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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: Eight Questions, 11 Answers

    With US equities once again at record highs and the Fed promising to keep rates nailed to the floor, it is time to ask hard questions of the bull market that won’t die. That interrogation is conducted by Charles and Louis Gave. In these strange times, the case for owning anti-fragile assets has rarely been stronger, they contend. Four stand out for having weathered the pandemic and should be treated seriously.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Covid-19's Investment Implications For Asia

    Asia has handled the pandemic decently well and its solid macroeconomic fundamentals means it does not face any kind of solvency crisis. The problem for investors is that the growth outlook remains pretty grim, with limited prospects for a swift improvement. As a result, investors should stick with local currency bonds, which look well set in this environment.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Model Pupil Still Has Problems

    Asia is seen as having had a “good” Covid-19 crisis, as it learnt vital lessons from the 2003 Sars outbreak and its policymakers have been typically more frugal than their Western peers.The problem with such generalizations, argue Udith and Vincent, is that they conceal huge discrepancies among countries.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Perfect Asian Proxy

    The Federal Reserve’s new policy framework seems set to keep US monetary policy easier for longer, with the main victim being the dollar. Asian currencies now look well primed and the question for investors is how to play this trend given the very different experiences being had by regional economies. Fortunately, there is a simple answer: just buy the Singapore dollar.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Japan Drifts Toward Change

    This week Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe went into hospital for medical tests, sparking fresh reports that he may soon step down on health grounds. Should Abe exit the scene it is unclear who will succeed him. If a leadership change becomes unavoidable, Abe will likely play a key role in anointing his successor, so there is unlikely to be a big shift in the “Abenomics” program anytime soon.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Keep Chasing Asian Yield

    As US equities brush up against new highs and safety assets like gold and treasuries sell off, global risk appetite has risen this week. Investors are betting that a vaccine for Covid-19 is at hand and if not, the world is at least learning to live with the virus. A potential beneficiary of this situation may be Asian bond markets, where quite decent yield can still be had.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Building A New System

    On Monday, Charles argued that developed economies’ moves to nationalize both the creation of money and the distribution of credit would degrade the unit-of-account function played by fiat currencies in many markets. Today, he outlines new monetary mechanisms that are likely to replace, or at least live alongside, fiat currencies.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Emerging Markets And The Dollar

    A weakening US dollar is usually an unalloyed positive for emerging markets, so it is no surprise that their assets have rallied since the March 23 bottom in global markets—equities are up 45%, while bonds (both US dollar and local currency-based indexes) have gained 20%. Happy days indeed, but the next stage of the EM rally is likely to be more exacting for investors.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Not All Tech Markets Are Created Equal

    Aided by lockdown effects, Big Tech has rolled out some stellar results. Self-isolating consumers have replaced devices and devoured cloud computing services, spurring a new upgrade cycle. Such demand has boosted Asia’s tech supply chain, but surging hardware demand is about to become more specific, with some segments facing excess supply and others sustained tightness.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: Global Investment Roundtable, July 2020

    In our monthly Global Investment Roundtable, US analyst Tan Kai Xian analyzed the latest US data and assessed the risk that the present economic stall-out turns into a double-dip recession. Arthur Kroeber explained why the Trump Administration has amped up its Cold War rhetoric on China. Anatole Kaletsky tied it all together and tried to explain the recent movements in global markets.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Indian Banks On The Block

    As India's economic and fiscal situation goes from bad to worse, the government is preparing to do the unthinkable: privatize state-owned banks. Ever since the first round of nationalization of private lenders in 1969, the state has kept a tight grip on the financial system. Now it reportedly plans to sell its majority stake in six banks, hoping that an infusion of private capital and managerial skill can nurture them back to health.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Do Bubbles Predict Or Project?

    With the second quarter data season now in full swing, the rebound in equity prices that followed the Covid-19 panic seems to have stalled. So, what happens now? In this piece, Anatole follows up on Louis’s recent efforts to define reasons for the surge in equity values and proposes a fresh explanation centered on the nature of bubbles.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    The Consequences Of ‘Worthless Cash’

    In the second quarter of this year, global equity markets registered their best quarterly performance in two decades. In this, the third paper of a series about the record-breaking rebound, I will consider the possibility that the present growth in monetary aggregates is leading investors to conclude that they have no alternative.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Toward A Renminbi-Gold Standard

    As the international trading and monetary order of the last 50 years continues to crumble, the endgame must be the US dollar losing its lofty position at the apex of the system. Louis and I have argued that this process began in and around 2005 as the US moved to “weaponize” the dollar, thereby ensuring the renminbi’s emergence as a competitor.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Unpicking The Tourism Effect

    Despite a worsening Covid-19 situation in many big developing economies and concerns over central banks’ monetization responses, emerging market investors continue to climb the wall of worry, betting that a putative “second wave” does not stymie the recoveries of developed economies and China. But another challenge for EM economies is a collapse in foreign tourism.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Singapore's Policy Path

    Just days after securing another five years in power at the ballot box, Singapore’s government announced that the island republic’s gross domestic product contracted a worse-than-expected -12.6% year-on-year in the second quarter. However, with large accumulated fiscal reserves, the government has considerable scope to spend in order to stimulate Singapore’s economy.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Oil’s Unintended Consequences

    On Wednesday, ministers from the Opec+ oil exporting cartel will meet to decide whether to begin scaling back their production cuts, but with the prospect of a renewed increase in infection rates, it's safe to say they will adopt a cautious approach. More interesting is whether they will err on the side of excess caution, causing the oil price to rise.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    India’s Pharma Problem

    India, the world’s pharmacy, is in danger of running out of drugs. The source of the danger is India’s deteriorating relationship with China, which provides up to 70% of the bulk ingredients for India’s pharmaceutical industry. Most Indian pharma makers hold at least two months of stock, but if the situation is not resolved, the global pharma supply chain could be disrupted.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Have Equities Become A Bubble?

    Two weeks ago, Louis proposed three possible explanations for the exceptional performance of equity markets in the second quarter, one of which was that investors have taken leave of their senses. In this, the second paper of a three-part series, Louis asks if equity markets are in a bubble. And if so—crucially—what sort of bubble is it?

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    Gavekal Research

    Testing The Boundaries Of QE

    One major emerging market central bank this week sailed boldly into waters others have so far feared to navigate, when Bank Indonesia agreed to buy IDR574trn (US$40bn or 3.6% of GDP) of government bonds in the primary market at below market interest rates, so beginning the direct monetary financing of the Indonesian government’s fiscal deficit.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    India Eyes Up Uncle Sam

    After the border clash with Chinese troops on June 15, India is on the verge of a strategic reorientation towards the United States that will reshape security in Asia. A full formal military alliance with the US would be a red rag to the Chinese bull, and therefore remains unlikely. But India is set to deepen its strategic partnerships with the US and other like-minded countries, especially Japan and Australia. It will also weaken its ties with...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    An Upgrade For The Jeep Portfolio

    In the Covid-19 crisis, Charles’s “Jeep” portfolio, introduced at the end of 2017 and expounded on in mid-2019, has amply demonstrated its worth, outperforming a pure equity portfolio, but with much lower volatility. In this paper, Charles reviews the Jeep portfolio once again, upgrading its components to navigate a post-Covid world.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Japan And Korea Split On China's Rise

    Japan and South Korea have responded differently to China’s attempts to peel them away from the US. Japan continues to align closely with its ally, while South Korea is more ready to accept that China as the regional power. In this report, Yanmei and Dan explore the logic behind these decisions and what they mean for the regional power balance.

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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Singapore Beyond July's Election

    Although a new opposition political party is making Singapore’s current election season somewhat more interesting than past campaigns, the outcome is not in doubt: the ruling People’s Action Party will be confirmed in power for another five-year term. In this short video interview, Vincent looks beyond the July 10 poll to survey the economic and market outlook for the island republic.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Rare Growth Story

    Economic good news stories are almost as rare as hens’ teeth these days—almost, but not quite. On Tuesday Vietnam’s General Statistics Office released its advanced 2Q20 GDP estimate showing 0.36% YoY growth, meaning Vietnam is likely to be one of the very few countries in the world to register any growth at all during the second quarter.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: Global Investment Roundtable, June 2020

    Yesterday Louis Gave, Will Denyer and Andrew Batson joined Arthur Kroeber at the Global Investment Roundtable. They discussed the economic growth and market situation in the US, the state of the Chinese recovery, and what a post-Covid-19 world might look like.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Towards More Of The Same?

    Investors looking at the impressive rally in global equities since mid-March have been forced to come to one of three conclusions: (i) the Covid-19-induced halt to our economies will soon fade away like a bad dream, (ii) equity investors are crazy, or (iii) a growing number of investors think the cash they hold is bound to become worthless.

    13
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Behind The Resilience Of Hong Kong's Markets

    Hong Kong has been beset by a string of bad news, from mass street protests, through Covid-19, to national security legislation of unknown scope and severity imposed by the mainland. Yet you wouldn’t guess it from looking at the city’s property market—the world’s priciest—or its stock market where several mainland tech companies are lining up to do their initial public offerings. Vincent explains the disconnect.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Friendlier Supply Chain Required

    Covid-19 has revealed reliance on Chinese supply chains as a serious national security risk. But shifting manufacturing of vital goods to other parts will be no easy task, especially when alternatives like Vietnam remain so dependent on imports from China themselves. Meanwhile, the pandemic has made other potential locations—notably India—less attractive.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Next EM Policy Mistake

    Since bottoming out in late March, emerging market equities and bond markets have risen significantly. This snap-back stemmed from massive liquidity injections by global central banks. Investors were also cheered by a new paradigm of fused monetary and fiscal policy in economies which rarely had such flexibility. The worry is that this proves a trap for EMs.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: High Stakes In The Himalayas

    In this video, Udith argues that the mayhem seen on the India-China border this week will provide another catalyst for Indian nationalists who want to lessen the country’s reliance on China, even if that means accepting far slower economic growth.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Sticks And Stones May Break A Trade Relationship

    Monday night’s deadly face-off between Indian and Chinese soldiers in the Himalayan mountains threatens to rupture a burgeoning trading relationship between Asia’s two largest nations. Diplomats should be able to deescalate military tensions between the two nuclear-armed countries, but it may be harder to normalize economic ties.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Market’s Perception Of Scarcity

    It is a long-running trope of Gavekal’s research that assets can have value either as tools or as jewels. Tools have efficiency value and jewels have scarcity value. The rule that seemed to govern the relative performance of these over the last 50 or so years appears to have broken down. Louis wonders if this is because investors have reversed their perceptions of what is "scarce" and what is "abundant".

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: Emerging Market Update, June 2020

    In yesterday’s webinar, Udith Sikand, Vincent Tsui and Tom Miller joined Arthur Kroeber to present the general outlook for emerging market assets and currencies, as well as discuss the situation in India.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Froth Comes Off

    Recent weeks saw telltale signs of markets getting silly: firms with no sales reaching U$26bn valuations; airline-focused exchange traded funds jumping from US$50mn in size in January to US$1.5bn, and bankrupt firms becoming five and 10 baggers. This kind of activity may lead to one of three conclusions.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    The Derating Of The Dollar

    In the last four weeks as market participants have reassessed relative risk premiums, they have found it increasingly easy to identify currencies which at the margin are looking more attractive than the US dollar. As a result, the dollar has weakened both against developed world and emerging market currencies. This weakness is acquiring momentum, and may have further to run.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Accelerating Into Inflation

    Long-time readers will be familiar with Gavekal’s Four Quadrants framework, which describes how the economy alternates between periods of inflation and deflation, and cycles from boom and bust and back again, and which we use to illustrate which asset classes investors should favor and when. Although this is one of Gavekal’s oldest frameworks, it provides an extremely useful way to think about how the macroeconomic environment is set to evolve...

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    Picking Winners In Asian Currencies

    A terms of trade improvement and the relative resilience of electronics demand have helped support Asian currencies through the coronavirus crisis despite the deep contraction in world trade. Now as the world emerges from lockdown, any recovery in external demand, coupled with any revival of risk appetite that sees capital flow out of the safe haven US dollar, will be positive for Asian currencies.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    India Macro Update: End Of The Growth Story

    India has experienced a draconian lockdown that could result in output shrinking by -25-45% in the second quarter of the year. The result will be a sharp worsening in the fiscal deficit and a low structural growth rate that leaves India as just another emerging market rather than a growth story to rival China’s. Udith and Tom consider what it means for asset markets.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Case For Commodities

    For most of the last decade, we have been in a period of low investment in the commodity sector. Yet, over the next 20 years the global population will grow by almost 2bn—a 25% increase. Migration into cities will continue, with the world’s urban population growing by almost 50%, creating enormous demand for infrastructure.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: Recovery And Its Risks

    As economies have begun to emerge from their coronavirus lockdowns, there remain two big near-term macro risks that could derail a recovery. On one hand, solid demand on top of massive central bank monetary expansion could fuel rising inflation. On the other, a big round of permanent job losses could dent demand and slow the economic recovery.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    As The World Reopens

    A few weeks ago, I outlined three scenarios that could unfold as the world reopened for business. Since then, it looks like the market is starting to tentatively position scenario #3 in which the world economy rips and inflation rises due to pent-up demand, budget deficits, low oil prices and money printing. This makes sense, but the rotation may soon face a number of challenges.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: Global Investment Roundtable, May 2020

    Yesterday Louis Gave, Charles Gave and Anatole Kaletsky joined Arthur Kroeber at the Global Investment Roundtable. They discussed different scenarios for how and when the world’s major economies can exit the Covid-19 crisis and what it means for investors.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Kitsune Market (Part IV)

    Over recent weeks, Louis has examined in detail nine “Kitsune” tail risks which could blindside financial markets in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis. But in contemplating these tail risks, Louis has been forced to wonder if he has missed the forest for the trees, overlooking perhaps the greatest risk of all for investors: that the 40-year inverse correlation between equities and bonds may be breaking down.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Hong Kong And The Ethic Of Responsibility

    German sociologist Max Weber made the distinction between the ethic of conviction, based on the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, and the ethic of responsibility, based on consequentialist philosophy, a grandchild of Aristotelian logic. The distinction between the two may help investors to determine their response to developments in Hong Kong.

    10
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    Gavekal Research

    Saudi's Peso Problem

    Two weeks ago in early May, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency issued an unusual statement. Sama, it insisted, is committed to maintaining the Saudi riyal’s exchange rate peg at SAR3.75 to the US dollar, and has the resources to do so. Stress signals don’t come much clearer.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Pressure Points In Emerging Markets

    Emerging markets have broadly weathered the liquidity squeeze that threatened to engulf them in March, however Udith is not convinced they are out of the woods. Growth shocks associated with the Covid-19 crisis mean that many smaller markets on the frontier are at risk of debt defaults, which could end up spurring forced selling by foreign investors.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Surviving A US$100bn Funding Gap

    Developing economies are struggling from reduced trade and harder access to capital. They also face a US$109bn cut in remittance income this year as construction sites in the rich world close, ships stay in port and restaurants are shuttered. This could spur a spiral of poverty and protest that ends with debt defaults that even suck in well-managed emerging markets.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    India's Mini Bazooka

    India’s finance minister yesterday outlined a US$265bn fiscal package to save the economy. It looks to be just enough to stop a slide into depression but not much more. A worrying factor in its response is an apparent lurch towards protectionism, which would undermine any gains made from much-needed reforms to land and labor markets

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The World Has Changed, Quick! Buy More Of The Same

    As countries around the world, and some US states, are starting to emerge from their enforced Covid-19 hibernation, investors have to choose between one of three potential outcomes. Either the virus re-emerges and causes new lockdowns, the post-Covid-19 world is not growth friendly, or pent-up demand and supportive policies leads to global growth ripping.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: The Kitsune Market — Tail Risks In An Unnatural Time

    Most of the world’s big economies have been shut down in response to a pandemic disease—a truly unprecedented event. This led to extreme market moves and also generated an unusually large array of tail risks. Louis likens these to the nine tails of the magical kitsune or fox of Japanese mythology. In yesterday's webinar he elaborated on this idea.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Japan's Stealth Bull Market

    In times of great market uncertainty, like today, investors should seek sanctuary in the stocks of companies that are cheap, enjoy positive cash flows, have plenty of cash on their books, and which are quoted in an undervalued currency. Today, Charles writes, the shares of non-financial companies in Japan fit the bill on all four counts.

    12
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    Gavekal Research

    The Kitsune Market (Part III)

    In this third part of a series assessing risks thrown up by massive government interventions to stop Covid-19 lockdowns turning into an economic depression, Louis turns his sights on efforts to prevent bankruptcies at all costs. He also considers the rapidly fraying US-China relationship and existential choices faced by Saudi Arabia as it decides how to handle a collapse in oil prices.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: China And Emerging Markets Update

    China has started to reopen its economy, but it is proving hard to get Chinese consumers and small businesses up and running again. He Wei and Andrew Batson provided the latest updates on policy efforts to revive China’s economy. Udith Sikand reviewed the broader outlook for emerging markets.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: What Does Covid-19 Mean For Emerging Markets?

    So far the Covid-19 pandemic seems to have been a less significant health event in most emerging markets. Yet EMs are bound to suffer a lot of economic damage not only from their own lockdowns but also from the demand collapse in Europe and the US. Udith Sikand and Vincent Tsui analyzed where the investment opportunities lie, and Tom Miller offered the prognosis for India.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: Emerging Markets Under Pressure

    Aside from China, emerging markets have not been hit as hard as rich countries by Covid-19, but their asset markets have been hammered. An optimistic view holds that undervalued EM assets can now bounce back. Udith and Vincent are more cautious: a dollar-squeeze could yet hurt markets that have otherwise decent fundamentals and attractive valuations.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Truth About Banks And Bonds

    As I elucidated last week Knut Wicksell’s key idea was that in any market economy there are not one, but two key interest rates, whose relative position drives the cycle. The theory makes good sense, but computing the two rates is tricky. My insight is that I don’t need to compute these two rates but instead measure the structural performance of bank equities in each market.

    10
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: Modeling Projections For The Covid-19 Epidemic

    Gavekal Intelligence Software is collaborating with ETH Zurich and Shenzhen's Southern University of Science & Technology to track the spread of Covid-19. GIS principal Didier Darcet presented the findings in a conversation with Louis Gave

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Kitsune Market (Part II)

    Last week, Louis introduced the Kitsune, Japan’s mythical nine-tailed fox, and outlined four tail risks which could upend investment after Covid-19. Today he examines two more important tail risks: that the pandemic might not prove deflationary but inflationary, and the risk that the market’s “don’t fight the Fed” mentality could collapse under the weight of its own contradictions.

    10
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    Gavekal Research

    Japan's Next Monetary Move

    Yesterday, the Bank of Japan attempted to pull another rabbit out of the hat by announcing plans to turbo-charge its already aggressive monetary easing program, ostensibly to help deliver its fiscal stimulus package without roiling the JGB market. Look closer though, and it appears the BoJ’s real goal is to stop the yen from succumbing to fundamental pressures by appreciating.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Three Big Questions For India

    Under one of the world’s most stringent lockdowns, the prospect that India will be devastated by the coronavirus pandemic is receding, and attention is shifting from saving lives to saving the economy. Tom examines the three big questions hanging over the Indian economy to determine how successful the country's recovery is likely to be.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Kitsune Market

    The Kitsune, the mythical Japanese fox which portends a change of fortune, has nine tails. Inspired by the unnatural conditions in markets, Louis has identified nine tail risks which could upend the investment world over the short to medium term. In the first installment of a two-part series, he outlines four tail risks that investors should consider hedging against.

    12
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    Gavekal Research

    On The Next Banking Crisis

    For Charles, the last 100 years has seen three standout banking crises; the 1930s depression in the US, Japan’s post-1990 bust and the slow-motion implosion of the eurozone, which has yet to see a denouement. In this piece, he dusts off one of his favorite frameworks for assessing economic cycles and asks what can be learned from these episodes.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Whale Watching In The Gulf

    Gavekal’s dynamite fishing analogy maintains that the biggest impact of a market shock only shows up after a delay, much like the effects of an underwater explosion. First the small fry float to the top, then the mid-size fish. Only much later does the dead whale break surface. After the oil price shock investors are asking if the Saudi riyal's peg to the US dollar could be that whale.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: Outlook For The US Economy And Global Markets

    In Tuesday's webinar, Will Denyer reviewed the economic situation in the US and suggested how investors should position their portfolios, and Louis Gave presented his global macroeconomic view, taking into account the remarkable developments in the oil market.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Shape Of Things To Come

    As the US and Europe prepare to enter their second month of lockdown, the good news is that social controls, where they are imposed, are working. The less good news is that the exit from lockdowns is going to be long and arduous. It is likely that in most major Western nations, economic activity will remain at levels significantly below normal until well into the fall.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Asia Goes Unconventional

    China just unveiled a -6.8% year-on-year fall in 1Q20 output and the ricochet effect is being felt beyond its borders. Neighboring economies face shrunken demand and are being forced to ditch fiscal rectitude and other economic orthodoxies. In some cases, monetary responses look a lot like quantitative easing. These emerging economies’ capacity for such action varies greatly.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Heading In The Right Direction, Slowly

    The Covid-19 epidemic now seems firmly under control in most major economies, and the direction of the disease data is consistently positive. From an infection-control perspective, the outlook is much more positive than when we did our last major review. The path to economic recovery, however, still looks slow and rocky.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    The Revenge Of The Little Grey Men

    There is a strange contradiction in most developed economic systems as they have been driven by freely assembling entrepreneurs who operate on the basis of money, which is the ultimate tool of state coercion. Charles is worried that the private, risk-taking element of our economies may be fully extinguished by responses to the Covid-19 crisis.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    An Anti-Fragile Beauty Contest

    Following the 2008 crisis, the S&P 500 bottomed on March 9 2009. Since then, an investor in physical gold would have gained 82.2% while an investor in 10-year US treasuries would have made gains of 65.6% (with coupons re-invested). But with both assets testing their pre-crisis highs, there are several reasons to believe that gold is now set to outperform structurally.

    9
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: The Outlook For China And Emerging Markets

    Arthur Kroeber spoke on the macro situation in China. Michael Clendenin, principal of Gavekal RedTech, presented their work on consumer sentiment and activity in China. Udith Sikand gave a rundown of what's happening in emerging markets.

    0
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    New Concerns For A New World

    We are in uncharted policy territory. Never before have we seen the kind of GDP contractions now being projected for most OECD countries, and never before have investors had to deal with such extremes of uncertainty. Against this backdrop, Louis attempts to answer 10 of the most burning questions posed by clients about the shape of the post-Covid-19 world.

    7
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    The Call Of The Frontier

    On Tuesday, Indonesia issued US$4.3bn of foreign currency bonds in maturities as long as 50 years. As emerging economies expand their fiscal response to the Covid-19 crisis, others will seek to raise fresh US dollar debt. Udith argues they had better hurry up as there looks to be trouble coming down the pike in the emerging world that could even impact stronger credits.

    6
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    Destroying The Economy To Save It

    Remember the American military officer in Vietnam who explained US tactics by saying “it became necessary to destroy the town to save it?” Well in the not too distant future, we may have to accept that our economic policymakers have adopted the same tactics in the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic.

    3
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    Rearranging The Deckchairs For Profit

    When everything is falling apart around you, the urge to do something—anything—becomes irresistible. A good solution is to start rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. It may not change the bigger picture, but it keeps you busy and does no harm in the longer term. In this spirit, allow me to suggest a little rearrangement that should do no harm, and could even be very profitable.

    0
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    Waiting For Godot (21st Century Edition)

    For years, investors have been waiting for China’s massive accumulation of debt to lead to a “Minsky moment”. Instead, in the Covid-19 crisis it is Western central banks that are blowing out their balance sheets in a desperate attempt to stabilize financial markets and their economies—while Chinese government bonds have proved “anti-fragile”.

    2
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    Breaking Down An International Liquidity Crisis

    These are hard times for the global system as big economies are effectively shuttered and risk appetite craters. The US dollar has surged and many leveraged countries face trouble servicing their debts. As these factors become self-reinforcing, Charles thinks it is worth standing back to assess what is causing what. He does this by explaining the dynamics of an international liquidity crisis and suggests specific investment strategies to handle...

    1
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    The Truth In Trump’s Tweets

    Oil market pundits were quick to dismiss Donald Trump’s tweeted claim Thursday that Saudi Arabia and Russia are ready to agree crude production cuts of 10-15mn bpd as “absurd” and “incredible”. But oil production cuts of the magnitude flagged by Trump are certainly in the pipeline—whether as the result of a new Opec+ agreement or not.

    1
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    India And The Virus

    India is in the early stages of its Covid-19 epidemic. The economic fallout in the world’s fifth-largest economy will be severe, with well over 100mn casual jobs at risk. Like many emerging economies, India is vulnerable due to a weak medical sector and a lack of fiscal firepower to counter resulting economic shocks.

    0
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    Strategy Monthly: Lockdowns And Lost Output

    Markets have been upended by the twin uncertainty of Covid-19’s rapacious spread and the economic effects of stopping it. Massive policy responses have convinced investors that a V-shaped recovery is possible, but this is far from certain. As the outbreak in Europe and the US hits its peak phase over the next month, markets will swing on the timing of any proposed exit from lockdowns.

    0
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    Who Will Win The War On Covid-19?

    In recent weeks leaders around the world have deployed all the rhetoric of wartime to declare hostilities against Covid-19. Louis examines which, if any, of the three major global powers—the US, Europe and China—is likely to emerge from the war a relative “winner”, and draws the appropriate investment conclusions.

    11
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    Too Early To Buy Equities, But Time To Sell Dollars

    After the biggest weekly gain in the Dow and with the US government having just approved the biggest-ever fiscal stimulus, how should investors react? While unrepentantly bullish in the long term, Anatole still believes that it is too early to buy equities. But for two other asset classes conditions do seem to be more propitious to call a bottom.

    3
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    The Risk Of EM Capital Controls

    Emerging markets dodged a bullet last week when the US Federal Reserve announced US dollar swap lines with key EM central banks. But although they now have access to US dollar liquidity, EMs still face the twin challenges of greatly diminished global demand and the domestic economic damage of local lockdowns to counter Covid-19.

    0
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    What You See, And What You Don’t

    In economics there is what you see and what you don’t see, and “there is no such thing as a free lunch.” As the world economy suffers a spasm the likes of which has rarely been seen in peacetime, it may help to go back to first principles to figure out what we are not seeing about this crisis, and who is going to end up paying for it.

    2
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    How Long For The Costly Cure?

    Is the cure worse than the disease? This question is already being asked about the economic lockdowns being imposed in response to Covid-19. It will be asked a lot more in the coming weeks as the economic pain gets worse. The short answer is that the cure is costly, but needed; and well-designed policies can enable a transition to a much lower-cost approach by mid-May if not earlier.

    7
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    Four Baskets For Four Quadrants

    As investors survey the shattered remnants of the past decade’s bull market, they can reasonably assume that the winners of the future will not be those who dominated in the last decade. Louis applies the Gavekal Four Quadrants framework to address the question of which asset class will emerge victorious in a new macro environment.

    0
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    Lockdowns Loom; What’s The Exit Strategy?

    We are heading into another difficult week. Covid-19 case numbers and fatalities outside China continue to grow rapidly. Social lockdowns are spreading to more US states and European countries. In the short run, fiscal support is on the way. Longer term, governments will have to start asking the uncomfortable question of when the economic pain outweighs the public health gain.

    1
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    The Dollar Squeeze Intensifies

    Policymakers in the world’s biggest economic blocks are responding to the current crisis with fiscal and monetary “shock and awe”. Yet even as the much maligned European Central Bank joined the asset purchase party, markets have continued to crater. For all the coordinated economic responses to the coronavirus pandemic, there has been no serious effort to free up the offshore market for US dollars.

    10
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    A Bad Prognosis

    The US and Europe are moving towards Hubei-style societal lockdowns. Arthur sifts through the latest epidemiological research, and concludes that while the worst case public health scenarios will be avoided, the coming lockdowns will be severe and last long enough to have an economic impact possibly more damaging than in China.

    6
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    The Problem For Emerging Markets

    Despite aggressive policy moves in recent days, emerging market asset values have continued to crater. These moves are the result of lost demand and supply chain disruption but also the fear of a financing shock from a squeeze in US dollar funding. Despite many emerging economies having solid fundamentals, there are reasons to think things will get worse for investors before they improve.

    0
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    Solvency Crisis Or Liquidity Crisis?

    Collapsing equity markets, rising bond yields, widening spreads, falling gold—in recent days, there have been few places to hide. When markets act so sick, it usually pays to take a deep breath (in a socially distant manner) and ponder whether we are facing a solvency crisis, or a liquidity crisis.

    0
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    A Modest Proposal To Avert Economic Catastrophe

    Contrary to initial expectations, the spread of the coronavirus around the world is not following the relatively benign trajectories experienced in China outside of Hubei, and in Korea, Singapore and the rest of Asia. Instead, across Europe—and likely in the US—the spread increasingly resembles the path it took in Hubei. This threatens both medical and economic disasters.

    4
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    What I Know

    In fraught times, Charles has decided to keep it simple and focus only on what he knows. In this piece, he considers changing relationships between oil prices, long-bond rates, US equities and the dollar and offers various approaches that could help investors survive the bear market.

    1
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    The Conditions Needed For A Bottom

    Financial markets are now in full-blown panic mode. For investors, the key question is: What will it take for markets to form a bottom, and when will this happen? No one can answer with any precision. However, it is possible to discern the broad conditions needed to allow the markets to find a bottom. We are nowhere near them yet.

    0
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    Six Degrees Of Uncertainty

    World markets are in full-on panic mode, thanks to a cloud of unknowing that has settled over two topics of broad importance: the spread and economic impact of the coronavirus, and the outcome of the oil-price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia. The topics are related, and so we are grappling with the problem of pricing epidemic-related uncertainty.

    0
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    What Goes Around Comes Around

    Amid the Covid-19 outbreak and the Saudi-Russia oil price war, markets are essentially priced for a scenario in which the US government does little in response, leaving the policy reaction to the Federal Reserve. While this may be the most plausible scenario, other possible US government actions, at home and abroad, have different implications for markets.

    8
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    A Hand Grenade In A Bloodbath

    If you ever wondered what would happen if someone lobbed a hand grenade into a bloodbath, now you know. Markets were always going to be shaky on Monday, as it became increasingly clear that the US is set to see a sharp rise in recorded coronavirus cases. Then, on Friday Russia walked out of the Opec+ oil producers’ cartel, initiating an all-out price war in the oil market.

    1
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    The Bond Blow-Off Top

    The freakout in markets spurred by the coronavirus outbreak has seen US treasuries deliver one of their strongest two-week performances in the post-Cold War era. Louis argues that these moves leave investors with a stark choice to make: either we are seeing a “blow-off top”, or alternatively the world is facing an impending economic ice age.

    3
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    India Macro Update: A Fragile Stabilization

    The Reserve Bank of India's rescue of troubled private sector lender Yes Bank highlights the feedback loop between India’s bad-loan-burdened financial system and its stuttering economy, which is now facing its lowest growth rate since the financial crisis. The current steep prices of Indian equities and the rupee are increasingly hard to justify.

    0
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    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research Call March 2020

    In Thursday’s conference call, Louis-Vincent Gave, Andrew Batson and Cedric Gemehl discussed the policy and market reactions to the Covid-19 outbreak.

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