Three years of UBS Evidence Lab surveys reveal that Chinese parents across...
2019-12-30 38 ENGLISH REPORTS
Our global strategy team does not anticipate a big move in the dollar next year but is bearish long term on the dollar. In general, we consider global forces to be fairly neutral in the sense that no dramatic changes are expected, with the possible exception of the trade war. The trade war has proven highly difficult to forecast the past 1.5 years, but we feel fairly confident that a comprehensive deal will prove elusive next year. We think that China considers Donald Trump an unreliable negotiating partner and will be unwilling to make major concessions. Trump likely would like a deal before the elections but would face charges from the opposition Democrats and possibly even the anti-China wing of his Republican Party, if he signs an agreement, even a favourable one. The volatility of US policy makes it hard as well to say whether tariffs will rise or fall from current levels, but we sense that movement in one direction or the other is more likely than stability. We have noted that US tactics seem to favour generating dramatic news flow, either via escalation or promises of tariff cuts. In other words, we consider the trade war a risk factor with neither a clear positive nor negative bias. Gradually breaking free from the trade war Although we do not assume de-escalation, we see signs that the trade war will exert a diminished impact on Asian markets. Trade war news flow still appears to be the top driver for short-term movements in Asian equities. We can mark highs, lows, and turning points in trading the past 1.5 years quite clearly from trade war news flow (Figure 13). If we take the CNY/USD rate as a proxy for trade war developments, we find that correlations of AxJ markets with the renminbi remain as strongly negative as ever (Figure 14).
The main pain point for Asia from the trade war, however, has been the uncertainty factor more than the tariffs themselves. Uncertainty over where tariffs and non-tariff barriers would go has depressed capex and distorted inventory management in the tech supply chain. Although the trade war outlook remains unclear, many businesses likely have already assumed that they cannot forecast where tariffs will go and have adjusted accordingly. Some will have decided that tariffs will remain high and have, therefore, moved production out of China. Others are proceeding with modified capex plans. And still others are still waiting for clarity. One way or the other, however, we do not see uncertainty as greater now than it was a year ago. The level of uncertainty has been high for over a year now, and some level of adjustment is already underway. We believe the stabilisation of exports, capex and capital goods imports reflect the progress in adjusting to uncertainty. Tech upswing to continue (with bumps) Our Asia tech team expects the tech cycle to have a bumpy but extended upturn. On a 3-6 month view, a pullback seems likely. We think that pull-in in advance of possible tariff hikes on tech products on 15 December contributed significantly to the 3Q bounce in tech sales, and that an aggressive sales push by Huawei in its home market further distorted 3Q numbers. That said, several factors lead our tech team to forecast a 1-2 year upturn beyond the shortterm wobble: 1. 5G capex and IoT are already emerging as structural drivers 2. Memory capex has fallen this year, which should lead to continued positive trends in ASPs (Figures 23 and Figure 24). 3. The build-up of tech inventories has not clearly ended, but 2Q levels exceeded GFC highs (Figure 25).
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