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U.S. CEOs Condemn Trump: Survey

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Donald Trump, the first U.S. president whose only previous work experience was as a business leader, is unloved by U.S. CEOs.

According to a recent survey of attendees at the 94th CEO Summit, hosted by the Yale School of Management’s Chief Executive Leadership Institute (CELI), 88% said his negotiating style has alienated U.S. allies, 76% said Trump is not effectively leading U.S. national security and 75% said they often find themselves apologizing to international business partners for Trump’s diplomatic messages.

A majority said he was was outmaneuvered by both North Korea (65%) and Russia (72%) in his negotiations with the two countries.

Asked about the greatest threats to U.S. financial markets, more CEOs were worried about U.S. political instability (29%) than about trade issues (22%), representing a “remarkable shift” from last year’s summit poll results, said Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, senior associate dean for Leadership Studies at  Yale University’s School of Management and the founder and CEO of CELI, in a statement. Twenty-two percent of respondents said Federal Reserve policies represented the greatest threat to U.S. market.

“It is astounding that the nation’s first business-leader president is so condemned by the nation’s top business leaders due to Trump’s dysfunctional negotiating style,” said Sonnenfeld. “Once again, distance has grown between President Trump and the U.S. business community. This has profound consequences for CEOs’ global business activities as well as their faith in near-term U.S. financial stability.”

Close to half the CEOs surveyed (48%) said they expect the U.S. will be in a recession by the end of 2019 and 86% were worried about growing market instability in Europe. An additional 17% identified the growing national debt as a cause for concern. 

Eighty-five percent thought U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May should hold another Brexit referendum to reconfirm the public’s approval on exiting the EU and only about half thought outside parties manipulated the Brexit vote.

CEOs were also asked about the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou by Canada at the behest of the U.S. Twenty percent said Trump should not intervene in the arrest but 77% said  the arrest was justified.

CELI attendees were almost evenly divided on how Weng’s arrest would impact their own business dealings in China:  49% were worried about upcoming travel to the country, while 51% were unaffected.

The U.S. is seeking the extradition of Meng from Canada because Huawei, a telecommunications giant, reportedly conducted business with Iran in violation of international sanctions through a secretly controlled subsidiary and misrepresentations to four banks, including HSBC and Standard Chartered.

Sixty percent of CEOs felt that Huawei’s troubles will impact China’s position in trade negotiations with the U.S. and Canada, while 40% didn’t see any impact.

 U.S. CEOs were critical of technology companies. Ninety percent of summit attendees felt there was a need for more more regulation over technology companies and privacy abuses. Seventy-seven percent said companies running social networks should be held responsible for the violent hate speech posted on their sites and hatred on their platforms, but only 56% said tech companies need to be regulated for violations of freedom of speech.

When asked specifically about Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, 56% said she should be replaced. There was no mention about their view of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

The the release on the results did not include the number of CEOs surveyed but in a photograph included on the Yale University website, it looks like there were slightly more than 100 attendees at the CEO summit.

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