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‘Don’t eat me’ upstart taps Takeda vet on path to the clinic; Greg Mayes leaves Antios for Canadian psychedelics player

Nenad Grmusa
Nenad Grmusa was “really happy” at Takeda, where he’d been for more than a decade in various R&D strategy and finance positions….

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Nenad Grmusa

Nenad Grmusa was “really happy” at Takeda, where he’d been for more than a decade in various R&D strategy and finance positions. However, the more he learned about DEM BioPharma, the more intrigued he became by cancer’s unexplored “don’t eat me” signals.

Jonathan Weissman and team launched the aptly-named biotech back in June to deploy macrophages and other myeloid effector cells against tumors by using so-called “don’t eat me” and “eat me” signals, which allow cancer cells to evade the immune system.

The Longwood-backed startup officially tapped Grmusa as CEO on Thursday, alongside Oncorus vet Christophe Quéva, who’s joining as CSO. Quéva’s resume boasts stints at iTeos, as well as AstraZeneca, Amgen and Gilead. The team also took the opportunity to introduce Loise Francisco-Anderson, who recently joined as VP and head of biology.

Christophe Quéva

“I was amazed how much data the group has generated in such a short period of time and I’m really really impressed by the quality of the scientific team,” Grmusa said.

He’s taking over from founding CEO David Donabedian, who will continue to advise the company. Former Trillium Therapeutics CEO Jan Skvarka is also on board as executive chairman. Upon launching with a $70 million Series A, Donabedian predicted that the company might be in the clinic in the next two to three years.

Grmusa confirmed that timeline on Thursday, adding that the company is hoping to get IND-enabling studies under its belt by 2024. The startup’s platform, dubbed Co-culture with Human Myeloid Phagocytes or CHoMP, seeks targets using CRISPR screening.

The team is currently 15-large, though Grmusa added that the company’s looking to grow.

“It’s been a very short period of time, but we’ve recruited the top scientific talent, and I’m amazed,” he said.

Grmusa’s background is in finance and economics, where he graduated from the Brandeis International Business School with his master’s. He later held analyst positions at Boston Biomedical Consultants and Millennium Pharmaceuticals, before jumping to Takeda in 2012. Most recently, he was SVP of R&D strategy and external innovation, and CFO of R&D. — Nicole DeFeudis


Greg Mayes

Greg Mayes has bolted from Antios Therapeutics, taking over from Joseph del Moral as president and CEO of Toronto psychedelics biotech Reunion Neuroscience. On Mayes’ watch, Antios pulled together a $96 million raise in April 2021 and another $75 million in November to form its Series B, but the biotech ran into trouble a few months ago when the FDA threw down the stop sticks with a clinical hold on its HBV drug. Assembly Biosciences would pull the plug on its collaboration with Antios as a result.

As del Moral becomes chairman, Mayes now leads a company once known as Field Trip Health with its lead program RE-104 in early-stage trials for treatment resistant depression and a Phase II planned in August 2023 for postpartum depression. “My goal as president and CEO of Reunion is to lead a company that will boldly disrupt the mental health sector with differentiated serotonergic psychedelic therapies,” Mayes said in a statement.

Julie Brown

→ The changes are pronounced at GSK as the pharma giant consciously brands itself as the “New GSK,” spinning off its consumer healthcare business while placing a premium on specialty medicine and vaccine R&D. You can also sense it with the leadership team: R&D chief Hal Barron is gone, landing a CEO gig at the ambitious anti-aging play Altos Labs, and now CFO Iain Mackay has decided to retire in May 2023. Mackay will be replaced by Julie Brown, the chief operating and financial officer at Burberry who spent a quarter-century with AstraZeneca in a number of executive roles, including interim CFO and VP of group finance. Effective immediately, Brown has left the board of directors at Roche, and Patrick Frost will replace her temporarily as chair of the Swiss pharma’s audit committee. Amber Tong has more on Brown’s appointment.

Juan Andres

→ Using its Covid-19 jab as a springboard for more potential vaccine launches — cytomegalovirus and the flu among them — Stéphane Bancel will give Juan Andres a new role on Jan. 1 at Moderna, naming him president, strategic partnerships and enterprise expansion. Jerh Collins, a 30-year Novartis vet who has been the Big Pharma’s chief culture officer since September 2020, will replace Andres as chief technical operations and quality officer, and will join the mRNA biotech three months early on Oct. 3. Andres has ties to Novartis himself, serving as global head of technical operations there until he took off for Moderna as SVP of late-stage technical development and manufacturing in August 2017.

Fred Kamal

Fred Kamal has been promoted to president and COO of 4D Molecular Therapeutics, the Emeryville, CA gene therapy biotech with programs that go after wet AMD, Fabry disease and cystic fibrosis. Kamal, the operations chief since February 2020, came to 4DMT in the fall of 2018 as chief technical officer after stints at InterMune, Juno Therapeutics and Avexis. UCSF professor Noriyuki Kasahara, principal investigator at the school’s Brain Tumor Center, has claimed a spot on 4DMT’s board of directors.

Micah Benson

→ Takeda partner KSQ Therapeutics has promoted head of immunology Micah Benson to CSO and has recruited Tom Leitch as chief technology officer. Benson was head of tolerance therapeutics for Pfizer’s immunology and inflammation research unit, then signed on as KSQ’s head of immuno-oncology in 2016. An 11-year Merck vet who held leadership roles at Alexion, Leitch is the latest to peel away from bluebird bio in the wake of its two gene therapy approvals, moving on to KSQ after two years as bluebird’s head of manufacturing and five years overall. Additionally, Dunad Therapeutics chief Pearl Huang is leaving the board of directors, while Benson’s predecessor Frank Stegmeier steps in to keep it a six-member board.

Dave Anderson

Dave Anderson has been named CSO of Philadelphia’s Code Biotherapeutics, the gene therapy outfit led by former GSK exec Brian McVeigh that made Takeda stand up and take notice with a $2 billion AAV deal in February. Anderson once led preclinical research for neurological diseases at Spark and had just been promoted to SVP of research at SwanBio in June. Code has competition with the non-viral approach, as biotechs like Xalud Therapeutics and Versant-backed Vector BioPharma jockey for position.

Kevin Bunker

→ New Zentalis CEO Kim Blackwell is continuing to tinker with the leadership around her, promoting co-founder Kevin Bunker to CSO after swinging the door open for medical chief Carrie Brownstein last week and elevating another co-founder, Cam Gallagher, to president in her first couple weeks on the job. A former senior scientist in Pfizer’s drug discovery research group, Bunker — heretofore the COO at Zentalis — co-founded and was CSO of Kalyra Pharmaceuticals.

→ What about Brownstein’s successor at her former employer? Cellectis is looking inward for that, as Mark Frattini moves into the CMO slot. Frattini pivoted to Cellectis in August 2020 as SVP of clinical sciences after his turn as executive medical director, program lead, global clinical R&D in the hematology therapeutic area for Celgene and Bristol Myers Squibb. “Mark already had an impressive track record before joining Cellectis,” CEO André Choulika said in a statement. “He has continued to lead our clinical teams successfully over the last two years and I am thrilled to continue working with him in this expanded role.”

David Poon

→ Vancouver-based Gandeeva Therapeutics, a cryogenic electron microscopy (cryo-EM) biotech that notched a $40 million Series A in January from the likes of Leaps by Bayer and Amgen, has selected Matthew Lucas as CSO and David Poon as CBO. Lucas, the ex-senior director of chemistry at Yumanity, closed out his three years at Black Diamond as SVP of drug discovery, while Poon is a 15-year Zymeworks vet who was recently the heavily restructured company’s VP, business development and alliance management.

Mayank Gandhi

→ After eFFECTOR Therapeutics plucked new CMO Douglas Warner from Amgen in August, Mayank Gandhi has replaced Alana McNulty as CBO of the California cancer biotech. In 2020, Gandhi jumped on the now-rickety SPAC bandwagon as VP of corporate development & strategy at Jiya Acquisition Corp, the blank check company set up by Srini Akkaraju. Earlier, he concluded a seven-year run at Genentech as business development & licensing director.

Rahsaan Thompson

Rick Klausner’s T cell therapy shop Lyell Immunopharma has appointed Rahsaan Thompson as chief legal officer. Thompson is an Actelion legal vet who moves on to Lyell following his two years as Gritstone bio’s general counsel, and it’s the second big C-suite pickup for Lyell this year: Gary Lee jumped on board as CSO in late January. Klausner sold 11,100 shares of Lyell’s stock last Friday, with an uptick in the stock price $LYEL most of this week.

Matthew Caldemeyer

→ Led by former Seagen exec Nancy Whiting and Blueprint Medicines alums, San Diego’s Recludix Pharma has entrusted Matthew Caldemeyer with CBO duties. Caldemeyer just spent four years in business development at Everest Medicinesnow under new management — and the Eli Lilly vet has also built his BD résumé with Amgen, Array BioPharma and Ambrx. Recludix pulled off the tarp in November 2021 with a $60 million Series A as the crew takes aim at STAT3 and STAT6.

→ RNA editing upstart ADARx Pharmaceuticals has tapped Christopher Prentiss as CFO. The former finance chief at Adamas Pharmaceuticals comes to a biotech that made a splash a year ago with a $75 million Series B in a space that also includes Shape Therapeutics and ProQR. Prentiss has prior finance experience in the industry with InterMune, Dynavax and MannKind.

Ingrid Delaet

→ Fresh off its £48.3 million ($56.57 million) acquisition of Diurnal Group a month ago, Neurocrine has promoted Ingrid Delaet to chief regulatory officer. Delaet had been VP of regulatory affairs since January 2021, and she was SVP, regulatory affairs at Intercept before her move to Neurocrine. In 19 years with Bristol Myers, she worked in clinical R&D and was therapeutic area lead for immunology within global regulatory affairs.

Karin Schmitt

→ Cambridge, UK-based Mursla has welcomed Karin Schmitt to its leadership team as COO. Schmitt brings with her a wealth of experience from previous stints at Exelixis, Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Horizon Discovery Group, PredictImmune and Mogrify.

Larry Green is seizing the reins once again at AlivaMab Discovery Services, taking over from Justin Mika. Green was the founding CEO of the San Diego-based company and has served as AlivaMab’s executive chair since May 2020. Earlier in his career, Green served in roles at Amgen and Abgenix among others. Green also wears the CEO hat at Ablexis and will continue to serve in his role there.

→ California VC Section 32 has plugged in Nick Smith as chief investor relations officer. Smith had led investor relations at Foresite Capital since 2018, and in another recent stop, he was director and regional head of client advisory for Winton Group.

Brenda Van Vreeswyk

→ Just as we were publishing last week’s Peer Review, T cell engager player Janux Therapeutics welcomed Brenda Van Vreeswyk as head of human resources. Van Vreeswyk was director of HR during a six-year stay at Neurocrine before moving on to the Merck partner, which also added Winston Kung to its board of directors last week.

Will Lewis

Insmed CEO and Aegerion co-founder Will Lewis has been named chairman of Adrestia Therapeutics, a GSK-backed “synthetic rescue” biotech out of Cambridge, UK. Adrestia also has a pair of new execs: Jennifer Millian (VP of US operations) had a nearly 16-year association with Sanofi Genzyme before joining uniQure as director, program management, and she was recently VP of program and alliance management for Affinia Therapeutics. And Phil Coxon (VP of business development) ascended to senior director of transactions in global oncology business development and licensing at AstraZeneca last year, after joining the Big Pharma from Teva in 2018.

Jennifer Nicholson

→ Inflammation-focused RAPT Therapeutics has brought in Jennifer Nicholson as SVP of regulatory affairs and quality assurance, and Adnan Rahman as VP of commercial. Nicholson makes her way to RAPT from Kronos Bio, where she was VP of regulatory affairs, and she’s held regulatory positions at Roche/Genentech, Jazz Pharmaceuticals, Bavarian Nordic and Acerta Pharma. Rahman, meanwhile, steps away from his gig as global commercial lead of dermatology at Pfizer sub Arena Pharmaceuticals. Earlier, he wrapped up a 16-year career at Amgen as US commercial director of the bone drug Xgeva.

→ In Phase II trials with its MK2 inhibitor zunsemetinib for rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and hidradenitis suppurativa, Aclarus Therapeutics has enlisted Robert Doody as VP, investor relations. He just held the same title at Provention Bio and is the former SVP of investor relations & corporate communications at Idera Pharmaceuticals.

→ Swiss-based Pureos Partners has tapped Veronica Gambillara Fonck as a new partner. Fonck has served in roles at GlycoVaxyn, was CEO and co-founder of LimmaTech and CEO and founder of GlycoEra.

Stuart Chaffee

Affinivax’s former CBO Stuart Chaffee is making his way to the board of directors at Olaris to become executive chairman. Chaffee’s prior experience includes gigs at Praxis Precision Medicines (CBO and CFO), Atlas Venture (entrepreneur in residence), Kymera Therapeutics (head of business operations), Amgen and Biogen.

→ Ex-Santen chief Adrienne Graves is headed to the board of directors at retinal disease biotech Opus Genetics, joining its scientific founder Jean Bennett, Opus CEO Ben Yerxa and Russell Kelley from the Foundation Fighting Blindness. Graves chairs the FFB’s Retinal Degeneration Fund and is a board member at Iveric Bio.

Lori McNeill

→ Princeton, NJ-based cancer player Sonnet BioTherapeutics has elected Lori McNeill to the board of directors. During her career at Pfizer from 2001-14, McNeill was chief of staff of global operations in the integrated health business unit.

→ Grappling with its Phase III fail with lenabasum and turning its attention to preclinical solid tumor candidate CRB-601, Corbus Pharmaceuticals has reserved a seat for Anne Altmeyer on the board of directors. The ex-CBO of Sigilon Therapeutics and Adicet Bio is the president and CEO of TigaTx.

→ US-Danish biotech Allarity Therapeutics has pulled out a seat on its board for Jerry McLaughlin. McLaughlin currently serves as CEO and board member of Life Biosciences. McLaughlin’s previous stints include roles at Neos Therapeutics (CEO and president), NuPathe, Endo Pharmaceuticals and Merck. McLaughlin’s appointment comes on the heels of the company dropping its cancer drug dovitinib from development after the FDA requested a new trial.

Frazier Life Sciences managing director James Topper is back on the board of directors at Phathom Pharmaceuticals, the Takeda spinout and vonoprazan developer co-created by Frazier. Topper, the chairman and CEO of Frazier Lifesciences Acquisition Corporation, was a board member at Phathom from 2018-21.

Special thanks to artist Kim Ryu for giving Peer Review a new look starting this week!

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Decrease in Japanese children’s ability to balance during movement related to COVID-19 activity restrictions

A team of researchers from Nagoya University in central Japan investigated how restrictions on children’s activities during the COVID-19 pandemic affected…

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A team of researchers from Nagoya University in central Japan investigated how restrictions on children’s activities during the COVID-19 pandemic affected their life habits and their abilities to perform physical activities. By comparing medical examination data before and after the onset of the pandemic, they found that physical functions among adolescents deteriorated, including their dynamic balance. They also found that the children had higher body fat levels and worse life habits. Rather than a lack of exercise time, this may have been because of a lack of quality exercise due to activity restrictions.  

Credit: Credit must be given when image is used

A team of researchers from Nagoya University in central Japan investigated how restrictions on children’s activities during the COVID-19 pandemic affected their life habits and their abilities to perform physical activities. By comparing medical examination data before and after the onset of the pandemic, they found that physical functions among adolescents deteriorated, including their dynamic balance. They also found that the children had higher body fat levels and worse life habits. Rather than a lack of exercise time, this may have been because of a lack of quality exercise due to activity restrictions.  

During the COVID-19 pandemic, in Japan, as in other countries, schools and sports clubs tried to prevent the spread of infection by reducing physical education and restricting outdoor physical activities, club activities, and sports. However, children who are denied opportunities for physical activity with social elements may develop bad habits. During the pandemic, children, like adults, increased the time they spent looking at television, smartphone, and computer screens, exercised less, and slept less. Such changes in lifestyle can harm adolescent bodies, leading to weight gain and health problems. 

Visiting Researcher Tadashi Ito and Professor Hideshi Sugiura from the Department of Biological Functional Science at the Nagoya University Graduate School of Medicine, together with Dr. Yuji Ito from the Department of Pediatrics at Nagoya University Hospital, and  Dr. Nobuhiko Ochi and Dr. Koji Noritake from Aichi Prefectural Mikawa Aoitori Medical and Rehabilitation Center for Developmental Disabilities, conducted a study of Japanese children and students in elementary and junior high schools, aged 9-15, by analyzing data from physical examinations before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. They evaluated the children’s muscle strength, dynamic balance functions, walking speed, body fat percentage, screen time, sleep time, quality of life, and physical activity time.  

The researchers found that after the onset of the pandemic, children were more likely to have decreased balance ability when moving, larger body fat percentage, report spending more time looking at TV, computers or smartphones, and sleep less. Since there were no changes in the time spent on physical activity or the number of meals eaten, Sugiura and his colleagues suggest that the worsening of physical functions was related to the quality of exercise of the children. The researchers reported their findings in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.  

“Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in Japan after April 2020, children have not been able to engage in sufficient physical education, sports activities, and outdoor play at school. It became clear that balance ability during movement was easily affected, lifestyle habits were disrupted, and the percentage of body fat was likely to increase,” explained Ito. “This may have been because of shorter outdoor playtime and club activities, which impeded children’s ability to learn the motor skills necessary to balance during movement.” 

“Limitations on children’s opportunities for physical activity because of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus have had a significant impact on the development of physical function and lifestyle and may cause physical deterioration and health problems in the future,” warned Ito. “Especially, the risk of injury to children may increase because of a reduced dynamic balance function.” 

The results suggest that even after the novel coronavirus becomes endemic, it is important to consider the effects of social restrictions on the body composition of adolescents. Since physical activities with a social element may be important for health, authorities should prioritize preventing the reduction of children’s physical inactivity and actively encourage them to play outdoors and exercise. The group has some recommendations for families worried about the effects of school closings and other coronavirus measures on their children. “It is important for children to practice dynamic balance ability, maintaining balance to avoid falling over while performing movements,” Ito advised. “To improve balance function in children, it is important to incorporate enhanced content, such as short-term exercise programs specifically designed to improve balance functions.” 


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Contradictions, Lies, And “I Don’t Recalls”: The Fauci Deposition

Contradictions, Lies, And "I Don’t Recalls": The Fauci Deposition

Authored by Techno Fog via The Reactionary,

Today, Missouri Attoney General…

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Contradictions, Lies, And "I Don't Recalls": The Fauci Deposition

Authored by Techno Fog via The Reactionary,

Today, Missouri Attoney General Eric Schmitt released the transcript of the testimony of Dr. Anthony Fauci. As you might recall, Fauci was deposed as part of an ongoing federal lawsuit challenging the Biden Administration’s violations of the First Amendment in targeting and suppressing the speech of Americans who challenged the government’s narrative on COVID-19.

Here is the Fauci deposition transcript.

And here are the highlights…

EcoHealth Alliance - the Peter Daszak group - is knee-deep in the Wuhan controversy, having been funded by the Fauci’s NIH for coronavirus and gain of function research in China (and having worked with the Chinese team in Wuhan). What does Fauci say about EcoHealth Alliance? Over two years after the COVID-19 pandemic began, and after millions dead worldwide, he’s “vaguely familiar” with their work.

In early 2020, Fauci was put on notice that his group - NIAID - had funded EcoHealth alliance on bat coronavirus research for the past five years.

This coincided with early reports - directly to Fauci, from Jeremy Ferrar and Christian Anderson - “of the possibility of there being a manipulation of the virus” based on the fact that “it was an unusual virus.”

Fauci conceded that he was specifically made aware by Anderson that “the unusual features of the virus” make it look “potentially engineered.”

Fauci couldn’t recall why he sent an article discussing gain of function research in China to his deputy, Hugh Auchincloss, telling him it was essential that they speak on the phone. He couldn’t recall speaking with Auchincloss via phone that day. But remarkably, Fauci did remember assigning research tasks to Auchincloss

Fauci was evasive on conversations with Francis Collins about whether NIAID may have funded coronavirus-related research in China, eventually stating “I don’t recall.”

The phrase “I don’t recall” was prominent in Fauci’s deposition. He said it a total of 174 times:

For example, Fauci couldn’t remember what anyone said on a call discussing whether the virus originated in a lab:

During that same call, Fauci couldn’t recall whether anyone expressed concern that the lab leak “might discredit scientific funding projects.” He also couldn’t recall whether there was a discussion about a lab leak distracting from the virus response. Fauci did remember, however, that they agreed there needed to be more time to investigate the virus origins - including the lab leak theory.

What else couldn’t Fauci remember? Whether, early into the pandemic, his confidants raised concerns about social media posts about the origins of COVID-19.

Yet Fauci did admit he was concerned about social media posts blaming China for the pandemic. He even admitted the accidental lab leak “certainly is a possibility,” contradicting his prior claims to National Geographic where he said the virus “could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated.”

Fauci also couldn’t recall whether he had any conversations with Daszak about the origins of COVID-19 in February 2020, but admitted those conversations might have happened: “I told you before that I did not remember any direct conversations with him about the origin, and I said I very well might have had conversations but I don't specifically remember conversations.” And he couldn’t recall telling the media early on during the pandemic that the virus was consistent with a jump “from an animal to a human.”

Fauci said he was in the dark on social media actions to curb speech and suspend accounts that posted COVID-19 information that didn’t fit the mainstream narrative: “I’m not aware of suppression of speech on social media.” Yet it was Fauci’s proclamations of the truth, whether about the origins of COVID-19 to the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine, that led to social media companies banning discussions of contrary information.

Regarding those removals of content, Fauci had no personal knowledge of a US Government/Social Media effort to curb “misinformation.” But he conceded the possibility numerous times.

Then there’s the issue of masks. In February 2020, Fauci informed an acquaintance that was traveling: “I do not recommend that you wear a mask.” Fauci would later become a vocal proponent of masks only two months later.

I’m near my Substack length limit - posting the excerpts does that - but you can see from Fauci’s testimony that his public statements about COVID-19 origins and the necessity to wear a mask didn’t match his private conversations. This has been known for some time, but it’s finally nice to get him on record.

Again, read it all and subscribe here.

Tyler Durden Mon, 12/05/2022 - 21:40

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Global Wages Take A Hit As Inflation Eats Into Paychecks

Global Wages Take A Hit As Inflation Eats Into Paychecks

The global inflation crisis paired with lackluster economic growth and an outlook…

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Global Wages Take A Hit As Inflation Eats Into Paychecks

The global inflation crisis paired with lackluster economic growth and an outlook clouded by uncertainties have led to a decline in real wages around the world, a new report published by the International Labour Organization (ILO) has found.

As Statista's Felix Richter reports, according to the 2022-23 Global Wage Report, global real monthly wages fell 0.9 percent this year on average, marking the first decline in real earnings at a global scale in the 21st century.

You will find more infographics at Statista

The multiple global crises we are facing have led to a decline in real wages.

"It has placed tens of millions of workers in a dire situation as they face increasing uncertainties,” ILO Director-General Gilbert F. Houngbo said in a statement, adding that “income inequality and poverty will rise if the purchasing power of the lowest paid is not maintained.”

While inflation rose faster in high-income countries, leading to above-average real wage declines in North America (minus 3.2 percent) and the European Union (minus 2.4 percent), the ILO finds that low-income earners are disproportionately affected by rising inflation. As lower-wage earners spend a larger share of their disposable income on essential goods and services, which generally see greater price increases than non-essential items, those who can least afford it suffer the biggest cost-of-living impact of rising prices.

“We must place particular attention to workers at the middle and lower end of the pay scale,” Rosalia Vazquez-Alvarez, one of the report’s authors said.

“Fighting against the deterioration of real wages can help maintain economic growth, which in turn can help to recover the employment levels observed before the pandemic. This can be an effective way to lessen the probability or depth of recessions in all countries and regions,” she said.

Tyler Durden Mon, 12/05/2022 - 20:00

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