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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    CEQ: Avoiding The Japan Trap

    Growth is slowing, debt is rising, and the government is openly talking about "zombie companies" in key industries. This is China today, but there are also echoes of 1990s Japan. This issue of the CEQ examines the similarities and differences, and handicaps China’s chances of dodging a Japanese scenario of low-growth, high-debt stagnation.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Gavekal Monthly: The Dollar Weakens; Time To Buy Jewels?

    The big change over the last month is that the US dollar is now falling on a year-on-year basis. This weakness reflects a more abundant international supply of dollars as the US trade balance, ex-China and ex-oil, has swung back into the red after six years in surplus. In this edition of The Gavekal Monthly, Louis outlines why, in such a plentiful-dollar environment, investors should consider prioritizing “jewels” over “tools”.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Beef In Japan’s Budget Bowl

    At ¥97trn, the 2016/17 budget passed by the Japanese parliament on Tuesday was the country’s biggest ever, with accelerating spending increases for welfare, pensions, healthcare, and defense. Yet no one expects Tuesday’s budget to be the end of this year’s fiscal story. Greater than expected increases in tax revenues both from corporations and individuals mean the budget’s reliance on funding from Japanese government bond issuance fell to 35.6...

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    Bridging India’s Financing Gap

    India’s shoddy infrastructure is the stuff of legend. Ranked 87th in the World Economic Forum’s infrastructure quality index, much of it would not look out of place in sub-Saharan Africa. Mumbai’s rickety old airport, famous for its frequent delays and scuttling rats, once told visitors everything they needed to know. Yet the city’s sleek and airy new terminal presents a fresh image: five times bigger than the old airport, it is clean, efficient...

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    No Worries From China's Rebalancing?

    For a country that gained so much from China’s commodity boom, Australia seems quite sanguine about the bust. Mining investment may be falling, but optimism on tourism is rising. So has Australia already switched from the old commodity-driven to the new consumer-driven China? And will this rebalancing also be painless for the rest of the world?

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    Gavekal Research

    Dollar Liquidity And Its Dependents

    One of our long-standing rules of thumb has been that a deteriorating US trade balance is good news for the rest of the world, and especially for emerging markets. It is thus a positive sign that the ex-energy, ex-China trade balance shifted from surplus to a deficit in 2015, sending US$150bn to the world outside of China and the oil exporters. The overall trade balance is likely to continue worsening through late 2017, thanks to the lagged...

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    The Upside In India

    The biggest immediate problem is that corporate India is not investing. Private businesses are over-leveraged and economic demand is weak. Hamstrung by US$130bn of bad loans, India’s state banks aren’t lending. The government has made little headway on the long-running debate over how to clean up their overstretched balance sheets.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Yen And Hard Truths

    The renewed “risk-on” moves of recent weeks has seen a vicious rebound in commodity prices, renewed stability in credit markets and, notably, a decline in the euro, which has fallen back to its early year level against the US dollar. The big outlier in these moves is the Japanese yen, which has become the new strong man of the currency world.

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    Gavekal Research

    Not Yet The Buy Of A Lifetime

    With emerging market equities up 13% over the last three weeks, and outstripping developed markets over the year to date, the notion is gaining traction that after four years of underperformance emerging markets are now “the buy of a lifetime”. Investors should be cautious. While it is indeed possible that emerging markets could continue to rally over the next few months as the US dollar tops out and commodity prices stabilize, the longer term...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Avoidance Of Debt Traps

    Yesterday saw Asia’s two big emerging economies adjust economic settings to deal with their respective debt problems. China cut the required reserve ratio that banks must hold by 50bp and India’s government rolled out a cautious budget. Both countries' actions, while different in nature, reflect sensible responses to testing circumstances.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Gavekal Monthly: Nothing To Fear But Fear Itself

    February saw some stability return to markets as investors got more comfortable with China’s currency policy and became less convinced that the Federal Reserve made a fatal mistake in December by raising interest rates. In this edition of the Gavekal Monthly Anatole assesses the big worries for global investors, while other writers focus on the burning currency questions in the major economic regions.

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    Gavekal Research

    Video: On India's Growth

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    Gavekal Research

    No More Curve To Roll Down

    Since the Bank of Japan introduced a negative deposit rate on January 30, Japanese bank shares have collapsed, falling -21% in yen terms and -15% in US dollars. The first question to ask is this: why were Japanese bank shares derated so dramatically after the policy change? Here are a few explanations, which are not mutually exclusive:

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    More Power To India

    India’s economic expansion is being retarded by an impaired banking system whose non-performing loan ratio, depending on your methodology, is as high as 12%. The biggest contributor to this bad debt mound is the country’s power sector which accounts for about 10% of bank credit (INR6trn) and 20% of “stressed” loans. The irony is that fast growing India—which currently uses about 1010kWh of power per head versus a global average of about 3000kWh—...

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    Gavekal Research

    Japan’s Point Of No Return

    On January 29 the BoJ destabilized Japan's market equilibrium with a poorly communicated shift to negative interest rates. The message received by the market was that Governor Haruhiko Kuroda was making a desperate gamble with the suggestion that the BoJ’s quantitative-easing strategy had run up against key limits.

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    Gavekal Research

    Two Cheers For India

    The end of China’s investment boom means the global economy is seeking a new driver of growth. India’s economy outpaced China’s last year, making it the world’s fastest-growing large economy. Tom and Udith analyze what India must do to fulfill its potential

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    Gavekal Research

    Having Your Cake, And Eating It

    Is the world really facing a 2008-style economic and market meltdown all over again? If it is, then the prescription for investors is clear: load up on long-dated US treasuries in expectation of a continued slide in yields, leaven your portfolio with exposure to gold, and prepare for the apocalypse. But what if the end of days is not imminent? In that case, investors face a trickier call.

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  • Gavekal Research

    Crisis? What Crisis?

    Two weeks ago I published an article dissenting from the near-universal view among my Gavekal colleagues, and also probably among our clients, that the global equity markets had entered a severe bear market (see Is Wall Street In A “Bear Market”?). Since I expressed this relatively optimistic view on January 27, the S&P 500 has fallen another -2.7%, the world MSCI-ex US by -3% and the Nikkei by a whopping -8.5% in yen terms. It may therefore...

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    India’s Cleanup

    The last year has been both the best of times and the worst of times for the world’s fastest growing emerging market. India has gotten inflation under control and reaped a nice dividend from the oil price collapse, resulting in a much improved external position. The pro-growth majority government of Narendra Modi has not delivered “big bang” reforms, but has been generally competent and cut red tape. All of this marks India out as a “survivor”...

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    Gavekal Research

    QSCB: How To Adapt To A Slow-Growth Future

    Growth in the world’s two biggest economies is settling at much lower rates than investors are used to. We predictably struggle to find a neat consensus on what the current macro environment means for asset allocators, but Charles, Louis and Anatole all offer specific portfolio advice.

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    Gavekal Research

    No More Shock Absorbers?

    Things have come to a pretty pass when the heads of two of the world’s three leading central banks come out with all guns blazing in an attempt to persuade markets that they will do whatever it takes and more to ease policy—and their currencies promptly strengthen by two big figures. Yet that is exactly what has happened this week. On Monday Mario Draghi dropped a heavy hint that the European Central Bank is preparing to push interest rates even...

    2
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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...

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