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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Aiming For Stability Without A Target

    The coronavirus has made a mockery of China’s annual growth target, so the leadership has done the only sensible thing: given up on it. In this Quick Take, Andrew explains how that decision, and the fiscal measures rolled out at the National People’s Congress, show how China is not trying to drive a rapid rebound to its previous growth trend.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Boris Will Pile Pelion On Ossa

    No country has matched Britain’s dismal combination of currency and equity losses so far this year. Making matters worse for Britain than other DMs is Boris Johnson's refusal to extend the post-Brexit transition period beyond December, precisely the time when the Covid-19 recession might otherwise be expected to start lifting.

    14
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    Gavekal Research

    Saudi's Peso Problem

    Two weeks ago in early May, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency issued an unusual statement. Sama, it insisted, is committed to maintaining the Saudi riyal’s exchange rate peg at SAR3.75 to the US dollar, and has the resources to do so. Stress signals don’t come much clearer.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    US Reopens Without A Covid Spike—So Far

    As the US moves to reopen its economy from Covid-19 lockdowns, a key question is whether these reopenings will engender a resurgence of the epidemic, thereby retarding the pace of economic recovery. The risk cannot be ruled out, and the large uncertainties about how the coronavirus works means we should be wary of definitive forecasts. Yet so far, about a month after the initial reopenings, there is not much evidence of a resurgence.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: US Outlook (May 2020)

    In yesterday's webinar, Will Denyer, Tan Kai Xian and Yanmei Xie joined Simon to discuss the outlook for the US and answer viewer questions as the country tries to return to normal after Covid-19 lockdowns.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Corporate Bond Crisis That Wasn’t

    China’s corporate bond market has not been bothered by the biggest shock to the economy in decades. In this piece, Xiaoxi explains why, since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been no surge in defaults, spreads have barely widened and new issuance has surged. A continued bull market in government bonds will be more good news.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Pressure Points In Emerging Markets

    Emerging markets have broadly weathered the liquidity squeeze that threatened to engulf them in March, however Udith is not convinced they are out of the woods. Growth shocks associated with the Covid-19 crisis mean that many smaller markets on the frontier are at risk of debt defaults, which could end up spurring forced selling by foreign investors.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: Europe Update (May 2020)

    In yesterday's webinar, Anatole Kaletsky, Cedric Gemehl and Nick Andrews joined Louis Gave to assess policy measures to deal with Covid-19 in Europe and discuss the significance of a €500bn coronavirus Recovery Fund.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Beware The Charm Of Monopolistic Tech

    An equally-weighted index of monopolistic "tech" companies is up by a whopping 26% in the last year, whereas an active manager running a portfolio with 30 or 40 stocks would be down about -7% over the same period. The difference in performance may be the "cost" of holding a diversified portfolio with lower risk than a concentrated portfolio.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Europe’s Hamiltonian Moment

    If there was a rational explanation for Monday’s global risk-on rally, it would be the genuinely exciting news from Europe. It is possible—just possible—that the Franco-German proposal for a €500bn coronavirus Recovery Fund announced yesterday will turn out to be the most important historic consequence of the coronavirus.

    14
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    Gavekal Research

    Surviving A US$100bn Funding Gap

    Developing economies are struggling from reduced trade and harder access to capital. They also face a US$109bn cut in remittance income this year as construction sites in the rich world close, ships stay in port and restaurants are shuttered. This could spur a spiral of poverty and protest that ends with debt defaults that even suck in well-managed emerging markets.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Upside For Autos And Housing

    As the US begins to reopen for business, some segments of the economy will bounce back faster than others. Among the more vigorous will be the auto and housing sectors, where activity will be lifted by a favorable combination of tailwinds. Investors should consider positioning for a strong recovery in both the automobile and residential construction sectors.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A US Full-Court Press Against China

    The US-China relationship has deteriorated rapidly, and the main reason seems to be that Donald Trump has decided that a “tough on China” approach should be central to his reelection campaign. Acrimony between the two countries is likely to get much worse between now and November, and US actions are starting to spread from technology to finance.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    April’s Fitful Recovery

    China released economic data for April showing a continued recovery in industry and investment as well as a surprising recovery in exports. In this Quick Take, Thomas argues that with exports headed for a substantial decline, this upwards trajectory is likely to plateau in May.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Phase Two Beckons

    Europeans have spent big to freeze their economies as if held in suspended animation since mid-March. On the whole, this plan is working quite well but EU member states must now agree to a post-pandemic plan for demand stimulus if they are to avoid an all-too-predictable double-dip downturn. They will get a shot next week, when the blueprint for a “recovery fund” is unveiled.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: China And The US Race Toward The Precipice

    The rivalry between the US and China has taken a turn for the worse during the Covid-19 pandemic. In yesterday’s webinar, Tom Miller talked about how China has attempted to use the pandemic in its global influence strategy. Dan Wang updated viewers on the technology rivalry. And Arthur Kroeber outlined how the US-China relationship got to this point.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    India's Mini Bazooka

    India’s finance minister yesterday outlined a US$265bn fiscal package to save the economy. It looks to be just enough to stop a slide into depression but not much more. A worrying factor in its response is an apparent lurch towards protectionism, which would undermine any gains made from much-needed reforms to land and labor markets

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The World Has Changed, Quick! Buy More Of The Same

    As countries around the world, and some US states, are starting to emerge from their enforced Covid-19 hibernation, investors have to choose between one of three potential outcomes. Either the virus re-emerges and causes new lockdowns, the post-Covid-19 world is not growth friendly, or pent-up demand and supportive policies leads to global growth ripping.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Chinese Bond Rally Is Not Over Yet

    China’s bond market is selling off on rising optimism about the nation’s recovery from the Covid-19 lockdown. But Wei argues that this rise in bond yields looks like a false alarm: China’s economy is not about to begin a V-shaped recovery and its central bank is not yet finished with monetary easing. The bond bull market still has some way to run.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: The Kitsune Market — Tail Risks In An Unnatural Time

    Most of the world’s big economies have been shut down in response to a pandemic disease—a truly unprecedented event. This led to extreme market moves and also generated an unusually large array of tail risks. Louis likens these to the nine tails of the magical kitsune or fox of Japanese mythology. In yesterday's webinar he elaborated on this idea.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: In Defense Of US Equities

    With most big US firms having reported their first quarter earnings, the picture is not pretty and worse may follow in 2Q20. Yet the stock market rally of the last six weeks suggests that investors have a fairly cheery view about US firms’ prospects. So what gives? Near-term expectations are, in fact, appropriately set and the fundamentals of the US market are better than they appear.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Brazil's Burning House

    As President Jair Bolsonaro fuels anti-lockdown protests, Brazil is having a rough Covid-19 crisis. Its public health response has been weak and investors are horrified at the economic costs of such bungling. Fortunately, Brazil’s federal structure does mean the country can handle the crisis in spite of weak central leadership.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Japan's Stealth Bull Market

    In times of great market uncertainty, like today, investors should seek sanctuary in the stocks of companies that are cheap, enjoy positive cash flows, have plenty of cash on their books, and which are quoted in an undervalued currency. Today, Charles writes, the shares of non-financial companies in Japan fit the bill on all four counts.

    12
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Services Recovery Gets Back On Track

    China’s government is substantially relaxing restrictions on travel, retail and other consumer services as its Covid-19 outbreak gets further under control. In this Quick Take, Rosealea outlines the near-term outlook for a recovery in consumer services, as well as the factors still weighing on that recovery.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Breasting The Trough

    The apparent divergence between the stock market and economic reality continues to widen. Equity investors are focusing on the expected effects of the Federal Reserve’s massive liquidity injections once states emerge from lockdown. The risk to this rosy view is that the easing of restrictions could cause an infection increase so severe that new lockdowns are imposed.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Kitsune Market (Part III)

    In this third part of a series assessing risks thrown up by massive government interventions to stop Covid-19 lockdowns turning into an economic depression, Louis turns his sights on efforts to prevent bankruptcies at all costs. He also considers the rapidly fraying US-China relationship and existential choices faced by Saudi Arabia as it decides how to handle a collapse in oil prices.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Sovereignty And That German Court Ruling

    Tuesday’s ruling by Germany’s constitutional court on the legitimacy of asset purchases by the European Central Bank hits at the heart of a political project whose ultimate aim has been usurp the sovereignty of historical states in favor of a new super state. I am no lawyer but I have studied political science and the issue now in play is of a fundamental nature.

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Return Of Special Treasury Bonds

    China’s government will once again issue “special treasury bonds” this year, a tool last used in 2007, but has not yet revealed how the funds will be used. In this piece, Wei surveys the options on the table and argues these special bonds are more likely to fund indirect support to the economy rather than to ramp up direct fiscal stimulus.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Threat From Turkey

    Turkey increasingly looks like a basket case that may spark a broader move out of emerging markets. Despite its efforts to squeeze short-sellers by stopping banks from swapping currency with foreign counterparties, the lira is hitting new lows against the US dollar. Efforts to sustain the lira with foreign currency borrowed from Turkey's dollarized banking system can't go on indefinitely.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: China And Emerging Markets Update

    China has started to reopen its economy, but it is proving hard to get Chinese consumers and small businesses up and running again. He Wei and Andrew Batson provided the latest updates on policy efforts to revive China’s economy. Udith Sikand reviewed the broader outlook for emerging markets.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Pandemics, Protests And Outperformance

    Hong Kong’s GDP contracted almost -9% year-on-year in the first quarter, as the impact of the coronavirus hammered an economy already severely weakened by the last year’s anti-government street protests. In this video interview, Tom examines the storms battering Asia’s premier financial center, and accounts for the resilience of its financial system.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    ‘No Limits’ Now ‘No, Limits’

    Markets have largely taken in their stride Tuesday’s decision by the German Constitutional Court that the European Central Bank exceeded its mandate by launching quantitative easing in 2015. The euro's move against the US dollar and the 10bp uptick in Italian 10-year yields were modest by the standards of recent volatility. This may be overly complacent.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Hard Times For China's Soft Power

    Public opinion over China’s responsibility for the Covid-19 pandemic has hardened across the developing world. On the African continent matters have been made worse by simmering rows over the treatment of Africans by Chinese, both in China and in Africa itself. As the resentment spreads, writes Tom, it threatens to undo decades’ worth of effort by Beijing to apply “soft power with Chinese characteristics”.

    9
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: What Does Covid-19 Mean For Emerging Markets?

    So far the Covid-19 pandemic seems to have been a less significant health event in most emerging markets. Yet EMs are bound to suffer a lot of economic damage not only from their own lockdowns but also from the demand collapse in Europe and the US. Udith Sikand and Vincent Tsui analyzed where the investment opportunities lie, and Tom Miller offered the prognosis for India.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    US Labor And The New Economy

    US states are moving to end stay-at-home orders and slowly resume activity. With some 30mn workers having been laid off, they will do so in an economy that has been profoundly changed by Covid-19. At a macro level, a fairly swift recovery is likely. Yet it will be a painful exercise as structural changes wrought by the pandemic upend the US labor market.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Military Fusion Sparks US Reaction

    The US government has unveiled new rules that will make it more difficult for US companies to sell high technology to Chinese firms with any military connections. In this piece, Dan explains the risks of these new rules for both US companies and the many Chinese firms participating in their government’s “military-civil fusion” campaign.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Down -16% And Still 30% Overvalued

    It seems the world has entered a new era, in which the principal function of central banks is to try to prevent markets from going down. So, after the gold standard and the dollar standard, we now appear to have the S&P 500 standard, in which a desperate central bank tries to manage the financial markets.

    16
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Earnings Crunch Arrives

    Earnings season for China’s listed companies has finished, and the numbers are not pretty: the aggregate net profits of non-financial firms fell by 51% YoY in Q1. In this Quick Take, Thomas assesses the damage to earnings and outlines the consequences for the corporate sector.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: Emerging Markets Under Pressure

    Aside from China, emerging markets have not been hit as hard as rich countries by Covid-19, but their asset markets have been hammered. An optimistic view holds that undervalued EM assets can now bounce back. Udith and Vincent are more cautious: a dollar-squeeze could yet hurt markets that have otherwise decent fundamentals and attractive valuations.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: Global Investment Roundtable, April 2020

    Markets are showing both signs of dislocation (in negative oil prices) and impressive stability (the S&P 500 is only down -4.1% over the previous 12 months). Is this stability a Federal Reserve-induced illusion? Are there more shocks to come? If so, where? In our monthly investment roundtable, Louis, Charles and Anatole discussed market scenarios for the months ahead.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Benefit Of Panicking Early

    Among industrialized nations, Taiwan stands out as the least affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Taiwan chose to “panic early” by barring entry to foreign travelers, enforcing strict quarantines and assiduously tracking potential infections. The payoff has been no material disruption to domestic activity, which should lead to continued outperformance of the Taiwan dollar.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Truth About Banks And Bonds

    As I elucidated last week Knut Wicksell’s key idea was that in any market economy there are not one, but two key interest rates, whose relative position drives the cycle. The theory makes good sense, but computing the two rates is tricky. My insight is that I don’t need to compute these two rates but instead measure the structural performance of bank equities in each market.

    10
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: The US’s Exit From Lockdown

    The United States is moving towards a release from its lockdown. With individual states treading different paths, the process looks messy and accident-prone. However, Yanmei argues that investors should look through the noise of states’ rights arguments as the US is cranking up Covid-19 testing and generally heading in the right direction.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Queen’s Head Remains The Better Long-Term Bet

    In hard times, a nation often feeds off the blood spilled by its martyrs and is re-energized. Undeniably, we now face an unprecedented crisis that is producing heroes and martyrs, especially among healthcare workers who have acted with devotion and honor. But has this created national unity?

    15
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: Modeling Projections For The Covid-19 Epidemic

    Gavekal Intelligence Software is collaborating with ETH Zurich and Shenzhen's Southern University of Science & Technology to track the spread of Covid-19. GIS principal Didier Darcet presented the findings in a conversation with Louis Gave

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    New Infrastructure, Old Problems

    China is promising a boost in so-called “new infrastructure,” of which 5G network development is a major component. Dan explains how the scale of spending involved in building 5G infrastructure is too small to provide a meaningful boost to growth, and why any possible economic benefits from a faster mobile network will not be realized anytime soon.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Italy’s Debt Sustainability Question

    In the short term, Italy’s sovereign spreads are unlikely to be greatly troubled by the decision late Tuesday from Fitch to downgrade the country’s debt rating. In the longer term, however, in the absence of some form of eurozone fiscal union, Italy will remain caught in a vicious debt trap, which must call its continued membership of the single currency into question.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Kitsune Market (Part II)

    Last week, Louis introduced the Kitsune, Japan’s mythical nine-tailed fox, and outlined four tail risks which could upend investment after Covid-19. Today he examines two more important tail risks: that the pandemic might not prove deflationary but inflationary, and the risk that the market’s “don’t fight the Fed” mentality could collapse under the weight of its own contradictions.

    10
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    Gavekal Research

    Japan's Next Monetary Move

    Yesterday, the Bank of Japan attempted to pull another rabbit out of the hat by announcing plans to turbo-charge its already aggressive monetary easing program, ostensibly to help deliver its fiscal stimulus package without roiling the JGB market. Look closer though, and it appears the BoJ’s real goal is to stop the yen from succumbing to fundamental pressures by appreciating.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Three Big Questions For India

    Under one of the world’s most stringent lockdowns, the prospect that India will be devastated by the coronavirus pandemic is receding, and attention is shifting from saving lives to saving the economy. Tom examines the three big questions hanging over the Indian economy to determine how successful the country's recovery is likely to be.

    0
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