The Stock Market Is Confident; Business Leaders, Not So Much

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: August 17, 2017

Trump Press Conference at Trump Tower, Tuesday, August 15, 2017. Trump Is Flanked by (left to right) Gary Cohn, Former President of Goldman Sachs, Now Chair of Trump's National Economic Council, Steven Mnuchin, Treasury Secretary, and Elaine Chao, Secretary of Transportation.

Trump’s Press Conference at Trump Tower, Tuesday, August 15, 2017. Trump Is Flanked by (left to right) Gary Cohn, Former President of Goldman Sachs, Now Chair of Trump’s National Economic Council, Steven Mnuchin, Treasury Secretary, and Elaine Chao, Secretary of Transportation.

As the stock market repeatedly set new highs this year, confidence in the President was eroding among the general public. That erosion of confidence now extends to dozens of the top corporate leaders in America.

There is apparently a new social standard in America. When it was revealed in the final weeks of Trump’s Presidential bid that he had stated on video that he could sexually assault women (“grab ‘em by the p*ssy), it was not a serious impediment for the top executives of the largest corporations in America to continue to pander to Trump, take top posts in his administration and serve on his business advisory councils.

Even though it is generally accepted that women “drive 70-80% of all consumer purchasing, through a combination of their buying power and influence” the male executives that sit atop the most famous brands in America had no trouble hitching their wagon and their brands to Donald Trump’s chaotic White House.

Even after Trump’s highly controversial Executive Order on immigration in January, there was only mild whimpering from most of the suits in the corner offices — with a few exceptions. Google co-founder, Sergey Brin, did join protesters at San Francisco International Airport while noting that he was protesting in his personal capacity as a refugee, not in his official Google capacity. Apple CEO Tim Cook and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella expressed strong objections to the Trump order. Sam Altman, President of Y Combinator, also protested at the San Francisco airport and released a statement on his blog. He wrote that Trump’s “precedent of invalidating already-issued visas and green cards should be extremely troubling for immigrants of any country or for anyone who thinks their contributions to the US are important.  This is not just a Muslim ban. This is a breach of America’s contract with all the immigrants in the nation.”

But by late January, Trump had recruited top execs for his manufacturing advisory group, including the heads of Ford, Dow Chemical, GE, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Johnson & Johnson, United Technologies and Intel. Another advisory body, the Strategic and Policy Forum, also had no trouble attracting CEOs from multinational brands like Indra Nooyi, CEO of Pepsi; Doug McMillon, CEO of Walmart, and Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase.

Following Trump’s prepared statement on the white supremacy rally in Virginia on Saturday, which included members of the KKK and neo-Nazi groups, where Trump blamed “many sides,” there were a few public CEO defections on the manufacturing advisory group. Then, Trump delivered shocking impromptu remarks on Tuesday in the lobby of Trump Tower in Manhattan, where he appeared to equate the white supremacy groups with the protesters opposing them. According to news reports, those remarks led to a conference call among CEOs on Wednesday morning with mass defections in the offing. Before more resignations could be publically announced by CEOs, Trump Tweeted the following at 10:14 a.m. yesterday morning:

“Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both. Thank you all!”

According to NPR’s transcript of Trump’s press conference, the President said that “there were very fine people on both sides” at the rally. The President’s response to one reporter’s question was as follows:

“Ok what about the alt left that came charging — excuse me. What about the alt left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt right? Do they have any semblance of guilt? Let me ask you this, what about the fact they came charging, that they came charging with clubs in their hands, swinging clubs? Do they have any problem? I think they do. As far as I’m concerned, that was a horrible, horrible day. Wait a minute, I’m not finished. I’m not finished, fake news.

“That was a horrible day. [cross-talk]

“I will tell you something. I watched those very closely. Much more closely than you people watched it. And you have, you had a group on one side that was bad. And you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. And nobody wants to say that. But I’ll say it right now.”

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