Investment Themes - China

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December 18 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Xi's Speech Gives No Hope for Stock Traders as Asia Markets Sink

This article by Moxy Ying for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

Expectations that Xi’s speech would give stocks a boost (or at least, prevent a sell-off) were thwarted, and since “nothing special” was announced, Asian shares are following the overnight sell-off in the U.S., said said Castor Pang, head of research at Core Pacific-Yamaichi International HK.

Francis Lun, chief executive officer of Geo Securities, agreed. Investors were disappointed by the speech as they had been expecting some comments on economic stimulus or the further opening-up of the Chinese economy, he said. “But he didn’t mention it. That’s why A shares dropped 1 percent and also dragged down Hong Kong stocks.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Xi Jinping doused hopes he would be a reformer by denouncing Deng’s policy of hiding the nation’s strength and playing nice with the international community. Instead he has asserted China’s intention to be more assertive internationally, to become independent of the Dollar’s patrimony and to become independent technologically.



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December 13 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Markets Conclude U.S. Is Riskier Than China

This article by Matthew A. Winkler for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

They would be pricing in various economic realities: the slowing rate of U.S. economic growth, the U.S. government's exploding debt, the diminished Treasury revenue caused by the 2017 tax cuts, and the Fed's pursuit of a monetary policy keeping rates well above their average for the decade.

Investors see growth slowing, and it shows. Extreme fluctuations in the stock and bond markets the past month reflect investor anxiety over the transition from a brightening economy to the creeping sense that the best of this cycle has come and gone.

U.S. government debt is also moving in the wrong direction. Since 2016, when the federal budget deficit as a percentage of gross domestic product declined to a decade-low of 2.2 percent from more than 10 percent in 2009, the deficit nearly doubled to almost 4 percent. GDP increased to a record $19.39 trillion at the end of 2017 as the annual rate climbed to 2.2 percent from 1.8 percent in 2007. But U.S. growth will deteriorate to an annualized 1.9 percent by 2020, according to economists surveyed by Bloomberg, putting more pressure on the widening deficit. Revenue isn't stepping in to close that gap. The Trump tax cuts are estimated to increase these deficits by $1 trillion during the next 10 years.

Eoin Treacy's view -

China can borrow at cheaper rates than the USA right now. Is that a big contrary indicator or is it the shape of things to come?



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December 05 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China's State Media Offers Some Clarity on U.S. Trade Deal

This article from Bloomberg news may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

There’s still no official statement from Beijing that the deal reached Saturday to not raise tariffs is only for a 90-day period and is dependent on the outcome of talks. China’s government has been slow to formulate its response to the summit as senior officials were still out of the country with Xi,
Bloomberg News reported.

The Global Times is affiliated with the state-run People’s Daily, and published a separate Chinese-language editorial on Tuesday noting that the U.S. had made no mention of Beijing’s “Made in China 2025” plan in any statements after the Xi-Trump meeting, nor criticized China’s industrial policy. China’s government has yet to issue official comment on those details.

The day after Xi and Trump met, the WeChat account of the People’s Daily’s overseas edition published an article detailing some of what was discussed at their talks. The article was by Mei Xinyu -- a researcher at a think tank under the Ministry of Commerce -- and cited a White House statement.

It explained that China and the U.S. had agreed to work together on issues including widening market access, protecting intellectual property rights, avoiding forced technology transfers and jointly fighting against cyber theft.

The China Daily also published a commentary on Tuesday noting the 90-day period, explaining it was a truce and saying the U.S. would likely escalate the trade war if no permanent deal was achieved.

Eoin Treacy's view -

If we look at history, all emerging economies have engaged in some form of industrial espionage. China is bigger than other emerging market in terms of both population and market scope and likewise its concerted effort to acquire know-how by any means necessary has been epic in scale. A true signal China has all it needs in terms of technology expertise, as well as having the confidence that it can innovate on its own quickly, would be if did in fact start to uphold intellectual property rights. Quite whether that would be good or bad news is something I suspect has not yet been debated in government circles.



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December 03 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

G-20 Gives Markets a Short-Term Respite

This article by Mohamed A. El-Erian for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

For the economic reasons discussed here, the most likely outcome was in the middle of that range: a cease-fire with a pathway to a more decisive de-escalation of tensions – or, to use a recent historical parallel, an agreement similar to the one that followed the White House visit of EU President Jean-Claude Juncker in July. And that is what materialized, with the important addition of a three-month deadline for progress.

At the end of almost three hours of what the White House called “highly successful” discussions, the U.S. agreed to refrain for 90 days from implementing additional tariffs on $200 billion of imports from China. In return, China promised to use the time to make progress in three areas of concern to the U.S. and other countries: relaxing an array of nontariff barriers, including joint-venture requirements, that result in forced transfers of technology, operational models and other proprietary information and business practices; combatting intellectual property theft and other cyber interferences; and reducing the bilateral trade surplus by importing “very substantial” quantities of certain goods from the U.S.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The G-20 ended as expected with smiles all round but with not a great deal to report other than a hiatus in the trade war and commitment to go back to talks. There is a little chance of China making anywhere close to the concessions demanded of the USA so it is quite likely the market will be back on tenterhooks by the time late January comes around.



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November 30 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Big Picture

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Societe Generale which may be of interest. Here is a section:

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full report is posted in the Subscriber's Area. 

By this stage subscribers much be wondering why I am posting so many reports that express a bearish view. The simple fact of the matter is I am reposting these reports in an effort to highlight the fact that the last time my inbox was so filled with bearish reports was in the immediate aftermath of the credit crisis.

It seems that the one thing every analyst has learned from the credit crisis is to be hyper alert to any sign of trouble lest they miss out on calling the next big decline. It occurs to me that the investment community is falling into the trap of fighting the last war all over again, even though we are now in uncharted territory in terms of both monetary policy and the quantity of debt outstanding.



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November 29 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Long-term themes review October 29th 2018

Eoin Treacy's view -

FullerTreacyMoney has a very varied group of people as subscribers. Some of you like to receive our views in written form, while others prefer the first-person experience of listening to the audio or watching daily videos.

The Big Picture Long-Term video, posted every Friday, is aimed squarely at anyone who does not have the time to read the daily commentary but wishes to gain some perspective on what we think the long-term outlook holds. However, I think it is also important to have a clear written record for where we lie in terms of the long-term themes we have identified, particularly as short-term market machinations influence perceptions.

Let me first set up the background; I believe we are in a secular bull market that will not peak for at least another decade and potentially twice that. However, it also worth considering that secular bull markets are occasionally punctuated by recessions and medium-term corrections which generally represent buying opportunities.

2018 has represented a loss of uptrend consistency for the S&P500 following a particularly impressive and persistent advance in 2016 and 2017. Many people are therefore asking whether this is a medium-term correction or a top. There is perhaps no more important question so let’s just focus on that for the moment.



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November 23 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Japan's Inflation Stalls at 1% as Risks to Price Gains Gather

This article by Yuko Takeo for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

Slow but steady improvement in Japan’s core inflation gauge has come to a halt as a host of forces gather that could see price gains begin to slow.

Consumer prices excluding fresh food rose 1 percent in October from a year earlier, as expected by economists. That’s just half way to the Bank of Japan’s 2 percent target with the prospect of falling energy costs and lower charges from mobile-phone carriers pointing to weaker price growth ahead.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The decline in oil prices is a significant benefit for consuming nations like Japan, India and China. In that regard it is disinflationary rather than an outright drag on the economy. Nevertheless, Japan needs inflation so companies can regain pricing power and promote more dynamism in the economy.



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November 22 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Beijing to Judge Every Resident Based on Behavior by End of 2020

Thanks to a subscriber for this article from Bloomberg news which may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

China’s plan to judge each of its 1.3 billion people based on their social behavior is moving a step closer to reality, with Beijing set to adopt a lifelong points program by 2021 that assigns personalized ratings for each resident.

The capital city will pool data from several departments to reward and punish some 22 million citizens based on their actions and reputations by the end of 2020, according to a plan posted on the Beijing municipal government’s website on Monday. Those with better so-called social credit will get “green channel” benefits while those who violate laws will find life more difficult.

The Beijing project will improve blacklist systems so that those deemed untrustworthy will be “unable to move even a single step,” according to the government’s plan. Xinhua reported on the proposal Tuesday, while the report posted on the municipal government’s website is dated July 18.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Anyone who has ever attempted to teach anything to anyone will be familiar with the experience that what you think of as important may not gel with what your presumed student thinks. As a teacher you never really know if you are getting your point across.

I was thinking about that while in Singapore last month. The country has had unparalleled success in turning a backwater into a private banking powerhouse through a commitment to improving standards of governance and rule of law. However, Singapore has also been the subject of much criticism for the strict social control policies they pursued on the way to prosperity. China has long regarded Singapore as a case study so what did they learn?



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November 16 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Is Giving the World's Carmakers an Electric Ultimatum

This article from Bloomberg News may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The world’s biggest market for electric vehicles wants to get even bigger, so it’s giving automakers what amounts to an ultimatum. Starting in January, all major manufacturers operating in China—from global giants Toyota Motor and General Motors to domestic players BYD and BAIC Motor—have to meet minimum requirements there for producing new-energy vehicles, or NEVs (plug-in hybrids, pure-battery electrics, and fuel-cell autos). A complex government equation requires that a sizable portion of their production or imports must be green in 2019, with escalating goals thereafter.

The regime resembles the cap-and-trade systems being deployed worldwide for carbon emissions: Carmakers that don’t meet the quota themselves can purchase credits from rivals that exceed it. But if they can’t buy enough credits, they face government fines or, in a worst-case scenario, having their assembly lines shut down.

Eoin Treacy's view -

China is the world’s largest market for automobiles so what they decide is permissible within their market is likely to shape the plans of manufacturers for the globe. One of the primary reasons companies have been announcing plans for lots more electric and hybrid vehicles over the coming years is because of the Chinese mandates. That is the primary driver behind the capacity build in the battery sector which needs to ramp up substantially if the demand growth profile is to be reached.



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November 15 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China's Growth Engines Lose $32 Million a Minute as Markets Sink

This article by Bloomberg News may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:
 

Nonstate companies have lost at least $992 billion in market value since mid-June, or about $32 million for every minute of trading, according to data compiled by Bloomberg and WisdomTree Investments Inc. In October their shares tumbled at the fastest pace in more than three years relative to companies with government ownership. Local corporate borrowers, almost all of them privately owned, defaulted on a record $6.6 billion of debt in the third quarter. At least 57 nonstate businesses have accepted government bailouts in 2018. Such a wave of quasi nationalizations would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.

The pain has been felt at companies large and small—from internet behemoth Tencent Holdings Ltd. to Jiaxing Linglingjiu Electric Lighting, a producer of thermal bulbs whose owner is weighing whether to ditch the business to go farm a plot of land in China’s rural northeast. “When we meet with fellow factory owners, we don’t ask, ‘How’s business?’ like in previous years,” says Xu Xihong, who started Jiaxing Linglingjiu in 2009 after moving into a factory abandoned by a bankrupt state-run manufacturer of electric fans. “Now it’s ‘Do you think you will make it through the year?’ and ‘When are you going to get evicted?’ ”

Donald Trump’s tariffs and the Federal Reserve’s interest-rate hikes have played a role, but the biggest triggers have been local. By far the most important: the Chinese government’s almost two-year campaign to rein in the country’s $9 trillion shadow banking industry—financial companies that aren’t regulated like traditional lenders. While the clampdown was designed to make China’s financial system safer and more transparent, it’s crimped a key funding channel for private-sector companies that lack access to state-run banks. Faced with a drying up of credit and the country’s weakest economic expansion since 2009, more small businesses are defaulting on debt or liquidating.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The availability of credit and how it is disbursed throughout the economy has been a point of contention in China for decades. The simple fact is that the government and banks do not make enough available but then impose tough growth targets on the regions to meet which encourages credit expansion by any means necessary.



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November 12 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

A Fifth of China's Housing Is Empty. That's 50 Million Homes

This article from Bloomberg News may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Soon-to-be-published research will show roughly 22 percent of China’s urban housing stock is unoccupied, according to Professor Gan Li, who runs the main nationwide study. That adds up to more than 50 million empty homes, he said.

The nightmare scenario for policy makers is that owners of unoccupied dwellings rush to sell if cracks start appearing in the property market, causing prices to spiral. The latest data, from a survey in 2017, also suggests Beijing’s efforts to curb property speculation -- considered by leaders a key threat to
financial and social stability -- are coming up short.

“There’s no other single country with such a high vacancy rate,” said Gan, of Chengdu’s Southwestern University of Finance and Economics. “Should any crack emerge in the property market, the homes to be offloaded will hit China like a flood.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

China does not have a property tax so the cost of speculating on property is almost zero. The vast majority of residential units are delivered as empty shells because developers know consumers will want to fit out the apartment to their own specifications. However, that also means there are large numbers of apartment buildings that are vacant and are left to rot because investors are holding them for appreciation purposes rather than ever intending for anyone to live in them.



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November 09 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Has More Distressed Corporate Debt Than All Other EMs

This article by Selcuk Gokoluk for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

China’s debt, both distressed and otherwise, account for a quarter of all securities included in the gauge, which tracks about 660 dollar notes with a par value of at least $500 million. The Asian nation is home to the developing world’s biggest bond market.

The jump in China’s distressed bonds helped fuel an increase in borrowing costs for emerging-market companies to the highest level in more than two years. The impact of the trade war on the Asian nation has compounded pressure on developing assets, already reeling under the strain of higher U.S. interest rates and Treasury yields.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

In markets with well-developed corporate bond markets we can come to some estimation of what to expect from the default rate. It’s going to be based on history and may or may not be accurate but at least there is some historical context. China is a country with no history of defaults because everyone always got bailed out.



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November 06 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

A War Beyond Trade

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Deutsche Bank which may be of interest. Here is a section:

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full report is posted in the Subscriber's Area. 

The value of any contract is heavily dependent on the values of the counterparties signing it and the authority of an agreed party to enforce the terms. When the signees are countries then enforcement and the legal wrangling around differing interpretations of what is entailed can take years and, even then, if one party decides not to accept a ruling there is not much that can be done. The USA’s bipartisan institutional realization that China is a not a reliable contract counterparty now represents a significant obstacle to more than a cursory trade agreement being negotiated.



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November 02 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Trump Said to Ask Cabinet to Draft Possible Trade Deal With Xi

This article by Jenny Leonard, Saleha Mohsin and Jennifer Jacobs for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

President Donald Trump wants to reach an agreement on trade with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Group of 20 nations summit in Argentina later this month and has asked key U.S. officials to begin drafting potential terms, according to four people familiar with the matter.

The push for a possible deal with China was prompted by the president’s telephone call with Xi on Thursday, the people said, requesting anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

Afterward, Trump described the conversation as “long and very good” and said in a tweet that their discussions on trade were “moving along nicely.”

Trump asked key cabinet secretaries to have their staff draw up a potential deal to stop an escalating trade conflict, the people said, adding that multiple agencies are involved in drafting the plan. It was unclear if Trump was easing up on U.S. demands that China has resisted, and reaching any accord still faces significant hurdles.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The mid-term elections are on Tuesday so it is hard to view any political utterance as anything other than noise until that event has passed. The decision to write a draft proposal for a trade agreement does not mean it will be something the Chinese can sign without conceding defeat in the trade war so this is far from a settled topic. Nevertheless, even a word of encouragement for beaten down Chinese shares was enough to pressure shorts.



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November 02 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China cracks down on foreign currency transfers for property deals

This article by Michael Smith for The Australian Financial Review may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The decision to publish the cases, which involved millions of dollars in fines, is seen as a warning that the government is less willing to tolerate what is considered a grey area in the country's capital control rules. Liu Xuezhi, an economist at China's Bank of Communications, said this showed Beijing's crackdown on offshore commercial deals was being extended to individual investors.

"The government regulation on foreign currency is becoming more thorough. They are extending supervision from corporates to individuals," he told The Australian Financial Review.

"The tight control on foreign capital will be maintained for the next one or two years. This would bring an impact to the Chinese investors who are planning to buy properties overseas, including Australia."

Zong Liang, a senior researcher with the Bank of China, said he expected the move to more closely monitor transactions would stay in place for the next five years and weaken the appetite for Chinese investors in Australian property.

Eoin Treacy's view -

China needs to control capital flight if it is to have any hope of navigating a future of lower leverage, higher defaults and modest growth. Chinese people have been most active in getting money out of the country by buying property which is a significant outlay and is coming under increasing scrutiny with potentially worrying repercussions for international property markets.



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October 31 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Says More Aid Coming as Downdraft From Trade War Rises

This article from Bloomberg News may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The signal of increasing urgency came just hours after purchasing manager reports showed an across-the-board deterioration that risks spilling into a broader drag on global growth. The world’s second largest economy is being damaged by its trade war with the U.S. and a domestic debt cleanup.

With those pressing constraints, officials have added modest policy support so far, ranging from tax cuts to regulatory relief, rather than repeating the fiscal firepower seen after a previous slowdown. Investors seem unpersuaded by the drip-feed approach with the yuan hovering around a decade low and stocks sliding.

“Accepting slower growth has long been a challenge for Beijing, but now the rate of slowdown is firmly out of the comfort zone,” said Katrina Ell, an economist at Moody’s Analytics in Sydney. “In recent years the balancing act has been addressing risks in the financial system against pressure to stabilize economic growth. It appears the latter is again more of a priority.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Major rallies in Chinese mainland stocks tend to be state sponsored. It’s the Communist Party’s equivalent of a central bank put and it’s something investors have tended to wait for before committing to a rally.



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October 27 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Kyle Bass Speaks with CNBC's David Faber

This article from CNBC may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

BASS: You know, the Chinese are in the worst financial situation they’ve been in, in the last 17 years because they operated domestic economy where they control the printing press, they control the press narrative, they control the price level and they control their people as we’ve seen them detain over a million of them in Jingjang for their religious preference. So they can change a lot of things domestically, but their -- the arbiter of the Chinese plan is their cross rate or their exchange rate with the rest of the world. China Inc.’s working capital account is now going South because they’re running what we believe to be a structural and more permanent deficit on the current account. And so, i.e., their working capital, their dollar balance whether it’s dollars, euros, yen or pounds, it’s mostly dollars. And their dollar balances is headed south. And so, the U.S. is in a very particularly interesting negotiating position today. We are in the strongest negotiating position we’ve ever had against China. They’ve kind of leveled the playing field a little bit more with their, let’s say, subversion of WTO rules, their intellectual property theft and basically everything they’ve done to take advantage of the U.S. over the past 15, 17 years.

Eoin Treacy's view -

China has the domestic economy on lock down and has an epic local government debt issue. It also has some of the largest deposits of any banking sector as well as large sovereign reserves. The only clear way to match liabilities with assets while also depreciating the currency, to support the export sector, is to avoid capital flight.



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October 25 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Long-term themes review October 4th 2018

Eoin Treacy's view -

FullerTreacyMoney has a very varied group of people as subscribers. Some of you like to receive our views in written form, while others prefer the first-person experience of listening to the audio or watching daily videos.

The Big Picture Long-Term video, posted every Friday, is aimed squarely at anyone who does not have the time to read the daily commentary but wishes to gain some perspective on what we think the long-term outlook holds. However, I think it is also important to have a clear written record for where we lie in terms of the long-term themes we have identified, particularly as short-term market machinations influence perceptions.



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October 22 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Asian Stocks Bulls Have 4 Percent China Market Rally to Thank

This article by Nguyen Kieu Giang for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Quite a bit happened in the 67 hours since the market closed Friday and reopened in China to help support stocks:

CSRC spokesman Chang Depeng said China supports overseas-listed companies to participate in M&A of A-share listed companies.

President Xi Jinping vowed “unwavering” support for non-state firms, while the country’s stock exchanges committed to help manage share-pledge risks.

China also released its widely expected plan to cut personal income taxes after data showed the nation’s economy grew at the slowest pace since 2009.

PBOC adviser Ma Jun expects policy measures will support the market, and the nation’s central bank strengthened the yuan fixing by most since Sept. 21.
 
There was also a bullish Goldman report that sent securities firms in both Hong Kong and the mainland surging.

Eoin Treacy's view -

We saw the first evidence that the Chinese administration is aware of the decline in the stock market and willing to do something about it last week and the above factors are a further iteration of that. That has at least provided a catalyst for a reversion back towards the mean



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October 19 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China's New Strategy for Curbing World's Worst Stock Slide

This article from Bloomberg news may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Economic policy makers including Vice Premier Liu He, who also weighed in on Friday, are now left walking a tightrope. To fortify the nation’s negotiating position on trade with the Trump administration, they need to stem the $3 trillion stock rout and support growth at home -- all without giving up on their goal of containing soaring debt levels.

"China is under pressure on multiple fronts," said Michael Every, head of Asia financial markets research at Rabobank in Hong Kong. "Logically, all this pushes China to make a deal, yet I don’t think there is a deal to be had."

While the Shanghai Composite opened lower on Friday morning after the officials’ statements, it rallied in the afternoon and closed with a 2.6 percent gain. Some investors speculated that China’s “National Team” of state-backed funds stepped in to add some oomph to policy makers’ verbal intervention.

Eoin Treacy's view -

China started jawboning the market higher today which is a welcome sign that the administration is beginning to pay attention to the rout in domestic shares. Talking the market higher is free so it is usually the first recourse officials resort to in their efforts to support markets. However, it will need to be followed by clear action to arrest the decline if negative investor sentiment is to be influenced.



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October 17 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China May Have $5.8 Trillion Hidden Debt With 'Titanic' Risk

This article by Eric Lam for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The focus on funding to sustain growth at the local level echoes a broader shift in the central government, which last year was focused on reducing leverage in the financial system. That phase is essentially over, thanks in part to an escalating trade war with the U.S., according to Citigroup Inc. analysts.

“The markets are right, in our view, to feel more concerned about the sustainability of China’s debt and the increased financial risks,” said Liu Li-Gang, chief China economist at Citigroup in Hong Kong. He also saw “renewed pressure” on the yuan.

Even with the central government’s shift toward stimulus, however, S&P sees Beijing determined to “bring discipline to the financing practices of local governments and their LGFVs.” That ultimately may mean local authorities aren’t fully able to keep LGFVs afloat, however, and the bottom line is “the default risk of LGFVs is increasing.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Last week China announced it was increasing the number of Systemically Important Financial Institutions (SIFIs). That measure is aimed at clearly signaling there is a group of banks the government is going to support come what may. That’s not so unusual but it does raise the broader question of what about the rest?



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October 17 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Trump Opens New Front in His Battle With China: International Shipping

This article by Glenn Thrush for the New York Times represents a further deterioration in the US/China international relationship. Here is a section:

The withdrawal is part of a concerted push by Mr. Trump to counter China’s dominance and punish it for what the administration says is a pattern of unfair trade practices. The move is expected to be announced on Wednesday, according to senior administration officials.

The Universal Postal Union treaty, first drafted in 1874, sets fees that national postal services charge to deliver mail and small parcels to countries around the world. Since 1969, poor and developing countries — including China — have been assessed lower rates than wealthier countries in Europe and North America.

While the lower rates were intended to foster development in Asia and Africa, Chinese companies now make up about 60 percent of packages shipped into the country, taking advantage of the lower rates to ship clothing, household gadgets and consumer electronics. Many websites now offer free shipping from China, in part because of the cheap postal rates, administration officials say.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Privately-owned Chinese companies are among the largest third-party sellers on major internet venues like eBay and to a lesser extent Amazon. A US based seller pays a minimum of $2.66 for a small package with tracking from the US Postal Service. Sellers from China pay domestic local rates on international shipping. It might take longer to arrive but there is no way to beat Chinese sellers on price and particularly for small-sized goods.



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October 16 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Tumbling Car and House Sales Pose Fresh Challenge to Chinese Markets

This article by Joanne Chiu for the Wall Street Journal may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

China Galaxy International analyst Tony Li said the U.S.-China trade dispute and a stock-market selloff were weighing on consumer sentiment. “Consumers have turned more cautious and are less willing to spend much on luxury items,” he said.

The holiday slowdown was bigger than expected, and investors should closely watch for any further weakening this year, he added.

Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs said escalating trade tensions, slowing growth and policy uncertainty have weighed on Chinese stocks. In a pessimistic case, if annual growth slows to 6% and the yuan falls a further 5% against the dollar, shares could decline 10% more, the bank said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

I was chatting with Mrs. Treacy yesterday about the slowdown in China and she passed along this link to a story from epochtimes.com detailing how recent homebuyers are disgruntled with the steep discounts’ developers are now offering on properties. Here is a section:

On Oct. 2, more than 40 new homeowners in the city of Jingdezhen in Jiangxi Province gathered in protest outside the sales office of a property developer, and angrily shouted complaints such as “refund our money” and “we bought in the evening, and the price dropped in the morning.”

The next day, in Shanghai’s high-end Pudong District, dozens of new homeowners congregated in front of a housing development, carrying signs emblazoned with the slogan “Refund my hard-earned money.” The developer, Country Garden, had lowered prices from 35,000 yuan per square meter ($470 per square foot) to 26,000 yuan overnight.



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October 11 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Shares Sink Most Since 2016 as 1,000 Stocks Fall by Limit

This article by Kana Nishizawa for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Hong Kong didn’t fare much better, with the Hang Seng Index dropping 3.5 percent, the biggest in eight months. Tencent Holdings Ltd., the most valuable stock listed in Asia, slid 6.8 percent to extend a record losing streak to a 10th day.

Chinese shares have been the ground zero for the trade war with the U.S. The Shanghai Composite has lost 24 percent in the past 12 months, one of the worst performers among 94 global gauges tracked by Bloomberg, with the majority of the decline happening this year. A slowing economy and weakening currency is only adding to the gloom.

"Panic? The general mood among fund managers is more like ‘playing dead,’" said He Qi, portfolio manager at Huatai Pinebridge Fund Management.

Telecom and technology shares led declines on the mainland, with ZTE Corp. and 360 Security Technology Inc. tumbling more than 9 percent. Tech shares also dropped the most in Hong Kong, following the sector’s rout in New York.

Volume on the Hang Seng Index and China’s large-cap CSI 300 Index was about 70 percent more than their 30-day intraday average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Foreign investors dumped 3.6 billion yuan ($520 million) onshore shares through Hong Kong-China stock links. "It’s been a rough day," said William Wong, head of institutional sales trading at Shenwan Hongyuan Securities HK Ltd.  

Institutional investors have been reducing their portfolio, while we see hedge funds shorting in Hong Kong." A crackdown at Chinese borders on undeclared goods also hurt luxury goods companies, with Prada SpA tumbling 10 percent, the most since September 2017. Jiangxi Ganfeng Lithium Co. dropped as much as 33 percent on its trading debut.

"Negative sentiment is outweighing any positive catalysts, and investors would take any rebound as a chance to sell," said Louis Tse, Hong Kong-based managing director at VC Asset Management Ltd., adding that Shanghai shares may fall further after breaking the key support level. "If we’re talking about seeing an end of the tunnel -- I don’t think so."

Eoin Treacy's view -

There is no doubt that increasing tensions between China and the USA have been one of the factors contributing to the underperformance of the Chinese market so far this year. However, the tightening of credit standards, particularly cutting off funding lines for the shadow banking sector and regional banks has also been an important consideration in the underperformance.



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October 09 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Markets Are a Jungle. Good Thing Felix Zulauf is Your Guide

Thanks to a subscriber for this interview of Felix Zulauf which appeared in Barron’s. Here is a section:

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full interview is posted in the Subscriber's Area.

China is busy trying to paint itself as the protector of the global trade network but this amounts to doublespeak when we look at their actions rather their words. China has abused the international web of trade relationships to boost its own economy and was allowed to do so because of a mistaken belief that prosperity would breed liberalism. Western leaders bet the livelihoods of millions of their own citizens on China eventually evolving into a free market liberal democracy but that has failed to materialise. If anything, China’s authoritarianism is becoming even more engrained.



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October 08 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on China's domestic semiconductor industry

Picking up on today’s big picture commentary, as well several recent comments about China’s mission to create a semiconductor sector, I attempted to identify the largest Chinese based semiconductor manufacturers and assess whether they might benefit from such an initiative. I noted that SMIC (Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation) based in Shanghai is listed in HK ((981:HK) and the US (SMI:US).   Do you feel that Chinese semiconductor manufacturers, such as SMIC, might stand to benefit from further state investment in the local sector to enable more independent control over their supply chain of semiconductors? The SMIC Chart at this stage would certainly not support this hypothesis as it has underperformed the SOX Index, but seems to be quite oversold.  Your insight into this topical issue would be much appreciated.

By the way, for whatever reason, code 981:HK is shown in the Chart Library as China Green Holdings Limited (actual stock code 904:HK) and not SMIC! 

Thank you for the excellent service - I look forward to starting virtually every day here in Sydney with your valuable and insightful video commentaries. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this email and I am delighted you are enjoying the daily video commentaries. I've also amended the ticker for SMIC.

China has demonstrated time and again that it has no interest in importing chips that could offer a backdoor for foreign governments into its IT networks. At the same time, it has pioneered a major offensive to insert its own devices into the bones of the global IT infrastructure so it can do its own listening. Both of those objectives mean having a domestic chip manufacturing industry is essential to Chinese government policy.



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October 05 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Used Tiny Chip in Hack That Infiltrated U.S. Companies

This article by Jordan Robertson and Michael Riley for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

A notable exception was AWS’s data centers inside China, which were filled with Supermicro-built servers, according to two people with knowledge of AWS’s operations there. Mindful of the Elemental findings, Amazon’s security team conducted its own investigation into AWS’s Beijing facilities and found altered motherboards there as well, including more sophisticated designs than they’d previously encountered. In one case, the malicious chips were thin enough that they’d been embedded between the layers of fiberglass onto which the other components were attached, according to one person who saw pictures of the chips. That generation of chips was smaller than a sharpened pencil tip, the person says. (Amazon denies that AWS knew of servers found in China containing malicious chips.)

And

One Friday in late September 2015, President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping appeared together at the White House for an hourlong press conference headlined by a landmark deal on cybersecurity. After months of negotiations, the U.S. had extracted from China a grand promise: It would no longer support the theft by hackers of U.S. intellectual property to benefit Chinese companies. Left out of those pronouncements, according to a person familiar with discussions among senior officials across the U.S. government, was the White House’s deep concern that China was willing to offer this concession because it was already developing far more advanced and surreptitious forms of hacking founded on its near monopoly of the technology supply chain.

In the weeks after the agreement was announced, the U.S. government quietly raised the alarm with several dozen tech executives and investors at a small, invite-only meeting in McLean, Va., organized by the Pentagon. According to someone who was present, Defense Department officials briefed the technologists on a recent attack and asked them to think about creating commercial products that could detect hardware implants. Attendees weren’t told the name of the hardware maker involved, but it was clear to at least some in the room that it was Supermicro, the person says.

The problem under discussion wasn’t just technological. It spoke to decisions made decades ago to send advanced production work to Southeast Asia. In the intervening years, low-cost Chinese manufacturing had come to underpin the business models of many of America’s largest technology companies. Early on, Apple, for instance, made many of its most sophisticated electronics domestically. Then in 1992, it closed a state-of-the-art plant for motherboard and computer assembly in Fremont, Calif., and sent much of that work overseas.

Over the decades, the security of the supply chain became an article of faith despite repeated warnings by Western officials. A belief formed that China was unlikely to jeopardize its position as workshop to the world by letting its spies meddle in its factories. That left the decision about where to build commercial systems resting largely on where capacity was greatest and cheapest. “You end up with a classic Satan’s bargain,” one former U.S. official says. “You can have less supply than you want and guarantee it’s secure, or you can have the supply you need, but there will be risk. Every organization has accepted the second proposition.”
 

Eoin Treacy's view -

China aspires to global domination and the Communist Party is willing to deal, cajole, bribe, beg, borrow and steal to get what it wants. The Belt and Road Initiative is a big part of that. Whereas attempting to create a domestic semiconductor sector is major part of the Made In China 2025. The interruption of the supply chain for the global chip manufacturing sector has been underway for years and is only now becoming public. It represents further evidence that there is no lower limit to what China is willing to do to achieve its goals.



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October 03 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Long-term themes review August 15th 2018

Eoin Treacy's view -

FullerTreacyMoney has a very varied group of people as subscribers. Some of you like to receive our views in written form, while others prefer the first-person experience of listening to the audio or watching daily videos.

The Big Picture Long-Term video, posted every Friday, is aimed squarely at anyone who does not have the time to read the daily commentary but wishes to gain some perspective on what we think the long-term outlook holds. However, I think it is also important to have a clear written record for where we lie in terms of the long-term themes we have identified, particularly as short-term market machinations influence perceptions.

Let me first set up the background; I believe we are in a secular bull market that will not peak for at least another decade and potentially twice that. However, it also worth considering that secular bull markets are occasionally punctuated by recessions and medium-term corrections which generally represent buying opportunities. 



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October 02 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Beijing axes coal and steel production curbs as economy slows

This article by Emily Feng for the Financial Times may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

However, experts said that even the lower targets were ambitious because last year’s air pollution levels had already dropped significantly. 

“Both a 3 per cent or 5 per cent reduction from last winter’s PM2.5 levels would be a tough target to reach because levels already fell 25 per cent last winter thanks to very strict policies and very favourable weather conditions,” said Lauri Myllyvirta, a campaigner at Greenpeace, the environmental group. 

The easing may have been prompted by a public outcry. Winter curbs on coal, including on heaters used by many residents in smaller cities and villages, left millions freezing as local governments scrambled to provide gas heating. 

By imposing emissions targets rather than specific production cuts, China shifted responsibility to local rather than central officials which could also weaken enforcement. “Notably, policies and enforcement this year is left largely to local governments, leaving them to choose between the risk of missing pollution targets or disrupting the newest construction splurge,” said Mr Myllyvirta.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Just how committed is China to environmental protection? China does not have the same green lobby we have in the West. Rationing coal without supplying alternatives was a heavy burden for people in Northern China last winter. That makes the point clearly to consumers that if they want clean air it comes with sacrifice. On a day to day basis most people would rather be warm with bad air than freezing.



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October 01 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Trump Lauds Nafta Successor Accord, Chides Tariff 'Babies'

This article by Shannon Pettypiece and Andrew Mayeda for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The new agreement makes modest revisions to a trade deal Trump once called a “disaster,” easing uncertainty for companies reliant on tariff-free commerce among the three countries. U.S. stocks climbed on Monday toward records, while the Canadian dollar and the Mexican peso gained. The S&P 500 Index climbed 0.6 percent by 12:29 p.m. in New York.

Trump cited in particular provisions governing automobiles, raising the portion of their content that must originate within the region to 75 percent, from 62.5 percent, and requiring at least 40 percent of a car to come from workers whose pay averages more than $16 per hour. The president called those rules “the most important thing” for him.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The cosmetic changes to the NAFTA agreement provide some protections for workers but no so much that the fabric of the agreement is going to be fundamentally changed. That’s a significant development of North American markets since the trade they do with each other is at least as significant as what is done with the rest of the world.



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September 26 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

How China Is Losing the World

This article from The Diplomat may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

But to the more attentive, a new counternarrative is also starting to emerge, which stands against this tale of an ever more powerful China that can name its terms and act without restraint or pretense. As more and more people start to know far more about the China model, and to see it manifested in their daily lives, doubts start to grow. The sharp treatment of Taiwan, the actions in Xinjiang, the incredible, pervasive growth of the surveillance state in China and its annexation of almost every aspect of life without any institutional or legal restraint – all these register in some form and shape a little resistance.

In the past, issues about China were once disparate; now they are being linked and form the basis of a critical counternarrative. Suddenly, there is more sympathy for Taiwan, for example. More people in Europe and the United States are starting to be uneasy about the ways in which Confucius Institutes are allowed to operate in Western establishments without similar freedoms for Western equivalents in Chinese ones. They wonder why Chinese can buy, invest, and work so freely in their environments while it is so difficult for foreigners to do the same back in China. They wonder why Chinese lobbyists and activists are able to freely express their ideas in London, Sydney, or Washington, and seek to influence outcomes that matter to them there, when there is precious little space for this sort of activity back in China.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The true talent in a kleptocracy is knowing who to bribe. Afterall there is no point spending the money if the person taking the payment is not in a position to effect the result you wish or is subject to dismissal. Something China is finding out is that in a democracy, politicians who are seen to mortgage the future of the country to a foreign power are less than likely to win the next election.



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September 20 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

S&P, Dow Hit Record Highs as Trade Fears Abate

This article by Vildana Hajric for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

China is said to be planning to cut the average tariff rate it charges on imports from the majority of its trading partners as soon as next month. On Wednesday, Premier Li Keqiang his government wouldn’t devalue the currency in order to boost its exports amid the trade war.

“When we get days where there isn’t trade and tariffs escalation, which is in the news with us every day, market participants can focus more on fundamentals, and fundamental drivers continue to paint a pretty equity picture,” Leo Grohowski, chief investment officer at BNY Mellon Wealth Management, said by phone. “We’re striking a nice balance between good economic news and not becoming concerned yet about inflation.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Dow Jones Industrials Average hit a new high and the Dow Jones Transportations Average is trading within striking distance of another new high. While Dow Theory does not tend to get a lot of coverage these days it would be hard to argue that we are presented with anything other than at least a short-term bullish environment.



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September 18 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

September 12 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Ray Dalio Spells Out America's Worst Nightmare

This article by Brian Chappatta for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

“We have to sell a lot of Treasury bonds, and we as Americans won’t be able to buy all those Treasury bonds,” Dalio said. That means foreign investors will have to step up. And they probably would, as long as the dollar remains strong.

Otherwise, Treasury’s dollar-denominated interest payments to buyers in China, Europe and Japan will be worth less and less.

But, to Dalio, that’s not going to happen. “The Federal Reserve at that point will have to print more money to make up for the deficit, have to monetize more and that’ll cause a depreciation in the value of the dollar,” he said. Pressed by interviewer Erik Schatzker, he said “you easily could have a 30 percent depreciation in the dollar through that period of time.” For context, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell 8.5 percent in 2017, and that was considered massive.

It all leads up to this critique of how the U.S. has gone on a borrowing binge in recent years. Remember, the $15.3 trillion Treasury market was the $4.9 trillion Treasury market a decade ago.

“We have the privileged position of being able to borrow in our own currency because we have the world's leading reserve currency. We are risking that by our finances — in other words, borrowing too much.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Unfunded liabilities are not only a US problem but are something that governments right across the OECD will need to eventually address. Ray Dalio’s view that the rise in populism we are seeing today is a symptom of a wider problem gels with my own. Considering we are seeing this disaffection with the status quo during an economic expansion where unemployment is low, it is likely that the jump to the fringes of the political spectrum will only intensify during a recession.  



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September 12 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Asian Stocks Are Caught in the Longest Sell-off in 16 Years

This article by Ian C Sayson for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

“We see that light at the end of the tunnel, but we’re still kind of in the darkness ourselves,” Citi’s Peng said. Investors need more concrete catalysts before they step in to buy stocks. “So that’s the challenge for money managers.”

“We are looking to be more constructive on Asian equities in the next quarter, if the current correction continues. Valuations will be more attractive and worth a look then,” said Jason Low, senior investment strategist at DBS Bank Holdings Ltd.

“The good news is that valuations are looking more attractive now and technicals are oversold, which suggest that Asian stocks could be poised for a rebound in the next few months,” Jasslyn Yeo global market strategist as JPMorgan Asset Management.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Among the top 18 holdings in the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF, 9 are from China. The addition, first of overseas Chinese companies and Hong Kong listed companies followed by mainland listed shares has represented a significant reweighting of the basket over the last decade. Since so many commodity producers rely on Chinese demand growth for exports the country’s influence is even greater than might initially be apparent.



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September 11 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

How Should China Respond to Changing U.S. Attitudes?

This article by Fu Ying, vice chairperson of the Foreign Affairs Committee of China's National People's Congress, and of the Academic Committee of China's Institute of International Strategy at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences may be of interest to subscribers not least because it appeared on Bloomberg and appears to speak directly to investors. Here is a section:

In fact, changes in U.S.-China relations may help to push China’s own desired reforms. Some requests raised by U.S. companies, such as increased market access, dovetail with recommendations from China’s leaders. The government is, in fact, opening up: Eight out of the 11 market-opening measures announced by President Xi Jinping in April have been put in place, covering banking, securities, insurance, credit rating, credit investigation and payment, and so on. The government is also working harder to improve the business environment and strengthen intellectual property protections for both Chinese and foreign enterprises. Chinese reformers can turn outside pressure to their advantage, using it to bust through internal
resistance to necessary changes.

But make no mistake: The Chinese people will stand firm against U.S. bullying over trade. There is talk about China’s economy “sliding down” as a result of the trade war. Some expect China to succumb soon. I can tell you that this is wishful thinking.

Yes, China is in the process of deleveraging, which is uncomfortable and painful. But it is a price worth paying for sustaining healthy development. It’s worth remembering that China adopted a stimulus program to help overcome the global recession triggered by the 2008 financial tsunami in the U.S. And it’s worth noting that the trade war may slow the necessary process of deleveraging.

Eoin Treacy's view -

China is now the self-appointed champion of free markets and international trade not least because is has most to lose from any change to the global market equilibrium. The opening up of protected sectors within the Chinese economy are focused on the most heavily overleveraged sectors, where a desire from fresh capital and risk sharing is a priority. There is no sign that the higher growth areas of the economy are suddenly going to become open for foreign investment or that China’s domestic champions are ready for international competition in their home market.



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September 06 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China's $29 Trillion Ball of Money Rolls to a Long-Ignored Haven

This article from Bloomberg news may be of interest. Here is a section:

Bank deposits, shunned for years by the nation’s return-hungry masses, are suddenly looking attractive again as higher-yielding investments prove riskier than many had anticipated. China’s household deposits rose in July at the fastest annual rate in a year -- an influx that analysts say may accelerate after the nation’s stock market sank at the quickest pace worldwide, hundreds of peer-to-peer lending platforms shuttered and companies defaulted on their debt at an unprecedented rate.

“People around me are all asking the same question: Where is the safe place to put our hard-earned savings?’’ said Anna Teng, a 30-year-old marketing manager in Shanghai who’s been shifting her assets into deposits after losing about 20 percent on her equity investments since May and falling victim to a fraudulent P2P lending platform.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Chinese banks, particularly the mid-size and regional segment, need deposits so retail investors pulling out of high yield or high leverage instruments is good news on that front. However, the banks will also miss out on the fees they were collecting from those products and will therefore need to figure how to boost revenues somewhere else. Just how they are going to be able to do that when risk appetite is waning is rather a challenge.



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August 30 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China's biotech revolution

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from UBS which may be of interest. Here is a section:

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full report as well as a section from it are posted in the Subscriber's Area 

China’s toxic air and rapidly aging population mean it has a higher incidence of cancer than most other countries. At the same time the country has an underdeveloped medical infrastructure, particularly beyond the tier-1 cities. There is every reason to believe China will approach the challenges of its healthcare system by co-opting the success it has had with its digitalisation so telemedicine and artificial intelligence will form part of the diagnostic process. Meanwhile the streamlining of the clinical trial system will ensure a lot more drugs make it to market. The big question for innovative teams will be how they can protect their intellectual property.



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August 23 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Alibaba's Sales Surge as Jack Ma's Free Spending Bears Fruit

This article by Lulu Yilun Chen for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Alibaba’s been busy expanding its Hema supermarket chain and now operates 35 of those stores -- a mix of sit-down dining and groceries plus delivery hub. Much cash also is flowing into China’s $1.3 trillion food retail and services industry, where it’s trying to hold its own against delivery giant and super-app Meituan. Alibaba said Thursday it’s teaming with SoftBank to put more than $3 billion into Ele.me. Alibaba now intends to merge Ele.me with Koubei, another unit focused on connecting restaurants to the internet.

Ma is also spearheading an expensive foray into the $4 trillion retail sector. Alibaba acquired a department store chain with 29 stores and 17 shopping malls last year and also bought a slice of China’s largest hypermarket chain. It’s been shelling out on content for its Youku video-streaming service to stay abreast of Tencent and Baidu Inc. And heavy investment in datacenters for its cloud computing arm helped almost double revenue in that division to 4.7 billion yuan.

However, those burgeoning businesses may be helping mask a slowdown in Alibaba’s bread-and-butter business, said Steven Zhu, an analyst with Pacific Epoch.

Customer management revenue -- the lucrative fees it charges for helping merchants with marketing -- grew just 26 percent in the quarter, from 35 percent in the previous three months. That reflects how rivals such as JD.com Inc. and Pinduoduo Inc. are siphoning off Alibaba’s merchants and may affect the bottom line in coming quarters, Zhu said.

“This is probably the slowest growth ever,” he said. “They are swapping high-quality revenue with low-quality revenue.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Amazon bought a supermarket chain so Alibaba bought a supermarket chain. The USA has Grubhub so Alibaba bought ele.me and is also getting into the broader retail sector through the purchase of a department store chain. There is no denying that these are more conventional businesses than the high growth online expansion that fuelled Alibaba’s initial growth spurt. The fact the company is also talking about primarily focusing on the Chinese domestic market raises questions about its commitment to overseas expansion.



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August 17 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Builders Tap Local Bonds at Record-Low Rates on Easing

This article for Bloomberg News may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Combined bond maturities in onshore and offshore markets for the sector amount to $76.5 billion through the end of 2019, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Builders are expected to tap both markets to meet the refinancing needs.

"We expect onshore issuance will remain strong after a pick-up in recent months," said Franco Leung, property analyst at Moody’s Investors Service. "Offshore issuance slowed recently, but we expect issuers will continue to tap the offshore bond market given the maturity walls in the coming 6 to 12 months.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

China came down hard of local currency debt issuance from 2015 when it looked like the pace of property market price appreciation was going to cause a bubble from already elevated levels. That action was the causal factor behind the growth of the shadow banking system and the massive growth in foreign debt sales.



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August 14 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China's Economy at a Glance

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from from NAB which may be of interest. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full report is posted in the Subscriber's Area.

The SHIBOR interbank rate is perhaps the clearest indicator that the process of deleveraging has either ended or is at least taking a breather. One of the clearest takeaways from my family’s recent visit to China was the abiding sense of unease many people were exhibiting and that was no doubt a reflection both of the tightening of credit and the increasingly overbearing position adopted by the administration.



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August 10 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China, Russia prepare for strategic security talks in Moscow as pressure from United States grows

This article from the South China Morning Post may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

After Chinese President Xi Jinping consolidated his leadership position with the removal of a two-term limit on the presidency and Putin won re-election in March, “the basic building blocks for future cooperation on security issues are somewhat more solid”, said Elina Sinkkonen, a senior research fellow at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs.

“Such language, together with the US sanctions on Russia and trade issues with China certainly influence top level calculations in Moscow and Beijing,” she said.

Alex Gabuev, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Moscow Centre, said the two neighbours had also seen their interests becoming increasingly overlapped in areas ranging from security in Central Asia to the future of Afghanistan, Africa and North Korea.

“Both countries want to keep each other in the loop, explain their intentions and cooperate when possible”, he said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The enemy of my enemy is my friend is about as old an adage in geopolitics as I can think of.



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August 03 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Steps In to Support Yuan By Boosting Cost to Short

This article by Tian Chen for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

China stepped in to try to cushion the yuan after a record string of weekly losses saw the currency closing in on the key milestone of 7 per dollar.

The People’s Bank of China will impose a reserve requirement of 20 percent on some trading of foreign-exchange forward contracts, according to a statement on Friday evening.

That will effectively make it more expensive to short the yuan, and is a tactic that the central bank used to stabilize the currency in the aftermath of its shock devaluation in 2015.

The change is aimed at preventing macro financial risks as the currency market shows signs of volatility amid recent trade frictions, the PBOC said. The yuan surged in offshore trading and U.S. stock-index futures turned higher after the news, though the moves pared after China detailed how it plans to retaliate against U.S. tariff proposals.

Eoin Treacy's view -

It’s pretty clear that China wants a weaker currency, just not all at once. Today’s action to pressure shorts should help to stem the decline but it does nothing to stop people simply converting currency. That point is unlikely to be a lost on those who continue to harbour bearish attitudes.



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August 01 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China trip report July 2018

Eoin Treacy's view -

This was another highly enjoyable and educative trip to China for the Treacy family. One of the reasons we love visiting Guangzhou is because it is close to the factories Mrs. Treacy deals with but is also the gastronomic capital of China. The city is replete with wonderful dining options and the quality of food on offer is of a high standard. I’ll write a separate review of restaurants on another occasion.

This poster is in just about every public space from railway stations to the tube, to the barriers around building sites in Guangzhou. The first question I asked myself is why it needs to be in English as well as Chinese. Internet searches using English language terms do not return results even if one is using Baidu or other Chinese search engines and the vast majority of the domestic population does not read English. Therefore, the message is meant for a wider audience or the use of English is intended as a form of legitimisation of the ideals expressed.



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July 24 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China adds fiscal and monetary stimulus to support growth 24 July2018

Many thanks to Niru Devani for this report on China.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Niru Devani's view

China announced a combination of tax cuts and infrastructure spending late yesterday  to boost growth. The fiscal measures are another sign that the authorities are worried about how the trade war with the US will exacerbate a weakening domestic economy. External “uncertainty” was cited as one of the reasons for the stimulus measures. At the same time, the authorities are keen to allay concerns that China is abandoning structural reform which would damage its credibility on the international stage that it has worked hard to build.



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July 20 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Is there complacency over Chinese woes?

Thanks to Niru Devani for this article on China.

The Chinese markets turned around today from being down around half a percent to rise by over 2% by the close with the renminbi stabilizing. There was some speculation that the authorities had been supporting the currency to slow down the pace of decline. There was also talk that they would add liquidity into the system to support the equity market.

The yuan has fallen by over 8% since late March and is at a one-year low against the dollar. The renminbi’s fall is partly a catch-up with the other currencies that have fallen against the US dollar. The dollar has been strong this year because of widening interest rate differentials with the Federal Reserve being the only major central bank raising rates. However, the currency has also fallen because of softer economic growth and trade tensions with the US. The Chinese authorities are likely to tolerate a weaker currency as long as it falls in an orderly manner and smoothing its decline from time to time as they appear to have done today.

The current phase of renminbi weakness has not yet led to a global market panic similar to the one we saw in late 2015 and early 2016. However, it is one of the key concerns on investors’ minds. So far, the pressures have been felt in the commodities markets where copper, often described as the metal with a PhD in economics because of its past record of being a lead indicator of economic growth, has fallen sharply since early June, declining by about eighteen percent over such a short time. The tariff war has clearly been a big contributor as has the strength in the dollar which has negatively affected various other commodities with the exception of oil which is being moved by other factors.  Asian equities and other emerging markets have also been hit hard over the last few months. The Chinese equity market is in correction territory having fallen by 20% from its highs in January while the Hang Seng index is at a ten month low.

The tariff war is unlikely to come to a resolution before the mid-term Congressional elections. The concern is that the weakness in the Asian and emerging markets spreads to the developed markets. Other than the Nasdaq index, most other major markets have not made new highs since January. The best case scenario is that the consolidation in these markets continues for longer, the worst being that they react more sharply to the falls in Chinese and emerging markets. China is at least as important a factor as the US and merits watching closely.
 

Eoin Treacy's view -

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July 17 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Long-term themes review July 17th 2018

Eoin Treacy's view -

FullerTreacyMoney has a very varied group of people as subscribers. Some of you like to receive our views in written form, while others prefer the first-person experience of listening to the audio or watching daily videos.

The Big Picture Long-Term video, posted every Friday, is aimed squarely at anyone who does not have the time to read the daily commentary but wishes to gain some perspective on what we think the long-term outlook holds. However, I think it is also important to have a clear written record for where we lie in terms of the long-term themes we have identified, particularly as short-term market machinations influence perceptions.



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July 16 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Long-term themes review June 22nd 2018

Eoin Treacy's view -

FullerTreacyMoney has a very varied group of people as subscribers. Some of you like to receive our views in written form, while others prefer the first-person experience of listening to the audio or watching daily videos.

The Big Picture Long-Term video, posted every Friday, is aimed squarely at anyone who does not have the time to read the daily commentary but wishes to gain some perspective on what we think the long-term outlook holds. However, I think it is also important to have a clear written record for where we lie in terms of the long-term themes we have identified, particularly as short-term market machinations influence perceptions.

I realise this summary at 4600 words is getting rather lengthy which is why I decided to right another book to more fully explore the issues represented by the rise of populism and what that means for markets and the global economic order. I’ve agreed an August/September deadline so hopefully it will be available this year.



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July 12 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

MercadoLibre Shrugs Off Amazon With Brick and Mortar Focus

This article by Carolina Millan and Ed Hammond for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

"Our way of competing successfully is to look at all the players, see what they have that we think is great, and if we can incorporate that into our model, we will, but mostly play our game," Galperin said while speaking from Allen & Co.’s Sun Valley conference, and musing about this year’s global soccer championship. "As you know, we’re looking at the World Cup -- we try to play our game and use our advantages and our strengths. We have a great network of sellers, a great brand, we’re investing very heavily, we already have scale."

Shares of MercadoLibre gained as much as 2.2 percent in New York, the most intraday in almost a week.

It’s also betting on brick and mortar investments to improve service. Earlier this year, MercadoLibre announced a partnership for a 38,000-square meter distribution center in the greater Buenos Aires area. In addition, the company, which is providing loans to merchants and payment processing platforms, is working on a digital wallet that offers returns on whatever money is left, Galperin said. Infrastructure -- notoriously poor in Latin America -- is also a priority.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Many commentators have made the point that social media companies require broadband by either mobile or fixed line access to generate income from a market and therefore have an interest in promoting internet access. However, that is equally true of online retail. Wherever ubiquitous internet access is available online retail flourishes, along with its disruptive influence on the conventional retail sector. These maps of the internet’s pervasiveness may be of interest. 



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July 10 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China in Ten Charts A New Impossible Trinity

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from ANZ which may be of interest. Here is a section:

However, China faces a new policy trilemma: if President Xi Jinping truly prioritises reforms over growth, we must see more corporate defaults or foreign borrowing. But if the government does not want higher offshore USD debts, they must sacrifice some growth. They can’t have all three. 

Removing the implicit government guarantee is a necessary evil. Since the national fiscal audits in 2013 and 2015, the central government has tried to detach itself from ill-defined liabilities, notably the local government financing vehicles (LGFVs). 

This is done via taming shadow lending (slide 5). Since these activities were a key funding source for LGFVs, SMEs, and other borrowers which major banks do not serve, we must see credit spreads surge as a result of the deleveraging process (slide 6).

Many corporates opted to borrow from offshore (slide 7) in 2017. However, the rapid rise of foreign debt has triggered policymakers’ concern (slide 8). In Q1 2018, China’s foreign liabilities hit a record high of USD1.8trn (29% y/y), extending its uptrend since Q1 2016. 53% of it was USD debt and 64% were short-term debt. Meanwhile, Q1 also saw China’s first current account deficits since 2001 (slide 9). Going forward, the outlook for China’s FX reserves position deserves attention. 

We believe that slowing GDP growth is not a risk; the temptation to pump prime the economy is. The RRR cuts in April and July are unlikely to be monetary policy responses to growth risks. Any impact from the US-China trade war is still insufficient to halt the deleveraging process (slide 10). Thus, we believe the cuts are a response to the normalised ‘M1-M2 gap’ (slide 11) which indicates shadow lending is under controlled. Chinese regulators are tackling credit allocation on banks’ balance sheets under the flag of ‘structural deleveraging’. GDP growth will still slow (ANZ: 6.3% for H2, slide 12). Market sentiment will be poor. But targeting growth over reform will be worse, in our view.

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to full report and section from it is posted in the Subscriber's Area.

China has banned borrowing in US Dollars and it is closing off funding to highly leveraged regional governments, infrastructure projects and businesses. At the same time, it is allowing the default rate to rise. If we were asking where borrowers are supposed to get the funding they need to refinance or continue operations, we have our answer. Defaults are going to rise further.



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July 09 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Stocks Rebound With Biggest Gain Since 2016, Yuan Climbs

This article from Bloomberg News may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Chinese stocks are still among the world’s worst performers this year. In addition to the trade war threat, investors have been troubled by a domestic deleveraging campaign weighing on liquidity, signs of an economic slowdown, and a weaker currency.

The Shanghai index is in a bear market after dropping more than 20 percent from its January high. “There’s room for a technical rebound after the selloff in past few weeks, while regulators’ positive comments on A shares showing value also helped,” said Shen Zhengyang, Shanghai-based strategist with Northeast Securities Co.

The Shanghai Stock Exchange said in a statement Sunday that valuations of companies listed on the exchange and big-cap blue chips are at reasonable or even relatively low levels when compared with peers in major economies. Value is emerging after recent declines, it said.

China International Capital Corp. said there’s medium-to- long term opportunities in A shares as valuations and sentiment have hit the bottom, while brokerages including Citic Securities Co. and Essence Securities Co. now expect the market to rebound.

Credit Suisse Group AG remains cautious, forecasting further losses over the coming weeks. It added that the downside would be limited by solid fundamentals.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Renminbi has bounced over the course of the last week and is looking increasingly likely to stage a reversionary rally back towards the region of the trend mean.



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July 05 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

With Tariff Deadline at Hand, Businesses Brace for the Fallout

This article from the Wall Street Journal may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

And China has been shifting soybean purchases to Brazil, from which it bought nearly 30% more beans in May than it had a year earlier, according to research firm CEIC. Chinese importers have mostly stopped buying U.S. soybeans, said Paul Burke of the U.S. Soybean Export Council, and agricultural giant Cargill Inc. worries about a longer-term shift to other suppliers.

By value, soybeans are the top item targeted by Beijing’s proposed tariffs; China imported around $14 billion in U.S. soybeans last year, according to Wind Information

In all, China’s tariffs would cover 545 categories of U.S. products, while the U.S. tariffs would cover 818 categories of products from China.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The USA and Brazil are by far the largest exporters of soybeans in the world and if China is no longer buying soybeans from the USA it will soon run out of places to buy. What happens when Brazil’s stores run out? China is not about to stop consuming tofu, soybean oil, soy sauce or other soy products. With prices at such low levels, farmers are going to be planting fewer soybeans and that will create a supply shortage at some point.



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July 04 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China to be less interventionist on yuan than in 2015

This article by Kevin Yao for Reuters may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

While the intervention underscored Beijing’s desire to inject confidence in markets that have been roiled by the trade war fears, the sources say policymakers would tolerate a weaker yuan to help cushion a slowing economy and take some of the sting out of Washington’s proposed tariffs on its exports to the United States.

“Policymakers believe some yuan depreciation is okay, but they don’t want to see it falling below 6.9. Appropriate currency depreciation is needed given that the economy faces downward pressure,” one policy insider said.

A second policy source echoed those views: “there is no big problem with the yuan depreciation. It could be beneficial as the economy is slowing. We are able to control capital outflows. There is no need for aggressive intervention.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

China is not going to tolerate having a strong currency when it is the subject of trade tariffs aimed squarely at containing its economic and geopolitical expansion.



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July 04 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Copper May Need a Very Hot Chile to Save it From a Cool China

This note by Benjamin Dow for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here it is in full:

Looking at LME copper's current price levels, ie near a 10-month low, it seems it would take more than the risk of labor conflict in Chile to keep the red metal from slipping further to $6,000 per tonne -- especially considering the state of the Chinese economic path, which is currently searching for answers.

Verbal intervention in the tumbling yuan and the do-or- don't nature of the deleveraging debate don't give copper longs much of a handle to grasp. In addition, there's the tense wait for the global trade-war boot to drop, and the fact that copper has risen for seven of the past ten quarters. Chilean mine strikes may have to be acrimonious and long to save Dr. Copper.

Eoin Treacy's view -

China is the world’s largest consumer of industrial resources and its markets are currently in a state of flux as measures to contain speculation are being complicated by worries about trade tariffs. Meanwhile the trend of workers demanding higher pay is not isolated to any one country so there is scope for labour disruptions but that is a not a predictable outcome.



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July 04 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Replaced His Acura's Windshield. Then the Self-Driving Feature Tugged Him Into Oncoming Traffic

This article by Bill Howard for Extreme Tech may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

“I thought [the repair} was a pretty standard procedure,” Ash told CBC News. But after the repair was completed, when he went to drive the car, “It was actually pulling me into oncoming traffic. … it was a startling feeling to have the steering wheel actually pulling you into traffic.” Ash said he was able to control the car and get it back into lane.

According to Ash, a technician at the glass shop pointed at the camera, but Ash doesn’t recall hearing that person suggesting having the camera re-calibrated, which would most likely be at the dealership. Ash told CBC there was fine print in the invoice that talked about having the camera re-calibrated — fine print being the thing almost no one ever reads until there’s a problem. And the manual, which many people do read, says nothing about this.

Eoin Treacy's view -

It is to be hoped that assassinating the driver for using an independent vendor is a bug rather than a feature of self-driving cars. On a more serious note the obvious path to profitability for car companies is to make money on maintenance and repairs if they are constrained by the profitability of the vehicles. That is particularly relevant for electric cars where companies are losing money on every vehicle.



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July 03 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Taiwan's Technology Secrets Come Under Assault From China

This article by Chuin-Wei Yap for the Wall Street Journal may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

 

Taiwanese government officials and company executives say China is deliberately targeting Taiwan, whose manufacturers make chips for the biggest American companies, including Apple Inc., Nvidia Corp.and Qualcomm Inc. They say China aims both to pressure what it considers a breakaway province and to pursue its goal of reducing its reliance on foreign suppliers.

Technology-theft cases more than doubled to 21 last year from eight in 2013, according to official data. Taiwanese authorities and attorneys say they mostly haven’t indicted Chinese entities believed to be the ultimate beneficiaries, often for political reasons and because they don’t believe they would be able to enforce court judgments on the mainland.

While China manufactures most of the world’s smartphones and computers, it imports almost all the semiconductors needed to provide the logic and memory that run the gadgets. Last year, China paid $260 billion importing chips—60% more than it spent on oil. Chinese leaders want homemade chips to account for 40% of locally produced smartphones by 2025, more than quadruple current levels.

Eoin Treacy's view -

China’s Achille’s heel in a trade war is that it depends on imports of semiconductors to fuel the continued evolution of its higher value-added manufacturing sector. It can put tariffs on soybeans but it still has to import semiconductors and that is not only a business weakness but a geopolitical issue for the country.



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July 02 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Rebound's Gone Within a Day as Even Biggest Stocks Crumble

This article from Bloomberg News may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The list of negatives facing the $6.6 trillion stock market is growing. The economy is already showing signs of vulnerability to a U.S. trade war before new taxes are levied at the end of this week. Analysts and investors alike are struggling to keep up with the yuan’s descent, while there’s been little sign of heavy state intervention to stem the slump in either stocks or the currency. Concern is also growing over the health of the country’s massive property market.

"Sentiment will remain bad in the near term," said David Qu, economist at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. in Shanghai. "The market doesn’t hold high hopes that China and the U.S. will find a way out before the tariffs are imposed."

The Shanghai Composite has only risen on four days out of the past 15, and on each occasion the gauge has closed lower the following trading session. A momentum indicator is near a five- year low, while losses in Chinese bourses have topped $2 trillion since January’s peak. In percent terms, the Shanghai measure is the world’s worst after Argentina with a 22 percent retreat in the period.

"It would be a bad time to buy right now as pessimism prevails," said Liang Jinxin, Shanghai-based strategist with Tianfeng Securities Co.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Prime Beijing and Shanghai Property prices are not far off the levels of the world’s most expensive property markets on a price per square metre basis. China is a large country with a middle class larger than the total population of either the USA or EU but it is also a middle-income country where the ability to buy a home is beyond the reach of an increasingly large proportion of the citizenry.



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June 29 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Kevin Rudd on Xi Jinping, China and the Global Order

I view this transcript of a speech delivered at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore on Tuesday as required reading for anyone interested in China. Here is a section:

It is deeply significant that at the 2018 Work Conference, Xi Jinping states boldly that a core component of his new ideology of a “diplomacy of socialism with Chinese characteristics” would be for China to: “lead the reform of the global governance system with the concepts of fairness and justice.” This is by far the most direct, unqualified and expansive statement on China’s intentions on this important question we have seen.

China, like the rest of the international community, is acutely conscious of the dysfunctionality of much of the current multilateral system. It also sees the US walking away from much of the system as well: from the JCPOA which was agreed to by the UN Security Council; from the UN’s Paris Agreement on Climate Change; its withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Commission; its open defiance of the Refugees Convention; and its challenging of the underlying fabric of the WTO.

Nature, as we know, abhors a vacuum. International relations even more so. And we all saw Xi Jinping’s riposte to President Trump on climate change and trade at Davos 18 months ago just after President Trump’s election. If China is indeed serious about leading the reform of global governance, its attitude to various of these multilateral institutions will be radically different to the historical posture of the US. Take for example the Human Rights Council in Geneva, which China would like to see emasculated. Mind you, so too now, apparently, does the current US administration!

Eoin Treacy's view -

I think it is fair to say that the rise of populism and the inability of the status quo to come up with anything other than a policy of appeasement is a reflection of an identity crisis evident in many Western economies. China’s Communist Party does not suffer from that kind of identity crisis. In fact, it is on the front foot and is responding to internal challenges by attempting to expand abroad not least to boost the profile the Party at home.



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June 28 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China's Baidu Approves a Share Buyback of Up To $1 Billion

This note by Edwin Chan may be of interest.

Chinese search giant Baidu Inc. has approved a plan to buy back as much as $1 billion of its own shares over the next 12 months, a move that may help prop up its stock as global market volatility grows.

Its board has green-lit a program to use existing cash to buy shares in the open market at prevailing prices, the Beijing- based company said in a statement Wednesday. It will review that program periodically and may adjust its terms and size.

Baidu’s shares are up more than 7 percent this year, just underperforming the Nasdaq Composite’s gain but outstripping larger rival Tencent Holdings Ltd., which is down 7 percent in 2018.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Baidu has a market cap of almost $84 billion with free cash flow last year of $28 billion. A $1 billion buy back program might be a new departure for the company but it is unlikely to be large enough to influence investor interest beyond the sensational headline.



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June 25 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China, Europe Warn Trade War Could Trigger Global Recession

This article from Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Later this week, the U.S. Treasury Department is expected to release fresh rules on Chinese investment in technology companies, Bloomberg reported on Monday, putting additional pressure on China -- which hit back against the plans. Chinese investment has provided jobs and tax income for the U.S., and it should view commercial activities “objectively,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters in Beijing on Monday.

The U.S. is due to impose tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese imports from July 6, and Trump has threatened to impose levies on another $200 billion of Chinese goods. If that threat is realized, it could cut as much as half a percentage point off China’s economic growth, and also hit the American economy, economists have said.

Anxiety over the economic fallout is cutting deep in financial markets, with China’s yuan sliding to a six-month low Monday. The S&P 500 Index fell to the lowest since May and the Dow Jones Industrial Average sank for the ninth time in 10 sessions.

As if to reinforce concerns about the economic outlook, the Dutch Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis on Monday published its latest trade monitor, showing world trade momentum dropped in April to the lowest since 2015. The measure has fallen sharply since hitting a seven-year high at the start of 2018.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The EU’s export-oriented economies along with China have been some of the greatest beneficiaries of globalisation and therefore are also likely to be the primary defenders of the “multilateral trading” regime. Nevertheless, the rise of populism which I describe as a revolt against the status quo represents a challenge to that system which is currently being led by the Trump administration but represents a significant theme in an increasingly large number of countries.



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June 21 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Long-term themes review May 16th 2018

Eoin Treacy's view -

FullerTreacyMoney has a very varied group of people as subscribers. Some of you like to receive our views in written form, while others prefer the first-person experience of listening to the audio or watching daily videos.

The Big Picture Long-Term video, posted every Friday, is aimed squarely at anyone who does not have the time to read the daily commentary but wishes to gain some perspective on what we think the long-term outlook holds. However, I think it is also important to have a clear written record for where we lie in terms of the long-term themes we have identified, particularly as short-term market machinations influence perceptions.

Here is a summary of my view at present:



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June 19 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Xi Can Make Life Difficult for U.S. Companies After Trump Threat

This article from Bloomberg news may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Pressuring companies through bureaucratic means “is a practice that the Chinese have used for a long time and our companies are on guard,” William Zarit, chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in the People’s Republic of China, said on Bloomberg Television. “This is definitely a concern.”

South Korean and Japanese companies have all felt this effect, with their businesses in China hurt as part of a dispute between states.

In 2017, following the Seoul government’s decision to deploy an anti-missile system that China opposed, China forced South Korean retailer Lotte Shopping Co. to suspend operations at many of its hypermarkets in the country for alleged violations of fire-safety rules. The company eventually decided to pull out of China, but still can’t sell all its units and continues to rack up losses. In total due to the dispute, Lotte Group lost an estimated 2 trillion won ($1.8 billion) in the year from March 2017, according to Yonhap News Agency.

The backlash also led to boycotts, with consumers shunning cars from Hyundai Motor Co. and cosmetics from Amorepacific Group. Chinese tourists cancelled Korean vacations, forcing airlines to scrap flights and hotels to slash rates. The Bank of Korea estimated that 0.4 percentage point was cut from 2017’s gross domestic product.

Eoin Treacy's view -

China has such a wide trade surplus with the USA that it is going to be hard to meet the increased level of tariffs the USA is proposing, without greatly increasing the levels on the goods it does import. However, there are additional measures the country can take to express its dissatisfaction.



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June 14 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China's Economy Is Slowing Just as Trump Readies a Trade Beating

This article from Bloomberg News may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

 

China’s economy fell short of expectations and its central bank chose not to follow the Federal Reserve in raising borrowing costs, adding fresh caution on the outlook for global growth as trade tensions with the U.S. escalate.

With President Donald Trump renewing threats to impose tariffs on the world’s second-largest economy, May data for industrial output, retail sales and investment all came in beneath economist forecasts on Thursday. The People’s Bank of China kept the cost of reverse-repurchase agreements steady, defying predictions it would track the Fed’s hike of Wednesday.

Investors now face greater uncertainty over what had been the strongest global upswing since 2011. That doubt is set to fester after Trump said on Wednesday that he’ll confront China "very strongly" over commerce in coming weeks. His administration is scheduled to announce a new list of duties on Friday.

"A slowing China will add to the challenges for the global economy," said Louis Kuijs, chief Asia economist at Oxford Economics in Hong Kong and a former International Monetary Fund researcher. "Until recently, the resilience of growth in China was an important buffer for the global economy in the face of headwinds from trade friction, slower growth in Europe, higher oil prices and issues in various emerging markets."

Both industrial output and retail sales rose less than expected in May compared to a year ago. Fixed-asset investment growth in the first five months was the slowest since the data began in 1999, as was the investment in the services sector. The decade-long decline in investment has intensified this year, as policy-makers act to reduce leverage at state-owned companies and local governments. While that’s a deliberate policy, officials risk a worse-than-desired deceleration in growth.

Eoin Treacy's view -

China might not have raised interest rates but it is definitely leaning on the shadow banking sector which is the effectively withdrawing capital from regional banks. At the same time, it is allowing defaults to occur. There have been as many defaults so far in 2018 as in all of 2016, which was the previous peak level of 21.



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June 12 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Shadow Lending Slump Shows Deleveraging Picking Up

This note from Fielding Chen at Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Looking at the details, the composition of lending continued to shift toward on-balance-sheet lending from off-balance sheet:

New bank loans denominated in yuan totaled 1.14 trillion, up slightly from 1.1 trillion in April. The 41.3 billion yuan rise was slightly below the average increase of 98.1 billion yuan recorded in the same month over the past five years.

The stock of shadow bank lending -- entrusted loans, trust loans, and back acceptances -- dropped across the board. The total fell 421.5 billion yuan, the steepest monthly drop in data available back to 2016.

Net financing of corporate bonds contracted by 43.4 billion yuan, after an increase of 377.6 billion yuan in April. Rising defaults have hit sentiment in the bond market. Equity financing was more stable, falling moderately to 43.8 billion yuan from 53.3 billion yuan.

Recent policy moves have been tilted toward support for bank lending. In April, the PBOC cut the reserve requirement ratio for banks. In June, it broadened the types of collateral that could be used against central bank loans.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Fed is raising interest rates and reducing the size of its balance sheet, the ECB is approaching the end of QE while the Bank of Japan is now yet ready for that step. Against that background the PBoC is engaged in an attempt to bring the shadow banking system out of the shadows.



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June 06 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Amazon vs. Alibaba: The Next Decade of Disruption

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Morgan Stanley which may be of interest. Here is a section:

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full report is posted in the Subscriber's Area.

The footprint of ecommerce is only likely to expand if for no other reason than it is easy to shop and browse online. That doesn’t mean people will stop going to malls. We are after all a social species but the nature of shopping with definitely change.

The new Westfield mall that opened up the street from me a couple of months ago is focusing on food offerings with Eataly, Ding Tai Fung and Meizhou DongPo as well as upper middle class/luxury brands. That might be a function of its location sandwiched between the affluent neighbourhoods of Beverly Hills and Holmby Hills but equally speaks to the spending habits of Chinese shoppers.  



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May 31 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

In Gold We Trust

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from the team at Incrementum which may be of interest. Here is a section:

 

A

Also most relevant for the price of gold is the turning of the tide in terms of monetary policy. We find it quite remarkable that the gold price (in USD terms) bottomed out exactly at the beginning of the current rate hike cycle. When it became clear in 2015 that administered US interest rates would soon be raised, many market participants and observers sotto voce predicted a precipitous slump in the gold price. In the same year, we pointed out to our readers that rising interest rates could actually prove to be positive for the gold price. Market developments in recent years are testifying to the fact that this assessment was correct.

In addition to hiking interest rates since late 2015, the Fed began reducing the size of its balance sheet starting in Q4 2017, a process that has been dubbed “quantitative tightening” (QT). From our perspective, most market participants are currently massively underestimating the likely consequences of the QT process. The “everything bubble” which we discussed at length in last year’s In Gold we Trust report6 is at grave risk of bursting as more and more liquidity is withdrawn. The monthly contraction in Fed assets is gradually ratcheted up and will reach USD 50bn per month from October 2018 onward. In total, the balance sheet is to be reduced by USD 420bn in 2018 and by USD 600bn in 2019. However, we believe this monetary normalization plan is unlikely to survive a significant decline in even one, let alone several asset classes (equities, bonds, real estate). 

lso most relevant for the price of gold is the turning of the tide in terms of monetary policy. We find it quite remarkable that the gold price (in USD terms) bottomed out exactly at the beginning of the current rate hike cycle. When it became clear in 2015 that administered US interest rates would soon be raised, many market participants and observers sotto voce predicted a precipitous slump in the gold price. In the same year, we pointed out to our readers that rising interest rates could actually prove to be positive for the gold price. Market developments in recent years are testifying to the fact that this assessment was correct.

In addition to hiking interest rates since late 2015, the Fed began reducing the size of its balance sheet starting in Q4 2017, a process that has been dubbed “quantitative tightening” (QT). From our perspective, most market participants are currently massively underestimating the likely consequences of the QT process. The “everything bubble” which we discussed at length in last year’s In Gold we Trust report6 is at grave risk of bursting as more and more liquidity is withdrawn. The monthly contraction in Fed assets is gradually ratcheted up and will reach USD 50bn per month from October 2018 onward. In total, the balance sheet is to be reduced by USD 420bn in 2018 and by USD 600bn in 2019. However, we believe this monetary normalization plan is unlikely to survive a significant decline in even one, let alone several asset classes (equities, bonds, real estate). Also most relevant for the price of gold is the turning of the tide in terms of monetary policy. We find it quite remarkable that the gold price (in USD terms) bottomed out exactly at the beginning of the current rate hike cycle. When it became clear in 2015 that administered US interest rates would soon be raised, many market participants and observers sotto voce predicted a precipitous slump in the gold price. In the same year, we pointed out to our readers that rising interest rates could actually prove to be positive for the gold price. Market developments in recent years are testifying to the fact that this assessment was correct.

In addition to hiking interest rates since late 2015, the Fed began reducing the size of its balance sheet starting in Q4 2017, a process that has been dubbed “quantitative tightening” (QT). From our perspective, most market participants are currently massively underestimating the likely consequences of the QT process. The “everything bubble” which we discussed at length in last year’s In Gold we Trust report6 is at grave risk of bursting as more and more liquidity is withdrawn. The monthly contraction in Fed assets is gradually ratcheted up and will reach USD 50bn per month from October 2018 onward. In total, the balance sheet is to be reduced by USD 420bn in 2018 and by USD 600bn in 2019. However, we believe this monetary normalization plan is unlikely to survive a significant decline in even one, let alone several asset classes (equities, bonds, real estate). 

Also most relevant for the price of gold is the turning of the tide in terms of monetary policy. We find it quite remarkable that the gold price (in USD terms) bottomed out exactly at the beginning of the current rate hike cycle. When it became clear in 2015 that administered US interest rates would soon be raised, many market participants and observers sotto voce predicted a precipitous slump in the gold price. In the same year, we pointed out to our readers that rising interest rates could actually prove to be positive for the gold price. Market developments in recent years are testifying to the fact that this assessment was correct.

 

In addition to hiking interest rates since late 2015, the Fed began reducing the size of its balance sheet starting in Q4 2017, a process that has been dubbed “quantitative tightening” (QT). From our perspective, most market participants are currently massively underestimating the likely consequences of the QT process. The “everything bubble” which we discussed at length in last year’s In Gold we Trust report6 is at grave risk of bursting as more and more liquidity is withdrawn. The monthly contraction in Fed assets is gradually ratcheted up and will reach USD 50bn per month from October 2018 onward. In total, the balance sheet is to be reduced by USD 420bn in 2018 and by USD 600bn in 2019. However, we believe this monetary normalization plan is unlikely to survive a significant decline in even one, let alone several asset classes (equities, bonds, real estate). 

 

My view – Rather than think so much about a risk to the dollar’s position as the reserve currency, perhaps the bigger point is that China has a well-telegraphed decision intention to internationalise the renminbi. That holds out the long-term prospect of a true bi-polar world where competing economic bloc compete against one another.

 

If one were to think about a truly bullish case for gold that kind of scenario is definitely high in the realm of possibilities to drive investor demand. The gold price is currently holding in the region of $1300 but the medium-term pattern is one of a saucering pattern similar to the base put in during the early 2000s. However, a sustained move above $1400 will be required to confirm a return to medium-term demand dominance.

 
Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full report is posted in the Subscriber's Area.

Rather than think so much about a risk to the dollar’s position as the reserve currency, perhaps the bigger point is that China has a well-telegraphed intention to internationalise the renminbi. That holds out the long-term prospect of a true bi-polar world where competing economic bloc compete against one another.



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May 25 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China to use cornerstones to help Alibaba, Xiaomi list in mainland: sources

This article by Julie Zhu and Shu Zhang for Reuters may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Beijing could also rip up its unwritten rules on pricing caps to make way for these blockbuster deals, said the sources who have direct knowledge of the matter, adding that Alibaba and Xiaomi were furthest along the CDR planning path.

Selling CDRs equivalent to say about 1 percent of Alibaba’s market capitalization would mean raising $5 billion in Shanghai or Shenzhen, marking what would be China’s largest share sale on the open market since 2009, according to Thomson Reuters data.

While such deals would allow mainland investors to benefit from any further share price rally, the securities regulator is worried they “will take up too much liquidity in the secondary market, which may lead to a drop in the main indices”, one of the sources told Reuters.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Chinese mainland market is underperforming at present amid concerns about deteriorating standards of governance, trade wars and debt. However, the introduction of new sources of supply is a more pressing issue in the short-term.

Many mainland investors have felt left out by the success of domestic companies on overseas bourses without being given the opportunity to participate. If they get the chance to investor via the mainland market they are likely to take it in preference to other domestic shares.

The Shanghai A-Share Index pulled back from the region of the trend mean today to confirm this year’s downward bias.

Meanwhile Alibaba is testing the upper side of its six-month range.



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May 17 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Tencent Gains $18 Billion as Record Profit Eases Margin Fear

This article by Lulu Yilun Chen for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Revenue from Value Added Services, which includes online games and messaging, rose 34 percent to 46.9 billion yuan. The company has however been leery of barraging its users with ads - on Wednesday, it declared it had raised the maximum number of ads that customers see on WeChat Moments, a function similar to Facebook’s newsfeed, to just two a day from one previously.

“The results were good even without the one-time gains, but the gains made it even better,” said Bhavtosh Vajpayee, a Hong Kong-based research analyst at Bernstein.

But overall costs surged 51 percent. Tencent executives have signaled a willingness to sacrifice margins in favor of longer term growth in new businesses, though that would depend on growing and engaging a massive user base now primarily confined to China.

Profit was also helped by one-time gains of almost 7.6 billion yuan from its investments in arenas like video and news.

“The reason why analysts had been modeling down was because they did mention about subsidies on payments and also continued investments in content costs,” Citigroup Global Markets’s Head of Pan-Asia Internet Research Alicia Yap told Bloomberg Television. “All these years of investments in digital content, for example music and video, actually started to show some leverage” this quarter.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Tencent is a heavy weight in the Hong Kong, any Chinese equity index as well as the MSCI Emerging Markets Index. It needed a good earnings report to signal to investors that the company’s best growth days are not already behind it.
 



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May 15 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Long-term themes review April 10th 2018

Eoin Treacy's view -

FullerTreacyMoney has a very varied group of people as subscribers. Some of you like to receive our views in written form, while others prefer the first-person experience of listening to the audio or watching daily videos.

The Big Picture Long-Term video, posted every Friday, is aimed squarely at anyone who does not have the time to read the daily commentary but wishes to gain some perspective on what we think the long-term outlook holds. However, I think it is also important to have a clear written record for where we lie in terms of the long-term themes we have identified, particularly as short-term market machinations influence perceptions.

Here is a summary of my view at present:



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May 11 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Boston Dynamics' Atlas robot can now chase you through the woods

This article by Rick Haridy for Gizmag may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

A six-minute walk through an office and lab facility is chronicled in the video, and Boston Dynamics reports that before this recorded autonomous run, the robot was guided along the route manually by a human so a map of the space could be constructed. The video highlights SpotMini's obstacle avoidance systems and navigation map as it moves through the space, so it’s not entirely clear how much autonomy the robot has regarding its overall route, but it can clearly dynamically respond to obstacles in the space.

As with other subdued Boston Dynamics video reveals, not much more detail is offered outside of the actual footage. The company was acquired by Japanese company SoftBank from Google parent company Alphabet for an undisclosed sum in 2017.

Eoin Treacy's view -

These videos of Boston Dynamics impressive robots are always visually astounding but they seldom show the human operator with the remote control running around behind the robot. The big success for Boston Dynamics is that it has demonstrated that it is possible to develop a robot that can navigate the human environment with relative ease and grace. That is already a huge achievement.



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May 09 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China's About to Give Global Finance the Chance of a Lifetime

This article by Malcolm Scott and Hannah Dormido for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

To deliver on longstanding pledges and help stave off the threat of tariffs from U.S. President Donald Trump, Chinese officials have set a June 30 deadline to ease ownership and business restrictions for banks, securities firms, asset managers and life insurers.

Securities firms like Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and UBS Group AG have an opportunity to boost their share five-fold as they take more direct control of joint ventures, projections by Bloomberg Intelligence show. Insurers including AIA Group Ltd. are set to cash in on their already healthy presence, while banks like HSBC Holdings Plc and Citigroup Inc. face a steeper road ahead to build market share, but will reap juicy profits as they do so.

Much as World Trade Organization entry in 2001 revolutionized the manufacturing industry, opening the financial sector could transform how capital is allocated and wealth managed across China. The charts below show the state of play and estimates on how that’ll change.

Eoin Treacy's view -

China is a major emerging financial market but it is also one where there is already a great deal of debt and where regional governments as well as consumers are heavily leveraged to the property sector. That is a risk the Chinese government is only beginning to get to grips with.



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April 30 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

US-China rivalry will shape the 21st century

This article by Martin Wolf for the Financial Times may be of interest to subscribers. I found the comments section to be particularly enlightening because it highlights just how emotive this topic is. Here is a section:

China is a rival of the US on two dimensions: power and ideology. This combination of attributes might remind one of the clash with the Axis powers during the second world war or the cold war against the Soviet Union. China is of course very different. But it is also potentially far more potent. China’s rising power, economic and political, is evident. According to the IMF, its gross domestic product per head in 2017 was 14 per cent of US levels at market prices and 28 per cent at purchasing power parity, up from 3 per cent and 8 per cent, respectively, in 2000. Yet, since China’s population is more than four times as big as that of the US, its GDP in 2017 was 62 per cent of US levels at market prices and 119 per cent at PPP. Assume that by 2040, China achieves a relative GDP per head of 34 per cent at market prices and 50 per cent at PPP. This would imply a dramatic slowdown of the rate it is catching up (a fall of around 70 per cent from the rate since 2000, starting in 2023). China’s economy would then be almost twice as big as that of the US at PPP and almost 30 per cent larger at market prices. (See charts.)

Eoin Treacy's view -

China is an increasingly confident ascendant power. The investments it is making in Europe, Africa and commodity producers are well reported upon while it is also a major holder of US Treasuries. It is also a middle-income country with a well telegraphed desire to become the world’s pre-eminent power over the course of the next few decades.



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April 24 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

PBoC cuts RRR to avoid over-tightening

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Deutsche Bank which may be of interest. Here is a section:

The PBoC announced it will cut reserve requirement ratio (RRR) by 1 ppts for most banks by next week. RRR will be reduced to 16% for big banks and 14% for mid and small banks (Figure 1). This will inject some 1.3tn new liquidity into the banking system. Banks are asked to pay off some 900bn balances from the medium-term lending facility (MLF) on the same day. Net liquidity injection of about 400bn will largely go to small city and rural banks. Lastly, the PBC asks these banks to use the new funding mainly for lending to small businesses.

We believe the RRR cut should not be seen as a change of monetary policy stance. The economy is doing well; growth stayed strong at 6.8% in Q1, supported by consumption and property investment (see our note here). Hence there is no need to loosen monetary policy. Indeed the OMO rates were raised just last month (Figure 2). We do not expect PBC to cut policy or OMO rates in the coming months. If anything, OMO rates may be raised further.

The main purpose of the RRR cut, in our view, is to avoid over-tightening on small banks and small businesses. The PBoC will continue to tighten financial regulations and deregulate interest rates under the leadership of the new government. This will lead to higher funding costs, particularly for smaller banks who do not have large deposit base and rely on wholesale funding. Meanwhile, tightening financial regulations, including the expected new regulation on asset management, will affect the shadow banking business. Banks are pressured to move their off-balance sheet lending back on balance sheet (Figure 3). Small businesses are more severely affected in this process, as they have limited access to regular bank loans and rely more on shadow banking. The RRR cut will mainly benefit smaller banks and, with the guidance on lending, will help relieve financing difficulties faced by small businesses.

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full report is posted in the Subscriber's Area.

This statement is the first signal since Xi became dictator that the Chinese administration is paying attention to the market and role of investors in reflecting the outlook for the economy. The cut to the reserve requirement demanded of banks is a positive step for the sector since it has been in a corrective phase since the beginning of the year.



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April 23 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on what to own in the latter stages of a bull market

Hello Eoin, Whatever age you happen to be, it is always salutary to lose a parent. A constant pillar in one's life has gone and no more questions can be asked. It brings into relief one's own fragility and mortality in a way that few, if any, other deaths will do. I hope your mother's passing was a comfortable one. My condolences to you and your family.

While it is probably improper to revert immediately to business, I am sure you will want to re-immerse yourself in the observation and interpretation of markets without delay. On this basis, I have a question:

Given that we believe we are heading for monetary contraction, a rise in interest rates and accelerating inflation how should we be positioning portfolios? Banks and resources should be well bid for the time being and Japan should benefit from inflation.

But how about India, China and the other economies of North and South East Asia? What sectors and markets are best avoided? At what point does one accumulate cash? Gold is much talked about as an inflation hedge but that will be a shooting star - it might soar in the near future but it will then weaken once more. It is to be regarded as a hedge or a trade, not as an investment - at least that's my view.

In my own portfolio, I've trimmed China and India, reduced or eliminated high flying 'big-tech' stocks (but not touched PCT), increased my Japan weighting and increased cash. I'm probably underweight gold. I plan to accumulate more cash but at this stage, I've no idea what holdings I shall reduce or sell over the coming months. Providing one is not losing money, investment is fun but over the next two or three years, I suspect there will be plenty of opportunities to lose money which we should try to avoid. It's a tough time for you and you have plenty on your plate but if you care to comment on these musings it would be much appreciated. All best.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for your condolences. The outpouring of warmth and compassion from subscribers has been enormously gratifying for my whole family and I. My mother’s passing leaves a hole in the wider family, since she was the matriarch in no uncertain terms, but it has also encouraged us all to work harder at communicating.

This is a detailed question and there is no one simple answer. I’ll attempt to more fully explore these issues over the course of the next few days and weeks but here are some of my current thoughts.



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April 17 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

April 10 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Xi Warns Against Returning to a 'Cold War Mentality'

This article from Bloomberg News may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

“Human society is facing a major choice to open or close, to go forward or backward,” Xi told hundreds of investors gathered on the resort island of Hainan, in a speech that didn’t mention Trump’s name. “In today’s world, the trend of peace and cooperation is moving forward and the Cold War mentality and zero-sum-game thinking are outdated.”

Trade talks between the world’s biggest economies broke down last week after the Trump administration demanded that China take steps to curtail support for high-technology industries, a person familiar with the situation said. The conciliatory tone of Xi’s speech helped bring risk appetite back to Asian markets as shares from Sydney to Hong Kong rose alongside oil and metals and Treasuries extended declines with gold and the yen.

Eoin Treacy's view -

As soon as Mrs. Treacy’s old school friends have children she gets a friends request on WeChat. They begin planning at birth to send their child abroad to be educated. Only last week she was approached to be a guardian for one child about to enter high school and to help arrange a scouting trip for another family whose son is now five.



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March 26 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

As Trump Takes On China, Another Trade Challenge Looms in Asia

This article by Connor Cislo and Jiyeun Lee for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

But at the same time, there’s been a spike in sales to China of precision metal working machines and equipment for making chips from firms like Japan’s Yaskawa Electric Corp. With a Chinese state-backed fund gearing up to pour as much as $31.5 billion into homegrown semiconductor manufacturing, there’s potential for trade flows to start to shift.

China’s ambitions, set out in its sweeping Made in China 2025 plan, go much further than semiconductors and would see its technical prowess advance in a host of areas, ranging from bio- medicine and artificial intelligence to new-energy vehicles and aircraft. The challenge to Japan, Korea and Taiwan also applies to European exporters like Germany, and comes on top of the risks to global trade from the Trump administration’s embrace of tariffs.

"The bits of the global supply chain that are currently the preserve of Korea, Japan, Taiwan, the U.S., and Germany, are the bits of the supply chain that China has a decade-long industrial strategy to move into," said Tom Orlik, Bloomberg’s chief Asia economist. He said it’s only a matter of time before many components for electronic products are made domestically and the country is on track to become a car exporter. Eventually, it will be selling airplanes, said Orlik.

Eoin Treacy's view -

China is moving up the value chain in just about all industries. It’s policies in achieving that goal are openly mercantilist. It has unabashedly supported domestic industry by whatever means necessary, closed off the mainland market to global competitors, engaged in industrial espionage on a grand scale and none of these actions are without precedent.



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March 22 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Protectionism Risks? What's Next?

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Morgan Stanley which may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full report and section from it are posted in the Subscriber's Area.

This is a very measured report which I think is underplaying the short-term volatility tariffs are likely to provoke. Bilateral trade between the USA and China is substantial and US companies have invested considerable resources in developing customer bases in China. They are far from immune from Chinese retaliatory measures which over the course of the medium-term will likely be ironed out but probably not before there is some pain felt on both sides.



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March 22 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Tencent Drops After Warning Spending to Weigh on Profit Margins

This article by Lulu Yilun Chen for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Tencent’s business revolves largely around its vast social networks WeChat and QQ, the twin platforms through which more than a billion people consume games, news and online entertainment while paying for a plethora of real-world services. Chief Executive Officer Ma Huateng is now angling to grab a larger slice of an advertising pie dominated by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., while investing in new areas such as financial, retail and computing services.

“Tencent needs to invest in new business, it would help the company build a better ecosystem infrastructure to support growth, but it will hurt margins in the short term,” said Benjamin Wu, an analyst at Shanghai-based consultancy Pacific Epoch.

Analysts at Credit Suisse Group AG and Citigroup Inc. lowered their earnings estimates for Tencent after the results.

Tencent’s quarterly profit included gains in the quarter of 7.9 billion-yuan thanks mainly to the initial public offerings of Sea Ltd., Sogou Inc. and Yixin Group Ltd. Those are just three of the 600 companies the company has invested in.

Eoin Treacy's view -

I don’t know a Chinese person, either by birth or heritage, that does not use WeChat. That fact alone means it is going to be more expensive to gain new customers.



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March 22 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Long-term themes review March 7th 2018

Eoin Treacy's view -

FullerTreacyMoney has a very varied group of people as subscribers. Some of you like to receive our views in written form, while others prefer the first-person experience of listening to the audio or watching daily videos.

The Big Picture Long-Term video, posted every Friday, is aimed squarely at anyone who does not have the time to read the daily commentary but wishes to gain some perspective on what we think the long-term outlook holds. However, I think it is also important to have a clear written record for where we lie in terms of the long-term themes we have identified, particularly as short-term market machinations influence perceptions.

Here is a brief summary of my view at present.



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March 21 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Policy focus shifted to sustainability from stability

Thanks to a subscriber for this note from Deutsche Bank which may be of interest. Here is a section:

March 19 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Understanding China's Rise Under Xi Jinping

This speech delivered by Kevin Rudd at West Point earlier this month represents an excellent summary of the machinations of political power in China which I found very interesting. Here is a section:

However, militating against any of the above, and the “tipping points” which each could represent, is Xi Jinping’s seemingly absolute command of the security and intelligence apparatus of the Chinese Communist Party and the state. Xi Jinping loyalists have been placed in command of all sensitive positions across the security establishment. The People’s Armed Police have now been placed firmly under party control rather than under the control of the state. And then there is the new technological sophistication of the domestic security apparatus right across the country—an apparatus which now employs more people than the PLA.

We should never forget that the Chinese Communist Party is a revolutionary party which makes no bones about the fact that it obtained power through the barrel of a gun and will sustain power through the barrel of a gun if necessary. We should not have any dewy-eyed sentimentality about any of this. It’s a simple fact that this is what the Chinese system is like.

And

Many scholars failed to pay attention to the internal debates within the Party in the late 1990s, where internal consideration was indeed given to the long-term transformation of the Communist Party into a Western-style social democratic party as part of a more pluralist political system. The Chinese were mindful of what happened with the collapse of the Soviet Union. They also saw the political transformations that unfolded across Eastern and Central Europe. Study groups were commissioned. Intense discussions held. They even included certain trusted foreigners at the time. I remember participating in some of them myself. Just as I remember my Chinese colleagues telling me in 2001-2 that China had concluded this debate, there would be no systemic change, and China would continue to be a one-party state. It would certainly be a less authoritarian state than the sort of totalitarianism we had seen during the rule of Mao Zedong. But the revolutionary party would remain. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

China is going to stay authoritarian and is in the process of implementing an internal security apparatus that is more sophisticated than anything the world has seen before. The nexus of artificial intelligence, cameras, local monitoring, real name social media enforcement, social scorecards are all designed to ensure the long-term sustainability of single party rule.



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March 13 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on the differences between China's authoritarianism and India's chaotic democracy:

I have just returned from a visit to India and I visited China last autumn. I was struck by the difference between the two societies. In China I found an almost total absence of religious belief while in India I discovered an almost nationwide attachment to different religions and traditional mysticism. While I saw "tomorrow" all over China in the form of futuristic cities like Shanghai and Hong Kong, I only saw "yesterday 's poverty and superstition" in India. David and you harp on the importance of governance. I heard many Chinese persons state that as long as their material well-being improves, they are prepared to accept the absence of democracy because this enables the government to take action without vested interests standing in its way. In India democratic discussion was said by the persons I met to be an obstacle to rapid and firm decision-taking. What is your opinion on this?

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for sharing your impressions from China and India following your travels. You are not the first subscriber to have asked this question. There have been a number of people over the years who, having visited China and India, said that on coming home they sold their India positions and transferred the balance to China.



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March 12 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China's investments in research and innovation

This is a hot topic with two subscribers sending through articles from different authors covering the same topic for newspaper columns.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Links to both articles are posted in the Subscriber's Area.

China was making headlines today because Xi Jinping’s bid to remain in power following the end of his official term was rubber stamped by the People’s Congress today. It has been a key object of Xi’s to do everything possible to ensure China sits on a level playing field with the USA on the international stage. Modernisation of the military, greater surveillance of the domestic population, strengthening the nation’s censorship of the internet, the Belt and Road infrastructure program, dominating international engagement with African countries, spending on research and development and infiltration of university campuses in the OECD are all part of that plan.



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March 05 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Turns Fiscal Screws While Targeting GDP Growth Around 6.5%

This article from Bloomberg News may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Xi has ratcheted up his drive to curb debt risk, pollution and poverty at a time when the world’s second-largest economy is on a long-term growth slowdown. His efforts to rein in spending contrast with an historic expansion of U.S. borrowing under Donald Trump during a period of economic expansion.

The 2018 targets “suggest slower growth and a fiscal drag,” said Callum Henderson, a managing director for Asia-Pacific at Eurasia Group in Singapore. “This makes sense for China in the context of the new focus on financial de-risking, poverty alleviation and environmental clean-up, but is less good news at the margin for those economies that have high export exposure to China.”

Growth handily surpassed 2017’s target with a 6.9 percent expansion that was the first acceleration since 2010. Economists forecast a moderation to 6.5 percent this year amid the ongoing deleveraging drive and trade tensions with the Trump administration and a further deceleration to 6.2 percent in 2019.

Eoin Treacy's view -

China has significant challenges ahead as it engages with deleveraging, particularly among the regional lenders. However, it is also worth considering that fiscal discipline at this stage in the cycle is admirable since it will leave the government with some firepower when the economy next slows. That is the exact opposite of what the US government is doing at present which is of course why interest rates are set to continue to rise.



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February 27 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

What Does Population Aging Mean for Growth and Investments?

Thanks to a subscriber for highlighting this article by Henry McVey at KKR which appeared in the Macro Morsels report on the 23rd. Here is a section on China: 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Both a section from the report and the report are posted in the Subscriber's Area.

China has successfully developed a domestic demand driven digital economy out of nothing less than a decade ago. The introduction of social media, ecommerce, online banking, payments and saving are all contributing to the upskilling of the population.



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February 26 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China will scrap limit on presidential terms, meaning Xi Jinping can stay on

Thanks to a subscriber this article from the South China Morning Post which may be of interest. Here is a section:  

The party has in recent decades largely observed an unwritten retirement age of 68 for its top leaders, but its charter does not have any limit on terms. That means there are no restrictions on the general secretary position, but the Chinese constitution does limit presidents to a maximum of two five-year terms. 

Analysts said ending the two-term limit gives the strongest indication yet that Xi will stay in power longer than his recent predecessors at a time when the leadership was “fixated on stability”.

There was intense speculation in the lead-up to the party’s five-yearly congress in October over whether Xi would continue to lead the party beyond two terms, with some questioning whether his ambitious plans to “rejuvenate” China could be achieved within 10 years.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Governance is Everything. Does the removal of term limits represent a retrograde step? If we look at the anything beyond the short term then the answer had to be in the affirmative. Absolute power corrupts and the removal of term limits means any semblance of checks and balances will be removed. Xi has been clear that no one is above the law but China does not have an independent judiciary so that statement means nothing. 



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February 15 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Mapping shadow banking in China: structure and dynamics

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from the Bank for International Settlements. Here is a section: 

Understanding the structure of China’s shadow banking system is crucial for analysing China’s financial system. We provide a stylised map of shadow banking in China, which highlights the main forms of shadow banking and the resulting financial system interlinkages. Shadow banking in China takes a markedly different form compared to that in the United States. A key characteristic is that commercial banks are the dominant players in China’s shadow banking system. The system is effectively a “shadow of the banks”, while securitisation and market-based instruments still play only a limited role.

We show that the structure of shadow banking in China is evolving. Its size and dynamics have changed rapidly in recent years. The main area of growth has shifted from shadow credit provision to private firms with less privileged access to formal bank credit, towards offering alternative savings instruments (e.g. WMPs and trust products). Similarly, at the intermediate stage, new and more complex “structured” shadow credit intermediation has emerged and quickly has reached a large scale. This is driven by banks trying to alleviate regulatory burdens (e.g. NPL provisions or LTD ratio ceilings) through a reclassification of existing bank assets into investment receivables. Tight and growing financial sector linkages further raise the potential for the transmission of financial shocks among savers, banks and the bond market. In addition, new forms of internet-based credit intermediation, such as P2P lending, have been expanding at an extraordinary pace. As a result, shadow banking in China is growing more complex and thereby becoming slightly more similar to the US shadow banking.

Eoin Treacy's view -

We tend to hear a great deal about the problem of non-performing loans and the shadow banking sector in China. However, a point that often seems to be overlooked is that not every bank is equally affected. 



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February 01 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Post 19th Party Congress: Xi the King of China

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from APS Insights which focuses on the political machinations that brought Xi Jinping to power. Here is a section: 

A section from the full report is posted in the Subscriber's Area. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full report is posted in the Subscriber's Area. I’ve been travelling to China on at least an annual basis since 2005 but it is only in the last 18 months that the pace of social change has been noticeable. Everyone is used to going to China and marvelling at the infrastructure but the social change underway with the birth of a consumer culture and domestic services industry represents a massive change for China. 



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January 30 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

US dollar policy. It really matters

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Deutsche Bank which may be of interest. Here is a section:

A section from this report is posted in the Subscriber's Area. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Dollar has been trending lower since early 2017 and the pace of the decline picked up pace with the approval of the Trump tax cuts. Since these measures represent procyclical policies which are the equivalent of deficit spending they have had a negative effect on the Dollar while also boosting stocks and commodity prices. 



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January 29 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China H Share Euphoria Enters New Stage as Laggards Surge

This article by Sofia Horta e Costa for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

As a bull market in the China H-share gauge extends into the 715th day, one of the longest in its 23-year history, investors are finding plenty of reasons to buy and few to sell.


While technical measures suggest a pullback is overdue, growing confidence around China’s economy and earnings will support the gains for now, according to JPMorgan Asset Management’s Marcella Chow.


“It’s been a very rapid rally but only a change in fundamentals will trigger a correction and people are still quite confident,” said Chow, a Hong Kong-based global market strategist for JPMorgan Asset Management, which oversees $2 trillion worldwide. "It’s all about finding bargains.”


In such a market, any decline is seen as an opportunity to buy. When the gauge finally snapped a record 19-day winning streak on Thursday with a 1.7 percent retreat, it rebounded 2.5 percent the next day as investors pounced on the biggest losers such as banks. At the same time, persistent favorites such as China Vanke Co. and Ping An Insurance (Group) Co. show no signs of slowing down.


As a perennial underperformer itself, due to the index’s dominance by sprawling state-owned enterprises, there’s little for investors to worry about in terms of valuations. Even after an 85 percent bull run, the Hang Seng China Enterprises trades at 8.9 times its members’ projected earnings. That’s a 39 percent discount to the tech-heavy MSCI China Index, while a gauge of global equities is about twice as expensive.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The China Enterprises Index (H-Shares) has been trading at a discount to its international peers for years. However, it is the return to synchronised global economic expansion in 2017 that reignited the hunt for bargains amid valuations on Wall Street that are expensive by historical measures. At the same time, the Chinese government has been slowly but surely raising obstacles to the continued growth of the shadow banking system while the consumer economy continues to expand rapidly. 



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January 23 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Asia Bank Primer 2018

This heavyweight 246-page report from Bank of America/Merrill Lynch may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

A section from this report is posted in the Subscriber's Area.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Hong Kong interest rates rise with those of the Fed. The Chinese export engine is back in fine fettle with Purchasing Managers Indices trending higher just about everywhere, but especially in Europe which is a major destination for goods. Additionally, Chinese banks trade at significantly lower multiples to their global peers. That is translating into a positive environment for the region’s banks. 



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January 18 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Posts First Full-Year Pickup Since 2010 on Global Tailwind

This article from Bloomberg News may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

"There’s still a mountain of debt and major structural challenges to address. But compared to hard-landing fears in early 2016, and expectations of a pronounced slowdown at the start of the year, China’s economy outperformed in 2017."

In a year that began with fears of a trade war with a newly elected Donald Trump, exports turned back into a growth engine for the world’s factory floor. The contribution of net external trade to growth improved by around 0.4 percentage point in real terms last year, “more than fully explaining the pick-up” in GDP growth, said Louis Kuijs, head of Asia economics at Oxford Economics in Hong Kong.

Reflation was also key to boosting company profits and raising their ability to service debt. The GDP deflator for the full year, a gauge of economy-wide inflation, came in at 4.33 percentage points, while nominal growth accelerated to 11.2 percent. GDP in those terms grew to 82.7 trillion yuan ($12.9 trillion) -- up 8.4 trillion yuan in the year.

"Another Indonesia created in one year!" said Jim O’Neill, former chief economist at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. "The nominal GDP size confirms China has diminished the previous deflation risk and silly comparisons with 1980s Japan were just that, silly."

Eoin Treacy's view -

There is nothing quite like synchronised global economic expansion to flatter the prospects for exporters as demand increases for just about everything. That is helping China to outperform expectations and eases the burden on the economy from the efforts underway to deleverage the shadow banking system which primarily affects unlisted regional lenders. 



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January 08 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

A deep-dive into demographics; healthy demand ahead

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Deutsche Bank which may be of interest. Here is a section:

A section from the full report is posted in the Subscriber's Area. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full report is posted in the Subscriber's Area.

China’s property market represents a potent source of potential trouble at some point in the future. However, it has not stopped going up, and until it does the layers of leverage that constitute every bull market will not be exposed. 



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December 29 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Chinese Consumers Now Rule the World. Get Used to It

This article by Tracy Chen may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

According to the latest official data, China’s final consumption accounted for 63.4 percent of gross domestic product (Chart 2). Household consumption experienced exponential growth and climbed to $4.5 trillion (Chart 3). Retails sales have been growing at healthy pace of about 10 percent. Spending on Singles’ Day this year (Nov. 11), is impressive, registering $25 billion, almost double U.S. Black Friday online sales of $14 billion (Chart 4).

Eoin Treacy's view -

I have mentioned on multiple occasions how much of a transformation has occurred in China over the last few years where customer service has evolved out of nowhere. Our trip to Guangzhou in July provided a number of examples of this. We used ele.me to order a fruit platter. When the person at the store saw that the delivery address was a hotel they called and asked if we would like the fruit chopped because we probably wouldn’t have a knife in our room and at no additional charge. When Mrs. Treacy was buying a phone, my girls were playing on grab machines a little way off. They were getting frustrated by their unrelenting failure to win a toy so one of the girls from the phone store came over to show them how to pick the right machine so they could win. 



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December 13 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

A $4 Trillion Reason for China's Smaller Banks to Worry

This article by Nisha Gopalan for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

But two things look clear: The WMP market's years of torrid growth have ended; and in an environment of higher risk, investors will prefer products sold by large state-owned lenders that are seen to be safer and of better quality. 

That will put pressure on smaller banks, which have limited scope to increase lending. Minsheng, China CITIC Bank Corp., Ping An Bank Co. and China Everbright Bank Co. all had loan-to- deposit ratios exceeding 90 percent as of the third quarter, according to Francis Chan of Bloomberg Intelligence -- much higher than their bigger rivals. Shares of Minsheng and CITIC Bank have fallen in Hong Kong this year, while ICBC has jumped 27 percent.  

A reckoning is approaching. As with all measures to rein in China's debt, the WMP clampdown is likely to be a stop-go process. But smaller banks will need to start looking for another source of growth, and fast.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Many of the smaller banks which have been most profligate in the use of wealth management products (WMP) are not listed. That represents a challenge in monitoring any issues they encounter using conventional stock market analysis of relative strength and leadership. 



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December 07 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China's Banks Need More Capital After Credit Boom, IMF Says

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President Xi Jinping has highlighted financial stability as a top priority. People’s Bank of China Governor Zhou Xiaochuan warned in October about the risk of a ‘Minsky moment,’ or a sudden collapse of asset values. Financial watchdogs last month promised to overhaul regulation of asset-management products, which hold about $15 trillion and are seen as a key threat to stability.

Speaking to media on Thursday on a video call, the IMF’s deputy director of monetary and capital markets, Ratna Sahay, said China’s financial system held three main risks. She pointed to an increase in credit that in other countries has been linked to financial distress. An increasingly complex and opaque financial system makes it hard to identify risks, and implicit guarantees encourage excessive risk-taking, she said.

Credit growth needs to slow, guarantees should be gradually removed, and banks need more capital during that process, Sahay said. “Banks need to have some buffers in order to protect against any possible distress that might happen,’’ she said.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Financial stability is a priority for every country and just about everywhere has its own version of implicit guarantees. We can only imagine what would happen in the USA if the now explicit guarantee behind Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were removed. What state would the financial sector be in now if the EU and UK had not stepped in to backstop it during what was dubbed a sovereign debt crisis but was in fact a cross border banking sector calamity?  



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December 06 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Tencent Seen Doubling by Stock-Picker Already Up 6,000%

This article by Charles Stein for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Fueled by fast-growing sales, Tencent and Alibaba have almost doubled in share price this year, and both have market caps above $400 billion even after slipping recently. Their parallel climb explains in part why Leverenz’s fund has returned 31 percent in 2017, on track for its best year since 2009.

The stocks come with political risks. The Chinese government in September made creators of online message groups responsible for managing information within their forums, a move that chilled users of WeChat, Tencent’s popular social network.

“If you are an investor in Tencent you are basically betting on management’s ability to adjust to policies,” Duncan Clark, chairman of technology consulting firm BDA China Ltd., told Bloomberg News at the time.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Privately held companies will be tolerated and even prosper in China provided they accept the role of ensuring the permanence of Communist Party rule and toe the Party line. Jack Ma saying today that China benefits from the stability of a single party system can be viewed in that vein. “Private” companies are increasingly organs of central propaganda and are expected to assist both in monitoring and influencing the public. 



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December 05 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Copper Falls to 2-Month Low on Worries of Slowing China Demand

This article by Yuliya Fedorinova for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here it is in full: 

“Industrial metals prices will consolidate due to a marked slowdown in China’s metals consumption growth,” BMI Research wrote in an emailed note.

China’s frenzied construction of roads, bridges and subways is set for a major slowdown, adding a headwind to economic growth in 2018. Fixed-asset investment in infrastructure will grow 12 percent next year, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey, down from almost 20 percent in the first ten months this year.

All 18 economists in the survey anticipated a moderation, adding to reports by Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and UBS Group AG predicting a similar trend.

Adding to the selloff is speculation that metals prices have overshot fundamentals in the recent run up. Nickel has retreated 13 percent since early November, giving up some gains from earlier in the year.

"The recent rally in nickel was mostly due to expectations of increased use of the metal in batteries, which will definitely realize some day, but right now stainless steel, not EVs, is still major consumer of nickel and its market driver," Boris Krasnojenov, an analyst at Alfa Bank in Moscow, said by phone.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

China has infrastructure on par with many developed countries and has more spare steel capacity, for example, than the entire industries of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan combined. At some point there will be a rationalization of that industry. However the big question is what will replace it? 



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November 27 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Shares Resume Decline as Year's Top Performers Take a Hit

This article by Emma Dai for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The CSI 300 Index of large-cap stocks closed down 1.3 percent, with ZTE Corp. and BYD Co. both falling the 10 percent limit in Shenzhen, while BOE Technology Group Co. slid 9.7 percent. Shanghai-listed liquor giant Kweichow Moutai Co. couldn’t maintain its brief foray into positive territory and closed down 1.4 percent, its seventh straight loss since state media warned it was climbing too fast. The stock has slumped 14 percent since Nov. 16.

“Institutional investors are choosing to cash in toward year-end as valuations are near historic highs and market sentiment deteriorated after official media targeted Moutai,” said Shen Zhengyang, Shanghai-based analyst at Northeast Securities Co. He said the market “lacks steam” for further gains.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The pace of the CSI300’s advance has picked up over the last six months and has outperformed the bank-heavy Shanghai A-Share Index. The institutional memory of the bubbly activity which contributed to the surge and collapse of the market in 2015 is still relatively fresh and the government does not want to see a repeat. That suggests some pressure may be coming to bear on the highest-flying shares, to instil some discipline among investors. 



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