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CEO Daily: Thursday, September 10

September 10, 2015

This morning we publish our Most Powerful Women in business list – a Fortune tradition since 1998. That year, a Lucent executive by the name of Carly Fiorina (target of Donald Trump’s latest bizarre utterance) held the top spot. There were only two female CEOs on the list: Jill Barad of Mattel and Co-CEO Marion Sandler of Golden West Financial.


This year there are a record 27 CEOs on the list, overseeing a total of $1 trillion in stock market value. The top three:


1 – Mary Barra, number two last year, led General Motors through its recall crisis.


2 – Indra Nooyi, number three last year, heads Pepsi and was ahead of the pack in recognizing shifting views about healthy food.


3 – Ginni Rometty, who led the list last year, is in the midst of a bold restructuring of IBM, but its steady slide in sales has taken a toll on her ranking.


I mentioned yesterday that three of our top ten – Nooyi, DuPont CEO Ellen Kullman (No. 5), and Mondelez CEO Irene Rosenfeld (No. 9) – have come under attack in recent years by activist Nelson Peltz… and survived. Kullman, in particular, has become something of a folk hero among the CEO crowd for defeating Peltz in a shareholder vote.


My colleague Pattie Sellers has raised the question of whether Peltz has a problem with women. Not sure about that, but this is clear: while women remain a too-small minority among CEOs – only 24 of the Fortune 500 – the ones who make it to the top have shown they can hold their own in a street fight.


More news below. Fortune’s Tory Newmyer raises some legitimate questions about Jeb Bush’s tax plan. But I’m just glad someone has put a serious policy proposal on the table.


Alan Murray

Top News

• Fed may delay September rate hike

Officials at the Fed have reportedly not reached a consensus for an interest rate hike this month, with some Fed officials preferring to hold off because inflation remains low and the dollar is rising. A rate hike would likely boost the dollar, hurting U.S. exports and the economy. The Fed’s policy meeting is scheduled for Sept. 16-17, so a decision either way is coming very soon.  Fortune

• Jed Bush’s tax plan has some issues

Jed Bush took to the Wall Street Journal to pen an op-ed explaining how an overhaul of the tax code could help the U.S. economy reach 4% growth. But there are some issues with the plan – including calls for costly tax cuts, some of which would disproportionately benefit upper-income earners. He also would slash the rate on interest income for both individuals and businesses and end the estate tax. But no matter what he promises, economists largest believe that doubling economic growth to 4% likely cannot be pulled off.  Fortune

Feds to get tough on Wall Street fraud

The Justice Department has issued a new policy that makes the prosecution of Wall Street executives involved in financial fraud a major priority – essentially a nod to criticism that powerful corporate figures have escaped criminal charges in favor of monetary penalties. In prepared remarks to be delivered later today, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates says companies that want “credit for cooperation” can no long pick and choose what gets disclosed – they’ve got to name names.  USA Today

• Apple’s ‘innovation’ looks familiar

There was a time when Apple had established itself as an innovative company that could drastically change the trajectory of any gadgets category it competed it. But as users on Twitter pointed out yesterday and Wired sums up quite nicely, a lot of what Apple showed off at the company’s latest product unveiling event has already been done before. The big iPad Pro? That reminded many of Microsoft’s Surface Pro tablet. And the Apple Pencil is entering an established market of styluses that pretty much do the same thing.  Wired

Around the Water Cooler

• Uber’s China rival invests in Lyft

Here at CEO Daily, we’ve written a lot about the rivalry between Uber and another ride-hailing service, China’s homegrown Didi Kuaidi. Now it turns out that Didi Kuaidi is taking an unusual turn, quietly investing in Uber’s biggest U.S. rival Lyft alongside two top Chinese Internet companies: Alibaba and Tencent. China has been called out as the most important global market for Uber, but it could face a stronger competitor domestically thanks to the boost Lyft got from those Chinese Internet giants.  WSJ (subscription required)

• Is the IPO market topping out?

Initial public offerings this year are on track to push along a streak they haven’t hit in more than a decade. But market volatility could slow new issues, signaling the market may have already peaked. 131 IPOs have raised $22 billion so far this year, according to Renaissance Capital, about a third less than last year at this time but in line with 2013 at this point. If the U.S. surpasses the 200 mark, it would mark a three-year streak that hasn’t been seen since the late 1990s.  Fortune

Bloomberg terminals fends off rivals

Bloomberg has generated billions from the media and data company’s $21,000-a-year terminals but that golden business model is under threat from new competitors at a time when Wall Street is looking to aggressively cut its spending on those machines. A startup called Money.Net is stealing away customers and Goldman Sachs-backed Symphony is soon introducing a chat feature popular with traders and investors. While Bloomberg has faced threats in the past, new upstarts are targeting the business at a time when the terminals generate 75% of Bloomberg’s revenue. New York Times (subscription required)