China’s recovery (or not), the deteriorating state of U.S.-China relations

Conference call with Brian McCarthy

Brian believes the worst is behind us; news flow is progressively less bad and the policy response sufficient that he expects a steady reopening of the US economy and remains tactically long risk assets, mainly US equities. The key stimuli being the $660bn extended in small business loans with the proviso that if companies take back all employees in June, they need not pay back the loan. In effect, free money, and the main factor influencing Brian’s view of a V-shaped economic recovery as the supply side will not be severely disrupted once the economy reopens. Brian acknowledged that the bull view from here can afford no further slippage on the path to reopening. Clearly, policy measures in total will raise indebtedness, perhaps taking U.S. government debt-to-GDP from 105% to 125% this year. This is only sustainable in a world where the Fed hits and exceeds its inflation target. With continued inflation undershoots no longer tolerable, the next business cycle should better resemble to 2000s boom period than the disinflationary 2010s. Don’t fight the Fed. On China, Brian see’s policy broken, no stimulus and the real possibility of the demolition of the SME sector given a 10% decline in nominal GDP 1Q and no reduction in lending rates. Capital outflow restrictions will tighten as the US-China decoupling accelerates which has the potential to be very negative for HK and Taiwan. Given the policy paralysis in China the only saving grace would be a big devaluation on the dollar, not Brian’s base case. His investment stance is avoid EM Credit and European equities where in both cases a bail-out is needed, and go long US equities. U.S. election concerns may soon dominate, with the correlation between the pace of economic renewal and electoral prospects serving to greatly amplify market moves in either direction.