the manufacturing powerhouse of Europe at the expense of France and the southern...

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    5C Asia: “Make In India”, But For Who?

    Last year Indian prime minister Narendra Modi unveiled his “Make in India” initiative in an attempt to replicate the successes of the tried and tested East Asian development model in which economies pursue export-led manufacturing growth. To boost the share of manufacturing in output—currently at 16%—and its contribution to employment—around 12%, mostly in the “informal” sector—Modi outlined a number of key policies. But while developing...

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    Buy India On Bank Reform

    In recent months India has offered investors incrementally bad news due to bad monsoon rains, the government suffering a series of political missteps and a tougher external financing environment as higher US interest rates are contemplated. Moreover, the gradual rise in the oil price has diminished the growth-boosting dividend that India won in the second half of last year. So it was pleasing to get some “good India” news yesterday with the...

    2
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    Still A Lonely Power

    China, the political scientist David Shambaugh declared last year, is a “lonely power”—lacking close friends and possessing no allies. That is something that Xi Jinping’s “proactive” foreign policy aims to change. His New Silk Road vision—now officially termed the “Belt and Road Initiative”—is to forge a “community of shared destiny,” in which Asia’s prosperity is tied to China’s rise. Rather than building formal alliances, Beijing’s goal is to...

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    Yen In The Hands Of Foreigners

    Having traded in a tight range since late last year, the Japanese yen made a technical breakout last week, weakening beyond ¥125 to the dollar for the first time since 2002. While Bank of Japan governor Haruhiko Kuroda came out to jaw-bone against more falls, higher volatility is a worry for investors who have grown used to making Japanese equity gains in US dollar terms. We would stick with Japanese stocks which continue to benefit from strong...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Thinking Big About China

    There are two big facts about China today. One: its economy is slowing, and will almost certainly continue to do so for the next couple of years. Two: under its forceful president Xi Jinping, it is making a big push on many fronts to increase its influence around the world. The question is which of these facts deserves more attention.

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    The Spat In The Spratlys

    It is typhoon season once again in the South China Sea. Last May, China ignited a storm of violent protest across Vietnam when it started drilling for oil off the Vietnamese coast. This year the squall is further south in the disputed waters of the Spratly Islands, where the US has demanded that China halt its land reclamation efforts. Ordered to leave the area by the Chinese military last week, a US Navy surveillance aircraft ignored the...

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    Five Corners (3 June): Shifting Capital Flows

    Overview: Louis Gave traces China’s rejection of planned economy shibboleths over the last 30 years and contends that Beijing is charging full tilt toward the final frontier: the liberalization of capital itself. United States: With the strength of the US dollar favoring imports over US-made goods, the US current account balance is set to deteriorate. This, argues Will Denyer and Tan Kai Xian, will mean a bigger supply of US dollar liquidity in...

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    5C Asia: A Buffer Against Future Taper Tantrums

    Asia’s fragmented financial markets have grown a great deal more inter-connected since the currency crisis of the late 1990s. Even so, regional financial integration still lags far behind real sector integration. According to International Monetary Fund data, intra-regional shipments now make up the lion’s share of Asia’s cross-border trade. In contrast, even though their share has doubled over the last ten years, intra-Asian equity flows make...

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    Growth & Markets Monthly (June 2015)

    This month saw a clear deterioration of our growth indicators. The pattern of the last few years with a weaker than expected first half of the year appears to be holding up. The question is whether 2015 will see the habitual pick-up in the second half of the year? On the inflation front, things remain quiet. US breakeven inflation rates, which looked as if they may have been breaking upwards last month, are now heading south again. Given the...

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    5C Overview: First You Get The Money

    In Scarface, Al Pacino observes “First, you get the money, then you get the power, then you get the women”. To some extent, this sums up the challenge facing China’s leadership. Indeed, the lesson the Party learnt once Deng Xiaoping took over from the power-mad Mao Zedong was that ceding control over a part of the economy delivered more power internationally as booming growth made China a more credible regional, then global, power.

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    A Question Of When, Not If

    The cacophony emanating from China can be disorientating. On the one hand, China’s domestic stock markets are in the throes of a vigorous bull run. Locally-listed equities are up 140% in the last 12 months, with repeated government support measures and rising openness to international fund flows sustaining the momentum. On the other hand, China’s economic growth continues to slow, while the geopolitical drumbeat is increasingly daunting. With...

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    Why Germany Is Not Turning Japanese

    Germany has economic problems that most countries would die for—low unemployment and steadily rising real wages mean that policymakers must respond to bottlenecks such as labor shortages (see Germany Normalizes). The longer-term worry is that these “gaps” will become permanent as high-growth Germany must also grapple with Japanese-style demographics. The fear is that its post-2010 expansion could be a swan song before the structural growth...

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    Five Corners (20 May): Assessing Oil's Comeback

    Overview: In light of the rebound in oil prices Anatole Kaletsky questions his own view that the oil market is becoming driven by “marginal cost producers”, rather than classic monopoly dynamics.

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    The Next Phase Of Japan’s Bull Market

    Japanese equities continue to benefit from a situation where corporate growth is decent, but the outlook is not so hot as to spur central bank tightening (see A Japanese Goldilocks). The Nikkei 225 is again close to its peak in 2000, despite the yen having pretty much flat-lined against the dollar since late last year. Still, is this really sustainable considering that Japan remains highly dependent on external demand and the kicker from the...

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    Gavekal Research

    The Dissonance In Markets

    Perhaps the biggest challenge confronting investors today is the disconnect between financial markets and economic data. Indeed, despite weak readings from the growth locomotives of the global economy (China and the US), recent weeks have seen bonds selling off, commodities going on a tear, and deep cyclical equities experiencing huge rebounds. In short, while economic data is pointing towards a mediocre global growth outlook, markets are...

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    5C Overview: Regime Change In The Oil Market Only Just Starting

    Since late last year, when the battle for oil market share broke out between OPEC and the US frackers, we have argued that this is not just a contest between rival groups of producers, but between distinct pricing regimes, based on very different economic principles (see Will US$50 Be Oil’s Floor, Or Its Ceiling? and The Macro Dividend From Oil).

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    5C Asia: Malaysia Will Manage To Contain The Pain

    Unlike many oil and commodity-dependent emerging economies that have seen growth collapse, Malaysia looks to be doing just fine—its economy grew at 5.6% YoY in 1Q15, roughly in line with its post-2009 average. Hence, even as the Malaysian ringgit continues to track the oil price lower, an argument can be made that the markets have got it wrong.

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    New York Seminar May 2015 - Anatole, Louis, Joyce & Will

    We held our US spring seminar in New York on May 11, with Anatole, Louis, Joyce & Will offering their views on the most important developments in the global economy.

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    Gavekal Research

    Why Asia Should Suck Up Tantrum II

    Asian currencies took a hit yesterday as the ongoing global bond market sell-off forced capital outflow. Yet unlike the “taper tantrum” of two years ago, the region has navigated this sell-off with limited collateral damage—emerging Asia’s benchmark bond index has fallen by -3% in the last two weeks compared with a -19% peak-to-trough slump in 2013. In this piece we are not going to opine on the outlook for global bond markets as our last two...

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    A Sino-Indian Powerhouse?

    Next week the leaders of the world’s two biggest emerging economies will meet for talks in Beijing. Together, China and India have a population of 2.6bn—36% of the global total—and a GDP exceeding US$12trn. They share a border nearly 4,000km long. Yet China trades more with Thailand than with its most populous neighbor, and there are eight times as many flights between Beijing and Bangkok per week as there are between Beijing and Delhi. The weak...

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    Why Brazil Trumps India

    The last year has been tough for emerging market investors—a recent survey showed that only 20% of actively managed EM funds beat their benchmark compared to an average 60-70% over the past five years. Recent weeks have not provided much respite with out-of-favor, commodity-rich markets like Russia and Brazil going on a tear, while much loved darlings such as India have taken a pounding.

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    Embrace The Asian Deflation

    The specter of deflation continues to threaten big chunks of the global economy and the alarm has even spread to China after the GDP deflator was revealed to have slipped into negative territory in 1Q14. Our starting point is that deflation does not have to be some grizzly beast that must end with soup kitchens, for as Charles has forcefully argued, periods of falling prices have in the past been associated with rapid capital formation and...

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    Five Corners (6 May): The Weakness In Wages

    Overview: Charles Gave wonders why in spite of policymakers having the best of intentions, their efforts have caused declining productivity, lower median incomes and fewer quality jobs. United States: The labor market is no longer a clear indicator of the US economic cycle, says Will Denyer, who looks for new insights into what variables may guide the Fed in its policymaking. Europe: Although jobless numbers have fallen across much of the...

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    Growth & Markets Monthly (May 2015)

    While our growth readings ticked higher last month, the big shift came with a sharp rise in our risk appetite indicators. We also note an easing of deflationary pressure with the US breakeven inflation level registering a nine-month high. On the liquidity side, the European Central Bank has cranked up its expansionary efforts and its balance sheet is rising at 16% YoY. Taken together, these moves have benefited equity markets (notwithstanding...

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    Gavekal Research

    The World's Most Crowded Trade

    Markets are made at the margin. As a result, the key driver of prices for a given asset is the question of where the marginal buyer (or seller) comes from. This is why very crowded trades can prove dangerous: by the time every one and their dog is convinced that (i) the euro can only go down (early 2015), (ii) being short long-dated bonds is the single best trade out there (early 2014), (iii) underweighting European equities is the easiest path...

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    5C Asia: Japan’s Wageless Recovery

    Unlike the countries of the eurozone, which are plagued by persistently high unemployment, Japan is suffering from a labor shortage. Yet despite the dearth of workers, economic recovery has not fed through into wage rises—a cause of much frustration in Tokyo.

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    Whither US Manufacturing

    US economic data has started to surprise on the downside, and much of this can be attributed to the manufacturing sector. This is worrying since the sector often leads the general economy. Hence, the $64,000 question is whether we should be bracing for an unscripted recession? Our answer is no, but investors should underweight the US manufacturing sector. In the near term, price adjustments, largely stemming from the energy and commodity price...

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    Maritime Silk Road Or “String Of Pearls”?

    China’s strategic expansion into the Indian Ocean is causing jitters in both Washington and Delhi. This week Xi Jinping pledged to finance a whopping US$46bn of investments in Pakistan, a large chunk of which will fund a 3,000km “economic corridor” from the Arabian Sea to northwest China. The route will begin at Gwadar, a Chinese-run port near the Iranian border, which Indian security experts fear will become a strategic base for the Chinese...

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    Five Corners (22 April): Global Trade

    Overview: Charles Gave argues that an era of globalization and expanding world trade is coming to an end. On balance, he says this is no bad thing. United States: The negative impact of the strong dollar on US exporters will become clear once disruption from the early year port strikes on the US West Coast clear up according to Will Denyer and Tan Kai Xian. Europe: Europe’s huge trade surplus is purely a German issue. François-Xavier Chauchat...

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    Towards A Real Japanese Shake-Up

    International investors, otherwise disposed to embrace Japan’s re-rating story, face a real dilemma. Almost 30 months after Shinzo Abe launched his bold reflationary experiment, Japan’s equity market has more than doubled in value and the yen (on a trade-weighted basis) has devalued by -30%. And yet, throughout this period, economic growth has continued to disappoint. With two significant reforms in the offing, we reckon that could be about to...

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    5C Overview: Why The Coming Collapse Of World Trade Should Be Celebrated

    Sustained economic growth has always gone hand-in-hand with a big rise in communications infrastructure. To explain why, assume that a country has two cities, named A and B. At the point that a modern communication infrastructure is built (road, trains, internet) then, in each case, a single line of communication is needed. Three cities implies the need for three lines; a fourth city means six lines. Ultimately, if all the cities are to...

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    5C Asia: Deflationary Rebalancing

    Take a look at Asia’s trade data, and you soon notice a striking divergence: export volumes and prices are heading in different directions. In the past, whenever external demand picked up, Asia’s exporters always enjoyed a beta-bounce on the back of rising pricing power. This time around, however, things are different. Despite the ongoing recovery in the US and the recent upturn in Europe, Asian exporters have found themselves forced to make...

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    Small Is Beautiful

    At the end of the 1980s the world changed, with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the start of China’s renaissance. The next two and a half decades were marked by a mass movement towards globalization. We now have a long enough history to determine who were the winners over those 25 years. The answer is very simple: small countries.

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