CEOs want Biden to restore trust in government

Good morning.

What does business want from the new U.S. administration?  We asked that question in our latest CEO survey, done in collaboration with Deloitte. We allowed each CEO to choose their top three issues (which is why the percentages below don’t add up to 100%.) Their responses:

Restoring trust in government:            59%

COVID relief and economic recovery: 55%

Infrastructure:                                         33%

Climate change:                                       32%

Education/workforce training:             30%

Trade policy/tariffs:                                 21%

Reducing national debt/deficit:            20%

Health care affordability/coverage:    20%

Racial equity:                                            19%

Foreign policy:                                          17%

Immigration policy:                                 5%

Corporate tax policy:                               4%

A number of interesting things about these responses. A decade ago, reducing the national debt was the favorite policy hobby horse of business. Since then, the federal debt has grown substantially, passing the 100% of GDP benchmark. But business leaders clearly recognize that in today’s economy—where capital is plentiful and interest rates close to zero—other priorities deserve more attention.

Tax policy, meanwhile, has dropped to dead last on the list. That’s less surprising. These folks know if this administration addresses corporate taxes, it will only be to push them up.

But what I find most interesting is that—after addressing the nation’s political, economic, and health crises—the CEOs have their collective sights set on three critical areas for collaboration with government:  infrastructure, climate change, and workforce training. Let’s hope the new administration doesn’t exhaust its political and financial capital on the economic recovery bill, so it can work with business to address these three critical areas for building a better future.

We’ll be discussing these priorities later today, when members of Fortune’s CEO Initiative gather virtually (in lieu of our annual dinner in Davos.) Among the roughly 100 CEOs attending will be CEOs of Pfizer, CVS, Marriott, GM, Verizon, L’Oreal, Bank of America, Dassault, FedEx, Northrup Grumman, Ikea, Workday, Hyatt, Occidental, Albertson’s, Nestle, PayPal, Edward Jones, Bridgewater, Progressive, HP, HPE, Levi’s, Kohl’s, UPS, Sanofi, Henry Schein and more. Also on hand, His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales, to discuss his “Terra Carta” initiative for the environment.

More on the CEO survey in Fortune Analytics, here. Other news below.

Alan Murray

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