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Takeda oncology vet drills down the ‘basics’ at cell therapy startup; Sarepta promotes new R&D chief

Kathryn Corzo
Kathryn Corzo — an oncology veteran and the program head behind Sanofi’s multiple myeloma monoclonal antibody isatuximab — is now in the C-suite.
The newest member at cell therapy player bit.bio as their COO, the longtime drug developer…

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Kathryn Corzo

Kathryn Corzo — an oncology veteran and the program head behind Sanofi’s multiple myeloma monoclonal antibody isatuximab — is now in the C-suite.

The newest member at cell therapy player bit.bio as their COO, the longtime drug developer left Takeda (where she served, in turn, as the head of oncology cell therapy and then a partner in its venture arm) to join the small biotech. For Corzo, bit.bio presented a unique opportunity to try and solve issues that had been plaguing cell therapy — and one of the three reasons why she left Takeda.

Aside from bit.bio’s cell coding platforms and “their ability to pretty much target any human cell,” according to Corzo, she left Takeda to both leverage her experience in drug development and build upon skills that she learned at MIT just a few years prior, while getting her MBA.

Corzo’s journey into the world of biotech and medicine began early in life — born into a family of engineers. And it was when she was growing up that she realized the importance of problem solving, alongside a keen interest in math and science.

But her passion for oncology and cancer therapy really started to come into view when a family member was diagnosed with cancer — Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

“And I saw that individual go through treatment, and really, really suffer through treatment. Now, the positive outcome is that he’s in remission. He has lived his life, and he is doing extremely well. But that, for me, galvanized my interest in working to develop new cancer therapies,” Corzo told Endpoints News.

After she graduated from the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in the mid 1980s, she then went on to work with several notable biotechs, including Roche, Eli Lilly, Sanofi and Takeda before joining bit.bio.

And while at Sanofi, 28 years into her professional career, Corzo decided to go to MIT and get her MBA in 2017, finishing the program two years later.

Corzo joined bit.bio on Nov. 1, the same week bit.bio announced its $103 million Series B raise — alongside some impressive names joining bit.bio’s board. The pitch revolved around a gene engineering approach that enables the company to produce any number of batches of any human cell for research, drug discovery and therapeutic purposes.

With the new cash, Corzo said there is a ton of opportunity to go into different indications with bit.bio’s current platform — so over the next few months, bit.bio will be working on prioritizing where the company wants to go in its portfolio.

In her first few weeks at bit.bio, Corzo has focused on the basics, as she called it, to get the ball rolling. Those “basics” are decently expansive, such as figuring out bit.bio’s “key priorities,” what they can deliver in the next six to 24 months, and how bit.bio can expand more into cell therapy. According to Corzo, that’s just step one.

Number two? Getting bit.bio to build out what it still needs. Bit.bio is working on setting up a project management office, Corzo said — to “not only define the [bit.bio’s] strategy, but we can drill that down and execute on the strategy we’re looking at.” And with the biotech currently headquartered in Cambridge in the UK, the biotech is also looking at if they need a footprint in the US, should bit.bio decide to expand.

And the third thing? Partnerships. Corzo emphasized how important they are to small biotechs, but remained mum on any negotiations or talks with other companies to partner with bit.bio.

Paul Schloesser


Louise Rodino-Klapac

Sarepta R&D chief Gilmore O’Neill is on his way out at the end of the month, paving the way for Louise Rodino-Klapac to slide into his job while remaining CSO of the Duchenne biotech. In February, the FDA approved Sarepta’s third DMD drug, Amondys 45, without much fanfare. And after a failed study of its gene therapy SRP-9001-102, Sarepta declared itself back in the game with safety results from 103 that it revealed in May to catapult the drug into Phase III. Rodino-Klapac was elevated to CSO in a December 2020 staff reshuffling that included Ian Estepan moving to CFO. In other Sarepta news, Merck board member and Caltech biology and chemistry professor Stephen Mayo has joined the board of directors.

Mike Grey

Mike Grey has jumped back into the fold as a CEO once again, stepping in at San Francisco’s Spruce Biosciences on an interim basis. Richard King, Spruce’s CEO since 2019, has announced his retirement and will be a strategic advisor until the end of the year. Grey, the chairman at Spruce since 2017, chairs the board at two other companies he’s helmed, Mirum Pharmaceuticals and Reneo Pharmaceuticals. He’s also chairman at Plexium, which just named AstellasPercival Barretto-Ko as CEO, and is on the board of directors at Horizon.

That’s not all: Pamela Wedel, the former SVP of clinical operations at another biotech where Grey has been chief executive — Amplyx — has been appointed VP of development operations. Spruce, part of the IPO avalanche of 2020, is continuing development of its drug for classic congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), tildacerfont.

Jakob Lindberg

→ This week in “meet the new boss, same as the old boss” (non-Robert Califf division), Jakob Lindberg returns as CEO of Oncopeptides after leading the company from 2011-20. Lindberg takes over from Marty Duvall, whose die was cast last month when multiple myeloma drug Pepaxto was yanked from the US market, decimating the stock. Duvall — formerly CEO of Tocagen, the brain cancer biotech that merged with Forte Biosciences — had only been chief executive at Oncopeptides since July 1, 2020, at which point Lindberg slid into the CSO post.

Al Sandrock

→ When aducanumab was approved in June — cause for celebration under normal circumstances — the groundswell of controversy kicked in almost immediately. From industry analysts to FDA adcomm members resigning in protest, the big biotech has faced strong headwinds from the get-go. Now coupled with a rocky rollout, marked by a steep price tag and major insurers telling Biogen they may not even cover the drug, Al Sandrock has decided to retire as R&D chief beginning Dec. 31. Timing is everything, so the saying goes, and the timing of this surprise move only adds to the shadow Aduhelm has cast.

Priya Singhal

Sandrock, a 23-year Biogen vet who had led R&D since October 2019 and was CMO from 2012-20, hands the baton to Priya Singhal — Biogen’s head of global safety and regulatory sciences — on an interim basis. And the pushback doesn’t appear it will slow down any time soon: On Wednesday, two days after the Sandrock announcement, an EMA panel handed Biogen a “negative trend vote” on its marketing application in the region.

Pfizer’s C-suite continues to be in a state of flux with the retirement of CFO Frank D’Amelio after 14 years on the job. D’Amelio is leaving Pfizer in exceptionally strong shape, as the pharma giant and BioNTech expect a $36 billion windfall from the Covid-19 vaccine and sales for its antiviral pill, Paxlovid, are projected to reach somewhere between $15 billion and $25 billion.

Frank D’Amelio

D’Amelio, who’s also been EVP of global supply, will be replaced in this capacity by Mike McDermott, whose title will be tweaked to chief global supply officer starting Jan. 1. McDermott, Pfizer’s president of global supply since 2019, began his Pfizer career in 2003 as the head of Wyeth’s biotech manufacturing operations in Pearl River, NY. D’Amelio joins CMO Mace Rothenberg, CBO John Young and chief development officer Rod MacKenzie as major execs who have left or are preparing to leave Pfizer.

→ While on the hunt to prove the next big I/O target, Immunitas’ chief dealmaker Amanda Wagner has taken over the reins from former Akcea COO Jeffrey Goldberg as CEO. Wagner’s promotion from her CBO post comes on the heels of the company’s recent close of a $58 million round. Wagner’s start to her biopharma career began at Concert Pharmaceuticals, where she spent a decade as VP, business development & product strategy. From there, Wagner moved to Altas Venture as VP, corporate & business development and later consulted for the Longwood Fund in 2019.

Heidi Hagen

→ It’s good to be Heidi Hagen this week: Not only has she signed on to Jeff Bluestone’s cell therapy play Sonoma Biotherapeutics as chief technical officer, she’s also taken a seat on the board of directors at Obsidian Therapeutics. Hagen, who held the interim CEO role at Ziopharm Oncology after the sturm und drang of the activist attack, co-founded and was chief strategy officer for Vineti until she replaced Laurence Cooper in February. She’s also spent 10 years at Dendreon and served as the Provenge maker’s SVP of operations.

Young Kwon

→ With ex-Ra Pharmaceuticals CEO Doug Treco at the controls, Alchemab Therapeutics has picked up Young Kwon as chief financial and operating officer. After five years at Biogen, Kwon joined Momenta in 2011, rising to CBO and later chief financial and business officer in early 2020. Then, J&J purchased Momenta last summer, with Kwon playing a crucial role in the negotiations. In our Amber Tong’s play-by-play of the $6.5 billion buyout, Kwon and Momenta CEO Craig Wheeler “had been trying cautiously to snatch a better deal from J&J. The offer price from the initial proposal, they said, was insufficient — and ‘limited high-priority diligence’ might help them prove the case.” You can refresh your memory on the sale here.

Darrin Miles

Darrin Miles is decamping from Agios “to pursue a chief executive officer role at a private biotechnology company,” and on Dec. 6, Jackie Fouse’s crew has lined up Richa Poddar to replace Miles as chief commercial officer. An eight-year Roche/Genentech vet, Poddar has filled numerous positions at Agios in the last five years, and in August she was promoted to SVP, head of corporate strategy and business development. Back in December 2020, Agios completely reversed course from cancer to focus on mitapivat, a pyruvate kinase R (PKR) activator for hemolytic anemias that secured a Feb. 17, 2022 PDUFA date.

Rachel Zolot Schwartz

→ One of Agios’ co-founders is future Dana-Farber faculty member Lewis Cantley, who also co-founded Volastra, the New York cancer biotech that added some extra punch by announcing a partnership with Microsoft alongside a Series A in April. This week Volastra has a huge batch of appointments as Scott Drutman (head of translational science) and Rachel Zolot Schwartz (head of business development and commercial) get things rolling. Drutman hails from Regeneron, where he was a director in oncology clinical development, while Schwartz spent six years at Pfizer in various capacities — as a senior director of business development in oncology, she was a key cog in Pfizer’s 2019 acquisition of Array BioPharma.

Elsewhere at Volastra, the roster of scientific execs under CSO Michael Su has been finalized: Sarah Bettigole, VP, immunology; Derek Cogan, VP, chemistry; Christina Eng, VP, biology; Al Swiston, VP, head of data science; and Rumin Zhang, VP, head of biochemistry.

Jenny Marlowe

→ Frequent Peer Review dweller AavantiBio has selected Jenny Marlowe to be CSO as bluebird bio loses another exec following a split into two companies that officially took effect this month. Marlowe was bluebird’s beta thalassemia program lead and VP, preclinical & translational development after a decade in investigative toxicology and preclinical safety with Novartis. AavantiBio CEO Bo Cumbo has methodically filled positions at the gene therapy upstart that we’ve covered since its October 2020 launch, naming a CFO, CMO, COO and several others over the last eight months.

Teri Loxam

Teri Loxam will juggle the dual roles of CFO and COO at immune-mediated disease biotech Kira Pharmaceuticals, which debuted last November and is led by ex-Sienna Biopharmaceuticals CEO Frederick Beddingfield. After working in investor relations with Bristol Myers Squibb and Merck, Loxam took the CFO job at SQZ Biotechnologies and had been there since 2019. Loxam was also on our radar in September when VaxCyte added her to the board of directors.

Ann Neale

→ Rescuing an old Amgen drug out of mothballs to target muscle aging, Bay Area anti-aging upstart BioAge Labs has nabbed Dov Goldstein as CFO and Ann Neale as chief development officer. We had Goldstein in this space last year when he became chief financial and business officer at Indapta Therapeutics — the former Loxo Oncology CFO also resides on the board of directors at Gain Therapeutics, Neubase Therapeutics and Coya Therapeutics. Neale comes to BioAge after a three-year stay at Principia, where she was SVP of development operations after a lightning-fast turn as Science 37’s SVP, clinical operations and patient affairs.

→ Co-founded by George Church and developing protein therapeutics from non-standard amino acids (NSAAs), GRO Biosciences scored a Series A earlier this month with an assist from Leaps by Bayer and this week has named Tad Stewart CBO. During more than 15 years at Merrimack, Stewart was SVP of business development and head of commercial, and since 2019 he had served as CBO of Ribon Therapeutics.

Nancy Whiting

→ As mentioned alongside a $60 million Series A round, Recludix Pharma has snagged Seagen vet Nancy Whiting as CEO. Whiting, a 15-year vet of Seagen, most recently served as EVP of corporate strategy. Prior to that, Whiting was Seagen’s EVP of late-stage development, SVP of clinical development and medical affairs and head of experimental medicine. During her time at Seagen, Whiting was instrumental in the development of Adcetris for lymphoma, Padcev for bladder cancer, Tukysa for breast cancer and Tivdak for cervical cancer. Whiting currently sits on the board of Caribou Sciences.

Penrose TherapeuTx has bagged David Sherris as president and CEO. Sherris brings with him experience from his roles at Serono, Centocor, Unilever Research and Mateon Therapeutics. Prior to his newest C-suite role, Sherris was CEO of GenAdam Therapeutics, Paloma Pharmaceuticals and VasculoMedics.

Marguerite Hutchinson

→ South San Francisco-based Frontier Medicines, trying to nudge into the KRAS sweepstakes after Amgen’s milestone approval of Lumakras, has $88.5 million in Series B cash in the bank and a new CBO in Marguerite Hutchinson. She began her time at Plexxikon as senior director, business development in 2013, rising to COO and general counsel this summer before making the switch to Frontier, which signed a protein degradation deal in December 2020 with AbbVie for $55 million upfront.

Puneet Arora

→ Backed by Frazier Healthcare Partners and taking aim at IL-11, San Diego-based Lassen Therapeutics has welcomed Puneet Arora as CMO. After nearly eight years at Genentech, Arora jumped to Principia in 2019, and when Sanofi forked over $3.7 billion for the company last summer, he became the French pharma’s head of clinical, inflammation and immunology. A month ago, Lassen made room for Magenta CSO and head of research Lisa Olson on the board of directors.

Kristen Harrington-Smith

Kristen Harrington-Smith is on board as chief commercial officer at ADC player ImmunoGen, seeking redemption with IMGN632 in relapsed or refractory blastic plasmacytoid dendritic cell neoplasm after the FDA’s smackdown of mirvetuximab soravtansine in Phase III. Harrington-Smith concludes a 21-year run at Novartis that saw her take on an assortment of roles — since March 2020 she had been the pharma giant’s US commercial head of hematology. More from ImmunoGen: Ex-Sanofi Genzyme head of legal and current Blueprint Medicines chief legal and compliance officer Tracey McCain has joined the board of directors.

→ University of Texas spinout Dolormics has named Chris Flores as president and chief research and development officer. Flores joins after a 19-year stint at J&J, where he served in a number of positions, including VP of neuroscience, La Jolla R&D site head and global external innovation head of discovery sciences at Janssen Research & Development, to name a few.

Trishna Goswami

Trishna Goswami has taken on the role of CMO at IN8bio, the NY-based biotech that just last week postponed its IPO plans. Most recently, Goswami was VP, clinical development at Immunomedics and continued as an exec at Gilead after the buyout. She has also served as senior medical director at Stemline and as medical director at AstraZeneca/MedImmune.

Lynx Biosciences (LynxBio) has brought on former J&J exec Sylvaine Cases to the team as the company’s first-ever CBO. During her career at J&J, Cases served as VP of oncology strategic partnering. Prior to that, Cases served at Sanofi, Arete Therapeutics (as head of pharmacology) and Cytokinetics (as senior group leader).

Sanjay Aggarwal has been named CMO of Apollo Therapeutics, a UK translational medicine biotech that reached for the stars with a $145 million raise in June. Aggarwal, who will be based out of Apollo’s Cambridge, MA facility, spent the last year as the medical chief for Angiocrine Bioscience and oversaw the Phase II and III programs for Rezurock as Kadmon’s SVP of clinical development. Apollo is the product of a joint venture with University of Cambridge, Imperial College London, University College London and three Big Pharmas: GSK, J&J and AstraZeneca.

Patricia Françon

→ With a new name and $39 million worth of new cash announced this summer, French gene therapy biotech Coave Therapeutics — the erstwhile Horamahas installed Thomas Blaettler as CMO and Patricia Françon as COO. Before spending the last five years as CMO of Orphazyme, Blaettler was with the clinical neuroscience divisions at Bristol Myers and then Roche. Françon leaves her post at Skinosive as chief operating/technology officer and has jumped around in clinical development with companies like Sanofi and Cellectis.

→ Houston-based Memgen has lassoed up Kevin Coveney as CFO. Coveney makes his way to the company after a stint as CFO of Q-State Biosciences. Earlier in his career, Coveney was SVP of finance, human resources and information technology at Vedanta Biosciences.

Barry Deutsch

→ Respiratory and chronic disease-focused Aerami Therapeutics has tapped Barry Deutsch as CFO. Deutsch joins the Durham, NC-based company from Xeris Pharmaceuticals, where he was CFO and previously VP of business development. Prior to his time at Xeris, Deutsch was with Baxter BioScience, Baxalta Incorporated and Ovation Pharmaceuticals among others.

Rebeca Sanchez Sarmiento is joining both Insightful Science and Dotmatics as CFO. Sanchez Sarmiento brings with her experience from her times as CFO at InvestCloud and ATTOM Data Solutions. Additionally, Sanchez Sarmiento was a sell-side equity research analyst at Deutsche Bank and Citigroup.

Justine Levin-Allerhand

Flagship Pioneering has brought on Justine Levin-Allerhand as senior partner, corporate development. Levin-Allerhand had been with the Broad Institute for the last eight years, and in April she began the new role of EVP, development, business and external relations. Flagship’s latest startup, the tRNA-focused Alltrna, made its debut last week and is helmed by Pfizer and AstraZeneca alum Lovisa Afzelius.

Bassem Elmankabadi

→ One of the latest companies to do a SPAC dance, South San Francisco’s Blade Therapeutics has recruited Bassem Elmankabadi as SVP of clinical development. Elmankabadi says goodbye to FibroGen, where he was executive medical director and therapeutic area lead for fibrosis and oncology, and before that he was a senior medical director, global clinical safety officer with Amgen. With ex-Purdue Pharma CEO Mark Timney as chairman, Blade reverse merged this month with Biotech Acquisition Company in a $254.3 million SPAC, and its idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis drug cudetaxestat is slated for a Phase II trial next year.

Whenever I call you Friend: To Australia we go, where John Friend has joined Sydney cancer biotech Kazia Therapeutics as CMO. Friend served as SVP of medical and scientific affairs at the end of his seven-year tenure at Helsinn and CMO at NJ-based Cellectar Biosciences.

Cedilla and CEO Sandra Glucksmann have plugged in two new execs with VP of biology Joshua Murtie and VP of finance Chris Lindblom. Murtie was just a senior director ever so briefly at Servier after seven years at Agios, ascending to senior director and head of cancer biology. Meanwhile, Lindblom has held the same post at IFM Therapeutics, Cogen Immune Medicine (which merged with Torque and is now Repertoire Immune Medicines) and Warp Drive Bio. Last month Cedilla, focused on small molecules that take aim at cancer, topped off its latest round of funding with $25 million, giving them a new Series B total of $82.6 million.

Moya Daniels

Moya Daniels has moved on from Histogen after Richard Pascoe’s departure as CEO to become SVP of regulatory affairs and quality assurance at Aruvant, a gene therapy “vant” from the Roivant stable of companies. We had Daniels in Peer Review in October 2020 when she was named head of regulatory, quality and clinical operations at Histogen after a short tenure in quality assurance at SanBio. After 12 years at Osiris Therapeutics, Daniels was a regulatory exec at Fate Therapeutics and Orchard Therapeutics. Aruvant’s lentiviral gene therapy for sickle cell disease, ARU-1801, is in a Phase I/II trial.

→ After experiencing a rollercoaster ride of highs and lows in the first half of 2021, Provention Bio has now ushered in Jan Hillson as SVP of clinical development. Hillson comes to the NJ-based company from Alpine Immune Sciences, where she served as SVP, clinical development. Prior to that, Hillson was with ChemoCentryx, Momenta, ZymoGenetics, Bristol Myers and Xcyte Therapies.

→ Oxford, UK-based VLP vaccine player and Serum Institute of India partner SpyBiotech has turned to Simon Jones to be VP, finance and operations after Vien Phan’s stint as interim finance director. Before heading to Sumi Biswas’ team, Jones was CFO during his eight years with another British biotech, Karus Therapeutics.

Nachu Narasimhan

→ Nestled into Theseus Pharmaceuticals’ Q3 report are the appointments of two execs. Merck vet Nachu Narasimhan takes on the role of SVP, drug metabolism and preclinical safety for Tim Clackson’s squad after his time with Verastem as VP of drug metabolism and clinical pharmacology, while Len Rozamus has turned up at Theseus as SVP, technical operations. Before getting into the consulting game in 2017, Rozamus logged 21 years at Ariad Pharmaceuticals and was senior director of manufacturing operations.

→ Cambridge, MA CAR-NK player Catamaran Bio floats back into Peer Review by naming Tara Place VP, human resources and organizational effectiveness. Place, who comes to Catamaran after leading human resources at Chiasma, spent seven years in talent acquisition with Vertex and Biogen. Catamaran launched almost exactly one year ago with a $42 million Series A.

→ Life science tools company Lumicks has made two new additions to its management team with the appointments of Jos Maas (general manager, dynamic single molecule (DSM) business) and Geerte Hesen (general counsel). Maas joins the Amsterdam-based company with experience from his time at Thermo Fisher Scientific, Nearfield Instruments, Phenom-World and ASML. Meanwhile, Hesen hops aboard from ASML and Philips Personal Health business.

Roy Beveridge

Gritstone CEO Andrew Allen has resigned from the board of directors at Epizyme after seven years, while the door opens for Roy Beveridge and Carol Stuckley. Beveridge, the ex-CMO of Humana, is currently with Avalere Health as a consultant. Stuckley had a 22-year career with Pfizer that ended in 2007 and sits on the board at Centessa.

Diana Brainard

Nektar has given its board of directors a boost with the arrival of Diana Brainard. Now the CEO of AlloVir, Brainard is best known for her 10 years at Gilead where, as virology chief, she helped lead the effort to clinch an emergency use authorization for remdesivir to treat Covid-19.

→ Now chaired by former Strongbridge Biopharma CEO John Johnson, obe-cel developer Autolus has named Bill Young to the board of directors. Now a senior advisor at Blackstone, Young put an exclamation point on 19 years at Genentech by serving as its COO from 1997-99.

Alise Reicin

→ After shelling out $29.5 million upfront to license five antibody-drug conjugate programs from LegoChem Biosciences earlier this week, Czech biotech Sotio has enlisted Alise Reicin (CEO of Tectonic Therapeutic), Josep Tabernero (head of medical oncology department at Vall d’Hebron University Hospital) and Anthony Tolcher (CEO and founder of NEXT Oncology) to its strategic advisory board.

→ Austin, TX-based Aeglea BioTherapeutics has a seat for Rhythm Pharmaceuticals CFO Hunter Smith on the board of directors. The interim CEO until David Meeker came along at Rhythm, Smith has also been VP of finance and CFO of Celgene’s inflammation and immunology business unit.

Heidi Hunter

→ San Francisco’s Sutro Biopharma, which was granted fast track designation in August for its ovarian cancer drug STRO-002, has added Cardinal Health president Heidi Hunter to the board of directors. The former Boehringer Ingelheim exec was previously SVP of the global immunology business unit at UCB.

Adicet Bio has space reserved for Michael Kauffman on its board of directors. Kauffman, who co-founded and was the CEO of Karyopharm, is also a board member for Verastem and Kezar Life Sciences in addition to Karyopharm.

Lyn Baranowski

→ San Jose-based Rani Therapeutics has appointed Lyn Baranowski to its board of directors. Baranowski, the current COO at Altavant, has also served as SVP, corporate development and strategy at Melinta Therapeutics.

Ed Baracchini is adding yet another board seat to his résumé with his latest appointment at Durham, NC-based CoImmune. Baracchini formerly served as CBO of Imago Biosciences and Xencor. Additionally, he has held stints at Elitra Pharmaceuticals, Ionis and Agouron Pharmaceuticals, among others. Baracchini currently sits on the boards of INmune Bio and 4D Pharma.

Michelle McMurry-Heath-led BIO has recruited Carine Boustany to its board of directors. Boustany serves as Boehringer Ingelheim’s global head, development science and head, development site US. Boustany joined Boehringer in 2011 and previously served in the company’s discovery research team.

Nora Brennan is now a member of the board of directors at Novartis DNA repair partner Artios, which hit a $153 million jackpot on its Series C in July. This spring, Brennan was appointed CFO of Philadelphia oncology biotech Fore Biotherapeutics.

Derek Graf also contributed to this edition.

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How Inflation Changes Culture

How Inflation Changes Culture

Authored by Jeffrey Tucker via DailyReckoning.com,

The midterm elections are over (no Red Wave), but nothing…

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How Inflation Changes Culture

Authored by Jeffrey Tucker via DailyReckoning.com,

The midterm elections are over (no Red Wave), but nothing has changed. In fact, the Biden regime will probably become even more emboldened to pursue destructive economic policies because it will interpret the lack of a Red Wave as some kind of mandate.

Every day seems to be a day of spin, with every regime apologist assuring the public that inflation is getting better. Just look at the wonderful trend line! They point to the latest inflation numbers, which were down a bit from the month prior.

The regime insists that yes, inflation will vex us for a bit more time but will settle down in a few months. Plus, the president is working to fix this! And we know the American people are on board with him since no Red Wave materialized.

But in the footnotes, you’ll find the truth: it was a tiny drop and mostly for technical reasons and the main reason for the drop has already disappeared from the price trends.

Has any political propaganda on this topic ever been this ineffective? It’s truly a joke.

Where’s the Relief Coming From?

The producer price index that came out recently paints a clearer picture. It’s grim. It reveals no softening at all. In fact, it shows that there are plenty of coming price increases. Here is the index by commodities from 2013 to the present.

Remember how last year many people finally came to the conclusion that we had to learn to live with COVID? That was a smart choice because there was no way that the China-style suppression method could work.

Well, here we are now with a preventable inflation pandemic and the realization that we have to learn to live with inflation. Soon we’ll realize that we have to live with recession at the same time.

But what does this mean?

The impact will be felt not just in terms of economics but in culture. Inflation causes a society-wide shortening of time horizons.

True Prosperity

Let’s review some basics. All societies are born desperately poor, fated to live off foraging and just getting by. Prosperity is built through the construction of capital, which is the institution that embodies forward thinking.

To make capital requires the deferral of consumption: you have to give up some today in order to make tools that enable more consumption tomorrow. This means discipline and a future orientation. And it means, above all, savings that can be invested in productive projects. Only through that path can societies grow rich.

A key component of this concerns the stability of the medium of exchange. And not just stability: a currency that rises in value over time incentivizes saving and thus investing for the long term.

The late 19th century provided a good example of this. Under the gold standard, money grew more valuable over time, thus rewarding long-term thinking and instilling that outlook in the culture at large.

Live for Today

Inflation has the opposite effect. It punishes saving. It forces a penalty on economic behavior that is future-oriented. That means also discouraging investment in long-term projects, which is the whole key to building a complex division of labor and causing wealth to emerge from the muck of the state of nature. Every bit of inflation trims back that future orientation.

Hyperinflation utterly wrecks it.

Living for the day becomes the theme. Taking what you can get now is the method and the theme. Grasping and spending. You might as well because the money is only going down in value and goods are in ever shorter supply.

Better to live hard and short and forget the future. Go into debt if possible. Let the devaluation itself pay the price.

The Seeds of Destruction

Once this attitude becomes instilled in a prosperous society, what we call civilization gradually devolves. If inflation persists, this kind of short-term thinking can wreck everything.

This is why inflation is not just about rising prices. It’s about declining prosperity, the punishing of thrift, the discouragement of financial responsibility, and a culture that gradually falls apart.

Another factor in reducing time horizons is legal instability. This was my first concern when the lockdowns began. Why would anyone start a business if governments can just shut it down on a whim? Why plan for the future when that future can be wrecked by the stroke of a pen?

Many people had assumed that this new path would be short-lived. Surely the politicians would wise up and stop the madness. Surely! Tragically, it got worse and worse. The spending and printing began and ramped up over time. It was a perfect storm of sheer madness, and now we are paying the highest possible price.

The Hinge of History

We need to speak frankly about what’s happening to the global economy. It’s not just about supply chain breakages. Those can be repaired. It’s not just about inflation affecting every country. We are living amidst a fundamental upheaval in the whole world.

The most significant single danger to global prosperity now comes in the form of a devastating and deeply tragic wreckage of the country that was set to lead the world in finance and technology: China.

The WSJ summarizes the current pain:

China in 2021 accounted for 18.1% of global gross domestic product, according to International Monetary Fund data, behind the U.S. at 23.9% but ahead of the 27 members of the European Union at 17.8%. It accounts for almost a third of global manufacturing output, according to United Nations data from 2020. China’s economy expanded modestly at the beginning of the year but data for March and April point to a sharp slowdown.

The trouble there traces to the top. When Xi Jinping locked down Wuhan, the world celebrated him for achieving what no other leader in history had achieved: the eradication of a virus in one country. Even now, he gets accolades for this.

The rest of the world followed, and elites in all countries said that this path was the future.

Going Backwards

Now the virus is on the loose all over the country, and the eradication methods are intensifying. This is crushing economic growth and now threatening genuine economic depression in the country that only a few years ago was seen as the greatest economic engine of the world.

It’s truly the case that Xi Jinping has put his personal pride above the well-being of all people in China. The scientists in the country know that he is wrong about this but no one is in a position to tell him.

We cannot really trust the data coming out of China but officially the rate of infection in that country is one of the lowest in the world. Billions more people need to get the bug and recover in order to have anything close to herd immunity. This means that lockdowns are the way for years to come so long as the present regime remains in power.

American prosperity for decades has relied on: relatively low inflation, fairly stable rules of the game, and widening trade with the world and China in particular. All three are at an end. Yes, it is heartbreaking to watch it all unfold.

I’m not defending China’s human rights abuses. Far from it. But the best way to end these abuses is through engagement, not estrangement.

We all need hope right now but it’s very difficult to find, since we are on a course that is not likely to be fixed for a very long time.

Tyler Durden Wed, 11/30/2022 - 19:05

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Mish’s Daily: The Next Stop on This Fierce Bear Market Rally: A Global Recession?

Determining whether we are in a risk-on or risk-off climate is challenging, especially after a fantastic day of gains in every major US index.We should…

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Determining whether we are in a risk-on or risk-off climate is challenging, especially after a fantastic day of gains in every major US index.

We should be in a risk-on environment. The Chinese stock market even rose, with technology and electric vehicles leading, as investors hoped for a more liberal COVID-19 governmental policy. With a gain of 4.4%, the Nasdaq composite, which had been the slacker, led gains among major US indices.

The S&P 500 (represented above by the SPY ETF) also surpassed its 200-day moving average for the first time in seven months. Markets are also approaching critical technical levels, which can accentuate positive or negative data, so keep an eye out tomorrow for PCE, the Fed's favorite inflation gauge.

Regardless of today's market action, there are indications that a global recession is imminent, with part of Europe potentially already in a recession and the US possibly next year. In particular, a rare 20-year recession signal is flashing red.

Global bonds joined US peers in signaling a recession, with a gauge measuring the global yield curve inverting for the first time in at least two decades.

According to Bloomberg Global Aggregate bond sub-indices, the average yield on government debt expiring in 10 years or more has slipped below that on short-term bond yields. On the heels of Fed Chairman Powell's dovish remarks today, the stock market rallied with heavy volume. Yet global bond yields signal a recession ahead.

Market conditions are ripe with profitable trading opportunities. Investors should pay close attention to commodities, currencies, bond yields, and inflation. If the PCE print is higher than expected, one-third or even more of today's gains could be erased quickly. On the flip side, if PCE is lower than expected, stocks might continue to run higher.

It is crucial to proceed with caution, as there is the potential for significant volatility in the coming weeks and months. We believe this ferocious bear market rally still has some legs – but don't wait too long to make your move, or your portfolio might get clawed quickly. If you are looking to capitalize on this ferocious bear market rally, our team can help your trading to protect your portfolio while allowing you to benefit from bullish trends.

Rob Quinn, our Chief Strategy Consultant, can provide more information about our trading and Mish's Premium Trading Service. Click here to learn more about Mish's Premium trading service with a complimentary one-on-one consultation.

"I grew my money tree and so can you!" - Mish Schneider

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Follow Mish on Twitter @marketminute for stock picks and more. Follow Mish on Instagram (mishschneider) for daily morning videos. To see updated media clips, click here.

Mish in the Media

Read Mish's latest article for CMC Markets, titled "Can the Commodity Super-Cycle Persist into 2023?".

Mish talks stagflation in her interview by Dale Pinkert during the F.A.C.E. webinar.

Watch Mish's appearance on Business First AM here.

Mish hosted the Monday, November 28 edition of StockCharts TV's Your Daily Five, where she covered some of the Modern Family. She also discusses the long bonds and gold with levels to clear or, fail.


ETF Summary

  • S&P 500 (SPY): 402 is support and resistance at 411.
  • Russell 2000 (IWM): 183 support; 191 resistance.
  • Dow (DIA): 342 support; 349 support.
  • Nasdaq (QQQ): 288 support; 302 resistance.
  • KRE (Regional Banks): 62 support; 66 resistance.
  • SMH (Semiconductors): 223 support; 232 resistance.
  • IYT (Transportation): 230 support; 237 resistance.
  • IBB (Biotechnology): 133 support; 139 resistance.
  • XRT (Retail): 64 support; 70 resistance.


Mish Schneider

MarketGauge.com

Director of Trading Research and Education


Wade Dawson

MarketGauge.com

Portfolio Manager

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Protests in China are not rare — but the current unrest is significant

Comparisons have been made to the 1989 demonstrations that led to the Tiananmen Square massacre. An expert on Chinese protests explains why that it half…

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Protesters march along a street in Beijing on Nov. 28, 2022. Noel Celis/AFP via Getty Images

Street protests across China have evoked memories of the Tiananmen Square demonstrations that were brutally quashed in 1989. Indeed, foreign media have suggested the current unrest sweeping cities across China is unlike anything seen in the country since that time.

The implication is that protest in China is a rarity. Meanwhile, the Nov. 30, 2022, death of Jiang Zemin – the leader brought in after the bloody crackdown on 1989 – gives further reason to reflect on how China has changed since the Tiananmen Square massacre, and how Communist party leaders might react to unrest now.

But how uncommon are these recent public actions? And how do they compare with the massive weekslong demonstrations of 1989?

Having written extensively on protest in China, I can attest that protests in China are not at all uncommon – but that doesn’t make what is happening now any less significant. Alongside similarities between the current street actions and more typical protests of recent years, there are also parallels between the demonstrations today and those in 1989. Yet differences in China’s international status and domestic leadership reduce the chances for liberal democratic transformation now.

Not so unusual, but still unique

The current protests are ostensibly about the Chinese government’s strict “zero COVID” policies. They were triggered by a deadly fire in the northwestern city of Urumqi on Nov. 24, with some residents blaming lockdown rules for hampering rescue efforts. Unrest has since spread to multiple cities, including Beijing and Shanghai.

The specifics are unique to the pandemic. But in many respects, what we are seeing is not new or unusual – protests, in general, are not rare in China.

In fact, from 1990 through the present, popular protests have been more frequent and widespread in China than they were in the years leading up to the Tiananmen Square-centered demonstrations.

According to Chinese government statistics, the yearly count of domestic “mass incidents” or “public order disturbances” – euphemisms used to refer to everything from organized crime to street protests – rose from 5,000 to 10,000 in the early 1990s to 60,000 to 100,000 by the early 2000s.

Despite the lack of official numbers since 2006 – which ceased to be published after that year – verbal statements by Chinese officials and research by scholars and nongovernment organizations estimate the number of yearly protests to have remained in the high tens-of-thousands.

When protests turn political

This is not to say the recent multi-city protests are unsurprising or insignificant. To the contrary, the current media spotlight is, I believe, well-deserved.

Nearly all the thousands of protests appearing every year in the post-Tiananmen Square period have been localized and focused on specific material issues. They occur, for example, when villagers feel they are unfairly compensated for land acquisitions, when private sector workers are not paid, or when residents suffer from environmental degradation caused by waste incinerators.

In contrast, the anti-lockdown protests have emerged in numerous cities – reporting by CNN suggests there have been at least 23 demonstrations in 17 cities. They are also all focused on the same issue: COVID-19 restrictions. Moreover, they are targeted at central Party leaders and official government policy.

For the the closest parallels in terms of size of protest, one has to go back to the late 1990s and early 2000s.

From 1998 to 2002, tens of thousands of state-owned enterprise workers in at least 10 Chinese provinces demonstrated against layoffs and enforced early retirements. And in 1999, roughly 10,000 members of the now-banned spiritual movement Falun Gong amassed in central Beijing to protest their suppression and demand legal recognition.

But these protests were directed at issues that specifically affected only these groups and did not critique China’s top political leaders or system as a whole.

The only post-1989 examples of overt collective political dissent – that is, public action calling for fundamental change to the mainland’s Chinese Communist Party-led political system – have been exceedingly small and transpired off the streets. In 1998, activists formed the China Democracy Party, declaring it a new political party to usher in liberal democratic multi-party governance. Though the party persisted openly for roughly six months, establishing a national committee and branches in 24 provinces and cities, its leaders ultimately were arrested and the party driven underground.

A decade later, a group of intellectuals led by writer Liu Xiaobo posted online a manifesto called “Charter 08” advocating for liberal democratic political reform. Liu, who later received the Nobel Peace Prize, was jailed as a result. He remained in prison until his death, from untreated cancer, in 2017.

And while the massive and sustained protests in Hong Kong over the past decade exemplify political dissent, protesters’ demands have remained confined to political reform in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China.

Calls for change and for Xi to go

So how much do the current anti-lockdown protests resemble the demonstrations that shook the regime in the spring of 1989?

Both have involved urban residents from various walks of life, including university students and blue-collar workers.

And in each case, the demands of protesters have been mixed. They include specific material complaints: In 1989, it was the impacts of inflation; in 2022, it is the effects of lockdowns and incessant PCR testing.

But they also include broader calls for political liberalization, such as freedom of expression.

A giant white statue with arm aloft stand above 100s of people.
The Goddess of Democracy stood as a symbol of protest during the 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstrations. David Turnley/Getty Images

Indeed in some ways, the protesters of 2022 are being more pointed in their political demands. Those on the streets of at least two major cities have called on President Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party to step down. Demonstrators in 1989 refrained from such system-threatening rhetoric.

That reflects the changing political realities of China then and now. In early 1989, Party leadership clearly was split, with more reform-oriented leaders such as Zhao Ziyang perceived as sharing the activists’ vision for change. As such, demonstrators saw a way of achieving their aims within the communist system and without a wholesale change in leadership.

The contrast with today is stark: Xi has a firm grip on the party. Even if Xi were to miraculously step down, there is no clear opposition leader or faction to replace him. And if the party were to fall, the resultant political void is more likely to bring chaos than orderly political transformation.

Yet if the Chinese Communist Party is a different entity now than it was in 1989, its response to unrest shares some traits. Central authorities in 1989 blamed the protests on foreign “black hands” seeking to destabilize China. The same accusations have been raised in online posts now.

In fact, the government response to recent protests follows a pattern that has played out time and again in post-1989 protests. There is little to no official media coverage of the protests or acknowledgment by central Chinese Communist Party leaders. At the same time, local authorities attempt to identify and punish protest leaders while treating regular participants as well-intended and non-threatening. Central criticism – and possible sanction – of local officials portrayed as violating national policies follows. Meanwhile, there are moves to at least partially address protester grievances.

It is a messy and inefficient way to respond to public concerns – but it has become the norm since 1989.

Teresa Wright does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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