The nation’s chief financial officers have some advice for President Donald Trump: Quit the tweeting already!
And while you’re at it, Mr. President, would you please stick to the script when you deliver a speech?
The latest quarterly survey of CFOs conducted by Duke University found that the executives strongly support some – but not all – of the president’s business proposals and initiatives. But they seem to be unnerved by the president’s headline-grabbing tweets and off-the-cuff remarks.
When asked what advice they would give President Trump “for the good of the U.S. business community,” 67 percent advocated that he stop using Twitter. And 70 percent would like him to stick to prepared remarks during speeches.
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John Graham, a finance professor at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business and director of the survey, noted in an interview that on more than one occasion Trump has called out specific companies in his tweets.
“If you’re in the business community, you’re not too thrilled with that,” he said.
In addition, he said, some of the president’s off-the-cuff remarks have riled up the U.S.’s trading partners, raising concerns about instigating a backlash.
Graham speculated that business leaders feel that if the president reins in these unscripted comments, “then the positive stuff can shine through rather than the other stuff taking over the headlines.”
At the same time, the survey’s Optimism Index, calculated by asking CFOs how they would rate their outlook for the U.S. economy on a scale of 1 to 100, rose this quarter to 69 – the highest it’s been in 14 years. A jump in the Optimism Index has proven to be a leading indicator of growth in jobs and the gross domestic product over the coming year.
Not surprisingly, 86 percent of those surveyed said that the president’s proposal to reduce the corporate income would be good or very good for the economy. The president’s plan to ease the repatriation of foreign profits – that is, lowering the taxes on profits earned overseas when the money is brought into the U.S. – was supported by 75 percent of the CFOs.
However, Graham noted that the survey also shows that the CFO’s aren’t “a bunch of Republicans that drank the Kool-Aid.”
For example, 64 percent of the CFOs are opposed to building a wall along the Mexican border and 85 percent are against reducing the number of H-1B visas available for highly skilled workers.
Duke surveyed nearly 900 CFOs worldwide and more than 300 in North America on a range of issues earlier this month. The questions about Trump were directed to only CFOs in the United States.