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Economic Death Spiral

Economic Death Spiral

Authored by Robert Stark via Substack,

Fed Trap: Financial Collapse or Hyper Inflation?

With this banking crisis,…

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Economic Death Spiral

Authored by Robert Stark via Substack,

Fed Trap: Financial Collapse or Hyper Inflation?

With this banking crisis, which has serious Lehman vibes, it is a good time to revisit my article, Is This The End of The End of History, from March of last year. The article dealt with the theme of collapse vs stagnation, and historical cycles, in light of the Ukraine war, the post-pandemic climate, the onset of inflation, and speculation about economic collapse. A point of mine, that has especially been vindicated, is that “a delay in the Fed raising interest rates, could cause a short term rally in stocks, further expanding the bubble. The bigger the bubble, the worse inflation gets, and the longer the Fed keeps delaying raising rates, the worse the crash will be down the road.” For the most part, most of my geopolitical and economic forecasts have come true, though I actually predicted an economic collapse to occur sooner, which actually vindicates that point, that kicking the can down the road will just create a much worse crisis.

Despite countless signs of economic volatility, the recent bank failures, with shockwaves to the entire financial system, are a turning point, where it is clear that there is going to be a severe economic downturn. For instance, Elon Musk recently said, lot of current year similarities to 1929, and Moody’s cut the outlook on the entire U.S. banking system to negative from stable, citing a "rapidly deteriorating operating environment." Even the perma bulls, mainstream media, and financial “experts,” can no longer deny the obvious signs of economic peril. However, the bullish propaganda was still strong as recently as January, which was really the bulls’ last gasp, with the monkey rally, in response to the Fed only raising interest rates by .25 points, plus economic data showing record low unemployment plus a dip in inflation.

It is important to emphasize that the same figures in media, banking, and government, who were recently shilling a soft landing or mild recession, were previously saying that inflation is transitory. It is especially laughable to think that there are people who take someone like CNBC’s, Jim Cramer, seriously, who in 2008 told his audience don’t be silly on Bear Stearns, right before it crashed, and more recently shilled for Silicon Valley Bank, and is still predicting a soft landing. A lot of the recent propaganda is practically identical to right before the 08 crash, as well as during stagflation in the 70s, and even before the Great Depression, as the media has vested economic and political interests in propping up the markets. The financial YouTuber, Maverick of Wall Street, brilliantly uses this “self-love” gif of  Jack Nicholson, from the film, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, as a metaphor for whenever perma-bulls see any data that may signify a Fed pivot, causing stocks to rally. As the desperation really kicks in, expect further talk of a soft landing, as well as more rallies in stocks, as we saw in response to the bailouts, as well as desperate investors switching back and forth between the NASDAQ and S&P500, which happened in 08. So any return to bullish sentiment is actually a sign of greater economic catastrophe. The stock market rallying over bad economy news, as a sign of a potential pivot, just further shows that the markets are not a good metric for the health of the economy. Not to mention that the top 1% own over half of all stocks.

It has always been the case with bubbles, that the greater the size of the bubble, the more copes to deny reality, and the more vested interests there are in preventing the inevitable crash. Certainly many corporations and banks have made economic decisions based upon an assumption of a soft landing or Fed pivot. This also explains the gaslighting to justify that the 2010s economic boom, especially in tech, was based upon productivity and innovation, when it was primary due to Fed monetary policy, plus data mining in the case of Big Tech. While it is silly for conservatives to blame wokeness as the primary culprit of bank failures, wokeness and bullshit DEI jobs, are a symptom of the corruption that Fed policy enabled. 

Fed Balance Sheet: Return to QE

Source

The current banking crisis is triggering more stock buybacks, and a return to Quantitative Easing with the bank bailouts, including plans to inject another $2 Trillion into the banking system, on top of the $300 billion increase in the Fed’s Balance Sheet, in just the last week. This seems counter intuitive, as QE caused inflation, but the economy is so addicted to the “Cocaine,” that is  cheap money. So basically quantitative tightening is being implemented and interest rates raised  to stop inflation, but as soon as the first major economic disruption of raising rates is felt, then a return to financial policies to further prop up the bubble, causing more inflation. Now the Fed is trapped with two bad options, raise rates or pivot, both of which will lead to inevitable economic doom.

Populists can talk about nationalizing the banks into public debt free banking, and Austrian School libertarians can call for ending the Fed, and returning to a gold standard. While it is true that the Federal Reserve is a corrupt system, that is quasi private in how private banks own shares, the reality is that we are stuck with this system of relying upon the Fed’s interest rates, for the incoming economic crisis. If the Fed continues raising rates, there will be a liquidity crisis, with more bank failures. While interest rates were close to zero, banks used uninsured deposits to both invest in securities and purchase bonds, and thanks to fractional reserve banking, banks are only required to hold a fraction of deposits. So when rates rose, bonds fell in value and unrealized losses surged, so the banks were not able to pay off their depositors.

source  

Regional banks make up about half of all US banking, so any contagion in the banking system, as people and businesses move their deposits to mega banks, deemed “too big to fail,” could trigger a Depression. One of the main reasons that the economy has not crashed sooner is because more people have been tapping into their savings and maxing out their credit cards. However, high interest rates will cause many people to default on their credit card debt, which will exacerbate the banking crisis. Not to mention Auto loans defaults wiping out credit unions, and the potential for another mortgage crisis, due to rising mortgage rates. There is a ripple effect, as far as rising interest rates being felt by debt holders, and now is just the tip of the iceberg. This could end up being a multifaceted debt crisis, in banking, corporate debt, personal debt, and government debt.

Besides the Fed likely pivoting soon due to the banking crisis, higher rates will make interest payments on the National Debt too expensive to pay off, risking a default on government debt. Overall levels of debt, both public and private, are much worse than when Fed Chair, Volcker, raised rates very high to successfully quell inflation. Any freeze in Federal spending or a default on the national debt, in response to the debt ceiling, will crash the economy, and any major extension in the debt ceiling will accelerate inflation. There is a good chance that inflation will be tolerated, with the dollar greatly devalued, to make government debt cheaper so that creditors eat the costs.

Source: Peter G. Peterson Foundation

A tight labor market is the main case that the bulls make to prove a strong economy. However, the official BLS jobs numbers are “baked” to exclude those who have given up on seeking employment, as well as counting 2nd or 3rd jobs. Not to mention that the BLS numbers were exposed by the Fed as overstating 1 million jobs during 2022. Even if one accepts the “baked” numbers, layoffs have a lagging effect on unemployment, including by industry (eg. tech layoffs before service sector). Now new jobless claims have grown at the fastest pace since Lehman'. It is also noteworthy that just about every recession has been preceded by low unemployment numbers. The increase in layoffs will put further pressure on the Fed to pivot, which on top of increased unemployment benefits, will cause inflation to surge again. This creates another doom loop, as inflation leads to more unemployment, as consumers are forced to cut back on spending.

Source: ZeroHedge

While bulls can say that this time is different from past crashes, all of the signs are pointing to this crisis being much worse than previous crashes. For instance, the economic recovery, after Volcker was done raising rates to fight inflation, was possible because of lower levels of debt, but the US has never entered a recession with debt/GDP at 125% and deficit/GDP at 7% in at least 85 years. Also the fallout of the 2008 crash was mitigated by a strong dollar, which also minimized the effects of inflation last year, but inflation will surge if the dollar is weakened. Despite signs of a pivot, the Fed has been moving much faster to fight inflation, then in the past, even with Volker. This crisis is also unique in that rates are being raised while entering a severe recession, and inflation could coincide mass layoffs. While the general assumption is that severe economic downturns are deflationary, financial commentator, Peter Schiff, makes a compelling case as for why an Inflationary Depression is a likelihood. Under this nightmare scenario, which would be much worse than even the Great Depression, inflation will negate any of the remedies that ended past crises, such as the New Deal, quantitative easing in 08, and the covid stimulus. Other signs of economic peril include, the steepest yield curve inversion since the early 80s recession, which is a barometer that has predicted just about every single recession, a major decline in ISM manufacturing sales, a big decline in savings rates, and Americans’ credit card debt approaching a record $1 Trillion.

source

This is the perfect storm with inflation, stagflation, recession, a potential debt crisis, as well as energy and supply chain issues. With this bubble to end all bubbles or too big to fail on steroids, the Fed has two choices, cause a liquidity crisis by shrinking the money supply, or letting inflation rip. While raising rates appears to be the least bad of these two options, further rate hikes are futile with the return of QE. A combo of QE plus interest rates having to remain high, is what could lead to that scenario of inflationary financial collapse, that Peter Schiff warned about. Though most likely it will either be long term stagflation or a deflationary Depression. This is not a hyperbole, nor clickbait, but a Depression is a very real possibility, especially if policy makers continue to kick the can down the road, to prop up the bubble.

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Tyler Durden Tue, 03/21/2023 - 17:25

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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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Another country is getting ready to launch a visa for digital nomads

Early reports are saying Japan will soon have a digital nomad visa for high-earning foreigners.

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Over the last decade, the explosion of remote work that came as a result of improved technology and the pandemic has allowed an increasing number of people to become digital nomads. 

When looked at more broadly as anyone not required to come into a fixed office but instead moves between different locations such as the home and the coffee shop, the latest estimate shows that there were more than 35 million such workers in the world by the end of 2023 while over half of those come from the United States.

Related: There is a new list of cities that are best for digital nomads

While remote work has also allowed many to move to cheaper places and travel around the world while still bringing in income, working outside of one's home country requires either dual citizenship or work authorization — the global shift toward remote work has pushed many countries to launch specific digital nomad visas to boost their economies and bring in new residents.

Japan is a very popular destination for U.S. tourists. 

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This popular vacation destination will soon have a nomad visa

Spain, Portugal, Indonesia, Malaysia, Costa Rica, Brazil, Latvia and Malta are some of the countries currently offering specific visas for foreigners who want to live there while bringing in income from abroad.

More Travel:

With the exception of a few, Asian countries generally have stricter immigration laws and were much slower to launch these types of visas that some of the countries with weaker economies had as far back as 2015. As first reported by the Japan Times, the country's Immigration Services Agency ended up making the leap toward a visa for those who can earn more than ¥10 million ($68,300 USD) with income from another country.

The Japanese government has not yet worked out the specifics of how long the visa will be valid for or how much it will cost — public comment on the proposal is being accepted throughout next week. 

That said, early reports say the visa will be shorter than the typical digital nomad option that allows foreigners to live in a country for several years. The visa will reportedly be valid for six months or slightly longer but still no more than a year — along with the ability to work, this allows some to stay beyond the 90-day tourist period typically afforded to those from countries with visa-free agreements.

'Not be given a residence card of residence certificate'

While one will be able to reapply for the visa after the time runs out, this can only be done by exiting the country and being away for six months before coming back again — becoming a permanent resident on the pathway to citizenship is an entirely different process with much more strict requirements.

"Those living in Japan with the digital nomad visa will not be given a residence card or a residence certificate, which provide access to certain government benefits," reports the news outlet. "The visa cannot be renewed and must be reapplied for, with this only possible six months after leaving the countr

The visa will reportedly start in March and also allow holders to bring their spouses and families with them. To start using the visa, holders will also need to purchase private health insurance from their home country while taxes on any money one earns will also need to be paid through one's home country.

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