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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Kinks Appear In The Tech Supply Chain

    Chinese electronics manufacturers are struggling to get their operations back to normal amidst the coronavirus outbreak. Dan outlines how this might lead to larger disruptions in the tightly scheduled mobile phone production cycle, and why smaller companies are more likely to postpone launching new products than their larger counterparts.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Multinationals Take The Long View

    The coronavirus outbreak has undoubtedly had a significant impact on multinational companies’ operations in China. Nonetheless, drawing from a dozen interviews with China-based executives, Lance argues there is little evidence the outbreak will cause firms to rethink their long-term China strategies.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Tough Ask On Trade, Trouble Brewing On Tech

    The story we’ve been telling for the past few months is that the conclusion of the US-China trade deal will reduce global macro risk in 2020, but tech-specific risk will still be an issue because of continued efforts by the US to constrain the rise of China’s technology sector and in particular Huawei. This week’s news buttressed that story: the trade deal was signed; but at the same time several US agencies are on the verge of tightening...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    A Looming Private Liquidity Squeeze

    A March spike in maturing bonds is going to mean significant liquidity challenges for many companies, particularly as they continue to grapple with the coronavirus and its economic fallout. The government has announced some supportive policies, but as Xiaoxi explains these measures are likely to favor large and state-owned companies, leaving smaller firms at risk of going under.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Risk Of Falling Behind The Epidemic Curve

    China’s government was slow off the mark in responding to the initial outbreak of the new coronavirus. Although the government is now fully mobilized to fight the outbreak, it risks falling behind the curve again—this time in responding to the economic damage wrought by its extended shutdown of normal life and business activity.

    4
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Huawei Comes Out Ahead, For Now

    American attempts to kneecap Huawei have run into several setbacks. Internationally, Europe is pushing back on demands to exclude Huawei from 5G networks; domestically, further sanctions have been stymied by bureaucratic infighting. Dan reports that the war is hardly over, and we are likely to see broader rules limiting Chinese access to US tech.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Hit To Consumer Durables

    The government’s drastic measures to contain the coronavirus are certain to deliver major blows to the auto and smartphone markets. Fortunately, Thomas, Ernan and Dan report that a V-shaped recovery is the most likely scenario for both sectors. Neither will meet pre-virus growth expectations, but both will likely still see an improvement from 2019.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Lingering Impact On Property

    While the 2003 SARS outbreak had only a transitory impact on China’s housing market, the 2020 coronavirus episode is proving to be much more serious. In this piece, Rosealea argues that the big hit to housing sales will leave developers short of cash and limit their ability to keep projects going. This points to a lingering drag on construction.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Back To Work, Not Back To Normal

    China’s businesses are starting to get back to work, but the economy is still very far from normal. On Monday, the extended holiday declared by the government to help contain the coronavirus outbreak came to an end (except in Hubei province). But most businesses still face great difficulty in resuming their normal activities.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Video: On Target In China?

    In 2015 the Chinese government set out its 13th five-year plan, with economic and social targets that it aimed to hit by the end of 2020. The five-year plans are important because the government derives legitimacy from improving people’s livelihoods. The Dragonomics team has examined seven such targets and their impact on the economy.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Viral Monetary Policy

    China’s central bank has moved quickly to demonstrate its readiness to support an economy battered by the coronavirus outbreak. But Wei argues that it is too early to assume the PBOC is going to abandon its policy of selective easing and aggressively cut rates, as it still has reasons to hold to its its conservative policy stance.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research Call February 2020

    In yesterday’s research call, Vincent Tsui and Tom Holland joined Arthur Kroeber to discuss the coronavirus outbreak, what it means for Chinese and regional economic growth, and how investors should position themselves during this period of rapid news flow and high market volatility.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    After The Rout

    The Chinese authorities’ attempts over the weekend to shore up confidence among domestic investors came to naught on Monday as prices plummeted when the onshore stock markets reopened after their 10-day lunar new year shut-down. Yet, once signs emerge that the outbreak it is contained, the resulting relief rally should combine with underlying tailwinds to propel stocks higher again.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Long And Short Of The Wuhan Flu

    There is now enough information available to begin to make useful judgments about both the short term and long term impact of the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak. In this extensive analysis, Arthur examines the health risks posed by the virus, its economic impact, and likely political fallout.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    It’s Not The Disease, It’s The Treatment

    The economic costs of the Wuhan virus are not simply a function of how deadly it is, but of the measures China’s government takes to contain it—which have rapidly escalated to an unprecedented severity. The shutdown of normal travel and business now in place across much of China is certain to deliver a hit to growth in the first quarter of 2020.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: The Wuhan Virus And Emerging Markets

    The rapid spread of the Wuhan coronavirus has spooked investors and triggered steep sell-offs in Chinese and Asian markets. But there are good reasons to hope the spread of the disease will be contained in the coming weeks, at which point Chinese and regional equities can recover.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Defense Drives US Decoupling

    Although US President Donald Trump has called a truce in his trade war with China, the strategic tensions in the US-China relationship still remain. Therefore, as Lance explains in this piece, the US defense sector is already taking concrete steps to reduce its reliance on China for some products with direct military applications.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Year Of Many Targets

    2020 is a big year for China’s central planners. Beijing has set a wide range of targets to be achieved by the year’s end, and the policies enacted to meet these objectives have had far-reaching effects. In this report, the Dragonomics team examines seven such targets, the policies implemented to reach them, and the consequences for China’s economy.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    A-shares Beyond Wuhan Volatility

    Although the Wuhan coronavirus has the potential to whipsaw Chinese equities in the near term, it makes sense to assess the prospects for China’s A-share market this year should the current nervousness quickly abate. Thomas argues that market sentiment is likely to turn favorable provided the virus is contained given the trade war truce, easing deflationary pressure and a profit cycle upturn.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: China's Balancing Act Gets Easier

    In 2019, investors were cowed by the US-China trade war and Chinese policymakers’ efforts to balance growth and financial stability. This year, these factors will weigh less heavily: the US and China are set to ink a trade deal, while China is shifting more toward growth-supporting policies. Such a combination is mildly bullish for both Chinese bonds and equities.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Lessons From Last Time Around

    Beijing shops have sold out of high-spec surgical masks, scared customers are stockpiling medicines, and financial markets are looking shaky. The parallels between the current coronavirus outbreak and the 2003 epidemic of Sars are obvious. But there are also important differences, especially in the backdrop against which today’s outbreak is occurring.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Better Lucky Than Good

    China’s government has done its part to steady the economy and markets: it has agreed to a rather one-sided trade deal with the US, and softened the tone of its financial de-risking campaign. But December’s data show that good luck has mattered more: turns in the autos and electronics cycles are what’s really behind the stabilization of growth.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    What The Trade Deal Won't Change

    President Trump has confirmed he will sign his trade deal with China on January 15, and the PBOC has reinforced its tilt to more dovish policies. This combination of events means the macro factors that drove December’s rally—a receding trade war and a global easing of monetary policy—are still in place for January, if increasingly priced in.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Weakening Bite Of US Tech Sanctions

    US sanctions on Chinese technology companies have grown progressively less effective since the US government used them to take down ZTE. Huawei has refused to collapse, and other targeted firms are not too troubled. In this piece, Dan explains why export controls, once the kiss of death, are becoming just another operational challenge.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research Call January 2020

    The past few weeks have seen Chinese policymakers signaling clearly that the campaign of selective easing begun last year will be carried on into 2020 even as growth continues to slow. With trade war risk lowered, and the electronics and auto sector cycles bottoming out, the outlook for equity and bond markets is fairly benign.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Mortgage Rate Reset

    China’s central bank is moving forward with its interest-rate reforms, ordering mortgages to be reset based on the new loan prime rate. Rosealea explains that this shift will make monetary policy more transparent and effective by re-linking mortgage rates to official policy rates, but it does not herald a cycle of major cuts in mortgage rates.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Trade War’s Uneasy Truce

    The “phase one” US-China trade deal announced last week still has some hoops to pass through before it becomes real: completion of a bilingual legal text and formal signing in January. Still, both sides have incentives to avoid the economic damage from further tariff escalation, so the deal will almost surely come into force. The agreement falls far short of achieving the US goal of forcing China to change its state-led economic system; instead...

    3
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Putting The Squeeze On Tech

    The Trump administration has shown the world that it is willing and able to inflict severe pain on China’s top technology firms. But can the US really squeeze China hard enough to cut it off from global R&D, or stop all advances by Chinese companies? In this piece, Dan argues that the US can slow China’s technological progress—but not stop it.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: What Next In The Tech War

    Washington views China as a strategic competitor, and the White House has promised a “whole of government” effort to constrain China’s development of key advanced technologies. Dan examines the three ways in which the US is making life difficult for Chinese tech companies, and explores other weapons the US could deploy should the tech war escalate.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Stable Growth Without Undue Stimulus

    China's latest economic figures show continued growth into the end of this year. In this report, Thomas outlines how these data points, combined with the fragile US-China trade truce, might give Chinese policymakers the space they need to achieve their goal of maintaining stable growth without resorting to excessive stimulus.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Security Rules Are Decoupling Technology

    Presidents Trump and Xi may be edging toward a trade deal, but trust between the US and China has not been restored. As Lance explains in this piece, China’s bureaucracy is ramping up its already-restrictive security rules on technology hardware, software and data flows. This push will ensure some decoupling of China’s tech sector from the US.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Our 2019 Holiday Reading List

    “So many books,” lamented the late Frank Zappa, “so little time.” For readers wondering which of the 130mn books published since the invention of the printing press they should curl up with over the coming break, hopefully Gavekal’s annual holiday reading picks may help.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The New Champion Of Monetary Conservatism

    The People’s Bank of China and the Bundesbank have never been known to be close. But Yi Gang, the Chinese central bank governor, is starting to sound German in his views on monetary policy. He argues that negative interest rates and quantitative easing have been a failure, and China must stick with conventional policy and positive rates.

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Pitfalls Of Beijing’s AI Strategy

    The Chinese government has made artificial intelligence a national development priority and is dedicating huge resources to the task. Yet, as Lance explains in this report, the effort is suffering from mismanagement, wasteful provincial competition and difficulty retaining skilled workers.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Scenarios For 2020

    Beijing has been largely successful in balancing a response to China’s economic slowdown with a need to continue its financial cleanup, but how sustainable is this delicate status quo? In this report, Andrew lays out different scenarios and the likelihood of policymakers being able to maintain their “selective easing” strategy through 2020.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    China-Bashing In A Political Season

    Signs are growing that the US and China will have a mini-deal on trade ready by the time Trump and Xi meet at the mid-November APEC summit. The key questions are whether opposition from US hardliners could derail the deal at the last moment, and whether the campaign to “decouple” the two economies will be knocked back if there is a deal.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Why The Private Liquidity Crisis Isn't Over

    The multi-year liquidity squeeze for Chinese private-sector firms continues, despite repeated promises from policymakers to resolve the issue. In this report, Thomas explains how Beijing’s tight grip on financial risk has stymied efforts to alleviate China’s beleaguered private sector—and why this lending crunch will persist through 2020.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Back Door Is Still Closed

    A slew of new government policies has boosted market expectations for China’s infrastructure spending in 2020. But Rosealea counsels caution: while new measures have opened the “front door” of approved funding a bit wider, more important is that the “back door” of shadow financing remains firmly closed. A big rebound in public works is unlikely.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    How To Get Comfortable With Chinese Equities

    The inclusion of Chinese onshore equities in global indexes has catalyzed a wave of interest from global investors. But for foreign investors to really get comfortable with Chinese stocks, Thomas argues, they need to grasp the many issues not addressed by index inclusion such as volatility, leverage, regulatory risk and corporate governance.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: China's Private Financing Woes

    Chinese credit growth picked up in September, which is good news at the margin for private sector liquidity. However, a continued crackdown on shadow finance and private firms’ difficultly rolling over bond obligations will retard capital spending and lead to more bond defaults into next year.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Defending The Single Market

    Europe’s leaders are promising a more forceful approach to defending the bloc’s interests. But they do not fully subscribe to the view, widely held in the US, that China is a strategic rival and security threat. What they have been able to agree on, as Lance argues, is the need to protect the EU’s single market against Chinese state capitalism.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Seminar Series Multimedia — Fall 2019

    Partners and analysts present their core ideas for the big economic regions and global markets heading into the year-end and looking forward to 2020.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Chinese Consumer In 2019

    In her annual review of the Chinese consumer, Ernan analyzes the trajectory of household spending and unearths thematic opportunities in consumer markets. After 2019’s slowdown, consumption should stabilize in 2020 as the labor market improves. Luxury goods and cosmetics are booming, but overseas tourism and traditional retail are weaker.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Crackdown On Developer Financing

    China’s financial regulators are squeezing funding for property developers in order to discourage land speculation and cool down property prices. In this piece, Rosealea argues the crackdown has been fairly successful, and does not pose a big risk to construction. Slightly easier demand-side policies will help offset tough supply-side restrictions.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Let The Thousand Cuts Begin

    Was it worth the wait? Markets have been expecting the People’s Bank of China to cut policy rates ever since it introduced a new rates framework in August and promised to lower funding costs. On Tuesday, the central bank finally delivered, rolling over its one-year medium-term lending facility at 3.25%, 5bp below the previous rate of 3.3%.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Trump’s Unreal Deal With China

    The US-China trade cease-fire shows that President Trump needs a quick deal: facing a soft economy and likely impeachment, he wants to bank a win as soon as possible. The two sides are moving toward a deal in November, but that will not change China's economic model or end US efforts to constrain China's technological rise.

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Handing Off The Slowdown

    China’s data releases for October showed signs that the global downturn in electronics, and the domestic fall in car sales, are starting to fade. But the bad news is that the property and heavy industry complex is weakening. That combination means roughly stable growth for the moment, reassuring policymakers that their cautious stance works.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The China Inc. Annual Report 2019

    In the latest edition of his annual chartbook, Thomas outlines the fundamentals of China’s corporate sector. The latest downcycle in sales and profits was less severe than previous episodes, but private firms are still suffering from financial strains. The anemic bounce in credit growth points to little recovery in profits or capex in 2020.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Financing Squeeze Spreads To Corporate Bonds

    The corporate bond market was once promoted as a better way to finance China’s private firms. Instead, as Xiaoxi explains in this piece, it has turned into another source of financial pressure. The corporate bonds of private firms are now maturing faster than they can issue new ones, creating a financing squeeze that could last through 2021.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Bills Come Due In Tianjin

    On paper, the northern port city of Tianjin was once the richest place in China. But now its financial center lies empty, its statistics have been exposed as falsified, and the local government and firms are close to running out of cash. In this report, Ernan explains why Tianjin’s long-running problems have finally burst into the open.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Autos Are Getting Back On The Road

    China’s industrial slowdown is not just about exports. The deep downturn in auto sales accounts for about half of the slowdown in GDP growth since 2018, Thomas estimates. Things are now starting to look less bad, and the growth drag is heading back toward zero. But autos are still not about to deliver a big boost to growth or commodity demand.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Containing China's Tech Ambitions

    More constructive rhetoric suggests the US and China may be about to strike a truce on tariffs and market access. However, that does not mean they are about to bury the hatchet. Powerful groups in Washington want to contain China’s rise as a technological power, and the US has many tools at its disposal even if it drops tariffs.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Why China Can Succeed In Tech

    Technology is at the heart of the US-China trade conflict. The US fears that China will challenge its technological leadership, and those fears are not without foundation. In this piece, Dan argues that China is in fact likely to succeed in many of its technological goals—but because of successful companies rather than big government plans.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Housing & Construction Review 2019

    China’s property market has held up surprisingly well in 2019, but will that strength last? In her annual chartbook, Rosealea examines key market trends and explains the outlook for 2020. Flexible policy can probably continue to avoid a deep decline in housing sales, but construction activity and materials demand are almost certain to slow.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Belt And Road Slims Down

    China is still signing up more countries for its Belt and Road Initiative, but money for Xi Jinping’s signature foreign policy is getting tighter. Growth in China’s overseas lending has ground to a halt, and overseas construction projects are declining. In this piece, Tom explains why a slimmer Belt and Road has become an economic necessity.

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Taiwan’s Manufacturers Rethink Reliance On China

    Could Taiwan be a winner in the US-China trade war? As Dan reports in this piece, US tariffs have succeeded in getting major contract manufacturers of electronics to shift jobs out of China, some of which are going to Taiwan. But this trend is not enough to end Taiwan’s dependence on Chinese growth, or its vulnerability to Chinese competition.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Three Swing Factors For Chinese Growth

    China’s recent economic figures do not paint a bright picture. Yet some of the problems weighing on growth are moving closer to resolution. So how much of a bounce in the data can we expect from these positive developments? Three possible sources of good news can help answer this question: exports, domestic investment and autos.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Case Of The Mysterious Vanishing Statistics

    Problems with China’s economic statistics are often blamed on falsification by local officials. But they are not the only ones causing trouble. In this piece, Thomas and Ernan document how central government agencies, including the National Bureau of Statistics and the central bank, have recently stopped publishing some important data series.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Macro Update: The Return Of Selective Easing

    After a rocky few months of trade troubles, disappointing data and hawkish policy, China has shifted back to a more decisive focus on growth-supporting measures. This move should help support markets and the economy through end-2019. But as Andrew explains in this chartbook, the boost from this cautious “selective easing” is still limited.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — The US-China Trade And Technology Mess

    In yesterday's special Gavekal Research Conference call Gavekal's Arthur Kroeber and Dan Wang, along with Fathom China's Matt Forney, considered what the breakdown of the US-China trade talks means for the trajectory of the trade war, and what the blacklisting of Huawei means for the tech cold war.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Banks Still At Risk

    The first wave of Chinese bank failures will not be the last. Over the summer, three smaller Chinese banks had to receive official assistance to continue operating. The problems that brought down those banks were not isolated issues, and there are other smaller banks still at risk. This report identifies the most troubled institutions.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: The Battle For Chinese Tech

    China imports more semiconductors than it does crude oil, highlighting its dependence on foreign technology and know-how. The US recognizes this weakness and is intent on squeezing China’s tech sector before it is able to produce the most advanced chips at home and in scale. For this reason, tech sits at the heart of the US-China tensions.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Dimensions Of Decoupling

    Whatever happens next in the US-China trade conflict, it’s clear that ties between the two nations have undergone a fundamental reset. Some “decoupling” will definitely occur as a result, and indeed has already begun. In this chartbook, Andrew and Lance explore how US-China decoupling could play out in flows of goods, money, people and ideas.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Beijing Toughs It Out

    After a month of further escalation in the US-China trade war, China’s strategy for the next stage of the dispute is becoming clear. Its leadership now looks committed to a strategy of toughing out trade tensions. This means the prospect of a US-China trade deal is receding, and therefore that global growth will face further headwinds.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Next Stage Of The Pork Crisis

    The African swine fever crisis in China is reaching a new stage as prices for pigs and pork spiral upward at an unprecedented pace. The government is responding with a combination of subsidies for pork farms, as well as rationing and price caps. But this is a short-term strategy that will not contain the ASF epidemic and could even worsen it.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Rising Risks For Chinese Firms

    The outcome of US-China trade talks is uncertain, but one thing is clear. Chinese companies, their customers and suppliers, faced increased risks of US American sanctions. Hardliners in the US national security establishment are pressing ahead with an “all-of-government” strategy to constrain China’s technological and financial clout. This will continue regardless of the outcome of trade talks.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    First Blood In The Long Tech War

    Washington has opened a new front in the US-China economic cold war by slapping controls on exports of all “commodities, software and technology” to Chinese chipmaker Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit. The breath of the national security justification cited for this action escalates the US-China confrontation over technology to a new level.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Beijing's Conflicted Easing

    As prospects for a quick resolution of the US-China trade conflict fade, and the data continue to soften, expectations for Chinese growth are getting marked down. As if on cue, the government has sent signals of more decisive policy support for growth. While encouraging, this does not presage a shift in China's macro policy of "selective" easing.

    3
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    This Old House

    China’s government has launched a new program to renovate older residential compounds, which some are touting as a massive new investment stimulus. As Rosealea explains in this piece, such hopes are misplaced. But the new spending will help cushion the impact of the cutbacks of the subsidies delivered through the slum redevelopment program.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Waiting For Rate Cuts

    Markets are now primed for China’s central bank to lower the policy rate in the new loan-pricing system it unveiled in August. In this piece, Andrew explains how these rate cuts will work, why they are different from the rate cuts of the past, and why these moves will not mean any change in the central bank’s current strategy of “selective easing.”

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    After The Summer Of Discontent

    The poor economic indicators for August make it obvious why China’s government got ahead of the data release and signal renewed support for growth in early September. That means more incremental policy measures are coming, which will help sentiment. And the drag on growth from the auto sector should also reverse toward the end of 2019.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Renminbi, Manipulation And The Trade War

    Monday’s actions on the Chinese currency—Beijing’s decision to let the renminbi’s exchange rate weaken past CNY7.00 to the US dollar, and Washington’s decision to label China a currency manipulator—signal that the US and China are close to throwing in the towel on a trade deal. Trade war escalation should now be the base case.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Keeping China In Play

    Next week’s big event will be the G-20 leaders’ meeting in Osaka, where presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping will sit down to figure out whether their stalled trade negotiations can be re-started. It is quite likely that trade talks will get back on track, but quite unlikely that a deal can actually be struck before the end of the year.

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Read My Lips: No Housing Stimulus

    The world’s major economies are seemingly united on the need for a fresh round of stimulus—except for China. And hopes for a more aggressive approach were dashed by the latest Politburo meeting, which declared that China would not boost the housing market to revive growth. In this piece, Andrew explains what’s behind China’s policy stance.

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    The Size Of State Subsidies

    The US government alleges that “China provides massive, market-distorting subsidies,” particularly to state firms. But just how big are China’s subsidies to state-owned enterprises, and what kind of economic distortions do they create? This in-depth report quantifies three major types of direct and indirect subsidies, and explores their effects.

    1
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    From Trade War To Decoupling

    Trade talks between the US and China will resume this week after a three-month hiatus, but how much do they really matter? In this piece, Arthur argues that the macro risk from the US-China trade conflict has ebbed to almost zero. What’s important now is to understand the dimensions of the decoupling between the world’s two biggest economies.

    1
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    Rebalancing Won't Rescue China

    As China hunkers down for an extended trade conflict with the US, it is sending reassuring signals about its ability to withstand the pressure. Officials argue the economy has “rebalanced” away from external to domestic demand, so it is less vulnerable. In this piece, Andrew explains how this misreads the role of exports in longer-term growth.

    4
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    The Slowdown Continues

    After a end-of-quarter bounce in June, China’s economy resumed its gradual downward course in July, with industrial production, fixed investment, housing starts, retail sales and credit growth all slowing. The bright spots were a surprising pick up in exports, and housing sales, which reversed three months of declines with a modest gain.

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    The Long Arm Of US Export Controls

    While investors eye the progress of US-China talks to avert tariff hikes, the US is mobilizing on another front. In this piece, Dan explains how the US is preparing for more aggressive use of export controls to disentangle the US and Chinese tech sectors. This can certainly hurt Chinese firms, but will also affect US and other tech companies.

    2
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    A Trade Equilibrium Of Sorts

    After a week of trade war scares, things have settled down into an equilibrium that is uneasy, but likely to last several weeks. The central question now is whether the new tariff on US$300bn of Chinese exports to the US will go into effect on September 1, or if Trump’s team will find some graceful way to back down from that threat.

    2
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    Consumer Spending Growth Grinds Lower

    With exports and domestic investment both weakening, China’s government hopes that consumer spending will support growth. The bad news is that all indicators of consumer spending are still softening. With a deteriorating job market weighing on household income Chinese consumer spending is set to weaken further over the coming quarters.

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    Starvation Rations For Private-Sector Borrowers

    After a brief respite earlier in the year, China’s private sector is once again facing a credit squeeze. The PBOC’s announcement over the weekend of a change in the calculation methodology for the loan prime rate is likely to lower the cost of corporate loans, but it does not make it any easier for private firms to get finance.

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    STAR Is Born

    Trading on the world's newest stock market board got off to a predictably volatile start on Monday, when Shanghai's STAR market opened for business. But while that was entirely foreseeable, the reaction of regulators will be less predictable, and will send important signals on the long-term liberalization of China’s stock markets.

    4
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    The Future Of Forced Technology Transfers

    As China and the US restart their trade talks, negotiators face a daunting list of issues to resolve. One of the stumbling blocks is the US allegation of “forced technology transfer.” In this piece, Dan explains what China is doing to address the problem, how that might not be enough—and why forced transfers of technology don’t even always work.

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    The Fallout From Baoshang Bank

    The takeover of Baoshang Bank in May was China’s biggest bank failure in at least a decade. But the People’s Bank of China managed the ensuing market jitters well, once again proving itself to be an effective financial firefighter. Still, Baoshang’s failure does confirm that the era of rapid, unregulated growth for China’s smaller banks is over.

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    Beijing's Backdoor Into Europe

    The new enthusiasm of some European countries for China’s infrastructure-building Belt and Road Initiative has raised alarm across the continent. Brussels fears China is buying influence in Europe’s periphery, sowing disunity and threatening democracy. Our latest in-depth DeepChina report explains the real story of China’s influence on Europe.

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    A Cold War Interglacial

    It is now almost certain that presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping will restart trade talks at the G20 summit in Osaka this weekend. Moreover, discussions in Washington suggest that there is a good chance these talks will result in a deal in the next few months. Our core scenario now is that macro risk from an escalating trade war is receding. There are also signs that the US and China could negotiate a truce on Huawei, lifting the apparent...

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    The Risks To Steel Prices

    China’s government is once again going after pollution from the steel industry, raising the risk of more policy-induced spikes in steel prices. While forced shutdowns to ensure blue skies are on the way, Rosealea argues that the bigger risk to steel prices is on the downside, due to weakening construction activity and cautious housing policy.

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    Taking Intellectual Property Seriously

    It is easy to forget that the US trade war with China is founded on the issue of intellectual property—and to miss the fact that, despite the breakdown in trade talks, China is pushing through many legal changes to improve IP protection. But as Dan explains, while the technical improvements are real, so is political pressure on the legal system.

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    Housing Policy Turns Cautious

    Housing policy in China has taken a cautious turn, with policymakers more concerned about potential overheating in prices than worried about a downturn in sales and construction. In this piece, Rosealea explains how this shift is playing out through cuts in housing subsidies and changes to local policies, and evaluates the risks to the market.

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    How Multinationals Are Managing The Trade War

    The collapse of US-China trade talks and the ratcheting up of tariffs has intensified the challenges faced by global companies with operations that span both countries. In this piece, Lance reports on their range of responses to the trade war: some are shifting out of China, some are investing more in China, and some are not doing anything yet.

    1
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    Macro Update: Trade Truce, Growth Tremors

    It was a rocky second quarter for China, with trade tensions escalating and then easing, and domestic growth disappointing. In his latest chartbook, Chen Long assesses the current lay of the land. The growth slowdown is not over yet as macro policy has stayed relatively cautious, but easing trade tensions should boost equities and the currency.

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    Trade Deal Delayed, Not Yet Denied

    Any trade negotiator will tell you that the last yard is always the hardest. That is obvious now in the US-China trade talks, which were thrown into doubt by Donald Trump’s weekend tweets threatening to hike tariffs on US$200bn of imports from China from 10% to 25% this Friday if a deal is not done.

    2
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    Can Vietnam Win The Trade War?

    Vietnam is being touted as the big winner of the US-China trade war as companies shift their supply chains toward the low-cost export powerhouse. In the long term that is likely. In the short term, however, an improved export performance may be partly down to Chinese exports being routed through Vietnam to escape US detection.

    5
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    The End Of China's ODI Party

    Beijing’s decision to use foreign acquisitions as a tool of state industrial policy has badly backfired. With advanced economies stiffening their resistance to Chinese investment, China’s decade-long outward direct investment spree looks spent. In this piece, Tom explains how the boom ended and where funds will flow in the future.

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    Huawei’s Path To Survival

    The future of Huawei, China’s most successful electronics manufacturer, has looked bleak ever since the US put it on an export blacklist in May. But with the Trump administration proving willing to soften its export controls, and companies being able to find loopholes in them, it now looks like Huawei has a decent chance to survive.

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    Two Cheers For Unbalanced Growth

    China’s economy ended the second quarter on a high note, with industry and exports doing better than expected in June. The data reassured markets that the government’s macro policy stance—which has been quite conservative—is justified. But as Andrew argues in this piece, growth is being driven mainly by property, and can slow further.

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    Trump's Trade War Calculus

    Keeping track of all the pieces of the US-China confrontation has become a full-time job. But the chaos and uncertainty of the past couple of weeks has begun to resolve itself into fairly clear patterns, even if the outcomes remain in doubt. Three main conclusions emerge from last week’s activity, and none of them are particularly reassuring.

    10
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    Where Can Industrial Policy Work?

    The Trump administration’s trade war has targeted China’s ambitious industrial policy, which China clearly has no intention to abandon. But will that industrial policy work? In this report, Lance explains his eight-point system for evaluating industrial policy’s odds of success, and tests it on electric vehicles, airplanes and pharmaceuticals.

    3
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    The Emissions Mess In Autos

    China’s auto market is still locked in the worst downturn in its history. In this report, Ernan explains how the government’s rushed transition to new vehicle-emissions standards worsened that downturn, and why it hasn’t reversed course. Though an end-year recovery for auto sales is still likely, 2019 will be a second bad year for the industry.

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