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One Monetary Policy Fits All – Part II

In Part one of this series, Our Currency The World’s Problem, we discuss the vital role the U.S. dollar plays in the global economy. With an understanding…

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In Part one of this series, Our Currency The World’s Problem, we discuss the vital role the U.S. dollar plays in the global economy. With an understanding of the dollar’s role as the world’s reserve currency, it’s time to discuss how the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy machinations influence the dollar and, therefore, the global economy and financial markets.

Given the Fed’s recent extreme monetary policy actions, which haven’t been seen in over 40 years, it is more important now than ever to appreciate the potential global consequences of the Fed’s stern fight against inflation.

Triffin’s Paradox

In Part 1, we highlight the following two lines, which help describe Triffin’s paradox.

“To supply the world with dollars, the United States must consistently run a trade deficit. Running persistent deficits, the United States would become a debtor nation.”

“Simply the growing divergence between debt and the ability to pay for it, GDP, is unsustainable.”

Increasingly borrowing without the means to pay it off is unsustainable. The terms zombie company or Ponzi Scheme come to mind when considering such a system. That said, because the printer of the currency and taxer of its citizens is in charge, we can only ask how long the status quo can continue.

The answer is partially up to the Fed. The Fed can use QE and low-interest rates to delay the inevitable. As we now see, the problem is that those tools are detrimental when there is high inflation. Fighting inflation requires higher interest rates and QT, both of which are problematic for high debt levels.

Financial Tremors

The Bank of England is bailing out U.K. pension funds. The Bank of Japan uses excessive monetary policy to protect its currency and cap interest rates. China encourages its banks to buy stocks. The dollar, the world’s currency, is on a tear, interest rates are surging, and the financial world is fracturing.

As we noted in Part 1, financial tremors are providing early warnings that hawkish Fed actions are starting to lead to serious problems.

Most foreign nations’ economic and financial well-being is closely dependent on the value of the dollar and the supply of dollars. As such, the Fed’s actions in expanding or contracting dollar liquidity can ripple through the global financial markets. The Fed’s monetary policy is the monetary policy for the world, whether anyone agrees with it.  

ECB’S PRESIDENT LAGARDE: WE HAVE TO BE ATTENTIVE TO SPILL-OVERS FROM THE FED POLICY.

The strong dollar is a problem for some countries- Jerome Powell

2020-2022

Over the past few years, the Pandemic drastically changed the course of monetary and fiscal policy. Since 2020 the U.S. government has accumulated over $10 trillion in debt. To help markets absorb the enormous supply of bonds, the Fed bought nearly $5 trillion in debt. As a result of fiscal spending, the money supply surged higher, and inflation soon followed.

Prices spiraled higher due to weakened supply lines and massive fiscal handouts. Despite economic normalization and signs of brewing inflation in 2021, the Fed continued buying bonds and kept interest rates pinned at zero.

The ultimate time to fight inflation was before it was a problem. Being late to the game makes the inflation fight harder. In 2022, after inflation became entrenched, the Fed finally started acting.

To their credit, they have been highly forceful, raising rates by 3.75% in just ten months and commencing an aggressive QT program in June. The Fed was the first major central bank to combat inflation vigorously. While other countries sat idly by, the Fed became extremely hawkish.

Money gravitated toward dollars in large part due to Fed aggression. Confidence was growing among currency traders that the Fed was taking inflation seriously. Adding considerable strength to the dollar was that most other central banks were doing nothing about inflation. 

usd 2022

Big Macs and Why Exchange Rates Change

Purchasing power parity (PPP) explains why currencies move against each other. In 1986, the Economist magazine popularized PPP with its Big Mac Index.

The theory underpinning the Big Mac index and PPP states that the exchange rate between two currencies should equalize the prices charged for a Big Mac or an identical basket of goods.

Simply, as prices rise by more in one country versus another currency, the exchange rates between the two must change to offset the difference. Not surprisingly, with the Fed leading the charge against inflation, currency traders flocked to the dollar. Based on PPP and two other currency measures, the dollar is now the most overvalued currency.

big mac index ppp dollar

Why Does Dollar Strength Matter to Foreign Nations?

There are two primary reasons. For starters, many foreign borrowers borrow dollar-denominated debt. Second, changing currency exchange rates impacts the costs of goods bought and sold with other nations.

Foreign Borrowing

The BIS estimates over $13 trillion of foreign dollar-denominated debt outstanding. This debt poses a unique problem for its borrowers.

In Dollar Appreciation Threatens The Global Economy, we provide an example via the hypothetical Loonie Tire Company to help readers appreciate the impact of dollar strength. The table below from the article shows that a five-cent appreciation of the U.S. dollar versus the Canadian dollar has a significant effect on the firm’s debt terms.

inflation dollar appreciation debt

Because the debt’s repayment occurs in dollars, the loan amount and the interest payments increase with the USD/CAD exchange rate. In our example, it boosted the company’s funding costs by roughly seven percent.

The current dollar strength is significantly raising borrowing costs for unhedged foreign borrowers. Dollar strength resulting from aggressive Fed policy is forcing the Fed’s hawkish policy upon the world.

Importing Inflation

Most commodities and other goods are traded in U.S. dollars. As such, price changes for said goods in foreign nations are due to the combination of supply/demand dynamics and changes in the currency exchange rate.

We present the graph below to help appreciate how dollar strength impacts foreign prices. It shows the price of crude oil rose 11% more when priced in euros versus U.S. dollars since January. 

inflation by exchange rate

Again, dollar strength resulting from the Fed’s more aggressive policy is generating more inflation in foreign nations.

Summary

“We are addicted to our reserve currency privilege, which is in fact not a privilege but a curse.” –James Grant, Grant’s Interest Rate Observer.

The key takeaway we hope to impart is that Fed policy is the de facto monetary policy for the world. Whether foreign nations want or need tightening or easing, they are stuck with the monetary policy that the Fed decides America needs.

Today, aggressive Fed policy is creating havoc abroad. Like Japan, nations with slower economic growth and more debt can ill afford a monetary-tightening Fed policy. They are trying to counteract the Fed with zero interest rates and QE, but the result is a plunging yen and increasing inflation. Europe, China, and almost all other countries face variations of the same theme.

The world is finally facing Triffin’s Paradox.

The post One Monetary Policy Fits All – Part II appeared first on RIA.

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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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