Leo Haviland provides clients with original, provocative, cutting-edge fundamental supply/demand and technical research on major financial marketplaces and trends. He also offers independent consulting and risk management advice.

Haviland’s expertise is macro. He focuses on the intertwining of equity, debt, currency, and commodity arenas, including the political players, regulatory approaches, social factors, and rhetoric that affect them. In a changing and dynamic global economy, Haviland’s mission remains constant – to give timely, value-added marketplace insights and foresights.

Leo Haviland has three decades of experience in the Wall Street trading environment. He has worked for Goldman Sachs, Sempra Energy Trading, and other institutions. In his research and sales career in stock, interest rate, foreign exchange, and commodity battlefields, he has dealt with numerous and diverse financial institutions and individuals. Haviland is a graduate of the University of Chicago (Phi Beta Kappa) and the Cornell Law School.


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CHINA: BEHIND THE GREAT WALL (c) Leo Haviland June 7, 2016

“Seek truth from facts.” Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping


China’s era of miraculous economic growth has marched into history. Yet China’s real GDP output in the past few years, and even 2015, has been robust in comparison to that of most other nations. The majority of international financial wizards faithfully proclaim that Chinese GDP likely will remain strong, at over six percent for the next several years.

China’s GDP strength over the past three or four years nevertheless derived significantly from its widespread national willingness to boost debt (leverage) levels substantially. This significant debt expansion coincides with the current unwillingness or inability of the nation’s political and economic leadership to do much to subdue the debt issue. China’s continued debt building (perhaps assisted by other factors) perhaps will achieve its praiseworthy growth levels, at least for a while.

And trend shifts during first quarter 2016 in various stock (both advanced and emerging), interest rate, currency, and commodity marketplaces (particularly dramatic rallies in the S+P 500 and the petroleum complex) inspire optimism regarding global growth prospects. Despite potential for small rate increases by the widely-admired Federal Reserve, monetary policy in America and elsewhere likely will remain highly accommodative, thereby assisting expansion in developed nations and China.


However, review the patterns in China’s stock, central government 10 year note, and currency marketplaces. Those domains, when interpreted together and alongside a broad array of other key global financial marketplaces, not just the S+P 500 and oil, on balance nowadays suggest Chinese growth over the next few years probably will be less than most gurus expect. In today’s interconnected economic world, slower than anticipated Chinese economic expansion probably will be reflected by more sluggish growth elsewhere than generally forecast.

Politics and economics entangle in both advanced and emerging/developing nations. China’s political elite (notably its Communist party chiefs) seeks to ensure its own power and overall national political, economic, and social stability. Insufficient GDP growth and related widespread popular fears regarding income levels and economic inequality probably endangers these goals.

What do the political rhetoric and actions over the past few years (including recently) by China’s leaders reflect? Quite significantly, they portray increasing concern about their nation’s current and prospective economic situation, particularly its growth level and outlook.

To deflect and dilute growing popular concern about a weakening economic situation (slowdown; feebler growth than desired), and to maintain their political power and influence, China’s political leaders have acted vigorously on both the external and internal fronts. In the foreign sphere, they increasingly quarrel with other nations; on the internal landscape, efforts to control political and other social activities and dialogue have increased. These policies from China’s authorities tend to confirm the trends of slowing Chinese (and global) growth.

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China- Behind the Great Wall (6-7-16)


The China economic miracle of recent years has astounded global gurus. Economic policy makers and watchers inside and outside of China forecast its likely continuation. In the intertwined global economy, such sunny predictions about China also aim at boosting confidence regarding international economic growth prospects. Admittedly some Chinese indicators show display reasons for such optimism. And the Financial Times recently remarked “almost everyone agrees that there is little sign that the global economic crisis is about to have a Chinese third act to follow the US and eurozone, which starred in Acts One and Two.” (7/24/13, p6).

Unfortunately, the so-called “real”, “underlying”, and “overall” China economic scene nevertheless is relatively opaque and challenging to understand. Telling any story about the nation’s economy, whether bullish or bearish, requires caution, and audiences should listen to these viewpoints with some skepticism. Many Chinese statistical indicators arguably are difficult to assemble comprehensively as well as to interpret (whether by the Chinese government or outside experts). How accurate is official Chinese economic information? Political considerations perhaps influence the substance of some Chinese data reports.

Moreover, several other signs from or related to China suggest that China’s real GDP growth has tapered faster than many believe. Besides, it may taper a fair amount beneath generally predicted levels of over 7.5 percent. Like the United States and many other nations since the emergence of the worldwide economic disaster, China embarked upon and sustained highly accommodative monetary campaigns and huge deficit spending adventures. Might GDP expansion diminish if these policies (and related credit creation and leverage) are slowed or reversed? Even though China’s overall government debt as a percentage of GDP is less than that of the United States, much of Europe, and Japan, why should China entirely escape the debt challenges and related unpleasant consequences endured by these nations? In contrast to most conventional wisdom, China nowadays probably faces some significant systemic financial (economic) problems.

China’s embrace of debt and credit in recent years is a widespread cultural phenomenon.

If things were going wonderfully within the Chinese economic (and political) system, why would the nation’s leaders underscore territorial quarrels with other nations? Recall the recent squabbles with Japan over tiny islands (Daioyu) controlled by Japan.

What’s the bottom line? China apparently has generated a fair amount of its economic growth from easy money and massive deficit spending (credit, debt, and leverage). It consequently faces a significant challenge of maintaining its high GDP growth rates while tapering accommodative monetary and fiscal deficit policies. In addition, China confronts a modest yet apparently growing systemic problem (risk) tied into these accommodative monetary and fiscal programs and the related lending, leverage, and bad debt issues. Perhaps Chinese control over its economy (especially given that economy’s close connection with the global one) is much less than many claim. Looking forward, Chinese growth probably will taper more than most believe. In any event, one should not have blind faith in the continuation (repetition) of the recent extraordinary Chinese growth story.

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Another Marketplace Tapering Tale- the China Story (9-9-13)