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    Gavekal Research

    India’s Muddled Mission Statement

    The public relations machine of Narendra Modi, a one-time pariah in respectable political circles, is currently in overdrive. India’s charismatic prime minister grabbed the plaudits for India’s low cost Mars orbiter pipping China to the Red Planet last week, and in recent days he’s been getting the full blown celebrity treatment during an official visit to the US, something which is rare for a foreign leader. In between these triumphs of...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    An Irish Outlier?

    The Irish economy looks to be making a faster than expected recovery from its grim 2010 nadir. Growth is running at an annualized 6.5% which is more reminiscent of the “Celtic tiger” era than the grinding recession conditions still typical in Southern Europe. Ireland seems sure to emerge as a paradigmatic case study between the rival policymaking camps of so called Austerians and those advocating more conventional Keynesian responses. But for...

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    5C Asia: It Pays To Restart

    Japan has a clear economic interest in restarting its nuclear power program since the high cost of replacing its cheapest source of power has had a direct negative impact on the government’s hoped for reflation—most of the price rises generated in the last two years have come not from improving domestic demand, but higher power bills. And now that Japan has learned to live without nuclear power (and accept the costs) policymakers must be...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Asia Can Handle A Strong Dollar

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

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Can Working Women Revitalize Japan?

    In his reshuffle earlier this month, prime minister Shinzo Abe appointed five women to Japan’s cabinet. By more than doubling the number of senior ministerial posts held by women, Abe was hoping to lend some extra impetus to the ‘third arrow’ of his ‘Abenomics’ program to revitalize Japan’s economy. The first two arrows—fiscal and monetary stimuli—have succeeded in weakening the yen to a six year low against the US dollar, returning Japan to...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Five Corners (17 September): World Bond Markets

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Japanese Equities' Surprise Potential

    After spending most of this year range-trading against the US dollar, the Japanese yen has moved decisively lower since July. Yet—unlike the last time the yen broke out in 1H13—equity investors have mostly yawned. Despite a mild pick-up in economic growth and inflation since it took office in late 2012, Shinzo Abe’s government has failed to deliver meaningful structural reform. As a result, equity investors have been left trying to game the...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    5C Overview: Weatherproofing Bond Portfolios

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    5C Asia: Whether To Bet On A Permanent BoJ Bid

    We do not like Japanese government bonds. In our view their return on capital is simply too low to justify an allocation. Local players, however, disagree.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Korea Thriving In China's Chilly Investment Climate

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Asia’s New Credit Cycle

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

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Five Corners (3 September): World Labor Markets

    In our latest bi-weekly review of global economics, we take a searching look at the forces affecting labor markets in the world’s major economies. How robust are the medium term prospects for wage growth? And how will the longer term forces of ageing populations and increasing automation affect the outlook for jobs? Overview: Arthur Kroeber examines how the wage-positive influence of developed world demographics will balance the job-negative...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Market Review: A Summer Series

    In late July and early August Anatole went up the mountain so to speak and penned a series of articles that aimed to explain where we were in the current market cycle, and more importantly where we are likely headed. With most major asset classes continuing to head higher we thought it worth republishing Anatole’s consolidated thinking in a single document. Please click on the pdf link above, or, alternatively, the articles can be read...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Eurozone Funk Deepens

    Europe’s political leaders may be talking about fresh sanctions on Moscow, but the continent’s remaining economic optimists are fast capitulating in the face of Russian aggression in Eastern Ukraine. Both the European Commission’s eurozone economic confidence survey and the INSEE French business confidence survey, released late last week, deteriorated in August, with the EC survey slumping to its gloomiest reading this year. This decline in...

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    5C Asia: Japanese Labor Market Dilemma

    Japanese policymakers face a dilemma that at first glance looks extremely welcome. A labor market which has reached its tightest point since the early 1990s should help the Bank of Japan achieve its inflation target. The issue is that an absence of appropriately skilled workers threatens Japanese companies’ ability to expand their operations.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    5C Overview: Demography vs Technology

    We have written a lot about two trends with big potential impacts on the balance of power between labor and capital. The first is demography, which since World War II has been a tailwind for growth, but is now turning into a headwind. Virtually every major economy faces a steep fall in its worker-to-retiree ratio, even the US which is often thought to be exempt from demographic destiny because of its relatively high birth rate and openness to...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Dialing Back Our India Bullishness

    As India’s new government reaches the 100-day mark it remains unclear whether the improved political mood music is enough to kick-start a fresh investment cycle. Investors are, for now, keeping the faith as inflation moderates and growth stabilizes. Narendra Modi’s government has avoided grand initiatives but is creating the impression of administrative competence. The wrinkle in this nicely spun tale of emerging market redemption remains the...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Stagnation, Default Or Devaluation

    Last week’s Jackson Hole meeting helped to highlight a simple reality: unlike other parts of the world, the eurozone remains mired in a deflationary bust six years after the 2008 financial crisis. The only official solutions to this bust seem to be a) to print more money and b) to expand government debt. Meanwhile, Europe’s already high (and rising) government debt levels and large budget deficits raise the question whether we should worry...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Is Korea Turning Japanese?

    History may not repeat itself, but as we know it does sometimes rhyme. Today South Korea is burdened with heavy private sector debts and dismal demographics—the same macroeconomic forces that plunged Japan into its lost decades. In the absence of any major consolidation in the bloated and inefficient domestic service sector, and without any large scale clean up of non-performing loans, Korea will face similar deflationary pressures as the...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    The US Dollar Breaks Out

    Is there a more consensus trade then being bullish on the US dollar? With a) the US economy outperforming those of Europe and Japan, with b) the Federal Reserve looking to withdraw some of the extra-ordinary stimulus that it has deployed in the past five years, just as the need for the European Central Bank, and possibly the Bank of Japan, to become a lot more aggressive becomes ever starker, with c) the Pentagon limiting its defense spending...

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Iron Ore’s Battle Of Attrition

    Iron ore prices in China are down almost 30% this year, and have languished below US$100 a ton for three months—an unusually protracted downturn in a volatile market. Last year I argued that the iron ore price would stay around US$120 for the next three years, with a relatively high floor set by the rising production cost of Chinese ore, and the reluctance of global miners to invest in new supply capacity. Is this year’s price plunge a temporary...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Five Corners (20 August): Velocity Of Money

    In the latest bi-weekly review of global economics and investment we focus on the velocity of money and the credit cycle in the major economic regions: Overview: Charles Gave notes with concern the downturn in the Gavekal Velocity Indicator. US: Will Denyer looks where the US is in the credit cycle and argues it looks more like 2004 than 2007. Europe: François Chauchat argues that contrary to popular belief Europe’s long credit crunch is...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Spectacular Eur-Asian Divergence

    Financial markets are nothing if not a real time survey of real people playing with real money. Hence, no one can seriously doubt that markets contain a huge amount of highly pertinent information. The problem for the investor is how can this be profitably extracted?

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    Japanese Reflation's Broken Link

    Japan’s gross domestic product shrank -6.8% in annualized terms in the second quarter; a reflection of the contraction in domestic demand following the hike in Japan’s sales tax from 5% to 8% at the beginning of April. The good news is that the headline figure was not quite as bad as economists expected. But the list of bad news is a long one. The second quarter saw the biggest decline in output since the 2011 earthquake, and the slowdown in...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    5C Asia: Japan, India And The Velocity Of Money

    There are two ways to look at the evolution of monetary velocity: (1) how much additional GDP can you get for each additional unit of currency circulating in the economy; and, (2) market responses to the change of velocity, which can be measured by, for example, bank shares’ relative performance. The latter can be viewed as a more timely velocity indicator.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Momentum Shifts From Europe To Asia

    European equity markets have taken a beating in the last 50 days. The average eurozone stock is down 6%, while Portugal and Austria are both down more than 10%, putting them in correction territory. Germany and France are not far behind, down almost 9%. However, this broad underperformance masks a lot of intense individual pain: 20% of eurozone companies have fallen more than 20%. As always with a large sell-off, there are two approaches one...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Five Corners (6 August): Central Bank Balance Sheets

    In our latest bi-weekly review of global economics and investment, we examine the bloated balance sheets of the world’s major central banks. We ask what exit strategies the central bankers have prepared to slim them down again, or whether expanded balance sheets are here to stay. If so, how will central bank bloat will affect investors in the coming years? Overview: Anatole Kaletsky argues persuasively that the US Federal Reserve and other...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Growth & Markets Monthly (August 2014)

    This month saw a further improvement, albeit a small one, in our growth indicators. Risk appetite, on the other hand, now looks much more mixed compared with last month’s strong positive tendency. Also noteworthy is the recent spike in our diffusion index of US CPI components, which highlights the abatement of US deflationary pressures. On the asset side, government bonds continue to look expensive, especially in France. Meanwhile, equities are...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Wider Spreads And Weaker Equities

    Over the past five weeks, the spread between US high yield debt and US Treasuries has widened by almost a full percentage point. Admittedly, this move could be dismissed as an overdue correction after spreads for high yield debt narrowed to unsustainably tight levels. Unfortunately, it seems that equities markets are no longer in such a forgiving mood. In the past week, the widening of high yield spreads has weighed heavily enough on equity...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    5C Japan: No Turning Back

    Caught in a liquidity trap and beset with chronic deflation, Japan cannot rebound because real interest rates are too high. To escape the trap, policymakers must reverse expectations of price declines. This is why a credible Bank of Japan, fully committed to its 2% inflation target, is the first plank of Abenomics.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Monetary Policy Is No Threat To Markets

    In the first two articles of this series, I argued that the US economy has now clearly reached ‘escape velocity’ and that, with little prospect of a renewed recession in the next year or two, investors are forgetting their earlier fears of secular stagnation and becoming increasingly confident about the extraordinary monetary and fiscal policies adopted by all the major world economies (see The Case For A Structural Bull Market and The Global...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    5C Overview: Central Banks Are Happy With Their Balance Sheet Bloat

    With the end of the US Federal Reserve’s QE3 round of quantitative easing scheduled for October, this is a good time to consider the ‘exit strategies’ central banks might follow as they think about normalizing monetary policy. While the technicalities of each country’s monetary management are different, there are two broad questions that all central banks have to answer: Can monetary policy rely solely on interest rate management, as in the pre-...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    No Honeymoon For Indonesia's Jokowi

    In the next few days Indonesia’s Constitutional Court will rule on a challenge mounted against Joko Widodo’s victory in this month’s presidential election. All the indications are that the court will dismiss the complaint filed on Friday by defeated candidate Prabowo Subianto, who alleges massive electoral fraud. Yet if the court does throw out Prabowo’s challenge for lack of evidence as expected, Joko’s difficulties will not be over. In all...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Playing Emerging Asia's New High

    Some 18 months after US stocks regained the ground lost in the 2008-09 crisis, emerging Asia has finally made a new high. Yesterday the MSCI emerging Asia US dollar total return index closed above its 2007 peak for the first time, having risen 10% year-to-date. That makes emerging Asia the best performing major regional market in the world so far in 2014. If you invest equally in the countries in the index’s universe, your gains are even better...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Future History Of China’s Deleveraging

    If there’s one thing almost everyone can agree about on China, it’s that its rise in debt has been very rapid, and is not sustainable. But where does China go from here? In this chartbook, we use historical examples to think about how a future deleveraging process might occur.

    14
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    Gavekal Research

    Buy Indian Dips

    A week ago India’s much hailed reforming government unveiled its first budget and everyone yawned. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh got it about right when he said that the new finance minister’s program could just as easily have been presented by his own maligned Congress-led administration. For investors the problem was the absence of a credible fiscal consolidation plan or a road map to curtail boondoggles such as India’s vast subsidy...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Emerging Asia's Leverage Problem

    Aggregate debt levels in Asia (ex-China) are back to levels seen just prior to the 1997-98 Asian Financial Crisis. This does not pose a near term macro-economic risk since most Asian economies have large foreign currency reserves and run flexible currency regimes. Indeed, this was the mercantilist lesson most Asian economies learnt from the late '90s crisis. Still, Joyce and KX show in this chart book that the likes of China, South Korea...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    5C Asia: The Most Mispriced Risk

    When we are asked what is the most under-appreciated risk in Asia, one asset class jumps out: Japanese government bonds.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Five Corners (9 July 2014)

    Nothing should stay the same and so we are tweaking the format of Five Corners to make the whole report focus on a key thematic issue that impacts all major centers of the global economy. We kick off with an in depth look at inflation which is again rearing its head even as the specter of deflation continues to haunt the most growth-challenged regions.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Political Trigger In Tokyo?

    Japan’s investment outlook was transformed in 2013 after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promised a program for national renewal that relied upon “three arrows”: huge monetary expansion, fiscal stimulus, and structural reform. Phase one aimed to enrich Japan’s corporate sector through a yen devaluation and investors did not have to be geniuses to pick the coming equity rerating. The problem is that this profit-driven equity rally is stretched, and the...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Growth & Markets Monthly (July 2014)

    Having watched our growth indicators soften over recent months, we are now witnessing a momentum shift since our economic activity indicators have perked up markedly. Moreover, the velocity of money has risen rapidly, while our price indicators continue to show lessening deflationary pressure. Hence, it was not surprising to see that bonds are getting more expensive. Unfortunately, equities are not cheap, and this makes it a challenging...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Indonesia's Make Or Break Election

    When Indonesians head to the polls on Monday to elect a new president, voters will decide what looks on the surface like a contest between two very different front-running candidates. On one hand, they have ‘son of the soil’ modernizer Joko Widodo, or Jokowi as he is popularly known. On the other, there is self-styled strongman and former army general Prabowo Subianto. Yet though the election appears to be a clear choice between much-needed...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    5C Overview: Gold & inflation

    An investor who bought gold upon Arthur Burns’ arrival at the Federal Reserve and held it up until the day Ben Bernanke announced the second round of quantitative easing would have done about as well as someone who bought-and-held US equities (using the S&P 500 total return as the proxy). Both assets compounded at a little over 10% a year between February 1970 and August 2011. Amusingly, most gold-bugs reacted to QE2 (and then QE3) with glee...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    5C Asia: Cost-Push Versus Demand-Pull Inflation

    All inflation is not equal, and it is important to distinguish between the two types of price pressure: demand-pull inflation and cost-push inflation.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    An Indian Rupture

    For decades there has been a familiar rhythm to Indian policymaking. In the wake of an exogenous shock such as poor monsoon rains (the case this year) or an oil price spike, the cry goes up that vulnerable groups must be protected. Prices are controlled either through an expansion of subsidy programs or explicit trade barriers. The central bank may warn of inflation threats, but the political discourse is dominated by industrialists carping...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Perilous Seas

    Across Asia, Xi Jinping’s much-vaunted “Chinese Dream” looks more and more like a Chinese nightmare. Last week, China unveiled an official map showing the South China Sea as an integral part of the country. The new map, which is designed to enhance awareness of China’s territorial claims stretching down the coasts of Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines, deepens concern that the China Seas are beginning to resemble central Europe in the early...

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Buried Krugerrands Or Outperforming Emerging Markets

    Approaching 2014’s half-way mark most major asset classes have returned between 3% and 6% over the year to date. There are two outliers: Japan, which has lagged other markets following 2013’s gains, and precious metals, which have outperformed. So far this year gold is up 9.4%.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Five Corners (25 June)

    In the latest bi-weekly review of global economics and investment:

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Rising Velocity Is Driving Markets

    As we approach the half-year mark for 2014, it is remarkable how well asset markets have performed this year. Pretty much every major asset class has registered decent gains. US bonds? The long end of the US government bond market is up by 10%, even after the recent mild sell-off. Commodities? The CRB index is up by 8.6%. Global equities? The world MSCI is up by 6%.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    5C Asia: The Liquidity Risk Premium On Emerging Market Debt

    The quest for yield in a low volatility, low interest rate world has provided a favorable environment for capital flows into emerging markets. Last year’s ‘taper tantrum’ temporarily interrupted the momentum, but course corrections by EM policymakers coupled with promises of “lower for longer” from developed market central banks helped investors to shrug off their concerns. In May, portfolio flows into emerging markets reached their highest...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Indonesia Ups The Ante On Resource Nationalism

    The China-driven resource boom over the past decade has created great wealth in developing countries with big mining industries. It has also created a move toward “resource nationalism,” as countries seek to capture more of the value of their natural resources by clamping down on exports of raw ores and forcing investment in domestic smelting and processing plants. The poster child for this movement is Indonesia, which banned exports of many...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Japan's Momentum Trade

    The combination of a broadly stable macro-economic backdrop, plentiful central bank liquidity and low market volatility has been kind to investors this year. The year-to-date performance of most major equity markets has converged, regardless of any divergence in fundamentals or profit trends. If nothing rocks the boat, there is no reason to believe that the current momentum cannot continue. In that case, will Japan, which lagged other major...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    New York Seminar June 2014 - Louis, Anatole & Andrew

    We held our summer seminar in New York on June 10, with Anatole, Louis and Andrew offering their take on the state of the world economy and financial markets. We were also joined by Henrik Christensen who is director of Robotics at Georgia Tech. Audio recordings of their discussions are available below:

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Chinese Bretton Woods?

    Even as it plants offshore oil rigs and rams foreign vessels in disputed waters, China is wooing its neighbors with infrastructure investment. Its next step is to create new multilateral banks whose twin goals are to allay fears about Chinese expansionism and to provide an alternative to the US-dominated system of development finance.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    5C Overview: Volatility RIP

    Having weathered fears of depression, a systemic euroland failure and most recently the specter of deflation, investors can be excused for their insouciant attitude to risk. We may not be in sunlit uplands, but for the first time since 2008 the global growth trajectory looks fairly secure and the big central banks have their monetary policy settings in sync. Hence, it is not surprising that volatility across most asset classes is making new lows...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    5C Asia: Hop Aboard The Momentum Train

    Far from worrying about policy risks or soft patches in growth, investors suddenly seem to see nothing ahead but clear blue skies—the perfect environment for momentum investing.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Overcoming The Macro Breakdown

    The financial crisis of 2008-2009 heralded a golden age for macro investors. As the wholesale market crash rendered the relative value judgments of stock pickers irrelevant, macro investors enjoyed a boom time—especially ones who had had the foresight to short US housing, global financials, or eurozone peripheral debt. Now, as the crisis recedes further into the rear view mirror, macro investors are struggling to adapt to a world in which...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Growth & Markets Monthly (June 2014)

    Having watched our growth indicators soften over recent months, we are now witnessing a momentum shift since our economic activity indicators have perked up markedly. Moreover, the velocity of money has risen rapidly, while our price indicators continue to show lessening deflationary pressure. Hence, it was not surprising to see that bonds are getting more expensive. Unfortunately, equities are not cheap, and this makes it a challenging...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ: Investment Abroad — The Dragon Steps Out

    China is now the world's third biggest source of outward direct investment, and the things it is buying are rapidly changing. Gone are the days when Chinese outward investment was all about state-owned enterprises buying oil wells and iron ore mines. There are still plenty of state-driven resource deals, but 40% of Chinese direct investment is now conducted by private firms, who are mainly interested in consumer, technology and service...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    India’s Interregnum

    Narendra Modi stands as India’s most powerful prime minister in 30 years with a mandate to pursue a pro-economic growth agenda. The reason to stay with the most compelling trade in emerging markets is that a clear reform impulse has been articulated while the capital spending cycle is showing signs of life. The problem for investors is that key choices on fiscal consolidation and specific reform initiatives may not be announced until a budget...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Five Corners (28 May 2014)

    In the latest bi-weekly review of global economics and investment:

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Mean Reversion In Japan

    You did not have to be an investment genius to make a positive call on Japanese equities last year. That was because corporates stood to win from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s chosen program, regardless of whether it was successful or not. Enriching Japan’s corporate sector, which has high operating leverage and so is sensitive to any yen depreciation, was effectively a transition phase of Abe’s big plan. The hope was that richer companies would...

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    The Earnings Expectations Paradox

    When it comes to global equity investment, all markets are not equal. Over the last couple of years, investors have evolved distinctly different attitudes about how to discount trends in profit growth in each of the four major equity market regions.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Why Thailand Is The Odd Man Out

    In the mid-1990s Thailand’s over-built and excessively geared economy provided a clear early warning signal for the troubles about to engulf the rest of emerging Asia. But having now suffered two military coups in eight years Thailand is less a bellwether than a regional outlier that seems to have given up serious development in favor of a struggle to subdivide existing wealth and power. The good news from Asia is that ascendant political...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    5C Overview: Keeping China In Check

    How much should we worry about China’s increasing assertiveness beyond its borders? Provocations continue to pile up in maritime Asia, most recently a spat over a Chinese oil rig in what Vietnam considers to be its waters. And last week’s Xi Jinping-Vladimir Putin summit in Shanghai, capped by the signing of a long-delayed US$400 bn gas pipeline deal, conjured the specter of a Sino-Russian concert enabling both countries to defy the United...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    5C Asia: Less Confidence In A More Confident Bank of Japan

    The message from Haruhiko Kuroda is clear: the Bank of Japan has done enough to reach its 2% inflation target. By extension, we should expect weak yen policies to take a back seat in driving future reflation.

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    How To Lose The Eastern Front

    Russia, it appears, has emerged victorious in Ukraine. After the unofficial referendums organized by pro-Russian groups in Ukraine’s eastern regions, Kiev knows it must negotiate with the separatists to avoid national disintegration. A deal on autonomy for parts of Donetsk and Luhansk will have to be made on terms acceptable to Vladimir Putin.

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    India: Stay Or Go?

    The world’s largest democratic election is all over, bar the shouting, and results will be announced tomorrow. Polls point to a decisive win for the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party which is pro-business and promises a clean sweep of policy. Equity investors have duly jumped on the bandwagon since India is one of the few emerging markets with a decent growth story. But with the market having consistently made new highs over the last...

    1
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    The Case For (Some) Emerging Markets

    Investors in emerging markets need to focus on three main things: nominal GDP growth in US dollar terms, valuations and leverage. The problem is that over the last decade, most EMs enjoyed very strong nominal growth in US dollar terms, in which valuation and currency played a bigger role than real growth. That game has run its course and the key to success in the coming period is identifying those markets with strong real growth prospects that...

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    Five Corners (14 May 2014)

    In the latest bi-weekly review of global economics and investment:

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    EM Carry Trade Looks Vulnerable

    Over the last two months, emerging markets have delivered a handsome rally, with the MSCI emerging markets index recording a 7% return in US dollar terms, compared with just 1% for the developed markets. The trouble is that this rally has been driven primarily by investors’ growing enthusiasm for carry trades in an environment of declining global volatility. Experience teaches this is an engine which can all too suddenly be thrown into reverse

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    After The Repositioning

    After publishing each Quarterly Strategy Chart Book Gavekal partners and analysts book as many client visits as possible, to present the materials and also get fresh ideas for the coming months. And so having just gone around the world to meet investors, we were reminded of Groucho Marx’s words that “I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn’t it”. Indeed, most of the clients we met with (but especially those who had had a perfectly...

    2
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    5C Asia: Hong Kong’s Diminished Prospects

    Even as Chinese growth has ebbed, Hong Kong has defied the downturn. The territory effectively has full employment and real wages have risen nicely. Over the last year, hot money flows continued to enter Hong Kong and tourists from across the border kept arriving. This, at least, was the case until recently when cracks started to appear in the prosperity of China’s preferred haven for tax-avoidance and luxury shopping.

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    A Supply-Sider’s View Of Japan

    Two years ago respectable opinion had it that the United Kingdom’s economic outlook was pretty bleak. After all, the Conservative-led government had adopted a policy of public spending cuts, which every right minded person knows must lead to insufficient aggregate demand and a descent to oblivion. My somewhat unfashionable take was that these spending cuts had laid the ground for a sustainable pick-up in private sector activity (See An...

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    Why Are Bond Yields So Low?

    As long as men continue to age, they will probably complain that “things were better in their day” and that “the world is going to hell in a hand-basket”. Ignore for a moment that the proportion of undernourished people fell from 23% of the developing world in 1990-92 to under 15% in 2010-2012, that more than two billion people gained access to improved sources of drinking water in the past decade, and that never in history have so many people...

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    Growth & Markets Monthly (May 2014)

    For a second straight month, our growth indicators have weakened, suggesting the possibility of another summer lull. The outlier is US employment, as evidenced by last week’s very decent non-farm payroll report. We were also intrigued by the recent pick-up in US 5-year inflation expectations, which does not seem to fit with the narrative of constant deflationary pressures. Combined with recent US wage growth, could this imply that there is a...

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    Five Corners (30 April 2014)

    In the latest bi-weekly review of global economics and investment, Arthur Kroeber considers the implications of Asian deflation. Will Denyer & Tan Kai Xian consider the strong rental market for US homes and wonder what this means for the broader housing sector. Nick Andrews looks up close at reduced liquidity in the eurozone’s financial system. Chen Long looks at a favorable convergence between national GDP numbers and the growth claims made...

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    What Ails The Dollar

    A curious brew of cheap money, a grinding cyclical recovery and “new economy” verisimilitude has helped drive Wall Street to new highs. And yet even as equity investors have scaled the wall of worry, the dollar has remained uninspired. The unit arguably started a structural upswing in 2008 but the recent performance has been lackluster with the DXY index at the bottom of its trading range.

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    Indian Reform: Facts On The Ground

    When Raghuram Rajan took over the reins of India’s central bank last September he faced a weakening economy and persistent capital outflow. His contrarian solution was to jack up interest rates and propose an accelerated internationalization of the long cosseted rupee. This program was not exactly popular, but it seems to have worked. Eight months on India’s foreign exchange reserve buffer is back above US300bn and the currency has strengthened...

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    The Japanese Value Trap

    Equities around the world have enjoyed a modest rebound over the last week, with encouraging signs of buy-on-dips behavior and the leadership rotation that we believe was the main driving force behind early April’s sharp setback (see The New Rotation Into Value). But there is one major market that is a glaring exception to the generalized shift from growth to value: Japan.

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    5C Asia: A Low Beta Korean Won

    The Korean won has defied expectations over recent months by retaining its strength despite last year’s upward spike in emerging market volatility. This resilience confounds traditional perceptions of Korea as a high beta market. Some observers have even argued that the won is now behaving like a classic safe haven currency.

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    5C Overview: How Much More Asian Deflation?

    The latest news from Asia’s biggest economies is uninspiring. China’s growth grinds lower, and the renminbi has declined by 3% against the US dollar since January. Japan is suffering the anticipated effects of this month’s consumption tax hike, and Anatole has predicted that the BoJ will respond later this year with a fresh round of money-printing which could push USD/JPY well above its established level of 102 to the dollar.

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    Five Corners (16 April 2014)

    In the latest bi-weekly review of global economics and investment, Charles Gave explains why it still pays to run a balanced portfolio, despite the market’s rotation. Will Denyer argues that outlook for US consumption remains favorable, even though consumer cyclicals have taken a beating. François-Xavier Chauchat examines the reasons behind the euro’s persistent strength. Andrew Batson looks at Beijing’s new focus on jobs and finds the...

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    5C Overview: Why A Balanced Portfolio

    Last August I suggested moving from a fully invested position in equities to a “balanced portfolio” with equities hedged by high quality government bonds. What underlay this recommendation was a simple reality: the global consumer price index had by that point dipped to about 3.3% and the G7 core CPI measure was down to 1.1%.

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    Stay With The JGB Short

    The short JGB trade has a reputation among investors as a widow maker; its devotees live brief unhappy lives and expire early. The prevailing view is that Japan is on the edge of an deflationary abyss. Bank of Japan governor Haruhiko Kuroda appears sanguine for now, but should the economy falter, the market is looking for fresh BoJ support.

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    The Case For Shorting JGBs

    The short JGB trade has a reputation among investors as a widow maker; its devotees live brief unhappy lives and expire early. The prevailing view is that Japan is on the edge of an inflationary abyss. Bank of Japan governor Haruhiko Kuroda appears sanguine for now, but should the economy falter, the market is looking for fresh BoJ support.

    0
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    In Laos, All Roads Lead To China

    Two thousand years ago, in the days of the Roman Empire, it was said that “All roads lead to Rome.” Rome’s might was built on the back of metaled roads constructed by an army of 180,000 legionnaires, who pushed the expansion of the empire to its geographic limits. China’s expansion over its modern-day borders is primarily economic, not military. But as China’s massive domestic road-building program extends over its borders into Southeast and...

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    No Bridgehead Too Far In China’s Expanding Empire

    For centuries, China’s borders expanded and contracted as dynasties rose and fell. With its star in the ascendant, the Chinese empire is expanding once more. This expansion is based on economic power—trade and investment—not military conquest. But it will nevertheless reshape the geopolitics of Asia.

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    London Seminar April 2014 - Anatole, Arthur, Louis & Francois

    We held our spring seminar in London on April 2, with Anatole, Arthur, Louis and Francois offering their take on the state of the world economy and financial markets. Audio recordings of their discussions are available below:

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    Growth & Markets Monthly (April 2014)

    Please find the latest monthly review of our models and indicators. In this edition we note two important changes. First, our growth indicators have taken a turn for the worse, and second our indicators on risk appetite have deteriorated. Since we have seen no significant rises in market spreads, this is probably more a sign of a slightly overextended rally, then a real erosion of financial conditions. Could the rally in risk assets be about to...

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    Bet On Europe Vs The US-EM Axis

    Following decades of European economic integration, euro coins and notes were introduced with great fanfare in January 2002. Equity investors barely noticed as their attention was focused on the emerging trans-Pacific economic relationship between the US and China. Initially, this axis relied on the buying power of the US consumer and the production capabilities of the Chinese factory lands. But as the decade wore on this simplified “ChinAmerica...

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    How To Treat The Fall In Velocity

    Debate continues to rage in our office as to the sustainability of the US economic recovery. On the plus side of the ledger, we can book factors such as decent bank loan growth (both for households and corporates), rising wage growth, falling unemployment and solid business surveys. On the negative side, we find a weakening housing sector (which has been the lynchpin of the US recovery), intensifying disinflationary pressure, and long bond...

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    Will Thailand Ever Smile Again?

    Despite having suffered more than a dozen coups since adopting a constitutional monarchy in 1932, Thailand has largely been a model development story. Annual growth averaged more than 7.5% between 1970 and 1996, and then around 5.5% in the 1998-08 post Asian crisis period. So although the latest political standoff in Bangkok suggests that a deeply divided country is becoming ungovernable, the feeling is also that we’ve been here before—some kind...

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    5C Asia: Cyclical Prospects Favor India Over Indonesia - Udith Sikand & Joyce Poon

    Differences in the way macroeconomic adjustment has affected Brazil, India, Indonesia, South Africa and Turkey have shown that lumping disparate economies together with tags like the “Fragile Five”, “BRICS” or “MINT” does little to illuminate the risk-reward trade-off for EM investors.

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    What Happened To The Asia Beta-Bounce?

    Identifying an Asian upturn or downturn used to be straight forward. One just had to look at cyclical indicators in the developed economies, because Asia would be sure to follow. Yet the bounce in Asian exports promised by recent business surveys in the West has failed to materialize. China, Korea, Indonesia, Thailand—these and other Asian countries have released disappointing trade data so far this year. This is worrisome on a number of levels...

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    One Last Flicker Before The Japan Trade Goes Out

    Most of us at Gavekal have been enthusiastic devotees of Abenomics since late 2012. But Anatole suddenly showed his true Keynesian colors by turning negative on Japan in September, when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced his decision to implement a controversial fiscal tightening planned by the Ministry of Finance (MoF) from April 2014. And indeed, the Nikkei has underperformed the S&P 500 by 15% since the consumption tax was announced on...

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    Indonesia's Political Lottery

    If global investors were looking for a reason to go back into Indonesia’s hard-hit market, Joko Widodo has supplied it. The immensely popular governor of Jakarta, who is widely perceived to be a reformer and an efficient administrator, has been confirmed as his party’s nominee in the presidential elections to be held in July this year.

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    The Sword Is The Axis Of History

    As Anatole recently argued, we can all breathe a sigh of relief that the tussle over the Crimea has likely been resolved without serious bloodshed and at minimal cost (see All Over Bar The Annexation). But in the longer term it is clear that these events may cast a long shadow over international relations for years to come. Indeed, as British politician Ernest Bevin famously said, “don't open this Pandora’s box, it is full of Trojan horses...

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    5C Asia: Japan - Politics vs Economic Reality

    There is, theoretically, a virtuous cycle of growth embedded in Abenomics. Japanese companies are making more money and are expected to share the wealth through wage increases. This in turn would boost inflation expectations, consumption and aggregate demand. As growth veers away from a dependency on external demand, Japan’s revitalization will become sustainable.

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    Japan’s Self-Defeating Mercantilism

    In the 16 months since Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe launched his bold plan to reflate Japan’s shrinking economy the yen has depreciated by 22% against the dollar, 28% against the euro and 24% against the renminbi. The hope was to stimulate trade and push the current account decisively into the black. Yet the reverse has occurred. Japan’s external position has worsened due to anemic export growth and a spiraling energy import bill: in...

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