China

China Slowdown Will Plague Markets For Years

January 31, 2016
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China Slowdown Will Plague Markets For Years

What a start to the year. CJF’s contrarian prediction of 1,860 on the S&P came to be on January 20th. Subsequently, the market rallied strongly on the hint of more quantitative easing out of the ECB, and the adoption of negative interest rates by the Bank of Japan. Any doubts that 2016 will be a volatile, and difficult year, should now be erased. After a tumultuous January for investing, a period when seasonality and investment inflows are supposed to support markets, CJF is stepping back to assess big picture dynamics for the global economy and the overall investment environment. At risk of being overly obvious: Something is not quite right with the global economy In the seventh year of recovery since the financial crisis, Brazil is in recession, Russia...

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Nike Business On Fire; China Accelerates

December 23, 2015
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Nike Business On Fire; China Accelerates

Nike (NKE) is in the midst of a strong 3-year run; operating trends are at cycle-high growth rates, health & wellness as a category is growing around the world, and Nike’s brand stewardship is incredibly on point across all major sports. The stock price followed results this year, up over 37% ytd, and the 35th best performer in the S&P 500. Nike’s earnings are expected to grow 16%, so part of the strong return has been valuation re-rating. Nike’s forward P/E multiple reached the 30s, uncharted waters for the firm relative to its history. Keys to the successful Nike business model:   The outsourcing of manufacturing to China enables a capital light business model, allowing Nike to focus on the truly value added aspects of design, innovation, and branding. Nike...

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Tim Cook & Apple Confirm China Strength

October 28, 2015
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Tim Cook & Apple Confirm China Strength

Apple posted an excellent Q3 result; 48 million iPhone shipments exceeded expectations, gross margin approached 40% (32 bps above last year), and EPS grew 43%, an impressive growth rate for the largest company in the world by market capitalization. Mac computer units grew 3% despite a 11% contraction in the overall global PC market. Iterations of new products are coming with updated Apple watches and the Apple TV in time for the holidays, and the Apple brand remains hot. Tim Cook emphasized strength within China, more so than past conference calls, in order to remove one particular bear case which transpired this summer; a sharp slowdown in China and inventory glut. With Nike posting its fastest growth rate in China in several years, and Apple sales doubling, two data...

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5 Investment Patterns That Don’t Make Sense

October 14, 2015
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5 Investment Patterns That Don’t Make Sense

2015 is shaping up to be a challenging year for investments. The market swoon in mid-August caught most off-guard, and the subsequent violent recovery arrived right after several prominent investors turned bearish, or at least hedged. Markets don’t need to make any sense, and at times, understanding “why” the market is getting crushed, or exploding, is a futile exercise; it may lead to a grounded feeling, but ultimately, is not too helpful in predicting the next move. Nonetheless, since mid-August, several relationships/patterns emerged that are particularly nonsensical. A short list: 1) A-share returns matter for global stock markets The stock market in China, the world’s second largest economy, is a big mess of a structure. Top Chinese companies are listed in three separate exchanges/geographies, each open to a different...

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Nike Bone Crusher; China’s Economy isn’t Collapsing

September 25, 2015
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Nike Bone Crusher; China’s Economy isn’t Collapsing

Maybe the economy in China isn’t collapsing. Nike reported a bone crusher of a quarterly report last night; a stark wake-up call for China bears. Nike management credibility is higher than that of the Chinese government, and this earnings report, at this juncture, is stunningly good. Nike segment reports its future orders by geography, adjusted for currency movement, and the results out of China are the strongest since 2012. Nike is surging in China again. Impressive because China isn’t a new market; Nike is entrenched, and has invested, and developed the brand in China for a solid 15 years. The 27% china orders growth accelerated relative to last quarter’s 22% growth. The acceleration took place despite the China A-shares collapse, the renminbi devaluation, and lots of negative press on...

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China Central Bank Governor, Zhou Xiaochuan; China Bubble has Burst

September 5, 2015
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China Central Bank Governor, Zhou Xiaochuan; China Bubble has Burst

News out of China is opaque; often altered, editorialized, or outright censored. It is rare to receive a straightforward assessment, based in fact, irrespective of the congruence with the China governmental aims. Zhou Xiaochuan (ZX) is a maverick Central Bank governor, versed in global economics, and financial markets. ZX is a reformer, pushing to open China’s financial markets and currency regime in order to achieve longer-term economic goals. Over the past couple of years, news that ZX would be replaced caused China stock market rallies, as more accommodative, short-term oriented governors were rumored to take his place. For years, China deferred near-term pain, always attempting to maximize short-term growth. The push-out game is now over. The FT recently ran a story crediting ZX with selling the need to devalue the renminbi...

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China in Recession; Yuan Depreciation Imminent

September 3, 2015
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China in Recession; Yuan Depreciation Imminent

China is at the end-game of its great economic transformation. Multiple iterations of 5-year plans, and flawed central economic planning, created a massive build-up in debt that can no longer be continued. China’s debt fueled growth is understood, but the impact of the deleveraging phase is becoming evident in real time. Various estimates of China debt exist, but given the proliferation of shadow banking, and state involvement in the corporate sector, China’s total debt is a nebulous subject. Using estimates, China debt rose from $1 trillion in 2001 to $30 trillion today. China GDP is approximately 10x larger during a period in which debt rose 30x. McKinsey Global Institute estimates China debt-GDP at 282% in 2014. China’s economic problem is straightforward. Party rulers believed steadfast in the ability to...

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Crude Rally Boxes Fed Into A Corner & China PMI Weakest Since 2012

September 1, 2015
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Crude Rally Boxes Fed Into A Corner & China PMI Weakest Since 2012

This weekend’s Jackson Hole speeches, and subsequent commentary, outlined the guideposts for a Fed rate hike, potentially in September. The explosion in crude, if it holds for two more weeks, will pressure the Fed to hike. The Fed clearly highlighted the USD, employment, and oil, as drivers of inflation. The fast 10-point in rally in oil, from sub-$40, to near-$50, unwinds 2-months worth of decline. With the Fed keying off energy price declines as “temporary”, the failure to hike, in the face of the above mentioned factors swinging more inflationary, risks a credibility issue. With stronger crude (again if it holds), the August Employment Report looms very large, and will likely be the final determinant of a September rate-hike, aside from a potential market crash. On the topic of market crashes… funny...

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China Moves Towards Opening Domestic A-Share Equity Market and Hints of Policy Easing Continue

December 16, 2011
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China Moves Towards Opening Domestic A-Share Equity Market and Hints of Policy Easing Continue

China had an interesting announcement after the close of trading last night which entails opening up the mainland securities markets to Hong Kong investors. According to regulators, China National Radio reports the government is going to trial quota issuance to Hong Kong securities firms for mainland investment. Securities brokerages and fund management firms will be able to use Yuan proceeds raised in Hong Kong to invest in domestic securities markets. China is approving 20 billion Yuan for the initial trial of quota which will be investible up to 80% in fixed income markets and 20% in equity markets. There isn’t much information out at this stage, but opening the domestic market up to a wider array of investors is the first step towards opening the market in general. The...

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China’s Trade Balance is Adjusting – the Largest Imbalance in the World is no Longer Growing

November 14, 2011
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China’s Trade Balance is Adjusting – the Largest Imbalance in the World is no Longer Growing

Markets in China rallied to start the week. Part of the rally resulted from “catch up” to US markets which closed strongly. But part of the rally was based on positive economic comments coming from Chinese officials. China’s President Hu Jintao pledged to focus on building imports which would boost global economic growth. IMF Deputy Managing Director Zhu Min, and National Economic Research Director Fan Gang, told the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Honolulu that a “soft landing” for the economy was expected for China. The officials noted slowing inflation and lower bad debt at Chinese banks. To complete the string of positively toned news, there was also speculation that China was relaxing lending curbs which amounts to incremental monetary policy easing. Both the H-Shares (up 2.8%) and...

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CJF Read of the Week – Rogue Economist: “Similarity of China’s USD Peg with the EMU”

November 13, 2011
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CJF Read of the Week – Rogue Economist: “Similarity of China’s USD Peg with the EMU”

The Rogue Economist, located in Canada, wrote a provocative piece discussing the similarities between the USD/Yuan peg and the EMU construct. I agree with Rogue that currency pegs and distortions lead to predictable real world economic outcomes that become evident in the balance of trade. Many financial market participants confuse cause and effect when identifying the cause of an imbalance and debating the proper solution. Click for the full piece at Rouge Economist:

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Chinese Inflation Turning Down – More Confirmation on Inflection Point

November 9, 2011
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Chinese Inflation Turning Down – More Confirmation on Inflection Point

Overnight, China released inflation data for October, which came down as expected and declined meaningfully from the previous month. Chinese consumer inflation, which includes food and energy prices, rose 6.1% in September, and 5.5% in October. This data shouldn’t be a complete surprise because China is on a tightening campaign with higher interest rates, lower credit growth, and an exchange rate that has slowly appreciated this year. The actualization of lower Chinese inflation is  important because it provides the political cover for China to start easing monetary policy. In addition, many global commodities such as; copper, oil, cotton, wheat, corn, sugar, etc. have declined which will eventually help ease pressure on Chinese inflation. The Chinese Producer Price Index also declined meaningfully based on the same factors. PPI inflation fell...

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