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  • Gavekal Research

    Four Quadrants: The Growth Question

    Charles has been on a near 40 year quest to find a rules-based solution to the most basic of economic questions “what is the current situation?”. He has long used his Four Quadrants methodology which categorizes an economy as being in either an inflationary boom or bust, or alternatively a disinflationary boom or bust. In the first part of this series he proposed a framework to show whether the US was in the inflationary or disinflationary part...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    No Need To Fear For The HK Dollar

    In times as volatile as these, a currency move of 0.8% in a week hardly sounds remarkable. But when the currency is the Hong Kong dollar, people sit up and pay attention. As sentiment towards China’s renminbi has turned deeply bearish over the last few weeks, the Hong Kong dollar has moved away from the strong side of its HKD7.75-7.85 convertibility band against the US currency. In early trading on Wednesday, the Hong Kong dollar reached HKD7....

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Keep Calm And Rebalance Into Equities

    The investment environment has not fundamentally changed since December. Then as now, the situation neither justifies being “all in” nor “all out”. Since the economic situation is worsening, a balanced portfolio of some type makes sense—unless there's evidence of a looming US recession. In my view, that time has not yet come.

    3
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Two Speeds, Both Slower

    China’s “two-speed” economy coasted to a moderate slowdown in 2015, with rapid gains in services helping offset a downturn in industry. But industry will worsen further in 2016, and the recent strength in services will prove to be cyclical. We think this slowdown will be gradual, but are watching risks in the financial sector and the job market.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Turning Point For Excess Capacity

    2015 saw historic declines in China’s output of coal and steel—which are far from over. Falling commodity prices have brought the excess-capacity sectors to a turning point, finally forcing them to cut output. More producers will cut in 2016, at a pace similar to or faster than in 2015; the government is talking tough but prefers a gradual process.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Looking For The Bright Side

    By most measures, the first two weeks of 2016 have been the worst-ever start of the year for risk assets. With the MSCI All-Countries index down nearly -20% from last May’s high, we are now in a global bear market.

    1
  • Gavekal Research

    The Oil Market Confusion

    Enough is enough. The oil price collapse that began in the autumn of 2014 may have hit rock-bottom, at least for the time being. Having stayed stubbornly bearish ever since the oil market’s transition from a Saudi monopoly to a normal competitive pricing regime (see Oil: Lower For Longer) it is appropriate to regularly review our assumptions. After the huge price moves of the past two weeks, this review now suggests turning neutral or even...

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    High Yield Worries

    Attention may have focused yesterday on the oil price collapse and its knock-on to US equities, but there was also grim price action in the sub-investment grade debt markets—the high yield master index fell back towards its December low, while the CCC-rated index breached that threshold. This pain can be attributed to worsening conditions in the energy sector, where the chance of large scale defaults increases with each lurch lower in the crude...

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Retreating From An International Renminbi

    Behind the recent turbulence in markets lies an important shift in China’s longer-term currency strategy. The drive to internationalize the renminbi, which required keeping the currency strong, has run out of steam. Now that the central bank has gotten much of what it wanted, internationalization is no longer driving currency policy.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Unintended Consequences

    Forget the Brazilian real and the Chinese renminbi. The world’s worst performing major currency over the last month is actually the British pound, which has fallen a painful -4.95% against the US dollar since mid-December. The beating has been especially brutal in recent days. After data released yesterday showed British manufacturing output is still languishing not just below its 2008 level, but even below its 1997 level, sterling slumped...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Stronger Macro, Sinking Stocks

    The latest macro indicators leave little doubt about the general direction of the eurozone economy. Both hard and soft data suggest that growth re-accelerated from a meagre 0.3% QoQ (1.2% annualized) in 3Q15, probably to 0.4%-0.5% (1.6%-2.0% annualized) at the turn of the year. Eurozone unemployment declined to a four-year low in December, and the economic sentiment indicator compiled by the European Commission from business and consumer surveys...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Is Japan’s Building Boom For Real?

    As followers of our specialist Gavekal Japan Alpha service will know, something of a construction boom is emerging in Japan. At first glance this seems surprising, especially given that Japan is pedaling into some severe demographic headwinds. According to the 2010 national census, Japan’s population did grow between 2005 and 2010—but only by 0.2% over the five-year period, to reach 128mn. Over the coming decades, that anemic demographic growth...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    China: Still Off Course

    We began 2016 thinking that China’s policymakers had learned some lessons from last year; obviously, last week’s mayhem proved us wrong. But the real problem with the missteps on the currency and the stock market is not that collapse is imminent. Rather, it is that the leadership is not setting a clear course toward a more market-driven economy.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    It’s About The Dollar, Not The Renminbi

    In my 50 year career working in financial markets, I have never seen the money supply of one country move across the border to another country. Hence I must confess to being perplexed when reading recent commentary fretting about “capital flight” from China. Never mind that China’s highest denomination bill is RMB100, meaning that a fleet of trucks would be needed to move any meaningful sums into Hong Kong, but the country still has foreign...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Going Down With The Renminbi

    Emerging markets have faced significant headwinds ever since the “taper tantrum” of mid-2013 when investors began to factor in tightening moves by the Federal Reserve. Their headache got much worse last summer when China allowed a mini-devaluation of the renminbi, and 2016 is hardly starting well. The root problem is that most emerging markets are over-geared and need to ease policy if growth is to be kick-started. Unfortunately, easing is...

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  • Gavekal Research

    Four Quadrants: A Wicksellian Analysis

    In 1978, when still young and creative, I produced my first four quadrants chart. The idea was that there are four basic investment environments depending if economic activity is expanding or contracting, and whether prices are rising or falling. It was usually obvious which state we had just left—for example the UK having suffered an inflationary bust in 1977—but far harder to judge what state we had entered. Being able to make such a call in...

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    US Risks

    While China grabs the headlines (Trading halted before 10am after a quick -7% drop, renminbi devaluation fears at fever pitch!...), we will leave those issues for a later report and focus on a question that looms larger for most investors: what is happening in the US economy, and what are the key risks facing the world’s biggest market in 2016?

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Clearing Up The Currency Confusion

    China’s currency has once again grabbed the spotlight. Big falls against the dollar have raised fears that China is embarking on a major competitive devaluation, or that it has lost control of the financial system. We do not think these fears are correct, but the central bank’s failure to explain a new currency policy is causing much turbulence.

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    The Gavekal Monthly: The Balance Of Risks

    The new year has been a wild ride so far, with sharp drops in the renminbi, Chinese stock markets, and oil prices leading global markets down. In our first Gavekal Monthly of 2016 we try to make sense of the risks facing investors today. As usual there are some strong differences of opinion: Anatole argues that developed economies are in decent shape, the dollar's rise will soon be over, and equities should post a better performance than...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Last Holdout Of US Value

    Some readers have expressed surprise at my contention that the US stock market is “not that expensive” as their direct experience suggests otherwise. The objection is reasonable, so I have conducted a review of my US equity valuation model. I like to compare equities to a long-dated US zero coupon bond because it has the same annual volatility as the US stock market. Hence, the chart below compares the S&P 500 with the price index of a zero...

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