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    Gavekal Research

    Investing In Today’s Inflationary Environment

    Investing in a topsy-turvy macro environment can feel like a crapshoot. One way to seek order among chaos is to draw lessons from economic history. Louis examines the underlying causes of financial crises since the late 1990s and applies the lessons to consider the way in which the global economy and markets emerge from the pandemic.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    No Escape From The Evergrande Effect

    Fears about the potential systemic risks posed by troubled property developer Evergrande reverberated through global financial markets on Monday. Unless China’s regulators seriously mismanage the situation, a systemic crisis in the country’s financial sector is not on the cards. Nevertheless, lenders will not be able to escape the costs.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Out Of The Congressional Quagmire

    Eight months after Joe Biden’s inauguration, the US president’s economic agenda remains bogged down, with two flagship spending bills stuck in Congress amid infighting among Biden’s fellow Democrats. In the coming weeks, however, there is a good chance of a compromise that will see one of the two cleared through the House of Representatives.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Going Electric In The Land Of The F-150

    The US government and the auto industry are now pulling in the same direction of decarbonizing transportation. In this piece, Yanmei asks if the emerging government-industry alliance can accelerate vehicle electrification, where the US has fallen behind Europe and China, and whether they can catch up to Tesla and foreign competitors.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Squeaky Bum Time For The US Economy

    As Covid cases rise in the US, most indicators point to a slowing economy. After August’s payrolls came in weak, activity measures and nowcasting readings have softened, while conditions in leading sectors like housing and autos have worsened. With the Citi US economic surprise index having fallen to -44.6 from close to zero a month ago, forecasters have been caught off guard by the slowdown. As Sir Alex Ferguson, the former Manchester United...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: Questions Arise As US Growth Slows

    As renewed Covid outbreaks curtail activity and the labor market starts to normalize, the US economy is no longer generating big upside growth surprises. Will the Federal Reserve defer its retreat from super-easy monetary policy, and what will come of the Biden administration's fiscal strategy?

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Europe’s Energy Headwinds

    The United Kingdom got a sharp lesson in the perils of energy dependence on Wednesday. A fire shut down its imports of electricity—mostly nuclear-generated—from France, pushing domestic natural gas prices up by as much as 20% in intraday trading. The fire may keep as much as a third of the UK’s capacity to import power from France closed through the winter months. Given that the UK has the capacity to import 3MW from France and on average...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Cryptos, NFTs And CyberPunks

    As investors have flipped between euphoria and dejection over the future of crypto-currencies and related digital assets, prices have had a crazy ride. In this video Will outlines a framework for thinking about valuations. Even if digital art sold as NFTs sticks around, the basic economics of their use case means they probably won't be great stores of value.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    No Profits From Payments

    Online payments were one of the first and most prominent victims of China’s regulatory onslaught against internet platforms. In this piece, Xiaoxi explains how a combination of both tighter oversight and the pending launch of the digital renminbi is limiting platforms’ ability to monetize their payments businesses.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    ‘Transitory’ Inflation And Government Intervention

    Tuesday’s US CPI release shed little light on the “transitory versus persistent” inflation debate. Airfares and hotel rates weakened on the delta outbreak. And surprisingly, rents remained muted, while used car prices rolled over even as new car prices surged. Still, US CPI gained 5.3% YoY, while core CPI rose 4% YoY. By the standards of recent decades, these are big numbers.

    5
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Window Is Closing For Structural Reform

    China’s dismal August economic figures suggest that the “window of opportunity” identified by the Politburo in April, when officials hoped to take advantage of China’s post-Covid rebound to focus on longer-term structural priorities, is now closing. However, it is still too early to expect policymakers to shift gears into a supportive stance.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Winners And Losers In India’s Dying Democracy

    As India’s economy has weakened, so too have its democratic foundations. Since Narendra Modi’s reelection victory in 2019, “the world’s largest democracy” has flirted with despotism. State institutions have been co-opted, freedoms repressed and minorities attacked. But a handful of listed companies—especially those run by tycoons with personal ties to Modi—are thriving.

    14
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    Gavekal Research

    A Mile In MbS’s Shoes

    Steve Martin once said “before you criticize a man, walk a mile in his shoes. That way, when you do criticize him, you’ll be a mile away and have his shoes”. In this piece Louis takes a stroll in Mohammed bin Salman’s shoes to see what issues Saudi Arabia has faced recently, and outlines four scenarios that affect energy prices and geopolitics.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The High Cost Of Free Money, Revisited

    It’s now more than 10 years since Charles published a seminal paper titled The High Cost Of Free Money, in which he argued that free-market capitalism could not function properly without a free-market-determined cost of capital. Today it’s clear that capital markets, at least, can continue to operate, but Charles argues this has created very little new wealth.

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    Internet Platforms Versus Policy Darlings

    China’s offshore internet platform stocks saw fresh falls in Asia on Monday morning after reports that the Chinese authorities will break up Ant Group’s Alipay business. In recent weeks, some investors have been advocating a rotation to “safer” segments of China’s tech sector, such as hardware companies favored by policymakers. But Thomas writes, these carry risks of their own.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: The Economics Of Germany's Election

    Ahead of Germany’s election in a couple of weeks, the center-left Social Democratic Party has recently climbed up the polls to eclipse the previously dominant Christian Democratic Union. If the polling is right, the SPD is likely to form a coalition government with Germany’s smaller parties. Nick breaks out the tea leaves to see what a political shift is likely to mean.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Webinar: Understanding China's Regulatory Crackdown

    Even by China’s high standards, 2021 has seen an extraordinary amount of government intervention in the economy, as top leader Xi Jinping moves aggressively to implement his vision of national greatness. In this webinar our China team assess the impact on the economy and markets, and discuss what could cause this crackdown to pause or reverse.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A British Fix To Housing

    For decades, urban England has had an under-supplied and over-bought housing market. UK governments of all political stripes have tried and failed to unblock building pipelines. Britain is hardly alone in having seen home prices rocket due to pandemic effects, but there was a grim inevitability to UK home prices rising 13% in the last year. Yet, at the same juncture, there is evidence that a mixture of decent policymaking and smart market...

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Next Level Of Activist Government

    Even by China’s high standards, 2021 has seen an extraordinary level of active government intervention in the economy. With foreign investors spooked and growth slowing, how much longer can it go on? In this chartbook, Andrew takes stock of the many aspects of the current policy activism and assesses the prospects for a course correction.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    India Macro Update: A Shaky Recovery

    India is enduring a shaky, stop-start recovery. Headline GDP growth in the April-June quarter came in at a stellar 20%, but base effects are distorting the true picture. The biggest risk for investors, argue Udith and Tom, is an uncertain monetary environment. As the Fed readies to taper its asset purchases, both exports and the bond market are vulnerable to disruption.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Economy And Volatility

    US equities have gone almost 18 months without a double-digit drawdown. Such calm is likely to trouble devotees of Hyman Minsky, who showed that excessively long periods of market stability breeds countervailing episodes of violent instability. The question is what will cause the transition to a more volatile market, or dare I say it, what could trigger a “Minsky moment”?

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Covid, Markets And What Happens Next

    Over the last 18 months, Covid developments have been a key driver of financial market performance. Louis contends that this period can be split into four distinct phases. In this piece, he asks whether we are now entering a fifth phase. To do this he weighs up both encouraging and concerning developments within the pandemic and economic policy choices that flow from them.

    6
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    What Kind Of Easing Cycle?

    It’s been clear for a couple of months now that China has begun a monetary easing cycle. What has been less clear is what kind of easing cycle will happen under the central bank’s new “cross-cyclical” policy framework. The PBOC’s guidance indicates it could start cutting rates this year, but will try to keep credit growth next year roughly flat.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    The Split In Emerging Markets

    Animals can apparently sense impending storms and so take evasive action. Low-flying birds, sneezing cats, croaking frogs, huddled sheep and sedentary cows are all said to indicate the onset of heavy rain. In global finance, emerging markets are most exposed to sudden climatic shifts and have learned the hard way that it is unwise to be exposed when a tempest strikes. The issue today is the Federal Reserve’s well-telegraphed intention to dial...

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Bottlenecks And Corporate Bond Yields

    It seems that not all parts of the US economy are created equal. As the Delta variant outbreak causes US Covid cases to soar, the service sector is taking a hit. In contrast, the less-exposed manufacturing sector saw job growth in August. The question for investors is how these somewhat conflicting forces impact different asset classes.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    How Markets Multiply Subsidies

    China’s government has vast ambitions for its industrial policy, yet it spends surprisingly little on subsidies and tax breaks. Instead, it relies on domestic capital markets for funding. In this piece, Thomas explains how markets can multiply those initial subsidies into much larger spending in the government’s favored industrial sectors.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Europe’s Taper Decision

    To taper, or not to taper is the question for the European Central Bank at Thursday’s policymaking meeting. The market seems to think that monthly bond purchases will soon be lowered by about €20bn to €80bn, as shown by 10-year German bund yields rising 14bp in the last two weeks. Economic output in the eurozone is back near pre-pandemic levels and consumer price inflation in August spiked to 3%. There have even been putative sightings of the...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: The Implications Of Afghanistan

    In the same week that the US military completed its chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, President Joe Biden outlined a more contained doctrine for US foreign policy. In this video interview, Yanmei argues against a declinist view of the Kabul dash for the exit, contending that the longer-term impact may be a much-needed reset of the American imperial project.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Most Worrying Shortage

    The world’s most traded commodity, semiconductors, is running scarce, the price of the second-most important commodity, oil, is grinding higher, and the cost of moving things around the world is soaring. All this would be worrying enough, but ask any businessperson in North America or Europe about their biggest constraint, and the answer is likely to be staffing.

    9
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    How To Create A High-Yield Bond Market

    China’s central bank has now endorsed the creation of a domestic high-yield bond market in an attempt to reverse the increasing exclusion of private-sector borrowers from existing debt markets. In this piece, Xiaoxi outlines how financial regulators are trying to increase both the supply of and demand for high-yield corporate bonds.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Problem Lurking In Malaysia

    Until a few weeks ago, Malaysia had not had a proper prime minister since the eve of the pandemic. The new incumbent emerged out of a messy negotiation and oversees a weak coalition that could easily fracture. For investors, the worry is a steady deterioration of Malaysia’s fiscal fundamentals in a trend that is being seen across non-China emerging Asia.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Earnings Top Out

    China’s non-financial listed companies reported strong sales, profit and capital expenditure growth for Q2. Thomas explains why listed earnings should decelerate into Q3 as the housing cycle turns down and export demand moderates. High retained earnings and low funding costs will continue to support capex, but appetite is likely to weaken.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Coming Slowdown In Europe’s New Orders

    European equities have had a stunning 10 months, returning 46% since the beginning of November 2020 and outperforming even the MSCI US. This performance has been driven by expectations of strong earnings growth— supported by buoyant demand and full order books. Peering ahead, however, there are good reasons to look for the pace of new orders to slow.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: How To Hedge Tighter Liquidity

    So far, markets have not panicked over the prospect of the Federal Reserve tapering its asset purchases. But when it comes, the taper will materially tighten global liquidity conditions. In this calm before the storm, investors running global portfolios should focus on their hedges.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Long Shadow Of Canada’s Election

    Canada’s federal elections rarely make headlines. This may be because whoever wins, the outcome is usually much the same. However, Canada’s September 20 election may cast a shadow that falls beyond the country’s borders. This is because, to a large extent, the election will be a referendum on Covid policies.

    4
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Flows Favor A Weaker Renminbi

    The renminbi has been strong in 2021, with the central bank largely tolerating a steady march higher in the trade-weighted CFETS index. But this trend will turn in coming months, as inflows of foreign currency on both the current and capital accounts decline. With the PBOC easing as the Fed prepares to taper, the renminbi will weaken modestly.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Who Is Copying Who?

    When China joined the WTO in 2001, western governments hoped that closer economic integration would pull China towards a more democratic system of governance. Yet two decades on, that hasn’t happened. In fact, argues Louis, recent years have seen governments in the West increasingly infringe on individual liberties for the benefit of the common good.

    17
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    Gavekal Research

    Investing Through The Taper

    After all the build-up hype, investors seem to have taken Jerome Powell saying that the Federal Reserve may soon be buying less assets in their stride. They have no doubt taken solace from the Fed chair’s promise that tapering does not mean imminent interest rate hikes, or quantitative tightening. So is the great 2021 “taper whimper” done and dusted? Perhaps not, for while the Fed’s expectation management has been slick, in the months ahead...

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    The Evolution Of China Risk

    It has been a busy summer for China watchers, with rapid shifts in underlying risks. With that in mind, a quick recap of recent events, and where those leave investors, might make sense. Let me start with the obvious increased risks:

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    China’s Interest In Afghanistan

    The western media have been full of warnings over the last week about how the US loss in Afghanistan is China’s gain, with Beijing poised to step into the vaccuum left by Washington’s withdrawal. But while China is anxious to protect its own security, it has no wish to bury itself in the graveyard of emires and will be extremely circumspect about pouring large investments into such a volataile country.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Never-Ending Chip Shortage

    Nine months after the world’s carmakers began to complain about difficulties sourcing the silicon chips they need to make their automobiles, it is becoming clear these shortages are not just the result of short-lived disruptions. Sure, the pandemic has played havoc with global hardware supply chains. But Covid is worsening underlying shortcomings baked into the semiconductor manufacturing industry. This means there will be no early end to the...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Drivers Of The Regulatory Crackdown

    What is driving China’s regulatory crackdown on internet and other companies, and what will happen next? In this piece, Ernan explains how four overlapping political campaigns by top leader Xi Jinping are behind the upheaval of recent months, and how those campaigns will guide the government’s enforcement priorities in coming years.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    How Equities Cured The Summertime Blues

    Now that equity prices have resumed their habit of setting almost daily new records, and true believers in the “buy on dips” mantra have been amply rewarded yet again, it seems worth recalling the causes of the stock market’s mini-panic in mid-July. To be more precise this was a micro-panic, lasting just five days, from July 14 to 19. What happened in those five days to rattle investors?

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Tapering The Frontier’s Prospects

    On Monday, the International Monetary Fund began disbursing a record US$650bn of its hard currency-like reserve asset to aid stressed sovereign borrowers. Since the plan was first officially mooted in March, financing costs have fallen sharply in frontier economies. The worry now is that this respite reflects the calm before a storm, which will hit when the Federal Reserve dials back its quantitative easing program.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Developers Feel The Squeeze

    The steady drumbeat of tightening on China’s property developers is taking its toll on construction activity. In this report, Rosealea explains why this weakness in construction will not unduly worry policymakers and should even help them achieve their goal of reducing steel production. Developers will therefore continue to feel the squeeze.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Germany’s Changing Political Colors

    Questioned by opinion pollsters, most Germans say the campaign ahead of the country’s September 26 federal election is dull. Yet those same opinion polls now point to the most wide-open election race in recent history. In the last few weeks, support for the center-left social democratic SPD has surged, even as the popularity of the center-right conservative CDU/CSU has slumped and the Greens have stalled.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The End Of The Cash Dump

    The US Treasury is running low on cash. Having massively ramped up its holdings of cash between April and July 2020 at the height of the Covid crisis, the Treasury has been running them down again since February 2021. Normally the Treasury aims to hold cash equal to one week of its outgoings, but it has fallen to less than half that amount.

    6
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Building A Science Superpower

    As China’s global rivalry with the US intensifies, it has focused strongly on improving science and technology. This push is not just about prestige, but also reflects a recognition that it can’t always lag behind the US in creating novel ideas. For this piece, Dan interviewed 22 scientists to evaluate the capabilities of China’s science system.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Getting The Macro Right But The Market Wrong

    In December 2020, I published a report arguing that the US economy was about to enter an inflationary boom. Things went as expected through the first quarter, but after the Fed began to talk about tightening policy at some indeterminate point in the future, the portfolio I had been recommending has done very poorly. In short, I have been wrong.

    4
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Huarong Comes Up For Air

    Huarong Asset Management announced in a press conference on Wednesday that it had reached a recapitalization agreement with government-backed investors. In this Quick Take, Wei and Xiaoxi explore the consequences for Huarong investors and the government’s wider battle against the implicit guarantee.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Housing’s Different Drivers

    High house prices may be making headlines in the US, but the homebuilding sector faces headwinds. In July, housing starts and building permit issuance for single family dwellings fell -1.7% month-on-month and -4.5%, respectively. Mortgage applications also fell, which points to weaker construction ahead (see chart below). A positive factor for US housing has been the recent decline in long-term treasury yields, yet there are good reasons to...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Asia’s Asset Quality Problem

    Economies with low vaccination rates across emerging Asia are tightening their restrictions on activity once again. So far, the economic and financial impact of the latest cycle of restrictions has been cushioned by exports and government support, but domestic demand remains depressed, private sector balance sheets have sustained damage and bank asset quality is deteriorating.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Taper Is Coming

    In less than two weeks, Jay Powell will get up to make his speech at the annual Jackson Hole gathering of central bankers. Investors should position for a clear signal that in the coming months the US will begin to taper. It is possible, even likely, that the ever-cautious Federal Reserve chief may decide to delay a few weeks, perhaps until the conclusion of the Fed’s next policy meeting on September 22. But his signal is only a matter of time....

    3
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Loan Demand Becomes A Problem

    China’s restrictions on borrowing by the property sector and local governments are proving so effective that total demand for credit is weakening. It now looks like loan growth could undershoot official expectations in the remaining months of 2021, which is raising pressure on the PBOC to cut reserve requirements or policy rates.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Saigon, Mosul Or Suez?

    The images of US diplomats scrambling onto jets at Kabul airport, of Afghan refugees fleeing to Iran, Pakistan and Tajikistan, and of the Taliban entering Kabul with barely a shot fired are disturbing viewing. For investors, the question is which is the closest historical parallel. The flying helicopters and evacuated embassies recall Saigon in 1975. The speed of the humiliation evokes the 1956 Suez Crisis. And the images of the Taliban parading...

    7
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    A Bumpy Slowdown

    Chinese economic data weakened across the board in July as disruptions caused by extreme weather exacerbated the country’s wider economic slowdown. In this report, the Dragonomics team explain why policymakers are expected to offer limited support in H2, support which will likely be insufficient to counteract the slowdown in exports and property.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Where There Is A Risk Of A Wage-Price Spiral

    After the United Kingdom released data on Thursday showing GDP grew 4.8% quarter-on-quarter in the second quarter, markets are now pricing in a near-100% chance of a rate hike by mid-June next year. In the event, 2Q21 GDP growth was a shade below the Bank of England’s forecasts. And unlike the US, the UK’s output remains below its prepandemic baseline—by 4.4%. Nevertheless, because of a contraction in the UK’s pool of potential labor following...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Coming Decline In Earnings Growth

    After 453 of the S&P 500’s constituent companies have reported for the second quarter, aggregate earnings are up 99% year-on-year. Much of this jump is attributable to base effects; the second quarter of 2020 was when lockdowns hit hardest. But not all; even stripping out base effects, earnings growth has been strong. This growth is destined to fade over the second half, as the impact of economic reopening and government stimulus abates, and...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Don't Count On An Infrastructure Boost

    With China’s government sounding more worried about growth, hopes are rising that infrastructure spending will get a boost in coming months. In this piece, Wei explains why new funding for projects will be slow to arrive. More of a boost will come by early 2022, but the upside will still be modest by historical standards.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Understanding Asia’s New Monetary Order (Part II)

    Last month, Charles reviewed the efforts China has made to build an alternative to Asia’s US-dollar-based trading system. Today, he peers into the future, and looks at what China is doing, not just to offer an alternative to the US dollar or euro, but to build a new monetary order for Asia.

    3
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Delta Stress Test

    The rapid spread of the Delta variant across China is posing the biggest challenge yet to the government’s zero-tolerance policy toward Covid-19. In this report, Ernan explains why officials are confident in the policy and will likely keep it in place for the indefinite future—at the cost of depressed travel and consumer services.

    8
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: India Backs Off Foreigner Tax

    India has been a tough place for multinationals to make big capital investments. Just this week the country’s highest court cleared the way for anti-trust action against Amazon and Walmart’s online retail platforms. However, a counter-trend move has been the government backing away from a retrospective tax that has been deployed against foreign investors.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Consequence Of The IPCC Report

    The quote I over-use most is probably Charlie Munger’s “show me the incentives and I will tell you the outcome.” With this in mind, it is no surprise that the IPCC report makes for a harrowing read. Whether you agree with its conclusions is neither here nor there. The key question is this: what will policymakers do, or want to be seen to do, in response?

    8
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    Gavekal Research

    The Gavekal V-Indicator And Tactical Asset Allocation

    The Gavekal velocity indicator has lately begun to send some potentially alarming signals. If in the next four weeks the daily indicator does not swing back to positive, then the three-month moving average will turn negative, raising a red flag. To explain why, it is first necessary to remind readers what our V-indicator is, and why it can be useful.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Building A High-Pressure Economy

    With the Biden administration’s US$550bn infrastructure bill all but clearing the Senate on Sunday, more stimulus is set to hit the US economy. Assuming the House of Representatives approves the plan, hard-hatted government contractors will soon be upgrading transport, broadband, water, and power facilities. The effect of this largely debt-funded spending will be to fuel growth in a US economy that already packs heat and faces a tightening labor...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Yen As An Antifragile Asset

    Over the last 12 months, the world’s best-performing major currency has been the renminbi, returning 10.6% against the US dollar. The second best has been the British pound, up 6%. The worst has been the yen, which is down -4%. Over the last 24 months, the best-performing two currencies were again the pound and the renminbi, which both gained 15.1%. The worst, again, was the yen, down -3.4%.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Why Commodities Trump Politics

    On the eve of the pandemic, anger at stagnant incomes, high inequality and failing institutions spurred political protests across Latin America. Then came Covid-19. The political price of these events is coming due as left-wing leaders promise voters redistributive policies. For investors, the worry is of a lurch towards unsustainable public spending.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: Global Investment Roundtable, August 2021

    The US growth outlook may be softening as the reopening boom weakens but equity markets seem relaxed as this outcome could delay the day when monetary stimulus is withdrawn. In our sign-off webinar for August, Gavekal partners asked if markets are right in their benign assessment, or whether a nasty surprise could emerge over the usually quiet summer months.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: A Healing US Labor Market

    Since the depths of the pandemic, the US labor market has recovered remarkably quickly. A key question for investors is how long strong job creation can be sustained before upward wage pressure returns. Ahead of Fridays’ payrolls report, Kai Xian outlines the key drivers of the US labor market.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Another Squeeze For Steelmakers

    Steel futures are on the rise again after several provinces announced plans to cut production. This might sound familiar: prices spiked in April and May following similar announcements. Rosealea writes that this time is different, as slowing construction activity in 2H21 should lower steel demand, making production easier to control.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    The Sobering Signal In Lumber

    Back in May, an internet meme suggested that if you wanted to impress your date by taking them somewhere really expensive, you should go to a lumber yard. No longer, as the price of US two-by-four has since cratered by two-thirds. KX examines what commodity-price moves such as this can tell us about the broader economy.

    2
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    The European Rotation

    As Europe returns towards something approaching normality, the eurozone is undergoing a rotation in economic leadership from goods to services. This rotation will go on through the second half of 2020.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Getting Kids Off Screens

    Digital gaming stocks tumbled yesterday after an editorial published in state media criticized the social consequences of video games. In this Quick Take, Ernan explains how regulators are tackling the perceived social ills of China’s youth, and why the dramatic market reaction underscores how sensitive investors have become to official guidance.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Capital Markets Balancing Act

    The pace of financial decoupling between the US and China has quickened, with regulators in both countries tightening requirements for Chinese firms seeking to list in US markets. With the SEC likely to push ahead with the delisting of Chinese firms, Thomas writes that Chinese companies will rely on Hong Kong to access global capital.

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    Is The Reflationary Trade Back On?

    Forget the recent easing signals sent by the Chinese Politburo (and consequent drop in Chinese bond yields). Forget fears about the “Delta variant” giving Western central banks cover to keep extremely loose monetary policies even as inflation rises. Forget also the upcoming US stimulus bill, or the unleashing of European fiscal expansion. A positive signal that no one is yet talking about is the deflationary signal that could have materialized,...

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    Strategy Monthly: The Global Monetary Divergence

    As the world’s three big economies—the US, the eurozone and China—recover at different speeds from the shock of Covid, their monetary policy paths are diverging. This divergence will have major implications for bond investors and foreign exchange markets.

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    Risks To The Rally

    US equities have ground higher on strong demand, easy monetary policy, and unattractive bond yields. As long as this situation remains, investors should remain moderately overweight US equities. But they should also carefully monitor three key macro risks that could upend this fairly benign investing environment.

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    Breaking Down European Inflation

    Two weeks ago, after US consumer price data for June showed inflation had climbed to a 13-year high of 5.4%, my colleague Tan Kai Xian examined the three main drivers of this year’s rise in US inflation: base effects, supply-side constraints and demand-pull factors. He concluded that base effects have started to wear off and supply-side constraints will soon begin to ease. However, demand-pull factors are set to strengthen over the coming...

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    Webinar: Europe Caught Between Stools

    The US has taken an approach to the pandemic that involves reopening and “living with Covid”, whereas most East Asian economies are heading down the "zero-Covid" path. Europe seems to be caught between these two stools. Which way Europe turns could have a big impact on global growth, the value of the euro and key asset values.

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    When Will The Regulatory Rout End?

    Investors in China’s offshore-listed stocks have suffered multiple regulatory shocks. But with both onshore and Hong Kong equities now suffering, the crackdown is hitting domestic investors. Thomas explains why this will likely change the calculus for China’s policymakers, and why regulators are now likely to adopt a more constructive tone.

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    Video: The Semiconductor Crunch And Asian Exports

    Apple's Tim Cook warned investors that it would face microchip shortages in the second half of the year. Yet last week, Taiwan Manufacturing Semiconductor said that it saw an abatement of the great chip shortage. In this video interview, Vincent seeks to reconcile these two statements, and explain what it all means for Asian exports.

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    The Evergrande Drama Plays Out

    Investor confidence in Evergrande Group, China’s second-largest property developer, has been pummeled in recent weeks. While Evergrande has managed to put out the latest round of fires, and a collapse is unlikely, Rosealea argues in this piece that market volatility for developers will probably continue as financial regulators keep on squeezing.

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    Strange Times And The Return Of TINA

    Fresh Covid-19 outbreaks, stunning Chinese regulatory actions and worries over global growth are causing US real bond yields to plumb new depths. So what is the humble investor to do? After all, historically tight US credit spreads means corporate credit is unattractive, while equities keep making new highs, pushing the S&P 500 index up 18% year-to-date. The answer may not be that complicated, as current growth data and market pricing...

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    Behind China’s Corporate Clampdown

    Private education is the latest sector to draw fire from the Chinese authorities. Their action has precipitated an abrupt slide in Hong Kong’s equity indexes as international investors bale out, alarmed at what they see as official caprice. It has also triggered a spate of questions about what lies behind the crackdown, and what the action means for the future of investing in China.

    9
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The WMP Countdown

    The clock is ticking for China’s banks to restructure the wealth-management products they have long used to evade financial regulations. Progress has been slow, but regulators have signaled they will not extend the end-2021 deadline again. However, as Xiaoxi argues in this piece, regulators will end up having to grant banks plenty of exceptions.

    5
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    A Glass Less Full

    The eurozone’s economy has continued to pick up in July, with the flash composite PMI released on Friday beating expectations to hit a 21-year high. The manufacturing component continued to fire strongly, and notably the services index topped 60 for the first time since May 2006 as governments relaxed Covid restrictions and the summer tourist season got under way. However, after nine months in which eurozone data has consistently come in ahead...

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Class Is Over For Tutoring Firms

    Policymakers launched a massive crackdown against Chinese education companies over the weekend that will likely mean the end of these companies as they are currently structured. In doing so, Ernan writes that China has signaled it is not afraid to simply shut down a large and profitable industry in order to achieve its social and political goals.

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    Low For Even Longer

    On Thursday, the European Central Bank’s decisionmakers sat down for their first monetary policy meeting since they ditched their longstanding inflation target of “below, but close to 2%” in favor of a new symmetrical target centered on 2%. That decision formalized the ECB’s shift away from its Bundesbank-style focus on price stability and enshrined its role as the guardian of eurozone financial stability.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Macro Update: Easing Into The Slowdown

    China's post-Covid boom peaked in H1 and the beginnings of a slowdown are now obvious. Although growth momentum is still quite solid, policymakers have moved pre-emptively to start a monetary easing cycle. In the latest edition of our regular chartbook, the Dragonomics team explains the outlook for the economy and markets.

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    Webinar: The State Of Global Growth

    The reflation trade has ebbed in recent weeks as investors have gotten more comfortable with the trajectory of US monetary policy and concerns have risen over the Delta variant of Covid disrupting economic opening. At the same time, China continues to crack down on its high-growth internet sector. Our team assessed the market implications of these trends.

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    Did The Equity Rotation And Bond Sell-Off End In May?

    The arrival of Covid-19 vaccines in November sparked a selloff in bonds and significant outperformance of value stocks, at least until mid-May. Having advised a bias to value stocks and keeping duration short in bond portfolios since last November Will was wrong-footed by the market moves of the past two months. Will the new trend last?

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    Gavekal Research

    The Fiscal Effect Of Zero Covid

    As a resource-rich economy, Malaysia has been buoyed by strong commodity and energy prices, yet the effect of the pandemic has been to create an unstable political situation. The governing coalition fell apart on July 8 and a new one has not been formed. Ordinarily, the way out of such a parliamentary impasse would be for an election to be held, yet with the country in a fresh lockdown due to surging Covid-19 cases, that will be difficult.

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    Video: The Debt Ceiling Is Back

    After a two-year suspension, the US debt ceiling will soon be reimposed at current levels. Official estimates suggest that the Treasury can delay defaulting on its debt for three to four months. That is shorter than the five months the Treasury was able to delay during a similar standoff over the debt ceiling in 2019. Ultimately, Congress should act and default will be avoided.

    0
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    A High-Pressure Business Cycle

    The US economy may have suffered one of its biggest ever contractions last year, but at just two months, it was one of the shortest due to aggressive policy reactions that spurred an unlikely economic boom. A worry for investors is that late-cycle stresses now emerging cause this expansion to fade as quickly as it started.

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    Gavekal Research

    China’s Afghan Quandary

    For China, the only thing worse than having the United States Army on your border is not having it there at all. When the US completes its withdrawal from Afghanistan this summer, China will have to fill the ensuing power vacuum to stave off terrorism and Islamic extremism at home, as well as protect its Belt and Road Initiative investments.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The PBOC’s Pre-Emptive Strike

    China’s surprising decision this month to cut banks’ reserve requirement ratios has upended the consensus on its policy trajectory and sown confusion in the market. In this piece, Wei explains the move was neither a panicked attempt to jump-start growth, nor a minor technical adjustment, but a pre-emptive start to a different kind of easing cycle.

    2
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    The World Becomes More Fragile

    In a July 2 paper, Didier Darcet explained how after seven months of being positive, the market reading from our Paris-run quant system had turned negative. The takeaway was that equity market volatility had “more than ever” become the indicator signaling a downturn. Watch any move in the Vix above 27 as a signal that US markets are entering the "tails" of the risk curve.

    3
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    How Monopolies Behave

    The economy is simply energy transformed. Today, we have a situation where governments in the West are attempting to kill off energy derived from fossil fuels, to which end they are subsidizing new forms of energy. The trouble is that demand for energy is growing faster than the ability of these new forms of energy to meet it.

    3
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    A Carbon Market's Slow Start

    China launched the world’s biggest carbon market last week to great fanfare. Unfortunately, Rosealea writes that it will not do much to slow China’s CO2 emissions growth, at least not initially. While the market's impact will be small at first, its architecture can be gradually strengthened to achieve more ambitious goals.

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    Rotate Back To Taiwan

    Korea and Taiwan have lately been the twin star performers among East Asia’s equity markets. Over the 12 months to the end of June, MSCI Korea returned 70% in US dollar terms, and Taiwan 69%. Both markets were supercharged by the strongest local export growth in decades. And while shipments were flattered by base effects, there was strong underlying support from the robust demand for East Asia’s exports as developed markets reopened. In addition...

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