Blaming Trump for the uncertainty plaguing “normal course of business” is too easy. Why hasn’t the rest of Washington come to its senses? Perhaps because we’ve not demanded it.
It wasn’t the most popular story in the Washington Post this week, but it certainly raised a point worth pondering. The Post reviewed dozens of corporate earnings calls over the past few weeks, and the sentiment was conclusive: The lack of certainty from Washington has left American business leaders rudderless. Yes, the stock market is booming, and employment is full. But CEOs have to think about the future, not the harvests of the past. And when they can’t see past their nose, they stop believing in that future.
That’s when our economy can go south. Quickly.
Listen to the CEO of CSX, a major US industrial company. They move stuff. On trains. You’d think he’d be a huge fan of Trump’s rhetoric. Right? Sure, he agrees with a lot of what the man says. But as for what Washington is actually doing? “I don’t know what’s going to happen in Washington,” he said. “And the scary thing is I don’t think they’ve got a clue, either.”
And here’s the CEO of power management company Eaton: It is “difficult to really take much to the bank in terms of what we’ve heard from the administration to date in terms of their ability to get legislation through.”
Business runs on facts, on truth, on good information. Much of the rally we’ve seen in the past six months was predicated on at least some of the Trump agenda — which initially was simply a conservative Republican agenda — getting done. Tax reform, a new healthcare bill, massive infrastructure spending: None of this has moved forward.
And now we’re threatening nuclear war. Not Trump, us. Because when the political establishment fails to contravene a mad president, we’re all complicit.
For nearly everyone who holds rational discourse, scientific method, and sane business thinking in high regard, this administration has been a like a bad acid trip. But it’s time to sober up and take matters into our own hands. Our elected representatives need to hear our voices, and the message is clear: We can no longer afford to allow this circus to obstruct the engines of our democratic economy. The CEOs of major American companies are already saying as much to Wall St. Now, let’s hear them say it directly to Washington.
Voice Is the New Keyboard, Video Is the New Text
The Wall St. Journal delivers a conceptual scoop: the next billion users will likely eschew keyboards and the written word for voice and video — both out of necessity (many will not be literate) and because technology is heading that way in any case. One major problem: Voice lacks the elegant business model of the written word.
Google Responds, Sundar Comes Home
Many of you told me I was a bit hard on Google in my last column, and when I found out that CEO Sundar Pichai was on vacation when the crisis broke, I was chagrined. I’ve been in exactly that situation — on precious, sanctioned family time when a major crisis engulfs my company. And it sucks. So I absolutely credit Pichai’s decision to not only respond forcefully within the first business day (he fired the engineer), but also to fly home to gather with his team in Google’s headquarters, and promise further action throughout the week. Google (and the entire business community) has a lot of work ahead, but Pichai’s commitment speaks volumes. And I hope his family gets him back, soon. Nothing is more important than that.
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