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    Gavekal Research

    Asia's Great Moderation

    Emerging market government bonds yield more than rich-world equivalents because investors worry about getting their money back. This higher return on capital can cause a feedback loop of rising foreign debt and diminished financial sovereignty. Yet, with Asia having seemingly crushed inflation, a “great moderation” may reverse that dynamic and usher in a potential re-rating of risk assets.

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    Gavekal Research

    Up Against The Limit With The ECB

    German savers face “custody fees” when depositing big sums at the bank, or get clipped 50bp when buying a euro-denominated money market fund. Such outcomes explain why a growing number of economists oppose calls for the European Central Bank to cut rates further and restart quantitative easing when it meets tomorrow.

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Next Stage Of The Pork Crisis

    The African swine fever crisis in China is reaching a new stage as prices for pigs and pork spiral upward at an unprecedented pace. The government is responding with a combination of subsidies for pork farms, as well as rationing and price caps. But this is a short-term strategy that will not contain the ASF epidemic and could even worsen it.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Danger Of A Dumbbell Portfolio

    Both bond and equity markets are signaling investors' belief that monetary policy will not only stay easy for as far as the eye can see, but actually get easier in the coming weeks and months. But what if they end up getting wrong-footed in their expectations of another wave of interest rate cuts, quantitative easing and other uber-dovish monetary policy measures?

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    Gavekal Research

    The Meaning Of The Iran-China Deal

    Reports that China has signed a long term agreement to buy large quantities of Iranian oil in defiance of US sanctions will weigh on global crude prices and further complicate US-China talks, reducing the chances of a deal before the 2020 US election. In effect, the world is now facing a four-way tug of war over the oil price.

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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Italian Politics Favors Bonds

    Yesterday Italy’s new government took office, the 66th since 1946. Meanwhile, Italian bond yields have reached record lows. Nick attributes this to two factors. First the global bond rally. Second, the shifting winds of Italian politics away from the Euroskeptics to the Europhiles, which bodes well for Italian-European budget negotiations.

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    Gavekal Research

    Beijing's Conflicted Easing

    As prospects for a quick resolution of the US-China trade conflict fade, and the data continue to soften, expectations for Chinese growth are getting marked down. As if on cue, the government has sent signals of more decisive policy support for growth. While encouraging, this does not presage a shift in China's macro policy of "selective" easing.

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    Gavekal Research

    Audio & Transcript — Gavekal Research Call September 2019

    In yesterday’s conference call, Anatole Kaletsky, Will Denyer and Louis-Vincent Gave outlined reasons for recent dramatic moves in bond markets and made arguments for what comes next. Anatole also addressed Brexit developments and Louis discussed the situation in Hong Kong.

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    Gavekal Research

    India's Frenetic Inertia

    They say the first step to solving a problem is recognizing that you have one. With its recent moves to shore up sagging growth, Narendra Modi’s new government has finally acknowledged that India’s economy is in trouble. But unless it quickly finds a coherent reform strategy, Modi’s second term could fizzle out into economic failure.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Taiwan’s Manufacturers Rethink Reliance On China

    Could Taiwan be a winner in the US-China trade war? As Dan reports in this piece, US tariffs have succeeded in getting major contract manufacturers of electronics to shift jobs out of China, some of which are going to Taiwan. But this trend is not enough to end Taiwan’s dependence on Chinese growth, or its vulnerability to Chinese competition.

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    Gavekal Research

    Italian Politics And The Bond Market

    On Tuesday, members of Italy’s left wing populist 5-Star Movement lent their support to the formation of a new coalition government with the Democratic Party. The new government, to be led by Giuseppe Conte, technocrat prime minister in the previous coalition, still has to secure a confidence vote in Parliament. But that should go through in the next couple of weeks. If it does, right wing populist Matteo Salvini—Italy’s most prominent...

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    Gavekal Research

    Strategy Monthly: The Message From Bonds

    Record low bond yields point to a deflationary catastrophe in the making. Yet growth data in the world’s two biggest economies remain decent. Could investors be reacting to a rupture in the international order? Gavekal analysts are not persuaded by such arguments and offer four alternative explanations for the “bond bubble”.

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    Gavekal Research

    Tariffs Won't Trouble US Consumers

    As US growth has slowed this year, consumer spending has been the economy’s bright spot. Personal consumption expenditure was the principal contributor to growth in the second quarter and July. However, fears are growing that the US consumer will come under increasing pressure in the coming months as the latest round of tariffs go into effect.

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    Gavekal Research

    ‘Do Or Die’ Boris Is Bullish For Sterling

    Considering the political chaos that will descend this week on the UK, it may seem surprising that the pound has bounced back to its trade-weighted level just before Boris Johnson became prime minister. Or maybe it is not too surprising—if a “No Deal Brexit” is the only possible scenario that would justify a further weakening of sterling and other UK assets.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    The Case Against Recession

    Earlier in August, Charles announced that he was reluctantly joining the US recession camp. His reasoning was based largely on his observation that the long run average growth rate of US corporate profits had fallen to a level that in recent decades has always indicated an economic downturn. I am more optimistic than Charles.

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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Looking Through The Bond Bubble

    As yields fall to record lows, bond markets seem priced for some sort of global economic calamity. With Europe in dire straits and the US-China trade war remaining live, there is certainly cause for worry. But when things look like they can’t get any worse, Will reckons, they often don’t. As the US growth outlook appears steady, equities and cash are the better bet.

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    Gavekal Research

    Asia Ditches Fiscal Conservatism, Conservatively

    As the external environment darkens, Asian governments are turning on the fiscal spigots—cautiously. Moves announced in recent weeks do not radically move the dial, but they should support growth. For now, monetary policy will remain the main counter-cyclical tool for arresting a downturn in Asia, but recent moves reflect an end to an era of fiscal consolidation.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Dimensions Of Decoupling

    Whatever happens next in the US-China trade conflict, it’s clear that ties between the two nations have undergone a fundamental reset. Some “decoupling” will definitely occur as a result, and indeed has already begun. In this chartbook, Andrew and Lance explore how US-China decoupling could play out in flows of goods, money, people and ideas.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Importance Of Oil

    The world’s fixed income markets are priced for a severe bout of demand destruction and deflation. Yet, outside Europe at least, growth in the world’s major economies continues to tick over. However, could a sudden oil price rise spark an uptick in inflation pressure that triggers an abrupt repricing in which bond yields spike sharply higher?

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    Gavekal Research

    Beijing Toughs It Out

    After a month of further escalation in the US-China trade war, China’s strategy for the next stage of the dispute is becoming clear. Its leadership now looks committed to a strategy of toughing out trade tensions. This means the prospect of a US-China trade deal is receding, and therefore that global growth will face further headwinds.

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    Gavekal Research

    Buffeted By Deglobalization, Shipping Lines Tack To Asia

    After a sluggish 2018, global shipping lines are again facing choppy seas thanks to Donald Trump's tariffs and slumping trans-Pacific trade. There is, however, a silver lining for carriers with a strong Asian presence; the US-China trade war is spurring a fragmentation of regional supply chains, and that seems set to boost intra-Asian trade.

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    Gavekal Research

    The Yen Dilemma

    Since the beginning of the month, the yen has been one of the few major currencies to strengthen against the US dollar. At the same time, Japanese government bonds have not escaped the global bond rally. This presents the BoJ’s chiefs, who for the last three years have been pursuing a policy of “quantitative easing with yield curve control”, with a problem.

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    Gavekal Research

    Weathering Trump’s Trade War

    It may be the dog days of summer, but investors got a truckload of news this weekend that points to a bad situation getting worse. Given President Donald Trump’s escalation of tariffs and threat to bar US firms from operating in China, the worry is that his hardline stance spurs a US recession. KX and Will think this is unlikely.

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    Gavekal Research

    Europe’s Victimhood Culture

    The biggest threat to world economic growth today is not the US-China trade war, but German exceptionalism. Even as Germany has suffered the greatest growth downgrades of any major economy, its politicians have obstinately rejected any Keynesian fiscal expansion. Now calls are mounting for a policy U-turn, but Anatole isn’t holding his breath.

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    Gavekal Research

    Making Biarritz Great Again

    Some readers may know that my family is the majority shareholder in Biarritz Olympique Pays Basque, one of France’s oldest rugby clubs. Through this connection, I have had a front-row seat to the organization of the upcoming G7 meeting to be held in Biarritz over the next three days. When the city was chosen, I naively thought this was good news.

    6
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: The Anatomy Of The August Panic

    As more and more government bonds around the world slide into negative yield, investors can draw one of two conclusions: either the world faces an economic meltdown, or there is a buying panic in safe assets. But although there is indeed a synchronous global slowdown in growth, Louis favors the latter explanation.

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    Gavekal Research

    India Macro Update: Hardly A Growth Agenda

    India’s economy is weak across the board, weighed down by lackluster investment, anemic consumption and soft external demand. Deep reforms are needed to unlock the country’s economic potential. In this quarterly report, Udith and Tom offer a check-in on India’s growth outlook, explain why equities may be de-rated further and worry about the bond rally fizzling out.

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    Gavekal Research

    Germany’s Fiscal Firepower

    Uniquely among the world’s big economies, Germany runs a budget surplus, in accordance with the “debt brake” written into its constitution following the 2008-09 financial crisis. This means Berlin could, in theory, deploy considerable fiscal firepower even within the current rules, and a great deal more if it chose to bend or rewrite them.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    German Banks And The Dollar

    I am certainly no technical analyst, but I do have a good memory. The story of major financial crises can be told with reference to the US dollar’s movements against the euro (and its antecedents). It now looks to have reached a significant juncture, especially with Italy moving toward another period of political instability.

    9
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Consumer Spending Growth Grinds Lower

    With exports and domestic investment both weakening, China’s government hopes that consumer spending will support growth. The bad news is that all indicators of consumer spending are still softening. With a deteriorating job market weighing on household income Chinese consumer spending is set to weaken further over the coming quarters.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The End Of The Panic

    In almost three weeks since the beginning of August, gold is up 5.9% while investors in 10-year US treasuries have gained 4.2%. This is unusual. As Charles has highlighted, the two “anti-fragile” assets of choice seldom skyrocket simultaneously, so markets have been in full-blown panic mode. But what were markets panicking about, and what could boost confidence once again?

    6
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Starvation Rations For Private-Sector Borrowers

    After a brief respite earlier in the year, China’s private sector is once again facing a credit squeeze. The PBOC’s announcement over the weekend of a change in the calculation methodology for the loan prime rate is likely to lower the cost of corporate loans, but it does not make it any easier for private firms to get finance.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Diminishing Market Impact Of Tariffs

    After the US imposed its first major round of tariffs on Chinese goods last September, the S&P 500 sold off by -20%. After the second round went into force, it fell -6.8%. And since President Trump announced a third round, it has sold off by -6.1%. It seems each successive escalation in the trade war is having a smaller impact on the US stock market.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    When The World Goes To Hell

    Anatole has previously argued that the correlation between inverted yield curves and recessions has very little predictive significance. In this piece he updates that view to argue that inverted yield curves have no predictive significance whatsoever. For this reason, he thinks that equity investors have gotten their reaction to recent developments about right, while bond investors are all in a muddle.

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    Troops On The Border

    Extreme nervousness in global markets can be attributed to a synchronous weakening of growth that has been reinforced by soft data out of Germany and China. This is also a juncture when commentators seem to have concluded that pent up stresses in the global trading and security system have reached a tipping point. On top of these secular worries is the terror that China is about to have a “Tiananmen moment” by violently crushing the two month...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Panic Stations

    I always try to be a rules-driven investor. And when the US stock market is down -3% in a day, taking it to -6% from its peak in three weeks, when 10-year US treasury yields have halved in nine months to just 1.55%, and when gold is up 20% in three months, it is a good time to review those rules to see what they can tell me. The answer is: quite a lot.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Surge In Anti-Fragile Assets

    The latest round of data releases appears to confirm fears that the world is facing another synchronous global downturn. If so, it will be different from other slowdowns, in that it will not have been caused by rising interest rates or higher energy prices. What’s more, it will be setting in when there is little prospect of a globally coordinated response, when monetary policy appears to have lost traction, and when asset prices are looking...

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Lessons From The Argentine Shock

    In US dollar terms, Argentina's equity benchmark on Monday fell -48% in a one-day move. The -24% drop in long-dated US dollar-denominated Argentine bonds, a -17% drop in the currency, or the -38% fall in the local equity index will cause pain for certain macro players and dedicated emerging market funds. It should also cause us to ponder a number of questions.

    3
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Slowdown Continues

    After a end-of-quarter bounce in June, China’s economy resumed its gradual downward course in July, with industrial production, fixed investment, housing starts, retail sales and credit growth all slowing. The bright spots were a surprising pick up in exports, and housing sales, which reversed three months of declines with a modest gain.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Joining The US Recession Camp

    To listen to current commentary, you would think that US capitalism faced a Marxist end-of-times reckoning. Hence, it is noteworthy that the share of sales going to profits is now falling, while that going to labor is rising. Yet the latest US GDP report is still alarming for what it tells us about the state of the economy.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Rising Risks For Chinese Firms

    The outcome of US-China trade talks is uncertain, but one thing is clear. Chinese companies, their customers and suppliers, faced increased risks of US American sanctions. Hardliners in the US national security establishment are pressing ahead with an “all-of-government” strategy to constrain China’s technological and financial clout. This will continue regardless of the outcome of trade talks.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Hong Kong Q&A (Part II)

    The success of Hong Kong’s protesters in shutting down the city’s airport on Monday, talk from Beijing of “terrorism”, and the apparent massing of mainland paramilitary forces across the border from Hong Kong have led to a deluge of questions from clients about what is likely to happen next, and the potential investment implications. In this paper, Louis attempts answers some of the most frequent questions.

    7
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    Gavekal Research

    Asian Currencies Remain A Shock Absorber

    It has often been said that when the US sneezes the rest of the world catches a cold. In Asia, a similar link exists between the behemoth China and other regional economies. Hence when Beijing unexpectedly let the renminbi weaken through CNY7.00 to the US dollar last Monday regional currencies fell by 1.6% in the following five days. They could fall more, however there is unlikely to be a broader contagion to regional asset markets. Asia’s solid...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Trade Equilibrium Of Sorts

    After a week of trade war scares, things have settled down into an equilibrium that is uneasy, but likely to last several weeks. The central question now is whether the new tariff on US$300bn of Chinese exports to the US will go into effect on September 1, or if Trump’s team will find some graceful way to back down from that threat.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    What Germany Means For Europe

    Even before the US-China trade war escalated last week, Europe stood on shaky ground. We learnt yesterday that German industrial production for June fell -1.5%. Europe’s largest economy faces cyclical and structural challenges, and the question is whether it takes its neighbors down with it.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Death Spiral Of Eurozone Banks

    For months Charles has told anyone who will listen that the real threat to global markets is the slow-motion implosion of the eurozone’s banking system. Each time the region's equity has hit a critical threshold an intervention has caused it to bounce off and delay the reckoning. The size of these rebounds has waned and this time there may be no respite.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Renminbi, Manipulation And The Trade War

    Monday’s actions on the Chinese currency—Beijing’s decision to let the renminbi’s exchange rate weaken past CNY7.00 to the US dollar, and Washington’s decision to label China a currency manipulator—signal that the US and China are close to throwing in the towel on a trade deal. Trade war escalation should now be the base case.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    The Long Term Impact Of Trump’s Latest Tariffs

    Aftershocks from Donald Trump’s August 1 tweets promising new tariffs on US imports from China continued to reverberate through Asian markets on Monday morning. Most notably, China’s yuan fell by some -1.3%, with the USD-CNY exchange rate breezing unimpeded by the Chinese authorities through the CNY7.00 to the US dollar mark for the first time since early 2008. Equity markets in the region were also hard hit, with Japan down -2% and Hong Kong...

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Risks To Steel Prices

    China’s government is once again going after pollution from the steel industry, raising the risk of more policy-induced spikes in steel prices. While forced shutdowns to ensure blue skies are on the way, Rosealea argues that the bigger risk to steel prices is on the downside, due to weakening construction activity and cautious housing policy.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Renminbi Devaluation’s Fork In The Road

    Following the surprise renminbi devaluation of August 2015 policymakers in the world’s major financial powers acted to calm markets in what came to be known as the “Shanghai Agreement” of February 2016. Since then, currency markets have broadly been one big yawn, with little volatility and few opportunities for macro traders to make meaningful money. Is that situation now changing?

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