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    Gavekal Research

    The Long Slow Road To German Fiscal Expansion

    To read the media headlines, you would either think that Germany’s coalition government is on the brink of collapse, or that Europe’s largest economy is on the eve of a massive fiscal expansion. The headlines are exaggerated. Yes, at the weekend the coalition’s SPD partner did elect a duo of free-spending leftists as its new leaders. But the government is likely to survive intact for its remaining two years. And although political thought in...

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Learn To Stop Worrying And Love The Pound

    Sometimes, markets just get things wrong. Since early January investors have been panicking about a “no deal” Brexit, and I have been urging clients to buy sterling. Not because I became less gloomy about the damage that will be done to Britain by any form of Brexit, but because a “no deal” rupture is the one version of Brexit that can be confidently ruled out.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: Risk Assets In 2020

    World stock markets have enjoyed a solid couple of months as geopolitical risks have abated and the manufacturing slowdown appears to have leveled off. With major central banks all printing money simultaneously for the first time since the financial crisis, and fiscal policy easing at the same time, there are good reasons to believe the rally will be sustained into 2020.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    An American Intervention

    After easily passing both houses of Congress, Donald Trump had little choice but to sign bills dictating the US government’s treatment of Hong Kong. Its significance will be determined by Beijing’s response, and for now that is likely to stay focused on achieving an interim trade deal that delivers a roll-back on US import tariffs.

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    Gavekal Research

    Seminar Series Multimedia — Fall 2019

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

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    Gavekal Research

    The Earningless Equity Rally

    In the third quarter, US macro-level domestic earnings fell -1.9% year-on-year. Behind this squeeze lies a weak sales picture tied to trading uncertainty and a rise in wages. In the near term, both factors could intensify. Yet there is nothing especially new in weak US profits and a ripping equity market. There are, in fact, three reasons to think this situation can be sustained.

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    How To Get Comfortable With Chinese Equities

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

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    Gavekal Research

    The Upside Of Downing Tools

    A year after the eruption of the gilet jaune protests forced Emmanuel Macron to scrap planned fuel tax increases, the French president is facing fresh opposition to his program of structural reforms.On December 5, a coalition of labor unions is promising to down tools in an “unlimited” strike against the government’s proposed overhaul of France’s state pension systems.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The VIX, Fragility And Indexation

    At the same time as US stock markets ascended to all-time highs on Monday, the VIX volatility index fell to its lowest close in more than a year. In and of itself, this decline in the VIX should hardly be a great surprise given the Fed's liquidity expansion. But as part of a longer term pattern, this policy-driven decline in stock market volatility is deeply troubling.

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Chinese Consumer In 2019

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Hong Kong People Speak

    The last 15 years has seen pro-government parties in Hong Kong rely on voter apathy and division across the democratic camp to often rule the roost. That changed yesterday, with establishment parties getting thumped in local council elections as voters expressed anger at the government’s handling of violent street protests in the last six months.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Musings On Trump And Powell

    His detractors will never admit it, but Donald Trump has done much that is good for the US economy. Notably he has reduced corporate taxes and cut red tape, boosting returns on invested capital. But in calling on the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates further, he is not only making a big mistake, he is courting disaster—though not for the reason his critics believe.

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    Gavekal Research

    Video: A Better Outlook For Asia?

    Despite on-again, off-again talks, there are hopes that the US and China can reach an accommodation to avert a full-scale trade war that causes global production chains to be upended. Since the Federal Reserve is again in easing mode, leading to a weaker US dollar, Vincent explains what these developments mean for Asia.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Crackdown On Developer Financing

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

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    Gavekal Research

    The Hong Kong Effect Means A Taiwan Opportunity

    Taiwan's stock market has gained 18.6% year-to-date. This rally will be vulnerable to a heightening of bellicose rhetoric from Beijing prompted by the expected victory of the incumbent China-skeptic Tsai Ing-wen in January’s presidential election. But given the favorable structural and cyclical trends, any sell-off around the election should provide an attractive buying opportunity.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Questions On The Changes Of The Past Two Months

    Recent weeks have seen a turn in the investment environment, with global equities outperforming those in the US, cyclicals outperforming growth stocks, a steepening US yield curve and a stall in the US dollar’s rally. Louis recently met with a lot of US clients and outlined his explanation for these shifts. He got some push-back and this report is the product of those deliberations.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Implications Of Hong Kong For China

    Many clients ask how China’s ruling Communist Party, the CCP, will react to what many policymakers in Beijing regard as an intolerable challenge to their authority by protesters in Hong Kong. The answer to this question will have direct implications for the city and its future as China’s international financial center. It will also have implications for the evolution of policy within mainland China itself.

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    Gavekal Research

    There Is A First For Everything

    We live in the 21st century, and if a liquidity injection program by the Federal Reserve doesn’t want to identify as quantitative easing, then we should respect that choice, and call it by whatever name it chooses for itself—even if almost everyone now calls the US$60bn injection “non-QE QE”. However, lost within the debate over naming lies a long list of interesting “firsts”.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Signal In International Liquidity

    Historically, few indicators have been as important for global markets as the amount of US dollar liquidity available outside the US. When this has turned down, trouble has reliably followed. This year, notes Charles, the indicator has again turned negative. But as he explains, all may not be lost.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Defending The Single Market

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The US Manufacturing Slump Abates

    US manufacturing output fell -1.5% year-on-year in October to mark its weakest month since December 2015. The worry is that a US manufacturing recession causes such a drag that even well-performing sectors like housing get sucked down as well. The good news is that these production numbers look like a nadir.

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Handing Off The Slowdown

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Saudi, Peak Oil Demand And Aramco

    With the rise of environmental concerns and alternative energy sources, the preoccupation is that peak oil demand could be as few as 10 years into the future. The fear that come the 2030s or soon after, it could be left sitting on 300bn barrels of stranded assets is behind the Saudi Arabian government’s decision to sell shares in its monopoly petroleum producer, Saudi Aramco.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Looking Through To US Inflation

    In Congressional testimony yesterday, Jay Powell expressed optimism that US inflation will gradually rise toward the Federal Reserve’s target of 2%. If this is the case then it is reasonable to think that the US central bank could be done with rate cuts in this cycle but some way away from any rate hikes—this points to a Goldilocks of sorts.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: A Turning Point For The Dollar

    For the last five years, the world has lived with a strong US dollar. That may be about to change. Not only has the Fed turned dovish, its return to balance sheet expansion means it is now printing more money each month than its central bank peers, such as the ECB. This liquidity splurge, coupled with a diminution of dollar-supportive international risks may point to a period of US dollar weakness.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Something Has To Give

    Public support for Hong Kong's protest movement has been re-energized by perceived police brutality, the local government offering no political response to the crisis and Mainland authorities delivering mixed, but slightly sinister messages about their next move. This piece assesses the political forces at play and takes a stab at explaining what comes next.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Weakening Bite Of US Tech Sanctions

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

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    The Hong Kong Conundrum

    When I wrote on the Hong Kong dollar peg back in May, there was no inkling that trust between the police and much of Hong Kong’s population would fully break down. Today, Hong Kongers are saying: “We don’t trust the police to do the right thing, or even speak the truth”. This situation causes many clients to ask: "Why has the peg not broken down?"

    5
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Financing Squeeze Spreads To Corporate Bonds

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Europe's Political Paralysis

    With the Spanish general election unlikely to produce a proper government, the country looks increasingly ungovernable. For an economy that weathered the financial crisis intact but has chronic productivity problems, this is a worry. However, the result of Europe’s fragmenting political landscape is long-term policy stasis rather than a near-term collapse of the single currency.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    It's Not 2017 Again In Europe

    Yesterday saw a global risk-on move as investors cheered reports that a US-China trade deal may be in the offing. In Europe, this followed data releases that showed German factory orders picking up and PMIs stabilizing. On first blush, this looks reminiscent of 2017’s recovery. Alas, there are three key reasons to think a rerun may not materialize this time around.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: In Search Of Policy Traction

    New European Central Bank boss Christine Lagarde has called on European governments to do more on the fiscal front to support eurozone growth. Only Germany has wiggle room within the EU fiscal straitjacket to launch a significant stimulus program. However, political resistance in Berlin to opening the spending taps remains formidable, and may be insurmountable.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Time To Embrace The US Consumer

    Whether moving into a fixer-upper or a freshly finished McMansion, most homeowners will splurge on big ticket items to embellish their new abode. With the US housing market looking strong, investors should bet on consumer discretionary—it has the advantage of offering protection if long-dated bond yields move materially higher.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Autos Are Getting Back On The Road

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    India’s Implausible Energy Ambitions

    Narendra Modi’s government has set out ambitious objectives for India’s energy policy, targeting wider access to affordable energy, a greatly increased role for renewables, and stronger national energy security. The trouble is that these aims appear to be contradictory, and the government has yet to set out a coherent plan for implementation.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Let The Thousand Cuts Begin

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Asian Electronics Bounce

    With an inventory glut having been worked off, there are tentative signs that Asia’s electronics export cycle is bottoming out. Since tech has accounted for 90% of emerging Asia’s equity returns in the last five years, some beaten-up names may be primed for a bounce. The same could be true of export-sensitive currencies like the Korean won, Singapore dollar and Taiwan dollar.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Knowledge Revolution And Its Consequences

    From Hong Kong to Santiago to Paris, this year has seen protestors rage against out-of-touch political elites. But does anything more than anger connect these apparently disparate movements? Louis argues that the upheavals posed by the ongoing “knowledge revolution” may explain the phenomenon, and offers investment advice on how to survive revolutionary times.

    15
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Security Rules Are Decoupling Technology

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Behind The Risk-On

    In recent months, economic data has improved or stabilized, and political risks have receded. But now that equity prices on Wall Street have hit new records and US treasury yields have rebounded from the bottom of their post-2011 trading range, it is worth asking if the move to risk-on conditions is a temporary mood swing, or one supported by economic fundamentals.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Gold Signals A System Failure

    To make the point that gold is the only monetary asset that is not someone else’s liability, John Pierpont Morgan used to say that “gold is money, the rest is credit”. For simplicity’s sake, let’s assume that this quip corresponds to reality—the implication is that the relationship between the gold price and the credit system must be full of information.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: Towards A Dollar Decline

    The last five years have been an era of US dollar strength. That era may now be coming to an end. After the US Federal Reserve halted its balance sheet contraction and last month resumed buying T-bills at a rate of US$60bn a month, the Fed is now printing money faster than the other central banks. As a result, relative liquidity growth now favors US dollar weakness.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Easy Money And Robust Growth

    No wonder the S&P 500 closed at a new high yesterday. On the same day the Federal Reserve cut interest rates by 25bp, US GDP growth for 3Q19 came in at a robust 1.9%. For its part, the Fed gave no indication of paring down its new asset purchase program (quantitative easing in all but name). This is bullish for risk assets and bearish for the US dollar.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: China's Private Financing Woes

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Swedish Canary In The Coal Mine

    Sweden’s Riksbank plans to raise its main policy rate to zero from -0.25%. A relieved governor, Stefan Ingves, said last week it would be a “bonus” to return to parity in December and warned against staying negative for too long. The Swedish recantation follows the European Central Bank’s controversial move last month to further cut rates to -0.5%. Investors should take note because the Swedish canary may be signaling a shift in attitudes to...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Housing & Construction Review 2019

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Where Will Growth Come From Now?

    In the spring of 2003 Gavekal posited that China would become the new locomotive of world growth. But now, the days when China could be counted upon to gear up its balance sheet and pull global growth up by its bootstraps are coming to an end. And as global activity slows investors are asking “where will the growth come from"?

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    China-Bashing In A Political Season

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

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    US Dollar Under Fire

    The richly-valued US dollar is finally starting to look vulnerable. While still in its post-2015 trading range, the DXY index has given up -1.5% in the last 11 trading days; broader trade-weighted measures have also swooned. A range of factors are now weighing on the US currency and if they persist the unit could see a pronounced decline in the coming months.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Playing The Un-inversion

    Having inverted over the summer, the US yield curve has steepened sharply. In the past such a move has often presaged recession—but not always. Twice since the 1960s an inversion and steepening was not followed by recession. Then, as now, the return on invested corporate capital was higher than the cost of that capital.

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