CEOs To Trump: You’re Failing At Business, Loser!


The star of ‘Presidential Apprentice’ was supposed to be a businessman who was great for business, but now he gets low ratings from real business leaders. Sad!

At this year’s Yale CEO Summit, a gathering of elite business figures ranging from CEOs and VPs to professors and bureaucrats, a survey found that fully half of attendees gave Donald Trump a failing grade. One in five gives him a passing grade of “D,” while only one percent think he deserves an “A.”

To be clear, the problem is Trump’s lack of political skill, not his business acumen. “Stop the random 3 a.m. tweets and stop the needless brushfires diverting from the agenda,” Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, the summit organizer at the Yale School of Management, tells CNN Money.

Sonnenfeld noted that 80% of those surveyed are CEOs, including Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman and IBM boss Ginni Rometty, who sit on Trump’s advisory council and Merck CEO Ken Frazier, a member of the president’s manufacturing initiative. (Individual responses by each CEO were not released.)

“This was not a granola-eating crowd of Democrat entrepreneurs. It’s a cross-section of the business community, including some who are quite pro-Trump,” he said.

Survey respondents doubt that Trump will follow through on his promises to cut corporate taxes. Two-thirds of them worry that his decision to drop out of the Paris climate agreement has diminished American global leadership. And 86% take issue with the way he minimizes Russian election meddling.

While their distrust in his ability to to boost the economy has not carried over into the stock markets yet, there are signs that the rally inspired by his promises to cut regulations and taxes may end this summer.

“We’re getting to the point where people are starting to wonder whether the potential that was reflected by the surge in confidence can actually be realized,” Julian Emanuel of UBS tells CNBC, “which is why the next week or two in terms of the data is important, and we obviously want to see further progress on the policy front.”

But with the White House immersed in scandal, the chance of successful legislation seems to be vanishing. “Infrastructure week” was entirely consumed by fired FBI director James Comey’s testimony before a Senate committee. Yesterday evening’s news that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating Trump for obstruction of justice has caused markets to stumble today.

“Although stockmarkets remain at an all-time high, other indicators more sensitive to Mr Trump’s promises have started to reverse course,” The Economist reports.

Both the dollar and short-term inflation expectations have fallen. The Mexican peso, which plummeted immediately after Mr Trump’s election because of fears of a potential trade war, has recovered. Data from Goldman Sachs, a bank, show that when Mr Trump was first elected, the stocks of certain companies did especially well: those paying high tax rates, and those working in the construction and engineering industries outperformed the overall market index. But as the president’s chances of pushing through his policies have waned, so too have these firms’ fortunes in the market.

It’s worth noting that all of these business-minded people are actually trailing shifts in public opinion. Fully 60% of respondents tell Gallup’s tracking poll that they disapprove of Trump’s performance as president. Even Republicans are souring on the Trump presidency: just 41% think that the country is headed in the right direction, down 17 points from May.

In other words, the Yale CEO Summit isn’t a leading indicator, but a lagging one. So are the markets. If they all turn on Donald Trump at once in the weeks to come, there may be a runaway effect on public perceptions of his administration.

Featured image via Gage Skidmore Flickr under Creative Commons license

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