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COVID-19 ENG Global Risks

COVID-19 surge in the US: making sense of the data

Key takeways A new surge in coronavirus cases across the world is threatening to stall the efforts made to revive the global economy. What is the likely path of the pandemic following this surge? Is the talk about a second wave warranted and what can be done about it? In this article, we assess the […]

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Commodities Gold Markets

Market focus: Gold above $2000/oz

Key takeaways The price of gold is testing new record highs as the yellow metal is expected to cross the $2000/oz mark for the first time in its modern history The seemingly unstoppable ascent of gold is due to a combination of negative real market interest rates and sliding dollar in the face of the […]

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ENG Market & Geopolitics

The global race for a COVID-19 vaccine

Key takeaways Over the last two weeks, four developers of a COVID-19 vaccine – out of more than 150 programmes currently engaged in a COVID-19 global vaccine race – published the successful results of Phase 1 clinical trials. The frontrunners in this race are: US Biotech firm Moderna, Oxford University with AstraZeneca and, last but […]

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ENG Equities Market focus Markets United States

Market focus: How smart is smart beta?

Professional Investors are familial with the Fama-French Factor model developed by Nobel Prize Laureate Eugene Fama with his colleague Kenneth French in the 1990s. According to this model, the expected return on a stock is the combination of the general equity market premium – the so-called beta of the single risk factor model – to which they added a “size premium” – on the premise that small cap stocks are expected to generate higher returns than large caps – and the value premium which is a reflection of a stock’s lower valuation compared to other stocks which trade higher on the basis of their expected earnings. This academic theory is at the heart of the so-called “smart beta” strategy based on ETFs – Exchange Traded Funds – which seek to replicate an exposure to the risk factors identified by Fama-French and by other pundits. However, since the beginning of the year, here have been a puzzling disconnect between “Growth stocks” and “Value stocks”.

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Economy ENG Eurozone

Market focus: European Banks from resilience to consolidation

– Most European Banks are resilient to the economic fallout from the Coronavirus crisis as they enter into the crisis with significantly improved solvency indicators, compared to a decade ago.
– However, this resilience masks structural weaknesses which translate into lower performance and market valuations amid persistent banking fragmentation alongside national markets within Europe
– The Banking sector in Europe seems ripe for another wave of consolidation. The big question is whether regulators are also ready for that. The ECB seems to welcome this process but the challenge comes from other market regulators.

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ENG Global Risks

Coronavirus: an update with facts, figures and a few questions

The new coronavirus – COVID-19 or MERS-COV 2 – crossed the 10 million mark of reported cases and inflicted half a million deaths. Although many countries have managed to contain the spread of the pandemic, the number of reported cases and deaths continues to increase. the worst is yet to come, according to remarks made on June 29 by the WHO Director-General. How have different countries across the world dealt with the pandemic so far ? What is the effect of lockdowns on deaths from the COVID-19? Is there a risk of a second wave of the pandemic after the end of the lockdowns and the easing of social distancing measures?

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Economy ENG GCC Macro Focus MENA ENG

Macro focus: How resilient are the GCC economies to the coronavirus recession?

The GCC countries have been hit hard by the most severe macroeconomic shock in their history as independent nations. The collapse of oil prices earlier this year dealt a heavy blow to oil exporters all around the world. While some of the GCC countries are among the most wealthy nations on earth, the oil crisis caused their fiscal balances and their current accounts to deteriorate sharply in the face of the twin oil shock and demand crisis provoked by the coronavirus. Beyond some common features, there are disparities in terms of resilience to the crisis and capacity to deal with its consequences. Leaving appart the special case of Dubai and to some extent Bahrain, the GCC governments must accelerate their efforts to transform their economies.

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China ENG European Union Market & Geopolitics

Markets & Geopolitics: Europe’s complicated pursuit of strategic autonomy

On June 17 2020, ahead of a tense EU-China summit, the European Commission published a white paper on levelling the playing field as regards foreign subsidies. The white paper is the result of a yearlong inflexion in EU’s foreign policy and economic doctrine in order to adapt the European Union to the realities of a Multipolar World by promoting a model of open strategic autonomy and by acknowledging China as a “strategic competitor” and as a “strategic rival”.

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Central Bank Watch Economy ENG Macro Focus United States

Macro Focus: Discretion over rules. The Federal Reserve’s “puzzle and conquer” strategy

From its latest moves, it appears that the Federal Reserve has two important messages for the markets and for everyone else. 1. Don’t fight the Fed. 2. Don’t expect any guidance from the Fed.
These two messages are two facets of the same “puzzle and conquer” strategy that seeks to provide support to the economy and to the markets while preventing the spread moral hazard and the build-up of self-fulfilling market bubbles. This strategy is risky as it may err on either side by untertaining a haze of uncertainty over its course of actions. However, it is probably the best strategy as long as the macro outlook and the fiscal side of the policy mix equation remain difficult to project.

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ENG Market focus Markets

Market focus: Deciphering the gold puzzle

Most of the conventional theses developed over the last fifty years failed to provide a satisfying framework to explain the dynamics of gold prices. Gold looks increasingly like an asset that is exposed to a complex set of systematic and idiosyncratic risk drivers. It is important to acknowledge all these factors before rushing to conclusions.