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INSIGHT REPORTS

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INSIGHT
March 2024

Bevan Graham

The most significant outcome of the Federal Reserve’s latest FOMC meeting wasn’t the near-term monetary policy signals.  Rather, it was the seemingly innocuous blip higher in the Committee’s estimate of the long-term (neutral) interest rate.  Is this the start of a trend?  We think so.

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INSIGHT
February 2024

Bevan Graham

As we head into the February Monetary Policy Statement this week, the economy is running below trend, pressures in the labour market are easing and key measures of core inflation are heading in the right direction. 

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INSIGHT
November 2023

Bevan Graham

As part of the new coalition Government’s 100-day plan, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand is to return to a sole focus of maintaining price stability.  This is a welcome development.  While labour market outcomes will always be important for the Bank, they don’t have the tools to influence the complex interplay of factors, including fiscal policies, labour market dynamics, and broader structural issues that affect labour market outcomes.

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INSIGHT
November 2023

Bevan Graham and Greg Fleming

One year ago, we released an Insight report entitled “The Bonds are Dead, Long Live the Bonds!” We cautioned investors against remaining bound to global bond benchmarks, given the risk of fiscal deterioration set against a still-elevated inflation picture. Since then, broad bond indices have weakened while more specialised fixed-income exposures have held up well despite higher yields

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QUARTERLY CHARTBOOK
September 2023

Bevan Graham

​The negatives for the New Zealand economy are continuing to build, meaning the weakest point in the cycle is still ahead of us.  The good news is that inflation is moderating, though domestic inflation pressures are proving stickier and more difficult to get under control.  We continue to believe the RBNZ has done enough tightening and now just needs to be patient, but we don’t expect interest rate cuts until this time next year.

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INSIGHT
August 2023

Bevan Graham and Greg Fleming

The long end of the US yield curve is currently selling off at a time when conventional wisdom suggests it should be rallying, while the yield curve should be becoming more inverted.  So, what's going on? And what are the implications for investors?

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INSIGHT
July 2023

Bevan Graham

Technological change is not a new thing, but it does seem to be coming at us faster and faster.  The latest technological change evolution is occurring in Artificial Intelligence as ChatGPT ushers in a new era of generative AI.  This note looks at the economic implications of AI, as well as the opportunities and risks for investors.”

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QUARTERLY CHARTBOOK
June 2023

Bevan Graham

  • This is the first edition of what will be a regular quarterly publication focussed on the New Zealand economy.  Highlights this quarter:

  • Downside factors still dominate the New Zealand growth outlook over 2023.  We expect annual growth to bottom out at -1.0% in the third quarter of this year.

  • Net migration is surging higher.  This will lead to higher aggregate demand in the economy, but also help take the pressure off wages.

  • The housing market appears to be stabilising in the middle of 2023.  Overall, we see a peak to trough decline of around 18%.

  • The unemployment rate is expected to move higher over the next few months.  We see this peaking at 5%.

  • Headline inflation is moving lower, though core measures remain sticky.

  • The RBNZ has pushed pause on the rate hiking cycle.  We concur, but don’t expect interest rate cuts until the second half of next year.

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INSIGHT
29 NOVEMBER 2022

Greg Fleming

China’s role as a source of global disinflation is drawing to a close. Unless it can unlock the answer to higher productivity that has thus far eluded most more developed economies, China seems destined to become a new source of global inflation. 

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INSIGHT
19 SEPTEMBER 2022

Greg Fleming

In an inflation-prone period, when rising central bank policy interest rates have finally pushed up the offered rates for term deposits, what are the advantages of investing in an income-oriented managed fund?

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INSIGHT
29 JULY 2022

Bevan Graham

The world is battling its most significant inflation outbreak since the 1970’s. Having missed the opportunity to get

in front of the problem, many developed world central banks are now tightening monetary policy aggressively.

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INSIGHT
24 MARCH 2022

Bevan Graham

Bevan Graham discusses the recent flattening of the US yield curve and looks at what similar periods in history suggest happens next, and when.  While the warning signs shouldn’t be ignored,  it’s too early to be worried about recession and too early to de-risk portfolios.

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INSIGHT
22 FEBRUARY 2022

Bevan Graham

Central bank credibility has taken a bit of a knock as the transitory inflation narrative has been proven wrong.

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INSIGHT
4 OCTOBER 2021

Bevan Graham

Salt Economist Bevan Graham argues that in months and years to come, as we look back at the history of the upcoming interest rate hiking cycle, we will likely reflect that the September 2021 meeting of the FOMC was the pivotal moment.  Bond yields are now in the next phase of their upward trajectory as the FOMC has become more realistic about the inflation outlook.

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INSIGHT
22 SEPTEMBER 2021

Bevan Graham

US fiscal debates are always fraught and have real consequences – in 2011 the debt ceiling impasse led to a US sovereign credit rating downgrade.  In this Salt Insights, Economist Bevan Graham looks at the current fiscal standoff.

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INSIGHT
27 AUGUST 2021

Bevan Graham

Bevan Graham muses on the latest Covid lockdown, the economic outlook and what it means for the RBNZ.

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INSIGHT
17 AUGUST 2021

Bevan Graham

Inflation and its structural forces: The big debate of 2021 has been the extent to which recently higher inflation would prove transitory or whether we were in for a period of more sustained inflation requiring a monetary policy response. 

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INSIGHT
8 JULY 2021

Bevan Graham and
Sonya Fynmore

Bevan Graham and Sonya Fynmore discuss the increasingly urgent need for action on climate change and the important role fund managers have to play in supporting the necessary transitions to a more sustainable future.

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INSIGHT
17 March 2021

China Rebounding Strongly

Salt Economist Bevan Graham takes a look at some of the recent activity data out of China.  The Chinese economy is recording spectacular growth rates off the low base of last year.  That said, challenges remain as the leaderships seeks to reorient the economy towards greater consumption to create a more prosperous society.

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INSIGHT
March 2024

Bevan Graham

We believe Japan is entering a new era of a virtuous cycle between wages and prices.  However, it will take some time for the BoJ to be entirely confident of this.   In the meantime, our impression from Governor Ueda's press conference is that the BoJ will remain very cautious in the setting of policy going forward. 

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QUARTERLY CHARTBOOK
January 2024

Bevan Graham

Ongoing pass-through of higher interest rates, slowing employment growth, weaker business investment, and softer global growth all paint a picture of broad-based weakness in New Zealand economic activity in the period ahead. 

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INSIGHT
November 2023

Bevan Graham

Higher economic growth is critical for increased prosperity.  To be more precise, per capita GDP growth is more important than total GDP.  Turning the dial on per capita GDP growth requires a multifaced approach across innovation, education, global integration, and sustainable development that harnesses our strengths while addressing our vulnerabilities.  This note looks at the key areas government needs to focus on to achieve greater prosperity.  Progress towards a more prosperous future will be slow and incremental.  That means a well-articulated plan is essential to bring everyone along on the ride.

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INSIGHT
September 2023

Bevan Graham and Greg Fleming

The impending September Monetary Policy Meeting of the Bank of Japan (BoJ) last week had markets braced for a further tweak to policy settings.  In the end the statement was at the dovish end of expectations.  However, in the press conference, Governor Kazuo Ueda declined to push back on market speculation, following his prior comments, that further normalisation of policy may not be too far away.  This note looks at the implications of that eventuality for markets and investors.

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INSIGHT
August 2023

Bevan Graham and Greg Fleming

Markets are fretting about China again.  Activity indicators have been softer than expected recently but the good news is the policymakers are responding.  However, much of what ails China is structural, especially its huge appetite for debt.  There are options for addressing that, with the only real question being whether its orderly or disorderly.  At the same time, the authorities are leading China through an intended structural shift from exports and investment to common prosperity and self-sufficiency.  As we think about all these moving parts, we must remember to think about China in a different way to how we might think about a more free-market economy.  That leads us to the conclusion that the biggest risk, for China and investors, is a policy mistake.

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INSIGHT
August 2023

Bevan Graham

The position of the US dollar as the world's reserve currency is an issue that pops up from time to time.  While the sheen has come off the Greenback in recent years, there is no real alternative.  Ultimately, it's all relative.  If the USD is to lose its influence as a reserve currency, something must rise in influence to take its place and we are a long way from that being the case.  Furthermore, such a change will be driven by structural forces that will take many decades to unfold.  We are not going to wake up to headlines one day that the era of US dollar dominance is over.

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INSIGHT
June 2023

Bevan Graham

Relief at legislation passing through the US Congress to suspend the debt ceiling for two years belies the bigger issue of US long-term fiscal sustainability.  Indeed, many countries are now facing into increasing calls for new spending and/or tax relief while public debt is already on an unsustainable upward trajectory.  Even here in New Zealand, where our current debt position is more favourable than many, the challenges are just as great and will require our politicians to make some hard calls sooner rather than later.

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INSIGHT
13 FEBRUARY 2023

Bevan Graham

Developed country central banks are close to pausing rate hikes.  If they’ve got it right, this pause should also be the peak.  However, we urge caution in expecting rate cuts to follow quickly.  Central banks will only move to cut interest rates once the broadest set of macro-economic conditions is consistent with lower inflation not only being achieved, but also sustained.  This may take longer than markets are currently anticipating.

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INSIGHT
19 SEPTEMBER 2022

Greg Fleming

In an inflation-prone period, when rising central bank policy interest rates have finally pushed up the offered rates for term deposits, what are the advantages of investing in an income-oriented managed fund?

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INSIGHT
12 SEPTEMBER 2022

Bevan Graham

The economic case for an allocation to global listed infrastructure is becoming increasingly well understood.  We have had to think long and hard about the sustainability aspects of climate change and decarbonisation, in particular whether to exclude certain firms from the portfolio or engage with them to influence meaningful change.  

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INSIGHT
1 APRIL 2022

Bevan Graham

Bevan Graham discusses latest New Zealand confidence indicators and muses on the extent to which the current weakness is due to temporary or longer lasting factors.  At the same time, inflation indicators continued to march higher, reinforcing our view that there is simply no justification for stimulatory monetary conditions right now.

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INSIGHT
15 MARCH 2022

Bevan Graham

The war in Ukraine will have still uncertain but ultimately far-reaching implications for trade, growth and inflation, well beyond the immediate impact on commodity prices.

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INSIGHT
19 NOVEMBER 2021

Bevan Graham

The 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow ended with what is best described as incremental progress on new net zero targets, and a request for countries to strengthen their 2030 targets by the end of 2022. Economist Bevan Graham discusses what this means for firms, the economy and portfolios.

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INSIGHT
30 SEPTEMBER 2021

Greg Fleming

New Zealand investors often believe that Listed Real Estate is an asset class they know fairly well. Our domestic capital markets’ history is dotted with property securities of various breeds and formats.

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INSIGHT
20 SEPTEMBER 2021

Bevan Graham

This Salt Insights paper looks at China’s recent regulatory interventions, putting them in the context of the country’s economic development history and its current economic challenges.  We also discuss the risks including our greatest concern that these regulatory interventions, while possibly well-intentioned at achieving common prosperity, may do more damage to aggregate prosperity.

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INSIGHT
20 AUGUST 2021

Greg Fleming

The Appeal of the Real: is Listed Infrastructure an inflation vaccine? 

Confronted with unexpected and potentially persistent inflation for the first time in years, investors are being advised to diversify into real assets.

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INSIGHT
9 AUGUST 2021

Bevan Graham

Geo-Political Risks: what to watch and the importance of active management.

As we look to the future and try to determine the outlook for economies and markets, we keep a keen eye on political developments. 

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INSIGHTS
4 JUNE 2021

Greg Fleming

Income Investment Funds: Taking up the strain? 

 

Income is a problem in New Zealand, and not just in the sense of investment income.

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