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    Gavekal Research

    Cash Repatriation Won’t Trigger A New Buyback Boom

    With the incoming US administration promising big tax breaks on the repatriation of corporate cash piles held overseas, Wall Street is confidently predicting a renewed equity market buyback boom in 2017. On first hearing, this sounds like a reasonable expectation. For one thing, in recent years US companies have consistently chosen to plough their retained earnings—and a sizable amount of debt—into share buybacks, rather than into investment in...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Putting The Boot Into Italy

    Matteo Renzi has joined a long line of Italian prime ministers who failed to “reform” their country. This is another way of saying that he could not wave a magic wand and make Italy competitive with Germany. The grim reality is that no Italian leader stood a chance of changing their country once the fateful decision was made to peg its currency to Germany’s. At the time of the euro’s launch in 1999, I argued that the risk profile of Italy would...

    5
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Rise Of A New Conglomerate

    If China’s sputtering state enterprise reforms are going to be successful anywhere, it should be in Shandong, with its solid economy and reform-minded governor. But a closer look at Yankuang Group, the province’s poster child for SOE reform, shows that local SOEs are just becoming even larger, more complicated and less transparent conglomerates.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Assessing EMs Vulnerability To The Trump Trade

    Emerging markets have faced selling pressure since Donald Trump’s US presidential election win started to drive treasury yields higher. EM debt funds saw their largest ever outflow the week after the election, while currencies have fallen on fears of trade protectionism and more talk of the US dollar being primed for a 1980s-style super-spike. Given this basket of worries, Joyce revisits her “emerging market relative balance sheet vulnerability...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Cost Of Italy’s “No” Vote

    Europe lurched another step towards the eventual break-up of the eurozone yesterday, when the Italian electorate rejected constitutional reforms that would have broken the country’s legislative logjam, allowing much-needed economic restructuring. For European policymakers, the simultaneous rejection across the Alps of far-right candidate Norbert Hofer in Austria’s presidential election was small consolation. Hofer’s defeat shows that the...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    How Bad Is The Dollar Squeeze?

    This has not been your regular dollar squeeze. Over the last month, the cost of obtaining US dollars offshore has soared to levels last seen in “crisis” periods, yet bank equities have rallied the most in six years. Rather than a new crisis unfolding, we seem to be transitioning to a macro environment where dollars are structurally scarce. This will be challenging for weak link economies, as shown yesterday by adverse market moves in Brazil and...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Only The Start Of The Trumpflation Trade

    Three weeks after the US presidential election, and it looks as though the Trumpflation trade may be running out of puff. Far from it, argues Anatole. With US policy about to swing from monetarist to Keynesian, markets are only at the start of a long term bear market in bonds and a bull market in the US dollar that will have enormous repercussions on asset prices around the world.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Something's Gotta Give

    Louis Gave held a conference call on December 6 where he discussed the state of global markets as the US gets ready for a Trump presidency. The fundamental challenge for investors is that while equities and the US dollar have rallied strongly and bonds have sold off in a “Trump reflation trade,” it is not clear how long that trade can withstand the reality of Trump’s economic program.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Making Sense Of The Housing-Commodity Nexus

    Early sales data confirm that China’s property cycle took another step down in November. Yet no one seems to have told the commodity markets: even as property sales have cooled off, prices have heated up, with domestic futures for steel, copper, and coal jumping 20-40% in November. In this piece, Rosealea explains how to read these mixed signals.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Gavekal Monthly: Preparing For The Trumped-Up Economy

    Markets have been on a startling trajectory since Donald Trump upended investors’ assumptions with his win in the US presidential election. In this issue of the Monthly two Gavekal partners ask whether the macro environment really has fundamentally shifted due to the emerging policy platform of the president-elect.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Italy Down To The Wire

    In Italy “less is more” when it comes to opinion polling in the final days of an election campaign, hence the last formal snapshot of voting intentions in Sunday’s constitutional referendum was released on November 18. That poll put the “No” camp squarely ahead by 55% to 45%, which if born out would likely spark the resignation of Matteo Renzi, Italy’s pro-reform prime minister. Still, nature hates a vacuum and the ban on formal polling is...

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Don't Blame The Property Speculators

    Is a love of speculation sapping firms’ appetite for real investment? As Chinese companies slow spending on fixed assets, they are buying more investment properties—sparking concern about a “hollowing out” of the economy. Thomas says the blame is misplaced; property speculation is an effect not a cause of firms slowing capex as the economy cools.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Wicksellian Spread Update

    US economic growth and corporate profits both rebounded in the third quarter. Yesterday the Bureau of Economic Analysis revised its number for 3Q16 growth in gross domestic product up from 2.9% to 3.2% year-on-year. At the same time the BEA also released its first estimate of 3Q corporate profits, which at first glance also looked positive. For example, profits in the domestic non-financial sector jumped by an annualized 24% in 3Q, after falling...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Why Oil Production Cuts Won’t Work

    In January 1991, in a last-ditch effort to avoid all-out war, United Nations secretary general Javier Perez de Cuellar flew to Baghdad in an attempt to persuade Saddam Hussein to withdraw his forces from Kuwait. On his return to Paris, the secretary general spoke to the press in an address that was carried live on television. Nowhere was the broadcast watched more keenly than on the floor of the International Petroleum Exchange in London....

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Debt Restructuring Toolbox

    Debt restructuring transactions are finally starting to happen in China, after years of warnings about the dangers of rising corporate debt. Yet there is no sign of a repeat of the huge state-led bailouts of the late 1990s. There will be many smaller deals to help individual firms cut debt, but these won’t add up to an overall deleveraging.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Riding The US Monetary Cycle

    In market conditions that abound with conflicting signals, KX argues that investors should keep a close eye on an adjusted measure of real US money supply growth as an early warning signal of recession, and suggests how a tool based on this measure could make a useful allocation tool for equity managers.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Risk-On And The Rising US Dollar

    Inflation is when the haircut that used to cost you US$20 back when you had hair now costs you US$30. Looking at recent market moves, it seems that investors are increasingly pricing in, and even welcoming, a higher rate of US inflation. In a world in which deflation is a problem, currency depreciations such as those we have just witnessed (whether of the yen, the euro, the renminbi etc.) are bad news, for they accentuate deflationary pressures...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Polls, Big Data And The French Primary

    It’s been said that big data is like carnal knowledge in teenage boys’ locker rooms: everyone talks about it, but noone really knows much about it. A slew of election results in the last few years supports such a viewpoint, for in an age when everything can supposedly be measured, political forecasts have been proven hugely flawed—the UK general election in 2015, the Brexit vote, the Colombian peace-process referendum, Donald Trump winning the...

    8
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    Gavekal Research

    The Rally In European Banks

    More than four months after it bottomed out one and a half standard deviations below its 200-day moving average, the Euro STOXX banks index has rallied 34% and is once again trading at the levels it was at immediately before the summer’s steep post-Brexit losses. Yet despite the rebound the index remains down -18% year to date, and with a clutch of the factors that precipitated the initial sell-off—notably negative interest rates, shaky capital...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Lady Is Not For Turning

    As she kicked off her general election campaign this week, Angela Merkel declared that Germany “had never had it so good”. The economy is humming so nicely that Germany’s council of economic advisors recently warned about overheating. This would seem to rule out a fiscal stimulus, which conflicts with Brussels’ policy of engineering a more expansionary fiscal environment.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Austerity Lingers In Britain

    Rumors of the death of fiscal austerity are greatly exaggerated, at least in Europe. That is the most important lesson for global markets from the UK Treasury’s long-awaited budgetary response to the Brexit vote. Many investors believed in the immediate aftermath of the British referendum that this shock might be the catalyst for more expansionary fiscal policies all over the world. In the past two weeks, the prospect of a Trump fiscal stimulus...

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Chinese Consumer: Outlook & Trends 2016

    In our latest annual review of the Chinese consumer, Ernan covers the most important cyclical and structural trends. This chartbook summarizes the macro drivers of household income, saving and spending; explains what’s booming and what’s not within various consumer markets; and unpacks the fundamentals of the internet economy.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Italian Domino Teeters

    My thesis has for a while been that we are living in an era characterized by the “little man” revolting against the global elite. I explained this idea in May using the perhaps apocryphal tale of a South Pacific island made up of home-loving tree dwellers and more adventurous boat travellers (see Trump And The Tree People). The point was that the normally laid back people of the trees were stirring from their torpor as shown by the Brexit vote...

    8
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: European Political Dominos

    In the aftermath of the Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s win in the US presidential election, attention has shifted to the eurozone with the assumption that more dominos must topple under the gathering populist political wave. In this video interview Nick considers the good, the bad and the ugly of the European political scene and offers pointers for navigating these risks.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Stagnation or Bust? A Wicksellian Chart Dashboard

    For users’ convenience, we provide below the complete set of charts published in Charles Gave’s November 2016 book Stagnation or Bust? A Wicksellian View of the Natural Interest Rate, the Market Rate and Asset Allocation, with interactive graphics available for Macrobond subscribers.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Investing By The (Wicksellian) Book

    As regular readers will know, I have spent much of the last 10 years studying, and attempting to enlarge upon, the work of the great 19th century Swedish economist Knut Wicksell. My mission has been two-fold: firstly to understand how Wicksell’s writings explain what we see happening in the global economy today, and secondly to translate his theories into practical tools to help investors make asset allocation decisions in the real world.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    A New Tech Cycle?

    Weak Japanese exports for October were not a big surprise given that the yen has been strong and global trade remains lackluster. Yet buried within recent (dreary) trade releases is evidence pointing to a new semiconductor investment cycle. The first signal, from official data at least, came in Japan’s 3Q16 GDP report which showed growth at 0.5%, versus an expected 0.2%, with the difference explained by exports of electronic components and...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    A Permanent Surplus Of Power

    China’s excess supply of coal-fired electricity is now more extreme than ever—and is only getting worse. This huge misallocation of resources was caused by policies that tried to restrain demand for power, but ended up encouraging its supply. As a result, electricity rates are falling, but not quickly or substantially enough to fix the problem.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    A Cautionary Note On US Housing

    After months of anemic activity, US homebuilding picked up in October. This is a welcome development, given that residential construction is a key leading indicator for the overall economy, and that lately it has been close to sending a recession signal (see On The Brink Of Recession). However, the magnitude of the improvement should not be overstated. While housing starts did post the biggest monthly increase since 1982, this is a volatile...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Hong Kong Seminar — November 2016

    Arthur Kroeber presented his thoughts on the outcome of the US election, as well as an analysis of China's leadership politics. Will Denyer presented his thoughts on the US economy. Tom Miller gave an optimistic take on reforms in India under Modi's government.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Why So Calm In Emerging Markets?

    Historically, a strengthening US dollar has been bad news for emerging markets; just think of the Asian crisis of 1997. And rising US long rates do not exactly help; consider the taper tantrum of 2013. Put them together then, and throw the prospect of greater trade protectionism into the mix, and the current global environment should be absolutely toxic for emerging market assets. Yet despite considerable local pain, notably in Mexico, the...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Making America Great Again

    Markets have been sending contradictory signals since the US political equation changed radically 10 days ago. In this piece, Louis seeks to unscramble the mixed messages as he tries to feel his way into the new investment environment.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Better Late Than Never

    When Brussels officials admitted in May that there was scope to loosen Europe’s fiscal straitjacket, this seemed like an expedient measure so that counties could breach their deficit limits without being penalized (see Fiscal Rules Are There To Be Broken). It is now clear that this shift was more than a one-off accommodation and the policymaking ground has moved. Yesterday the European Commission updated its view on state spending with a...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Trouble With Monopsonies

    What happens when a company is so successful that it becomes the dominant buyer of labor in its market? It then has an incentive to hold down workers’ incomes, even at the expense of reduced output. As Charles argues, such “monopsonies” are increasingly acting as a drag on economic growth. Yet in an environment of free trade, there is little national governments can do.

    15
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    Gavekal Research

    Arthur Kroeber: A New Era Of Sino-US Relations

    While Donald Trump has threatened to slap huge tariffs on Chinese exports, Arthur thinks this would be an act of self-harm given the economic co-dependence between China and the US. In this video interview, he maps out the likely evolution of relations between the two countries in the years ahead.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Trump’s Tax Plans And The Dollar

    Following last week’s US election result, the US dollar—as represented by the DXY index—has risen to test the upper bound of the range that has prevailed since the first quarter of 2015. At these levels the US currency looks overvalued, both in real effective exchange rate terms against other major currencies, and on a purchasing power parity basis. Yet it would be premature to bet against a break-out to the upside. Although the dollar’s REER is...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    When You Sleep With An Elephant

    It is always comforting to be back in familiar territory. In a long career in investment—45 years and counting—I have seen a few Mexican crises. All these years on, I have fond memories of the 1976 peso devaluation, and of the subsequent 1980 devaluation. I remember the 1982 debt crisis well, and the “década perdida”—the lost decade—which followed. Then came the hyperinflation of the early 1990s which led to the introduction in 1993 of the new...

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Behind The Curtain At "Double Eleven"

    Alibaba has grabbed headlines once again by racking up RMB120.7bn in online purchases during its one-day promotional event on November 11. But these enormous numbers are achieved through elaborate promotional schemes that distort consumer behavior, and no longer provide any real information about the China consumer story.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Trumpian Europe?

    Donald Trump’s win in the US presidential election has emboldened populist movements in continental Europe and raised the specter of a similar anti-establishment electoral wave taking hold. The next 10 months will see national votes that could reshape Europe, with perhaps the most important happening in Italy on December 4. Myself and Nick Andrews have argued all year that the European Union is in the grip of destructive centrifugal forces due...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Decision Tree From Here

    For months, I have argued that the MSCI World’s push to within a couple of percentage points of its all time high was driven by two powerful forces: the extremely low level of global bond yields, and the continued compression of foreign exchange volatility. I went as far as to argue that this environment was reminiscent of 1986-87, and the Louvre Accord, whose breakdown ultimately triggered the 1987 crash (see Forget Central Banks, Watch Foreign...

    6
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Risk Avoidance Strategy

    China’s economy has turned in another slate of decent growth data for October. The three drivers of loose credit, recovering construction, and rising commodity prices that have supported the economy are still holding firm. But Andrew cautions that the government’s objective is not exactly growth at all costs, but rather avoiding downside risks.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Prospects For The US Bond Market

    Back in July, I wrote a paper on the US bond market which came to the conclusion that things were getting complicated. My thesis at the time was that there was no value left in the US long bond—the 30-year treasury—and that it could no longer be used as a hedge against a potential deflationary bust. At the time the long bond yield was around 2.3%. Since then the election of Donald Trump as president of the US has had a severe impact on bond...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research November Call

    Anatole Kaletsky, Arthur Kroeber and Charles Gave presented their views on what a Donald Trump presidency means. Anatole outlined both positive and negative potential outcomes. On the positive side, US growth could see a boost from expansionary fiscal policy, but isolationist trade policies could threaten US firms and equity prices. Arthur warned of the geopolitical risk of a power vacuum should the US pull back from its treaty obligations....

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Arthur Kroeber: What A Trump Presidency Means

    This is an excerpt from Arthur Kroeber's presentation at Gavekal's Hong Kong seminar on November 10. In this video Arthur presents his initial thoughts on the changes in the political situation in the US, and what it means for the rest of the world.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Trump’s Bond Market Correction

    The new US leadership was always likely to inherit a bond market correction. Now, the Republicans’ clean sweep in winning control of the White House and both houses of Congress significantly increases the odds of a deep bond market sell-off. Which in turn will be likely to knock equities down a few notches.

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    India’s Banknote Bombshell

    While the world’s attention was riveted on this week’s US election, India sprang a surprise.On Tuesday Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the immediate demonetization of all existing banknotes with denominations of INR500 and INR1,000—note issues which together accounted for nearly 90% of the total currency in circulation by value.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    What A Trump Presidency Means For Global Investors

    The social and geopolitical implications of the Trump shock are much too complex and too charged with emotion for instant assessments to be worthwhile. Even in the case of ordinary presidential elections, the immediate first-day market reaction usually turns out to be wrong. I will therefore try to avoid moral judgements and confine myself largely to economic observations, dividing them into ten items of good and bad news from a strictly...

    3
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Advantage Shifts To China

    Donald Trump’s victory was also a victory for Xi Jinping. Trump’s more isolationist stance and transactional attitude hands the edge to China in the battle for influence in Asia. Trump’s threats of economic warfare with China are also mostly empty; if anything, Beijing has gained a bit of advantage in its bilateral ties with the US.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Trump, Risk, And The Renminbi

    Will the election of Donald Trump prove to be a major “risk-off” event for the Chinese currency and financial assets? Trump’s policies do make it more likely the US dollar will strengthen, and thus that the renminbi will keep weakening. But the chance of an uncontrolled move in the currency is still low, and the stock market also looks insulated.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    President Trump And The Fall Of Davos Man

    For decades, all around the world but especially in Europe, the notion of the sovereign nation has been under fierce attack. Leading the assault have been the international bureaucrats and a clique of economists in league with those I have dubbed the men of Davos, all of them resolute proponents of crony capitalism (see Dissolving The People).

    8
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    Gavekal Research

    When Elites Fail

    Burkean conservative in me wants to agree with de Tocqueville: the passions unleashed by this election will hopefully once again, go back into their box for the next three and half years, only to be stirred up again the next time the electoral cycle comes around. Still, there are two elements of this week’s vote that do raise discomfort.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Very Chinese Reshuffle

    The forces of market-oriented economic reform in China seemed to take a hit yesterday when it was announced that the tough-talking finance minister Lou Jiwei was stepping down from his post. But contrary to what the Western media suggests, this was not at all the untimely end of a superstar reformer who was achieving spectacular results.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Deteriorating Price Momentum And Rising Political Risk

    As of Friday’s close the S&P 500 had recorded nine consecutive down days, falling back to its 200-day moving average. One can point the finger for this pull-back at any of several factors: broadly disappointing earnings (ex-financials), rising foreign exchange volatility (see Is Perfidious Albion Undermining The ‘Shanghai Agreement?’), higher long term interest rates and, of course, rising political risk. Unfortunately, none of these forces...

    2
  • Gavekal Research

    Joyce Poon: Market Timing In Asia

    Investors need to get nimbler in playing Emerging Asia’s equity markets due to the lack of any clear trend that dates back to 2010. Joyce outlines a trading strategy that can potentially make a big difference to performance.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    A Good Quarter For Corporate China

    China’s listed firms have finished reporting Q3 earnings, and they turned in a good quarter. Net profits at the median nonfinancial firm rose 14% YoY, picking up from 9% in Q2, while sales growth accelerated to 10% from 6%. Both industrial and consumer sectors did well. In this piece, Thomas analyzes the latest key trends in corporate earnings.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Go Contrarian In Asia

    Investing in Emerging Asia is tricky due to the high volatility that exists within the overall trend of the region’s asset markets. Hence, market-timing has become a fairly essential strategy. It was not always so, for between the mid-1980s and 2010 Emerging Asia was a fairly straightforward call—“all in” worked during structural bull markets, and “all out” was the way to go during periodic bear markets.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Heaping Uncertainty On Brexit Doubt

    Markets and media were shocked by yesterday’s High Court judgement that UK prime minister Theresa May must seek parliamentary approval before pursuing her Brexit strategy. But for London’s legal community the decision was not unexpected. Many senior lawyers had predicted that the ruling would go against the government, if only because its case was so poorly presented by the Attorney General, who was forced for political reasons to concede the...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Neil Newman: Japanese Equities — Good For A Rally?

    The Bank of Japan has rolled back the date that it expects to hit its 2% inflation target, the economy is soft and foreign investors have thoroughly given up on Japanese equities. So why does Neil think there is a good chance of a decent “Santa rally” going into the year end. In this video interview he explains.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The New Frontier In Aerospace

    The highlight of this week’s Zhuhai airshow in Southern China was a fly-past by two of the People’s Liberation Army’s new J-20 warplanes, touted as China’s first stealth aircraft. Western military analysts reserved their judgment, pointing out they had learned nothing new about the aircraft, except that it was very noisy. Nevertheless, the broader message from Zhuhai was clear, echoing a similar message broadcast by the Japan International...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Will Denyer: Assessing US Recession Risk

    Despite recent headline data releases being mildly encouraging, Will is worried that the US economy is limping toward recession territory. In this video interview he discusses his framework for assessing the US economy and proposes investment strategies to deal with what he sees as the two most likely scenarios; namely, an outright contraction or a mild growth pick-up associated with rising inflation.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Good Bond Repricing, Anyone?

    Even after the recent move higher in yields, there is general agreement at Gavekal that long-dated bonds remain horribly overvalued. The question is whether the adjustment toward fair value happens in a disruptive manner, or through a smooth transition to a new growth cycle. Anatole tends to the view that US economic growth should pick up from here, while Will Denyer is on recession-watch. The Federal Reserve, for its part, is worried about...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Can India Grow By Day?

    “India grows at night,” goes a popular saying, “when the government sleeps.” Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promised to change all that as he thinks that effective governance will enable India to “grow by day.” In this piece Tom assesses the changing mechanics of government in India with a particular focus on digital solutions that have the potential to bypass an often self-interested and sclerotic bureaucracy.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Squeeze On Capex Loosens

    After slowing for years, fixed-asset investment in manufacturing and mining is showing signs of steadying as stimulus policies stabilize demand for their products. Manufacturing FAI could even recover modestly to 6-8% real growth next year. But firms’ caution after years of growth disappointment is unlikely to suddenly turn to exuberance.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    The Economics Behind Korea’s Political Scandal

    The political turmoil engulfing South Korea claimed the scalps of both the prime minister and the finance minister on Wednesday, as embattled president Park Geun-hye opted for a cabinet reshuffle in a bid to shore up her sagging administration. In recent months Korea has seen the bankruptcy of Hanjin Shipping, the country’s largest shipping company, and the recall of millions of Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 phones, the flagship product from the...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A European Head Fake

    Should investors be worried by a German bond market sell-off that has seen 10-year bund yields rise some 30bp over the last month? The last time European yields climbed this quickly, in early 2015, eurozone stocks swooned in the following year, with the benchmark index falling -27% peak-to-trough. Moreover, unlike the US which has seen a long expansion, it is not clear that a still weak eurozone can handle a rise in the cost of money.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Gavekal Monthly: Deflation Ends; What Next?

    The biggest market move of the past month was a significant rise in bond yields across the US and Europe. Much commentary has suggested that this might be a symptom of a sustained rise in inflationary pressures, as wages and rents start to push up prices in the US, and Chinese producer prices end four long years spent in negative territory. We are skeptical. The recent rise in yields has so far reversed only half of the decline in the first half...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    On The Brink Of Recession

    Full steam ahead, then? Friday’s release of the first GDP estimate for 3Q16 headline showed US growth rising to an annualized 2.9%, up from 1.4% in 2Q and 0.8% in 1Q. On the face of it, this reading points to the US economy emerging from yet another soft patch, and so backing away from the recession frontier. Not so fast. A close look at the underlying components of the GDP report reveals the US as being perilously close to that threshold.

    4
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The New Reality Of Housing Prices

    The wild ride of Chinese housing prices is a sign of how the housing market has become more speculative and policy-driven as fundamental demand has peaked. Policies intended to help small cities have only made prices in the largest cities frothier. Rosealea thinks this policy-driven volatility in prices will continue even as the cycle turns down.

    0
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    Sterling Sellers Look Flushed Out

    Here is a simple question: “Why has the pound fallen so far, so fast?”. My simple answer is that the City of London is the world’s dominant financial center, and so pretty much anyone who deals in global markets has a significant exposure to sterling. As a result, the near term movements of sterling are being dictated less by every twist and turn of the Brexit process, but rather by more prosaic financial transactions.

    9
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Power Politics After The Plenum

    Economic policy in China is now entirely beholden to political demands for stability ahead of next year’s Communist Party Congress. Whether things change after depends on how much “core” leader Xi Jinping further strengthens his power, and how much he cares about reform. In this piece, Arthur assesses the outlook after this week’s Sixth Plenum.

    0
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    When The Keynesian Multiplier Goes Negative

    Last week I published a paper whose main point was that Keynesian policies lead to an inevitable decline in an economy’s structural growth rate (see Is The Second Shoe About To Drop?). My immediate concern is that developed economies seem set to head off on another public spending binge as they try to slay “secular stagnation”. That piece stirred a number of questions from readers, so I am following up with an addendum that extends the argument...

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    Equities Decouple From The Renminbi

    The renminbi fell to a six-year low of CNY6.78 to the US dollar this week, capping a -3% fall since June. In recent years, similar moves sparked turmoil in stock markets at home and abroad. Yet this time investors have largely ignored it and both A-share and H-share indexes have ripped higher. Why is a weak renminbi no longer a risk-off event?

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    When The Facts Change, I Change My Mind

    After the Brexit vote, Anatole became deeply bearish, fearing that a populist insurgency could unleash a destructive retreat from globalization. With the US electorate seemingly set to reject that pathway on November 8, the likelihood of other nations following Britain by turning in on themselves is greatly diminished.

    17
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    Gavekal Research

    The End Of The Goldilocks Scenario?

    Over the last seven years global investors have benefited greatly from a combination of moderate growth and non-threatening inflation, allowing for constantly loose monetary policy. Yet for the US, we are increasingly concerned that, one way or another, this “Goldilocks scenario” is about to come to an end. Here’s why:

    4
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    Europe’s Breakout Problem

    The eurozone’s cyclical recovery remains less than stellar, yet at least it lives. The single currency area’s composite flash PMI for October recorded its strongest reading since January 2015, rising to 53.7 against an expected 52.8.The reading was flattered by weakness in the last two months, but confirms that Europe has, for now at least, weathered the Brexit vote shock. What is especially encouraging is the breadth of the improvement, which...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Household Debt: How Fast Can It Grow?

    Discussions about China’s debt usually focus on corporate and local government borrowing, but households have also become more important. The level of household debt is no longer low, and since 2015 it has become the major driver of credit growth. In this piece, Chen Long investigates the limits to China’s new embrace of household leverage.

    2
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    Safety First In EMs

    After a steady rise in emerging market inflows over the last seven months, tighter US financial conditions have led to an abrupt reversal. On the back of inflation concerns and a stronger US dollar, the seven day moving average of daily portfolio flows to EMs, as of last Monday, had fallen to its lowest level since the renminbi-induced sell-off 14 months ago. EMs are vulnerable to an externally-induced pull-back, for even if key central banks...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Andrew Batson: What Next For Chinese Growth?

    Chinese policymakers are set on maintaining economic stability ahead of a crucial Communist Party meeting next year—but while that means stabilizing growth it also means pushing back against a property bubble. In this video interview, Andrew assesses the tactical trade-offs that must be made in support of the strategy of stability.

    0
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    The Milton Friedman I Knew

    In the late 1970s, when beavering away at my own little research firm, I received a letter from a “senior research analyst” at the Hoover Institution, named Milton Friedman. In the letter Friedman wrote that he agreed with some of what I had written in a recent report, but other sections had problems. He had gotten the paper from one of my clients, and I’ll admit it sent me just a bit over the moon.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Japan Does An Apple

    The Bank of Japan and the Japanese government have done their best to stop a grinding appreciation of the yen, but to no great avail. The unit is up 14% this year against the US dollar, which has seemingly delivered a body blow for the monetary easing “arrow” in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s 2012 revival quiver. This is certainly the view of foreign investors who this year have pulled money out of Japan at the fastest rate since 1987. And yet a...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Is The Second Shoe About To Drop?

    Keynesian beliefs are based on two key ideas. Firstly, recessions are caused by an excess of savings among nasty types known as rentiers. Secondly, if there is a shortage of demand, the government should conjure it up out of thin air by borrowing money to spend as needed. In the last few years we’ve seen what happens when the first of these two ideas is put into practice. Policymakers around the world have attempted to euthanize the rentier, and...

    14
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    Gavekal Research

    London Seminar — October 2016

    Charles Gave, Joyce Poon, Tom Miller and Anatole Kaletsky outlined their views on issues ranging from the end of the Pax Americana, global asset allocation in the face of increasingly ineffectual monetary policy, India's growth potential, and the imminent uncertainty for markets in the face of political risk.

    0
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    No Change In Frankfurt

    Despite multiple European Central Bank officials protesting a steady-as-she-goes approach to monetary policy, the recent rise in eurozone bond yields reflects market concern about a potential tapering of its bond buying. After all, inflation has ticked higher, European banks continue to grumble about a profit-sapping yield curve and the ECB’s dealing desk in Frankfurt will soon run out of eligible bunds to buy. Despite all that, tomorrow will...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Three Pillars Of Stability

    China has now delivered real GDP growth of 6.7% three quarters in a row—a stability that is uncanny even by its standards. Such stability is even more prized than usual by the government, now preoccupied with next year’s Communist Party Congress. In this piece Andrew assesses how much longer the three pillars supporting this stability can hold up.

    0
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    What Next For Libor Rates?

    The Federal Reserve has not hiked rates this year, but that has not stopped funding cost for US companies and foreign banks from rising. While risk-free rates have barely budged, 3-month LIBOR is up 30bp YTD from 0.6% to 0.9%. This widening of short-term credit spread stems from (i) stress in Europe’s banking sector, and (ii) fund flows ahead of a regulatory overhaul of US “prime” money market funds, which took effect on Friday (see Ripples In...

    3
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    Is Perfidious Albion Undermining The 'Shanghai Agreement'?

    Back in the early 1980s, foreign exchange volatility wreaked havoc on business spending plans and countries’ ability to repay foreign currency debt. To remedy this situation, the world’s key financial policymakers got together to agree on a plan for coordinating monetary policies; the idea was to reduce currency volatility and so limit the scope for financial shocks.

    2
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    Thailand’s Transition

    Perhaps the one thing that Thailand’s polarized political tribes have agreed on in recent times is that the passing of their (generally) popular king would mark a pivotal moment of transition. King Bhumibol Adulyadej, 88, who died yesterday was a steady presence who stopped violent political struggles from morphing into a general civil conflict. The concern is that this restraint now goes out of the window, as opponents to the royalist...

    0
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    The Strange Case Of The US Trade Deficit

    The last three years saw the US dollar move from being an undervalued currency to an overvalued one, and yet the US trade balance has barely budged. This contrasts sharply with past periods of dollar strength which produced huge US trade deficits that were a boon to global exporters, and also to financial markets which got a liquidity boost. The fear for emerging economies in particular is that this relationship has broken down and a reliable...

    3
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    What Does The Italian Elite Want?

    Should we care about the Italian referendum? Without wanting to sound smug toward what remains Europe’s second prettiest country, I can’t remember ever witnessing an Italian election with consequences beyond its own borders. But the December 4th referendum could be such a first: an Italian election that matters.

    3
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Equality Engine Is Stalling

    For all its leaders’ talk of a “new normal,” China has not weaned itself off the “old normal” of housing and investment-led growth. That model was in fact a powerful engine for reducing regional inequality, so it has much political support. The engine has now stalled—but rather than swap in a new one, the government keeps revving the old one.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Rising Odds Of A US Recession

    We are on recession watch after yesterday’s release of September’s NFIB small business optimism survey. It was not the headline number which got us worried—that ticked down from 94.4 to 94.1. Rather, it was the significant drop in the job openings component—from 30 to 24, or from a cyclical high to the lowest level in 15 months. This suggests that demand for US labor may be rolling over, which is concerning indeed.

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    Tan Kai Xian & Leonor du Jeu: The US Trade Deficit Conundrum

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Housing & Construction Review 2016

    In the latest edition of our annual overview of housing and construction in China, Rosealea summarizes the short- and long-term outlook for these key economic drivers. This concise chartbook provides 2017 forecasts for major indicators, and covers topics such as changes in housing policy, structural trends in demand, and the state of inventories.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The World's New Tax Haven

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

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research October Call

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

    0
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    The British Pound: A Two Year View

    The British pound has been on a roller coaster ride to the point that on a purchasing power parity basis it is undervalued by about 10% against the euro and 17.5% versus the US dollar. As a result, sterling has been left 2% below its lower bound against the euro (in average standard deviation terms) and 9% versus the dollar on the same measure. Put another way, the pound is undervalued by more than one standard deviation against the euro and by...

    13
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    Gavekal Research

    India’s Race To The Top

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    As Goes The Pound, So Go Eurozone Exports

    In European capitals this week schadenfreude will no doubt have been expressed at the diminished status of the UK economy and its currency. This morning’s “flash crash” in the pound most likely had technical causes, but the fact the exchange rate could fall so hard without generating automatic buying responses says much about confidence in the unit. Sterling has been under pressure since Prime Minister Theresa May earlier this week said she will...

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Emerging From The Soft Patch

    Three weeks ago we asked whether the uniform weakness in US data—across manufacturing, services and home construction—signaled the start of a recession or merely a summer soft patch. At the time we concluded that what we were seeing was yet another soft patch. Thankfully, the latest round of data releases appears to confirm that conclusion, with the US economy now emerging from its summer doldrums.

    0
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    Pierre Gave: Can Sweden Escape The Negative Rate Trap?

    On the surface, Sweden’s two-year experiment with zero, and then negative, interest rates appears to have worked well. Growth is strong by developed world standards, and the economy has escaped deflation. But this success has come at the price of an asset price bubble that looks increasingly dangerous. Pierre Gave assesses the risk, and examines possible exit routes for the Riksbank.

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