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November 3, 2004
Don't Ask; Just Trade
At the risk of perpetuating the idea that my support of Bush was purely economic, it's worth noting that his re-election had an immediate impact on the pharmaceutical stocks.
The exception was the stock of companies closely identified with stem cell research. I should have gone short, darn it all. You have three reasonably pure plays in that category: Geron, Stemcells, and Aastrom, and they all got gonged today. (Likewise, they'd all been rising as the possibility of a Kerry win increased.)
And that's fairly silly. The Bush administration's stem cell policy (which I oppose), is to restrict public funding for research in the area. With private money, you can do what you want to do, and guess what? The biotech industry is the very definition of "private money." You could argue that the restrictions on NIH funding hold back the whole field (which is surely the case), making it less likely that commercial applications will be coming soon. But perhaps taking academia partly out of the game increases the chance that a major discovery would be completely owned by a company, rather than in-licensed.
At any rate, it's not like all three companies are focused on embryonic stem cell research. They just trade as if they were. Aastrom stock, for example, has been jerked around for years by clueless traders who don't bother to read the company's own press releases, which clearly state that they use only adult-derived stem cells. You know, the kind with no research restrictions on them? Ah, the efficient market.
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