The week in business


Globe names new editorial page editor

The Boston Globe on Wednesday named Bina Venkataraman as its new editorial page editor. The 39-year-old Somerville resident brings a varied background as a journalist, author, and thinker on environmental and science matters to one of the highest-profile jobs at New England’s largest media company. In a statement Wednesday, Venkataraman said she wants to see the Globe amplify “diverse voices of our city and better showcase Boston’s groundbreaking ideas and knowledge, while holding our leaders and institutions accountable for meeting high expectations for public service.” “The Globe Opinion section has the opportunity to feature more of the voices and perspectives that hail from the many Bostons that exist today,” she said. “We have the chance to reflect the richness of this region’s vibrant neighborhoods and cultures, its world-class thinkers and community activists, its history-keepers and technology trailblazers.” During a brief phone interview Wednesday evening, Venkataraman spoke of the importance of level-headed editorials at a time when the country is at “perhaps a historic level of political polarization.” “There are a lot of opinions in our media environment right now, and a lot of people are able to offer their opinions, so it raises the bar for what we produce,” she said. Venkataraman has lectured on science communication, science writing, and the shaping of science policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology since 2011. She is currently a fellow at the think tank New America, and the director of global policy initiatives at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT. She will assume her Globe position in November. A graduate of Brown University and Harvard Kennedy School, Venkataraman has previously covered health and science for the Globe, and had stints as a Globe metro correspondent and on the Globe’s editorial board. She also worked on the science desk of The New York Times. In 2013 and 2014, she served as a senior adviser for climate change innovation in the Obama White House. In announcing the hire, the Globe’s managing director, Linda Henry, called the paper’s editorial board “one of the strongest and most vibrant editorial boards in the country.” “We tackle big issues in bold ways as well as subtle and everyday challenges,” she said. “We thoughtfully look for ways to advocate, to progress, and to help others use their voices to inform and inspire others. We are thrilled and fortunate to add Bina’s perspective and leadership to our board.” — DANNY MCDONALD


Nestlé plant in Taunton to close; 49 people to be laid off


Nestlé USA plans to close a Taunton plant and lay off 49 employees as part of a nationwide shift in its distribution systems for frozen pizza and ice cream. The company plans to permanently close its facility at 455 John Hancock Road by year’s end, according to documents filed with the state’s Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development last month. All 49 employees have been notified that they will be laid off, the notice said. They include delivery drivers, retail merchandisers, and sales representatives. Layoffs will begin Oct. 18 and may continue until the site is closed, the notice said. The company’s decision to transition to a warehouse model for its pizza and ice cream businesses was announced earlier this year. To save costs, Nestlé wants to ship these products — which include brands such as Dreyer’s, Häagen-Dazs, and Skinny Cow — to warehouses instead of directly to stores. — SARAH WU



Vertexto acquire startup thatis exploringa cure for type 1 diabetes

Vertex Pharmaceuticals said Tuesday that it plans to acquire an ambitious startup for $950 million, betting the company’s early-stage science could lead to a functional cure for type 1 diabetes. The Cambridge company is buying Semma Therapeutics, a nearby firm turning stem cells into insulin factories. Based on the work of Harvard University stem cell scientist Douglas Melton, Semma’s approach involves turning moldable stem cells into beta cells, the insulin-producing machinery that is mistakenly attacked by the immune system in type 1 diabetes. If it works — if Semma’s lab-grown beta cells can replace those lost to the disease — the company may have invented a permanent solution to a disease that affects more than 1 million people in the United States. Semma’s cells would be transplanted directly into the liver or meted out by an implant, freeing patients forever from their insulin injections. But it’s early days for Semma’s work, which is yet to be tested in a clinical trial. And development has been a longer process than Semma anticipated. In 2015, the company raised $44 million from investors and said that money would fund its work through human trials. As of today, Semma has raised more than $100 million more and has tested its technology only on primates and pigs. — DAMIAN GARDE, STAT



Rosengren says economy should continue to grow ata healthy rate

Whether you are a bull or a bear on the US economy, it’s best not to get cocky. That’s some advice from Eric Rosengren, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, who says that he and his fellow policy makers at the central bank should remain vigilant and ready to act at a time when risks to growth have increased. “In my view, one should not be overconfident that the economy will be just fine or that an economic downturn is inevitable,” Rosengren said in a speech Tuesday evening at Stonehill College. Rosengren reiterated his view that the economy should continue to expand at a relatively healthy rate, making calls to lower interest rates premature. He was one of two Fed officials who voted against the rate cut approved at the end of July. Fed chairman Jerome Powell described that reduction, the first in a decade, as insurance against a possible recession. GDP will grow at 2 percent in the second half of the year in the United States, according to the widely followed Blue Chip consensus forecast of economists. While that is down from an average of 2.5 percent in the first six months of 2019, the pace is stronger than in other major countries and above what is called the potential growth rate, which is an estimate of the economy’s maximum sustainable output over the long term. “As long as growth remains at 2 percent, I don’t see the need for policy action,” Rosengren said. President Trump has said the Fed should cut rates by 1 percentage point in the near term. Rosengren pointed to three reasons for increased volatility in financial markets over the summer: economic weakness in China, Japan, and Europe; disruptions in global trade caused by the US tariff war with China; and a sharp drop in long-term US government bond rates that suggests a coming slowdown. “Tariffs are a tax on imported goods and, along with the impact of retaliatory tariffs, they increase the risk that the earnings of firms reliant on foreign trade will be hurt,” he said. “The reduction in earnings for these firms could affect asset valuations.” — LARRY EDELMAN