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DBRS Joins Fitch Placing United States’ AAA Rating On Watch Negative

DBRS Joins Fitch Placing United States’ AAA Rating On Watch Negative

With its CDS trading like an emerging market, it is likely no surprise…

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DBRS Joins Fitch Placing United States' AAA Rating On Watch Negative

With its CDS trading like an emerging market, it is likely no surprise that Fitch Ratings has placed the United States' 'AAA' Long-Term Foreign-Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) on Rating Watch Negative.

CDS is trading like USA is anything but AAA-rated...

The T-Bill curve is not buying the calm picture being painted by Washington with the June 1st Bill yielding 7.00% today...

Fitch Key Rating Drivers:

Debt Ceiling Brinkmanship: The Rating Watch Negative reflects increased political partisanship that is hindering reaching a resolution to raise or suspend the debt limit despite the fast-approaching x date (when the U.S. Treasury exhausts its cash position and capacity for extraordinary measures without incurring new debt). Fitch still expects a resolution to the debt limit before the x-date. However, we believe risks have risen that the debt limit will not be raised or suspended before the x-date and consequently that the government could begin to miss payments on some of its obligations. The brinkmanship over the debt ceiling, failure of the U.S. authorities to meaningfully tackle medium-term fiscal challenges that will lead to rising budget deficits and a growing debt burden signal downside risks to U.S. creditworthiness.

Debt Limit Reached: The U.S. reached its $31.4 trillion debt limit on Jan. 19, 2023, and the Treasury began taking extraordinary measures in order to avoid breaching the ceiling. The Treasury has stated that these extraordinary measures could be exhausted as early as June 1, 2023. The cash balance of the Treasury reached USD76.5 billion as of May 23 and sizeable payments are due June 1-2, meaning that the x-date could arrive as the Treasury indicated and before an agreement is reached or finalized with votes in the House and Senate.

X-Date Approaching: The failure to reach a deal to raise or suspend the debt limit by the x-date would be a negative signal of the broader governance and willingness of the U.S. to honor its obligations in a timely fashion, which would be unlikely to be consistent with a 'AAA' rating, in Fitch's view. Prioritization of debt securities over other due payments after the x-date would avoid a default. Similarly, avoiding default by non-conventional means such as minting a trillion-dollar coin or invoking the 14th amendment is unlikely to be consistent with a 'AAA' rating and could also be subject to legal challenges.

Debt Default Rating Implications: We believe that failing to make full and timely payments on debt securities is less likely than reaching the x-date and is a very low probability event. Such a failure would be a debt default under Fitch's sovereign rating criteria and would lead us to downgrade the sovereign IDR to Restricted Default (RD). Affected debt securities would be downgraded to 'D'. Additionally, other LT debt securities with payments due within the following 30 days would likely be downgraded to 'CCC', and ST treasury bills maturing within the following 30 days would likely be downgraded to 'C'.

Potential Post-Default Ratings: Other debt securities with payments due beyond 30 days would likely be downgraded to the expected post-default rating of the IDR. A key consideration in determining the U.S. post-default rating would be Fitch's Sovereign Rating Model (SRM) - the details of which are in the public domain. The SRM output for the U.S. stands at 'AA+'. The model applies a two-notch reduction for a sovereign that has recently defaulted, suggesting that Fitch's model-implied post-default rating would be 'AA-'. The final rating could be adjusted lower or higher via the Qualitative Overlay as per our criteria. Fitch would expect any debt default to be relatively short-lived. However, a more protracted default scenario could have more severe implications for the country's post-default ratings.

Country Ceiling to Remain at 'AAA': Fitch would expect the U.S country ceiling to remain at 'AAA' even in the scenario of a debt default. The U.S. dollar is the preeminent world's reserve currency, and we view the risk of exchange and capital controls as de minimis.

Governance Challenges: Governance is a weakness relative to 'AAA' rated peers, and the future direction of the rating is sensitive to the direction it takes. The contested 2020 presidential election, brinkmanship over the debt limit to advance political agendas, and failure to reach consensus on the country's fiscal challenges are recent signs of the deterioration in governance. Additionally, the absence of a medium-term fiscal framework and a complex budgeting process has contributed to the failure to reverse successive debt increases caused by economic shocks and other fiscal accommodations. Political partisanship has brought about repeated debt-limit brinkmanship and led to near-default episodes that could erode confidence in the government's repayment capacity.

Weakening Fiscal Outturns: Weaker-than-expected tax receipts and higher interest rates have led public finances to modestly underperform Fitch's expectations at the last review. Fitch now forecasts a general government deficit at 6.5% of GDP in 2023 and 6.9% of GDP in 2024, up from 5.5% in 2022. State and local governments overall surpluses in 2021-22 have begun to move to deficits, which accounts for part of the expected general government deterioration. A rising interest burden and growing spending on entitlements over the coming decade will keep the deficits at above 7% of GDP on average. Between 2023 and 2033 the U.S. Congressional Budget Office (CBO) May 2023 baseline includes a 2.2pp of GDP rise in spending on interest, healthcare and social security that is linked to demographics, a rising interest burden and healthcare costs.

High and Rising Public Debt Burden: General government debt fell to 112.5% of GDP at year-end 2022 (compared to 36.1% for the 'AAA' median), a decline from its 2020 pandemic peak of 122.3%. However, the ratio remains over 12 pp above pre-pandemic levels in 2019. Fitch forecasts debt to increase to 117% by end-2024. Debt dynamics under the baseline Congressional Budget Office (CBO) assumptions project that the ratio of federal debt held by the public to GDP will approach 119% within a decade under the current policy setting, a rise of over 20 pp. Interest rates have risen significantly over the last year with the 10-year Treasury yield at close to 3.7% (compared to 2.8% a year ago).

Exceptional Strengths Support Ratings: The size of the country's economy, high GDP per capita and dynamic business environment support the U.S. ratings. The U.S. dollar is the world's preeminent reserve currency, which gives the government extraordinary financing flexibility.

ESG - Governance: The U.S. has an ESG Relevance Score (RS) of '5' Political Stability and Rights and '5[+]' for the Rule of Law, Institutional and Regulatory Quality and Control of Corruption. Theses scores reflect the high weight that the World Bank Governance Indicators (WBGI) have in our proprietary Sovereign Rating Model. The U.S. has a high WBGI ranking at 79, reflecting its well-established rights for participation in the political process, strong institutional capacity, effective rule of law and a low level of corruption.

This morning, DBRS Morningstar followed Fitch and placed the United States of America’s Long-Term Foreign and Local Currency – Issuer Ratings of AAA Under Review with Negative Implications. In addition, DBRS Morningstar placed the United States of America’s Short-Term Foreign and Local Currency – Issuer Ratings of R-1 (high) Under Review with Negative Implications.

KEY RATING CONSIDERATIONS

The Under Review with Negative Implications reflects the risk of Congress failing to increase or suspend the debt ceiling in a timely manner. If Congress does not act, the U.S. federal government will not be able to pay all of its obligations. The precise timing of when the federal government will exhaust available cash and extraordinary measures, the so-called X-date, is somewhat unclear. However, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen reiterated her warning on May 22 that the X-date could come as early as June 1. Judging from the latest data on daily net inflows into the Treasury General Account, we believe it is reasonable to assume the X-date could arrive within weeks if not days.

While we still expect Congress to raise the debt ceiling before Treasury runs out of available resources, there is a risk of Congressional inaction as the X-date approaches. DBRS Morningstar would consider any missed payment of interest or principal as a default. In such a scenario, the relevant U.S. Issuer Ratings would be downgraded to “Selective Default.”

Alternatively, the U.S. Treasury may prioritize debt payments following the X-date in order to avoid a default. However, prioritizing debts payments for a meaningful period of time would likely lead to a rating action, as we assess that such a strategy would have a highly negative impact on the economy and could quickly run into legal and operational challenges. Similar challenges could arise if the Administration instructs the Treasury to ignore the debt limit or bypasses the debt limit through some other strategy. In addition, failure to lift the ceiling in a timely manner could indicate that political polarization is affecting the quality and predictability of U.S. policymaking.

Even if Congress ends up increasing the debt ceiling prior to the X-date, the prospect of repeated debt ceiling standoffs in a polarized political environment may lead DBRS Morningstar to judge that U.S. credit risk has increased to a level that is no longer consistent with a AAA rating.

While the debt ceiling impasse poses a potential threat to the United States’ AAA rating, the U.S. has exceptional strengths that support the credit profile. The U.S. economy is very large in scale, accounting for one-quarter of global output. The economy is highly resilient to shocks, given its diversification across industry and geography, its flexible labor market, and its global leadership position in terms of research and innovation. U.S. financial markets and the U.S. dollar are at the center of world trade and capital flows, which provides the U.S. with an unusually high degree of financing flexibility. In addition, the country benefits from well-established democratic institutions, a strong legal system, and transparent governance. While a late debt payment could erode the reputation of the dollar as the world’s primary reserve currency and U.S. government bonds as global safe-haven assets, the fundamental credit strengths of the U.S. would likely continue to support the ratings.

One potential outcome of the current negotiations is that the next debt ceiling discussion could be pushed out beyond next year’s election. Future congresses could overhaul the debt ceiling to reduce the threat of default or eliminate it entirely, although any action on this front would likely require bipartisanship to overcome a filibuster in the Senate.

The Review period will focus on whether Congress lifts the debt ceiling in a timely manner, how the U.S. Treasury responds if Congress is late to increase the debt ceiling, the economic and financial fallout if the federal government fails to pay its obligations on time, and the likelihood of recurring debt standoffs in the near term.

RATING DRIVERS

The rating could be confirmed at AAA if Congress lifts the debt ceiling in a timely manner, and risks stemming from debt ceiling brinksmanship in the near term are deemed to be relatively low.

The ratings could be downgraded if: 1) the U.S. Treasury fails to pay all of its debt obligations on time, 2) the federal government builds up material non-interest arrears, or 3) there is a high likelihood of repeated debt ceiling standoffs in a climate of heightened political polarization.

Paging Mrs. Yellen...

Who could have seen this coming?

Tyler Durden Thu, 05/25/2023 - 07:55

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Glimpse Of Sanity: Dartmouth Returns Standardized Testing For Admission After Failed Experiment

Glimpse Of Sanity: Dartmouth Returns Standardized Testing For Admission After Failed Experiment

In response to the virus pandemic and nationwide…

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Glimpse Of Sanity: Dartmouth Returns Standardized Testing For Admission After Failed Experiment

In response to the virus pandemic and nationwide Black Lives Matter riots in the summer of 2020, some elite colleges and universities shredded testing requirements for admission. Several years later, the test-optional admission has yet to produce the promising results for racial and class-based equity that many woke academic institutions wished.

The failure of test-optional admission policies has forced Dartmouth College to reinstate standardized test scores for admission starting next year. This should never have been eliminated, as merit will always prevail. 

"Nearly four years later, having studied the role of testing in our admissions process as well as its value as a predictor of student success at Dartmouth, we are removing the extended pause and reactivating the standardized testing requirement for undergraduate admission, effective with the Class of 2029," Dartmouth wrote in a press release Monday morning. 

"For Dartmouth, the evidence supporting our reactivation of a required testing policy is clear. Our bottom line is simple: we believe a standardized testing requirement will improve—not detract from—our ability to bring the most promising and diverse students to our campus," the elite college said. 

Who would've thought eliminating standardized tests for admission because a fringe minority said they were instruments of racism and a biased system was ever a good idea? 

Also, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this out. More from Dartmouth, who commissioned the research: 

They also found that test scores represent an especially valuable tool to identify high-achieving applicants from low and middle-income backgrounds; who are first-generation college-bound; as well as students from urban and rural backgrounds.

All the colleges and universities that quickly adopted test-optional admissions in 2020 experienced a surge in applications. Perhaps the push for test-optional was under the guise of woke equality but was nothing more than protecting the bottom line for these institutions. 

A glimpse of sanity returns to woke schools: Admit qualified kids. Next up is corporate America and all tiers of the US government. 

Tyler Durden Mon, 02/05/2024 - 17:20

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Four burning questions about the future of the $16.5B Novo-Catalent deal

To build or to buy? That’s a classic question for pharma boardrooms, and Novo Nordisk is going with both.
Beyond spending billions of dollars to expand…

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To build or to buy? That’s a classic question for pharma boardrooms, and Novo Nordisk is going with both.

Beyond spending billions of dollars to expand its own production capacity for its weight loss drugs, the Danish drugmaker said Monday it will pay $11 billion to acquire three manufacturing plants from Catalent. It’s part of a broader $16.5 billion deal with Novo Holdings, the investment arm of the pharma’s parent group, which agreed to acquire the contract manufacturer and take it private.

It’s a big deal for all parties, with potential ripple effects across the biotech ecosystem. Here’s a look at some of the most pressing questions to watch after Monday’s announcement.

Why did Novo do this?

Novo Holdings isn’t the most obvious buyer for Catalent, particularly after last year’s on-and-off M&A interest from the serial acquirer Danaher. But the deal could benefit both Novo Holdings and Novo Nordisk.

Novo Nordisk’s biggest challenge has been simply making enough of the weight loss drug Wegovy and diabetes therapy Ozempic. On last week’s earnings call, Novo Nordisk CEO Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen said the company isn’t constrained by capital in its efforts to boost manufacturing. Rather, the main challenge is the limited amount of capabilities out there, he said.

“Most pharmaceutical companies in the world would be shopping among the same manufacturers,” he said. “There’s not an unlimited amount of machinery and people to build it.”

While Novo was already one of Catalent’s major customers, the manufacturer has been hamstrung by its own balance sheet. With roughly $5 billion in debt on its books, it’s had to juggle paying down debt with sufficiently investing in its facilities. That’s been particularly challenging in keeping pace with soaring demand for GLP-1 drugs.

Novo, on the other hand, has the balance sheet to funnel as much money as needed into the plants in Italy, Belgium, and Indiana. It’s also struggled to make enough of its popular GLP-1 drugs to meet their soaring demand, with documented shortages of both Ozempic and Wegovy.

The impact won’t be immediate. The parties expect the deal to close near the end of 2024. Novo Nordisk said it expects the three new sites to “gradually increase Novo Nordisk’s filling capacity from 2026 and onwards.”

As for the rest of Catalent — nearly 50 other sites employing thousands of workers — Novo Holdings will take control. The group previously acquired Altasciences in 2021 and Ritedose in 2022, so the Catalent deal builds on a core investing interest in biopharma services, Novo Holdings CEO Kasim Kutay told Endpoints News.

Kasim Kutay

When asked about possible site closures or layoffs, Kutay said the team hasn’t thought about that.

“That’s not our track record. Our track record is to invest in quality businesses and help them grow,” he said. “There’s always stuff to do with any asset you own, but we haven’t bought this company to do some of the stuff you’re talking about.”

What does it mean for Catalent’s customers? 

Until the deal closes, Catalent will operate as a standalone business. After it closes, Novo Nordisk said it will honor its customer obligations at the three sites, a spokesperson said. But they didn’t answer a question about what happens when those contracts expire.

The wrinkle is the long-term future of the three plants that Novo Nordisk is paying for. Those sites don’t exclusively pump out Wegovy, but that could be the logical long-term aim for the Danish drugmaker.

The ideal scenario is that pricing and timelines remain the same for customers, said Nicole Paulk, CEO of the gene therapy startup Siren Biotechnology.

Nicole Paulk

“The name of the group that you’re going to send your check to is now going to be Novo Holdings instead of Catalent, but otherwise everything remains the same,” Paulk told Endpoints. “That’s the best-case scenario.”

In a worst case, Paulk said she feared the new owners could wind up closing sites or laying off Catalent groups. That could create some uncertainty for customers looking for a long-term manufacturing partner.

Are shareholders and regulators happy? 

The pandemic was a wild ride for Catalent’s stock, with shares surging from about $40 to $140 and then crashing back to earth. The $63.50 share price for the takeover is a happy ending depending on the investor.

On that point, the investing giant Elliott Investment Management is satisfied. Marc Steinberg, a partner at Elliott, called the agreement “an outstanding outcome” that “clearly maximizes value for Catalent stockholders” in a statement.

Elliott helped kick off a strategic review last August that culminated in the sale agreement. Compared to Catalent’s stock price before that review started, the deal pays a nearly 40% premium.

Alessandro Maselli

But this is hardly a victory lap for CEO Alessandro Maselli, who took over in July 2022 when Catalent’s stock price was north of $100. Novo’s takeover is a tacit acknowledgment that Maselli could never fully right the ship, as operational problems plagued the company throughout 2023 while it was limited by its debt.

Additional regulatory filings in the next few weeks could give insight into just how competitive the sale process was. William Blair analysts said they don’t expect a competing bidder “given the organic investments already being pursued at other leading CDMOs and the breadth and scale of Catalent’s operations.”

The Blair analysts also noted the companies likely “expect to spend some time educating relevant government agencies” about the deal, given the lengthy closing timeline. Given Novo Nordisk’s ascent — it’s now one of Europe’s most valuable companies — paired with the limited number of large contract manufacturers, antitrust regulators could be interested in taking a close look.

Are Catalent’s problems finally a thing of the past?

Catalent ran into a mix of financial and operational problems over the past year that played no small part in attracting the interest of an activist like Elliott.

Now with a deal in place, how quickly can Novo rectify those problems? Some of the challenges were driven by the demands of being a publicly traded company, like failing to meet investors’ revenue expectations or even filing earnings reports on time.

But Catalent also struggled with its business at times, with a range of manufacturing delays, inspection reports and occasionally writing down acquisitions that didn’t pan out. Novo’s deep pockets will go a long way to a turnaround, but only the future will tell if all these issues are fixed.

Kutay said his team is excited by the opportunity and was satisfied with the due diligence it did on the company.

“We believe we’re buying a strong company with a good management team and good prospects,” Kutay said. “If that wasn’t the case, I don’t think we’d be here.”

Amber Tong and Reynald Castañeda contributed reporting.

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Petrina Kamya, Ph.D., Head of AI Platforms at Insilico Medicine, presents at BIO CEO & Investor Conference

Petrina Kamya, PhD, Head of AI Platforms and President of Insilico Medicine Canada, will present at the BIO CEO & Investor Conference happening Feb….

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Petrina Kamya, PhD, Head of AI Platforms and President of Insilico Medicine Canada, will present at the BIO CEO & Investor Conference happening Feb. 26-27 at the New York Marriott Marquis in New York City. Dr. Kamya will speak as part of the panel “AI within Biopharma: Separating Value from Hype,” on Feb. 27, 1pm ET along with Michael Nally, CEO of Generate: Biomedicines and Liz Schwarzbach, PhD, CBO of BigHat Biosciences.

Credit: Insilico Medicine

Petrina Kamya, PhD, Head of AI Platforms and President of Insilico Medicine Canada, will present at the BIO CEO & Investor Conference happening Feb. 26-27 at the New York Marriott Marquis in New York City. Dr. Kamya will speak as part of the panel “AI within Biopharma: Separating Value from Hype,” on Feb. 27, 1pm ET along with Michael Nally, CEO of Generate: Biomedicines and Liz Schwarzbach, PhD, CBO of BigHat Biosciences.

The session will look at how the latest artificial intelligence (AI) tools – including generative AI and large language models – are currently being used to advance the discovery and design of new drugs, and which technologies are still in development. 

The BIO CEO & Investor Conference brings together over 1,000 attendees and more than 700 companies across industry and institutional investment to discuss the future investment landscape of biotechnology. Sessions focus on topics such as therapeutic advancements, market outlook, and policy priorities.

Insilico Medicine is a leading, clinical stage AI-driven drug discovery company that has raised over $400m in investments since it was founded in 2014. Dr. Kamya leads the development of the Company’s end-to-end generative AI platform, Pharma.AI from Insilico’s AI R&D Center in Montreal. Using modern machine learning techniques in the context of chemistry and biology, the platform has driven the discovery and design of 30+ new therapies, with five in clinical stages – for cancer, fibrosis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and COVID-19. The Company’s lead drug, for the chronic, rare lung condition idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, is the first AI-designed drug for an AI-discovered target to reach Phase II clinical trials with patients. Nine of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies have used Insilico’s AI platform to advance their programs, and the Company has a number of major strategic licensing deals around its AI-designed therapeutic assets, including with Sanofi, Exelixis and Menarini. 

 

About Insilico Medicine

Insilico Medicine, a global clinical stage biotechnology company powered by generative AI, is connecting biology, chemistry, and clinical trials analysis using next-generation AI systems. The company has developed AI platforms that utilize deep generative models, reinforcement learning, transformers, and other modern machine learning techniques for novel target discovery and the generation of novel molecular structures with desired properties. Insilico Medicine is developing breakthrough solutions to discover and develop innovative drugs for cancer, fibrosis, immunity, central nervous system diseases, infectious diseases, autoimmune diseases, and aging-related diseases. www.insilico.com 


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