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Soaring Debt Payments Wiping Out Savings Ensures Peak Hawkishness Has Passed

Soaring Debt Payments Wiping Out Savings Ensures Peak Hawkishness Has Passed

By Simon White, Bloomberg Markets Live reporter and strategist

Tighter…

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Soaring Debt Payments Wiping Out Savings Ensures Peak Hawkishness Has Passed

By Simon White, Bloomberg Markets Live reporter and strategist

Tighter Fed policy is raising households’ interest-rate burden, leading to a rapid decline in excess savings and underscoring the likelihood hawkishness has peaked (see "Credit Card Rates Just Hit A Record As The Average Car Loan Rises To Fresh All Time High").

The pandemic rise in excess savings was probably the most rapid increase in wealth ever seen. A combination of a collapse in demand and huge government transfers led to an estimated peak of $2.3 trillion in excess savings being accumulated by the middle of 2021.

But after the feast comes the famine, and excess savings are being run down swiftly as inflation causes prices and interest rates to rise. These excess savings act as a buffer to a recession as they dampen the feedback loop of a decline in spending, leading to a fall in income, which means less spending, and so on.

The BEA (Bureau of Economic Analysis) defines the flow of savings = disposable personal income – consumption – other outlays. The personal savings rate is the difference between disposable income and consumption as a percentage of disposable income. The savings rate reached as high as 33% in the depths of a the pandemic – a previously unimaginable level – but since then has collapsed to near all-time lows of 3.1%.

The dissaving can be seen in the rapid decline in “excess disposable income,” i.e. disposable income above its pre-pandemic trend. It is back to flat based on a 30-year trend line, signifying that excess savings are no longer being bolstered by excess income because people are spending more and pandemic-related transfer payments from the government have ceased.

Savings are being increasingly stressed by rising debt repayments. Interest rates are rising on consumer and mortgage debt. Debt-service ratios (debt repayments as a percentage of disposable income) remain relatively low, but are rising, and could do so fairly rapidly as debt is re-fixed at higher rates.

In nominal terms, households have to repay an estimated $1.75 trillion each year, or almost 10% of disposable income. Further, this burden will get worse as more income is eaten up by rising prices.

The Fed estimates that excess savings have dwindled to $1.7 trillion (as of mid-2022), a 26% drop in a year (see chart below). The stock of excess savings is likely to fall with an increasing pace as the lagged effects of rising interest rates bite.

The recession buffer is being wiped out, leaving the US economy in a more fragile position and raising the likelihood the Fed has reached its peak in bellicosity on the war on inflation (for now).

Tyler Durden Tue, 11/22/2022 - 11:15

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New technology is now the beating heart of patient care

Patient care and healthcare provision have always appeared among society’s top priorities, but keeping people well came into
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Patient care and healthcare provision have always appeared among society’s top priorities, but keeping people well came into sharp focus during the pandemic.

So, too, did the role of pharmaceutical companies – not least how amazing advances in medical science could help the world combat Covid, but also how the sector was remunerated for its efforts.

As we seek to move beyond the difficulties of the past few years, pharma firms now have the chance to make further advances and bring innovation to market and, in the process, gain competitive edge over their rivals.

The race is on

With an abundance of patient data to hand – GDPR compliance permitting – and cutting-edge technology to aid the development and delivery of new products, the race is on to escalate and improve patient care with solutions that can truly make a difference.

Patients aren’t blind to the tech-driven changes going on around them. We’ve been using wearable technology for decades already. Acceleration of this market really kicked in 20 years ago, when devices from Bluetooth headsets to smart watches came on-stream. Ever since, we seem to have been glued to screens to understand more about ourselves, tapping apps that promise to monitor everything from self-care to Circadian rhythms.

Wearables are becoming breakout technology in the pharma space, too. Biospace estimates the market for these types of devices that add to the patient care toolkit will grow from today’s $21.3bn to $196.5bn by 2030.

In effect, the possibilities are endless. We already have access to devices that monitor our heart rate and alert first responders if sensors detect a health crisis like a stroke or heart attack. Similar technology could be rolled out across society, accelerating critical treatment times.

Emergency response is the tip of the iceberg. All of the data produced by wearables – from blood sugar levels to monitoring changes in the menstrual cycle – can automatically be passed to frontline healthcare organisations, enabling professionals to read and appropriately respond.

Such tech is just one example of an area that is ripe with opportunity for pharma businesses. But there are lots of other exciting developments at our fingertips.

Biosimilars get the sector’s blood pumping

During the past few years, interest has been growing in biosimilars. If you’re unaware of these types of drugs, the NHS describes them as: “Biological medicines that have been shown not to have any clinical meaningful differences from the originator medicine in terms of quality, safety, and efficacy.”

Biosimilars are therefore biological medicines that are highly similar to another version already licensed for use, and they are now being recommended all the time. They are, of course, subject to the same NICE guidance as originator medicine it has already approved. NHS leaders believe biosimilars will create up to £300m of annual savings thanks to their speed of development, a timely saving in a challenging market that looks set to come under increasing financial pressure during the next few years.

Clinicians also note that the biosimilars market will rapidly develop and grow in complexity, since more pharma players will introduce their own treatments using these techniques. At the same time – with full patient/carer consent, it should be acknowledged – healthcare providers are beginning to offer patients biosimilar treatments, such that they should become widely recognised and hopefully accepted in short order.

Patients will experience biosimilars in different ways. For example, my own experience of biosimilars has been to help a global pharma company launch a biosimilar autoimmune drug. The really smart part about this development is the wider use of technology it taps into.

An app was developed so that patient symptoms could be monitored – for example, their baseline health indicators checked and logged, and dietary and exercise advice offered – and adjustments to the drug dose made accordingly by their healthcare provider.

Meanwhile, reading patient data and symptoms using this method will become commonplace. For the patient, constant improvements and updates to associated apps will present them with a slick interface to keep tabs on their own condition and ease access to support.

The wide-ranging benefits of tech-driven treatment

Of course, generations of patients have become used to traditional treatment methods. Whenever there is change it often happens slowly and people need to be persuaded about the benefits of such an evolution.

It’s useful to pause and summarise the reasons why different types of technology are now so important to developments in the pharma and healthcare sectors. Expressing its benefits can help win the hearts and minds of millions of patients the world over:

  • Constant ability to monitor symptoms – including emergency alerts
  • New interaction methods for healthcare providers and patients
  • Better control of treatment plans, including long-term care
  • Overall, a promise of quicker and more efficient service delivery

As mentioned, apps will be one of the main interfaces where this new type of professional-patient relationship takes place. According to a survey by NEJM Catalyst, a majority (60%) of clinicians and healthcare industry leaders believe effective patient engagement makes a serious impact on the quality of care, and can substantially decrease the costs in the system.

Anything that can be done to cure this problem must surely be viewed as a positive. A patient engagement app that improves the experience for physicians and patients is a valuable tool.

Digital tools augment the benefits of medical products, such as by the aforementioned remote monitoring features with the ability to collect important patient data. Overall, mobile patient engagement promises better efficiency for pharma firms’ treatments, doctors, clinics, medical associations, and the whole industry in general.

Pharma giants such as Pfizer, Merck & Co., and Novartis are actively equipping their representatives with innovative digital tools to strengthen their credibility and relevance, reconnect with target audiences, and improve the infrastructure around medical products.

The creation and provision of efficient medical apps for professionals contributes to wider efforts to overhaul treatment programmes.

Digital can be a cure-all for lack of awareness or understanding among patients about their conditions and what they can do to alleviate symptoms. It can also drive better communication between doctors and patients by removing red tape from the process, while maintaining compliance with medical regulations. And it can build efficiency into often overwrought systems, particularly the densely populated urban areas and underserved rural communities that are under the most pressure for different reasons.

Simply by providing apps that drive patient engagement and improve their experience of treatment and healthcare provision, user trust grows. Healthcare apps can be built for patients with a deep level of personalisation, with user-friendly and agile design to suit a wide range of demographic groups. And that’s really the heart of the matter.

Why connecting with the end user matters

Mass adoption of new technology-driven medicines, treatments, and healthcare services will only stand if patients – and therefore their healthcare providers – feel comfortable that this new wave will change their outcomes for the better.

Two elements are critical to society feeling comfortable: technology and communication. That means building and using platforms, from patient apps to portals for healthcare professionals that display information and advice from pharma providers.

By connecting the dots between the pharma companies using cutting-edge platforms for innovative drug delivery, their healthcare markets, and the patients who professionals exist to support we can create a virtuous circle.

Patients will play their own part in the healthcare delivery revolution and provide their data in real-time as part of a feedback loop that the pharma industry can use to refine and invent treatment.

Whether you work in pharma or frontline healthcare delivery, there is no doubt that tech innovation can – and must – be the beating heart of patient services and treatment. You only need to consider the advances it has helped other markets make. For example, observe how smarter use of customer data has shaken up the energy market, allowing consumers to take control by switching to a more suitable option in a few short clicks.

Then consider the wider advertising industry, which has evolved from mass TV marketing to one-to-one, personalised messaging, drawing on data and technology as its fuel.

It’s in this context that we should view the future of pharma and healthcare provision. Technology and the data it delivers can drive drug development, but also the use of medicine in ongoing patient care.

Health tech investment is set to swell as the private and public sectors join forces for the benefit of society at large, and patient demand for innovation in diagnosis and treatment increases. There has never been a better time for pharma leaders to consider new ways to deliver smart, efficient treatments – driven by technology that provides a platform for new medicines and user adoption.

About the author

Rachel Grigg, partnership director at LABS (part of Initials CX), has worked in digital technology for the past 25 years and has seen and been involved with the advent of digital transformation first-hand. Her roles have varied from working in large corporate companies designing technical products to being MD and COO helping small digital agencies grow and succeed.

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Remote-Work Revolution Has Wiped Out $453 Billion In Commercial Real Estate Value

Remote-Work Revolution Has Wiped Out $453 Billion In Commercial Real Estate Value

Leading up to the Covid-19 pandemic, roughly 95% of commercial…

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Remote-Work Revolution Has Wiped Out $453 Billion In Commercial Real Estate Value

Leading up to the Covid-19 pandemic, roughly 95% of commercial office space was occupied across the United States, according to US National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) – a nonprofit, non-government organization. By March 2020, occupancy plummeted to 10%, and has only recovered to 47%, according to a new NBER report which claims $453 billion in office commercial real estate value has been wiped out in an "office real estate apocalypse."

Around the US, that resulted in a 17.5 percent decrease in lease revenue between January 2020, and May 2022, and not only because fewer offices were being occupied, but also because those that are being rented are going for shorter terms, lower prices per month, and a lot less floor space is needed as staff are told they can work from home for most or all the week.

Prior to the pandemic, 253 million square feet were rented per year; as of May 2022, just 59 million square feet had been rented, NBER's data indicates. "This indicates a massive drop in office demand from tenants who are actively making space decisions," NBER said. -The Register

What's more, while vacancy rates have hit a 30-year high, 61.7% of in-force commercial leases haven't come up for renewal since the pandemic - meaning that "rents may not have bottomed out yet."

What this means is that commercial real estate - a popular choice for pension fund managers and investors alike - may not be the best idea for the foreseeable future, given the continuing work-from-home options adopted by corporate America.

A common method used to invest in office real estate is commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS), which are managed and traded via commercial mortgage-backed indexes (CMBX) made up of pools of CMBSes. 

According to NBER, more recent CMBXes tend to include a higher percentage of office collateral than earlier vintages. Those newer, office-heavy CMBXes, NBER said, are what's losing the most money. -The Register

NBER says that in 2019, commercial real estate assets topped $4.7 trillion - offices being the largest component.

Read the report below:

Tyler Durden Thu, 12/08/2022 - 19:20

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Hotels: Occupancy Rate Down 7.7% Compared to Same Week in 2019

From CoStar: STR: US Hotel Occupancy Starts December Lower Than Pre-Pandemic WeekU.S. hotel performance came in higher than the previous week but showed weakened comparisons to 2019, according to STR‘s latest data through Dec. 3.Nov. 27 through Dec. 3,…

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U.S. hotel performance came in higher than the previous week but showed weakened comparisons to 2019, according to STR‘s latest data through Dec. 3.

Nov. 27 through Dec. 3, 2022 (percentage change from comparable week in 2019*):

Occupancy: 55.4% (-7.7%)
• Average daily rate (ADR): $141.71 (+10.2%)
• Revenue per available room (RevPAR): $78.50 (+1.7%)

*Due to the pandemic impact, STR is measuring recovery against comparable time periods from 2019.
emphasis added
The following graph shows the seasonal pattern for the hotel occupancy rate using the four-week average.

Click on graph for larger image.

The red line is for 2022, black is 2020, blue is the median, and dashed light blue is for 2021.  Dashed purple is 2019 (STR is comparing to a strong year for hotels).

The 4-week average of the occupancy rate is above the median rate for the previous 20 years (Blue) and close to 2019 levels.

Note: Y-axis doesn't start at zero to better show the seasonal change.

The 4-week average of the occupancy rate continue to decline into the Winter.

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