By Alan Murray and David Meyer
March 26, 2018

Good morning.

When CEOs speak out on hot-button social issues, how does it affect their companies’ stock prices? That’s the question the Harvard Business Review asked recently, creating this cool interactive graphic to explore.

In some cases—Merck CEO Ken Frazier’s strong rebuke of President Trump’s waffling on the Charlottesville riots, for instance—the stock market response was strong and sustained. In others—Papa John CEO John Schnattner ‘s criticism of the NFL’s handling of national anthem protests—it was clearly negative.

But the bottom line: “Most companies did not see a sustained rise or drop in stock price following their CEO’s public statement” on a controversial issue. Most of the movement, the authors concluded, was associated with “normal economic factors.”

No big surprise there. The surge in CEOs speaking out on social issues isn’t aimed at investors—it’s aimed mostly at employees. Millennials, in particular—who are less likely to be married, less likely to belong to organized religion, and less likely to join outside organizations than previous generations—increasingly look to employers to give their lives purpose, meaning, and a moral anchor.

Separately, new signs of the growing split among tech companies emerged this weekend, as Apple’s Tim Cook called for “well crafted” regulations in light of revelations involving use of Facebook data in the election. And Elon Musk went further, deleting Tesla and SpaceX Facebook accounts. Last month, IBM posted this essay calling for “common sense changes to the balance of regulatory and liability rules governing the data economy.” That leaves Facebook and Google as the odd folks out…although even Zuckerberg now has opened the door to regulation. Facebook apologized over the weekend via full-page newspaper ads.

More news below—not including Stormy Daniels’ 60 Minutes interview last night. We’ll leave coverage of that event to others (for instance, TIME, here.)

Alan Murray


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