By Alan Murray and David Meyer
September 20, 2018

Good morning.

The stock market may be hitting highs, but CFOs are losing optimism. That’s the message from Deloitte’s “CFO Signals”—a comprehensive quarterly survey of top financial officers. The percentage of U.S. CFOs rating conditions as “good” dropped from a record high of 94% in the second quarter to 89% in the third quarter. European CFO optimism dropped from 47% to 32%, and Chinese CFO optimism fell from 55% to 37%. Top concerns? Geopolitical risk, trade friction, and interest rates.

Sanford Cockrell, who runs Deloitte’s CFO practice, said that despite the dip, the survey “still represents strong assessments relative to survey averages over the last eight years.” You can read the full report here.

Separately, a CEO Daily reader asked why I didn’t highlight Nike’s Colin Kaepernick advertisement as an expression of corporate values. As readers know, I have previously cited comments from the CEOs of Levi-Strauss and Delta on guns, the CEO of Merck on the president’s reaction to the Charlottesville riots, and the CEO of Salesforce on Indiana and North Carolina gay and transgender rights laws, among others, as examples of a dramatic change in the nature of corporate leadership.

But in the Nike case, it wasn’t clear to me the ad was a statement of corporate values, rather than simply a marketing calculation as to what will sell Nike products. I still can’t speak for the company’s intent. But a report yesterday suggests that it did, indeed, sell more stuff. According to data from Thomson Reuters, the company has sold 61% more merchandise since it started running the controversial ad campaign, which features the former NFL player who took a knee during the national anthem.

Good for Nike’s bottom line. But that shouldn’t be confused with CEOs speaking out on social issues that don’t directly impact their bottom line, but do reflect their values.

New below.

Alan Murray


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