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    Gavekal Research

    The World's New Tax Haven

    In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, there was a sense that the systemic failures it revealed would spark a radical overhaul of the global financial architecture. Eight years on, that has not happened: an exception is perhaps offshore finance. The US led the way with its Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), which targets US citizens with footloose money. A more ambitious initiative was launched in 2009 by the G20; it aimed for...

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research October Call

    Will Denyer presented a newly minted dynamic asset allocation tool which was developed from an ROIC-based framework that has helped us to better map and predict US economic cycles. He then answered listener questions on these themes.

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    Gavekal Research

    India’s Race To The Top

    What do Apache helicopters and one-fifth of the world’s vaccines have in common? They are manufactured in India’s Telangana state. How about Apple, Google and Uber? They are all opening their largest development bases outside the US in Hyderabad, the state capital, following in the footsteps of Facebook and Microsoft, which have their head India offices there. Amazon, too, is setting up its second-largest global delivery base in the city. And...

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    Gavekal Research

    Staring Into The Abyss

    Since Rodrigo Duterte became president of the Philippines in May, he has sanctioned the extra-judicial killing of some 3,600 petty criminals and drug users, graphically insulted the US president, favorably compared himself to Hitler, and threatened to switch his country’s allegiance to China and Russia. As he has ripped up behavioral norms for democratic heads of state, investors have yanked out at least US$500mn of capital over the last two...

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    Gavekal Research

    The Gavekal Monthly: What Price On A Trump Victory?

    Markets seem sanguine about the prospect of a Donald Trump victory in next month's US presidential election—too sanguine. Expert opinion gives Hillary Clinton a 75% chance of winning. But remember that four months ago in the UK, expert opinion discounted polls showing a strong chance of Brexit, and the experts were proved wrong. And the consequences of a Trump win are so huge and potentially destabilizing that even a 25% chance means...

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    Gavekal Research

    That Sinking Feeling

    You almost have to feel sorry for poor Haruhiko Kuroda. Just over a week after the Bank of Japan governor announced his intention to overshoot the central bank’s 2% inflation target, it is painfully obvious that investors believe he will fall short. That much is clear from the Japanese government bond market. At last week’s meeting the BoJ announced that from now on it will tailor its JGB purchases to target a 10-year yield of zero. In the days...

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    Gavekal Research

    Modi Finds His Mojo

    India, according to its many skeptics, will never change. It is too messy, too unwieldy—perhaps too democratic—to emulate China as an engine of global growth. For all the hoopla that greeted Narendra’s Modi election in 2014, very little changed for the better in Modi’s first two years in charge: his new government failed to pass its “big bang” reforms, banks stopped lending, and investment slumped. Critics accused Modi of being all talk and no...

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    Gavekal Research

    Singapore Seminar—September 2016

    Audio and video from the latest Gavekal seminar in Singapore is available here. Louis Gave explains why financial markets have recently behaved predictably, and why that is about to change. Andrew Batson explains why Chinese policy making is in a holding pattern until next year's party congress is settled. Udith Sikand explains why this year's emerging market outperformance is likely to continue, as bonds and especially equities have...

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    Gavekal Research

    Neil Newman: BoJ Policy Meeting In A Nutshell

    After the Bank of Japan’s announcement earlier today of quantitative easing “with yield curve control”, Neil delivers a quick-fire video assessment of the new policy slant, and what it will mean for markets and the broader Japanese economy.

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    Gavekal Research

    Don’t Misread The BoJ’s Signals

    The monetary policy committees of both the Federal Reserve and the Bank of Japan meet tomorrow. But whereas the Fed faces a simple binary call—either raise rates or don’t—the decision confronting the Bank of Japan is more complex.

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    Gavekal Research

    The End Of A Bubble?

    Ask three economists for the definition of a financial bubble, and you will be lucky to get fewer than four different answers. Even in our little shop, we like to make distinctions between bubbles in productive assets (US railroads, the internet, fiber optic cables, shale gas wells...) and bubbles in unproductive assets (gold, tulips, Japanese land, Florida condos…). We also like to make distinctions on how bubbles are financed: equity (good) or...

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    Gavekal Research

    The ECB And BoJ: Brothers Disarmed

    The combination of negative interest rates and quantitative easing is not working as central banks had hoped. Yesterday European Central Bank president Mario Draghi conceded that more than two years after introducing negative rates and 18 months after commencing asset purchases, the ECB is no closer to hitting its 2% inflation target than when it first adopted its unconventional policies. Although headline inflation is set to tick up over the...

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    Gavekal Research

    Gavekal Research Monthly Conference Call — September 2016

    In the inaugural Gavekal Research monthly conference call, Louis, Anatole and Arthur addressed the global growth environment and offered asset allocation suggestions.

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    Gavekal Research

    Yes, Those Indian Growth Numbers Are For Real

    China has long been the whipping boy of skeptics who claim its growth numbers can’t be trusted. Data denialists got a fat new target in 2015 when India adopted a new set of national accounts that magically bumped up its GDP growth by 1.5 percentage points to over 7%, vaulting it past China as the world’s fastest growing big economy. This seemed just a bit too good to be true. Is India’s growth for real, or just a mirage conjured up by...

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    Gavekal Research

    A Better G-20 Communiqué

    Another year, another G-20, another yawn. Though the group of the world’s 20 biggest economies was useful in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, it has since degenerated into another global drawing room where leaders explain to one other how the world would be a better place if only it were a better place. This was a missed opportunity.

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    Gavekal Research

    India’s Quiet Revolution

    Last week India announced a partial liberalization of its debt and currency markets, which should open up the economy to more long term foreign capital. Such money is sorely needed to finance an estimated US$1trn of infrastructure spending over the next five years. While India has a fairly open equity market, debt issuance has been tightly controlled and banks account for some 80% of total financing across the economy. The issue is whether banks...

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    Gavekal Research

    Real Yields Still Favor A Strong Yen

    Haruhiko Kuroda didn’t quite say he will do “whatever it takes” to push up inflation expectations, but he did the next best thing. Speaking at Jackson Hole on Saturday, the Bank of Japan governor promised “to take additional easing measures without hesitation”. Declaring there is “ample space” to expand the size and the scope of the BoJ’s asset purchases, as well as to push short term interest rates further into negative territory, Kuroda...

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    Gavekal Research

    The Falling Natural Rate Is No Mystery

    As the high priests of global central banking congregate in Jackson Hole, much of the chatter ahead of the meeting has concentrated on the “mystifying” fall over recent years in the natural rate of interest, and possible reasons why it should have declined to such an extent. Having spent the last ten years attempting to apply the economic theories of the great 19th century Swedish economist Knut Wicksell, I have to say I am delighted with the...

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    Gavekal Research

    Indonesia: Bet On Stability Not Growth

    Late last summer, Indonesia looked like a disaster in the making as the worsening commodity bust caused its currency and equity markets to plunge. A sharp fall in exports had caused economic growth to crater, while high inflation limited the scope for monetary easing. It was a time for strong leadership and decisive action, yet President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo seemed weak and ineffectual. A year on and much has changed with economic growth up,...

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    Gavekal Research

    Demographic Dividend Or Demographic Nightmare?

    Among the Herculean challenges facing the government of India, job creation ranks first. Simply put, the number of new jobs is not keeping up with economic growth—a huge problem in a country where half the population is aged below 25. India needs to create roughly 8mn new jobs every year to absorb new entrants into the labor force. In addition, it needs to create more opportunities both for farmers seeking better-paying non-agricultural work and...

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  • Gavekal Research

    Video: Indian Growth And Demographics

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    Gavekal Research

    India’s Enhanced Central Bank

    Louis is fond of quoting Lenin that there are “decades when nothing happens and weeks when decades happen”. Given India’s generally sclerotic pace of institutional change, these seem to be revolutionary times that will dictate the policymaking framework for years to come. Last week saw parliamentary approval granted for a national goods and services tax that should spur a genuinely common market, while lawmakers this weekend signed-off on an...

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    Gavekal Research

    India’s Great Leap Forward

    India, finally, is on course to become a genuine economic power. Calling it a “Treaty of Rome” moment goes too far, but India’s Goods and Services Tax could prove nearly as significant as the agreement that created the European common market. India has been a strong political state for nearly 70 years, but its fragmented economy prevents goods and many services from moving freely within its borders. The GST promises to create a genuinely common...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Death Throes Of The JGB Market

    While the Japanese government was rolling out its latest stimulus package yesterday—with a headline value of ¥28trn, but only ¥4.6trn of additional fiscal spending this year—investor attention was fixated on the spasms in the JGB market. Having touched a record low of -0.3% last Wednesday, the yield on 10-year JGBs leapt 28bp in just five trading days to hit a four and a half month high of -0.02% yesterday morning. On one level the spike in...

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    The Gavekal Monthly: Shall We Dance?

    In a world in which the Fed shows no inclination to get ahead of the curve on inflation and in which both the ECB and the BoJ are in full quantitative easing mode, investors everywhere are on the hunt for yield. But the chase is a nervous one. Investors are all too aware that equities and bonds are sending conflicting signals, and that the favorable trends that have lifted most assets over the last six months could be disrupted by a sudden spike...

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    Gavekal Research

    The EM Equity Question

    Despite this year’s strong run-up, there remain good reasons to stick with emerging market assets. The twin impact of collapsed borrowing costs amid a renewed global hunt for yield, and greatly reduced exchange rate volatility has been the ideal environment for EM yield curve flattening trades.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Flow Through To EM Equities

    These are strange times for investors with bond yields in big developed markets plumbing new depths on dark concerns about never ending deflation and stagnation. Yet in a clearly related development, US equities are making new highs while corporate- and emerging market-bonds continue to rally.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The JGB Endgame Approaches

    Over the last couple of weeks, the world’s attention has been focused by turns on British politics, Italy’s banking crisis, the US presidential race and most recently, last night’s ghastly events in Nice. It is little surprise then, that a series of three stories from Japan (or perhaps just two and a half) has passed largely under the radar. Taken together, however, these developments bear heavily on the future of the Japanese government bond...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Can ‘Make In India’ Work?

    In September 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched an initiative to transform India from an industrial laggard into a global manufacturing hub. The “Make in India” plan is sorely needed: in 2014, India’s merchandise exports accounted for a paltry 1.7% share of the global total. That was on a par with Taiwan, whose population is smaller than Delhi’s. India relies heavily on imports of consumer goods, especially from China, and runs a large...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    A Fundamental Assault On Freedom

    Of all basic freedoms, one of the most fundamental of all is the freedom of the individual to organize his or her relationship with time. The way we order our affairs with respect to the all too brief time allocated to us on this earth is a profound right that we all should be allowed to exercise unhindered. In short, everyone should be free to choose whether to be an ant or a grasshopper.

    10
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    Gavekal Research

    The Next Monetary Move

    Shinzo Abe was today scheduled to meet with Ben Bernanke, the chief architect of unconventional monetary policy responses following the 2008 crisis, with the issue of Japan’s adoption of so called helicopter money expected to top the agenda. In this piece Joyce asks would Japan do it and more importantly could money drops make any difference in the land of the stagnant price index.

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    Gavekal Research

    Ignore Japan’s Banks At Your Peril

    Any investors contemplating adding to their Japanese equity exposure following Shinzo Abe’s weekend election victory and the subsequent market rally should look closely at the performance of Japanese bank shares. Their signal, argues Joyce, is anything but encouraging.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Positioning For Uncertain Times

    Regular readers will know that Gavekal is a broad church. And while the church choir only occasionally sings in perfect unison, the different singers can often hit harmonies that are all the more powerful for being unexpected. This may be one of those occasions. Yesterday, Anatole, Charles and Louis took part in a conference call in which they laid out their different views of Brexit and what it will mean for the economy and markets of the UK,...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    The Gavekal Monthly: Life After The Brexit Vote

    The world is now a considerably more uncertain place than a month ago. Following the UK’s referendum vote in favor of Brexit, a near-term recession in the UK is more likely than not, the European Union faces the possibility of a renewed economic slowdown, and investors find themselves forced to reassess the probability that Donald Trump will win November’s US presidential election. In this edition of the Gavekal Monthly, our analysts set out to...

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    Gavekal Research

    The Enemy Of My Enemy Is My Friend

    The British prime minister was not the only one thwarted by a vote last week. Despite Narendra Modi’s personal efforts and heavyweight backing from Washington, India failed in its attempt to join the 48-country Nuclear Suppliers Group. It was a bruising setback for Modi, who has spent two years energetically trying to boost India’s global clout. Yet the result itself was less significant than the US support for India in the face of Chinese...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    India’s Reform Agenda After Rajan

    Over the weekend, Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan announced he will not seek an extension of his three-year term, which ends in September. His unexpected decision will dampen sentiment in the near term, as it follows—and was perhaps even precipitated by—a high decibel campaign seeking his ouster by members of India’s ruling BJP. However, fears that the hard-won credibility of the RBI under Rajan will be undermined by the...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Japan As Safe Haven

    Global markets are in a risk-off mood as investors scramble to find a sure thing in an uncertain world. The populist surge in Europe and the US is ending long held “certainties” about the developed democracies, while next week’s Brexit vote could set in train the European Union’s break-up. Ironically, as investors scramble for stable ground, Japan is proving an island of calm, at least for those with an eye to capital preservation. The yen has...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Never Do On Monday What You Wish You’d Done On Friday

    The first rule of bear markets is never to do on Monday what you wish you had done on Friday. During bear markets, the constant stream of negative stories from the media leads to a build-up of anxiety among investors, anxiety that pours out first thing on Monday morning on trading floors everywhere.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    South China Sea Risks

    In the next few weeks the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague will likely rule in favor of the Philippines in its dispute with China over territorial claims in the South China Sea. Beijing’s reaction will show to what extent China is prepared to defy international law to defend what it claims are “core interests”.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    The New Material

    The US$1.8trn global aviation sector shows no sign of slowing—last year passenger numbers rose by 6.5%. The race is on to deliver cheaper, more efficient aircraft. The big winners from this trend may be makers of composite carbon fiber. The market for carbon fiber used in aircraft is set to grow from US$17.3bn in 2014 to US$34.2bn by 2020.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Japan: Twice Bitten, Thrice Shy

    It was a case of twice bitten, thrice shy. This week Shinzo Abe announced he will postpone next April’s planned 2pp increase in Japan’s sales tax until October 2019—a step the prime minister had previously sworn he would only take in a Lehman-scale crisis. Despite Abe’s protestations to the contrary at last weekend’s G-7 meeting, the world economy is facing no such meltdown. Nevertheless, deferring the tax hike makes sense. Previous increases in...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    How Much Geopolitical Risk In Asia?

    With the global economy in the doldrums and most asset markets stuck in neutral, the last thing that is needed is a trade war or an armed confrontation in the world’s most vibrant region, East Asia. The risk of either is low, but inching up.

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  • Gavekal Research

    The Challenge For Equity Markets

    Given high valuations and a rock bottom risk-free rate, it is hard to see US equities moving higher without a pick-up in corporate earnings. Yet with the strong US dollar hurting exporters and domestic economic data coming in weak, US-based firms may struggle to deliver.

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    A New Marginal Buyer Of Japanese Equities

    Thanks in part to erratic monetary policy moves, Japan has slid back to being an irrelevance for global investors. Perhaps that does not matter, as foreigners only account for about 30% of the market while Japan has a vibrant domestic equity scene. Yet, the fact remains that it generally takes fickle gaijin to get excited about Japanese equities for the market to break out—that was the story in 2012-15 as a 50% yen devaluation supercharged...

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    India’s Significant Step Forward

    When Narendra Modi took over as Indian leader nearly two years ago, he promised to deliver higher growth by making the world’s most bureaucratic large economy more business friendly. It has been a hard slog, with a slew of failures along the way: the BJP-led government’s attempts to push through tax, land and labor reforms have all been hobbled by opposition in parliament. But with the passing of a new bankruptcy code last week the fog of...

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  • Gavekal Research

    Asia’s Best Market Reaches A Precipice

    The Philippines has since 2011 morphed into a balanced development story with growth averaging about 6% Growth has been underpinned by robust domestic demand, and it has also benefited from a long period of fairly trouble-free governance so when Filipinos go to the polls on Monday to elect a replacement for the President, much is at stake.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Making Sense Of The Rally In Cyclicals

    By all accounts, 2016 has so far proved to be a challenging year for “market neutral” funds, and “smart beta” strategies, along with various quant funds. Before we have even reached the seasonally-challenging part of the year—sell in May and go away, and all that—a quick glance at year-to-date returns for “low volatility” hedge funds illustrates that the pain is pretty widespread. In a sense, this is surprising; after all, spreads are tighter...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Gavekal Monthly: Glass Half Full Or Glass Half Empty?

    The past month has seen the US dollar seemingly top out, the oil price settle into a trading range and China’s economic outlook stabilize. Emerging markets in particular have bolted higher despite weak global trade, an oversupplied commodity complex and worries about high levels of leverage. In this edition of The Gavekal Monthly we ask a pressing question for EM investors: is the glass now half full, or half empty?

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Can The BoJ Ever Do The Right Thing?

    Another Bank of Japan meeting, another market slump. Yesterday saw investors mortified by a BoJ tease which came to nothing, while in January the same market response followed an activist move to charge a negative interest rate on a small part of banks’ reserves. In response to the disappointment the yen soared against the US dollar with its biggest daily move in seven years, while the ensuing six hours saw a 7% peak-to-trough move in Nikkei...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Asian Plowshares Into Swords

    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe invested time and prestige in a failed bid to supply Australia with 12 new attack submarines and service them for the next 50 years. It was announced yesterday that the approximate US$38bn contract was scooped by a rival French bidder due to its technical competence, but also after a strong lobbying effort by China which does not want to see a resurgent Japanese defense sector. Canberra’s decision represents a...

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