Three intriguing items this morning, two of them at the top of the news, one nowhere near the top yet with larger implications.
–Clinton or Trump – America ponders the least loathed leader. A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds that 55% of voters view Clinton unfavorably; the figure for Trump is 60%. This is unprecedented. Conventional political wisdom holds that by now voters should be making peace with their feelings about the two parties’ presumptive nominees, but it isn’t happening.
So many voters are unhappy with the choice, the poll finds, that 16% say they’d vote for Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson or Green Party nominee Jill Stein. This also is unprecedented. Third-party candidates have done well before; Ross Perot got 19% of the vote in 1992, but be was a celebrity who spent millions on his campaign. By contrast, most voters have never heard of Johnson or Stein, and many have never even heard of their parties. Apparently all these voters need to know is that it’s someone other than Trump or Clinton. May the least loathed candidate win.
-The worrying trajectory of the Brexit aftermath. The victorious Leavers must have imagined that by now, five days after the vote, the prevailing sentiment among business and government leaders would be that maybe this isn’t so bad after all, and the headlines would be about getting down to the hard work of negotiating Britain’s exit from the E.U. Instead, U.S. and European stocks fell again yesterday, after a rout on Friday that was the biggest-ever one-day loss in global equity values.
The more that leaders and investors think about Brexit, the worse it sounds. Far from grudging acceptance of the new reality, sentiment is turning to far-fetched schemes for undoing the referendum. German and E.U. officials over the weekend suggested that Britain reconsider. “If they treat the referendum as a nonevent, we’ll treat it as a nonevent,” the WSJ quoted a senior official in Brussels as saying. “The [democratic] decision of the people today can overturn the democratic decision of yesterday.”
Stocks are up this morning, and this situation will in no way match the 2008 financial crisis, but they’re alike in this way: No one has the remotest idea where this is going, and that in itself is bad for businesses, employees, consumers, and retirees.
-Eliminating workers where you thought it couldn’t be done. “Autonomous ag is the next big thing for companies, 4H students,” reports in the new issue of Iowa Farmer Today. Self-driving tractors, combines, and weeders, robots that will work with one another to bring citrus fruit from field to processing plant without human involvement – these and much more are here or on the way.
Just for perspective, farm workers as a percent of the U.S. workforce have been declining for 196 years; in numbers they’ve been declining for 109 years, even as the population has multiplied. This is an extremely good thing. Advancing agricultural technology has made the world immeasurably better off. It’s also a reminder, as the robotics revolution advances, that we have yet to discover how far this process can go.
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What We’re Reading Today
Volkswagen reportedly agrees to $14.7-billion settlement
It would be one of the largest settlements in a consumer class action if approved by the judge overseeing the case. Over $10 billion would be spent buying back nearly 500,000 vehicles at their pre-scandal price and compensating owners for the deception. It would also pay $2.7 billion to an Environmental Protection Agency fund for remediating the environmental damage of the excessive emissions. Matthias Müller‘s company still faces suits and fines from the U.S. and other countries. NYT
Takata CEO will resign
CEO Shigehisa Takada has remained quiet through one of the largest product recalls ever. Shares in the company rose 10% immediately following the announcement as investors hope new management can rescue the airbag maker, which is seeking new funding. Nearly 100 million Takata airbag inflators have been declared defective. Fortune
Supreme Court vacates former Virginia governor’s conviction
The unanimous ruling stated that Bob McDonnell‘s dealings with the CEO of a Virginia company were distasteful but did not reach the level of “official action” that would constitute corruption. Chief Justice John Roberts‘s definition of “official action” could affect other high-profile appeals of corruption convictions including those of former New York State Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver and former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich. CNN
Google faces new antitrust complaint from E.U.
European Union competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager will issue two new complaints against Alphabet’s Google, building on a previous charge that Google uses its market power to steer users to its own shopping services. Google and CEO Sundar Pichai have yet to respond to the new charges. Financial Times
Building a Better Leader
An introvert can rise through the ranks…
…by making others feel liked and by showing power, emphasizing authenticity. Entrepreneur
Don’t be afraid to argue with your boss
It shows conviction, which strong companies and strong leaders should embrace. Fortune
Instead of asking for a resume…
…the CEO of Big Ass Fans – a nearly $300-million fan maker – asks candidates what they want him to remember about them. If they say things that relate to school or working under someone else’s direction, CEO Carey Smith isn’t interested. Quartz
How a second Brexit vote could happen
As the complexity and consequences of leaving the European Union have started to sink in, some in Britain wonder if another vote could be held. The initial vote was “advisory,” not “mandatory,” so it’s up to the next prime minister to decide when — or whether — to notify the E.U. of Britain’s intent to leave. That won’t likely happen until after David Cameron‘s resignation, now promised by September 2, leaving at least two months in which the country’s mood could change. Fortune
Airbnb sues San Francisco
Brian Chesky‘s company has filed a complaint in federal court arguing that a new law, which requires Airbnb hosts to register with the city, is too burdensome. The registration process costs $50, which Airbnb says is too much for many, and the company will be fined $1,000 a day for any unregistered hosts’ listings. Airbnb, however, helped write the law. CNNMoney
LendingClub cuts 179 employees
The fintech company looks to regain investor confidence after its May ouster of CEO Renaud Laplanche over questionable lending practices. It also made interim CEO Scott Sanborn the permanent chief. He’ll have to stabilize the company and guide it through a Justice Department investigation. WSJ
Up or Out
Nestle has named Fresenius head Ulf Mark Schneider CEO, succeeding Paul Bulcke, who will become chairman. Reuters
Martin Fink, Hewlett Packard Enterprise CTO, will retire at year-end. Fortune
Fortune Reads and Videos
The Fed will more likely cut interest rates…
…than raise them in the wake of the Brexit vote. That’s how bond investors are betting. Fortune
The world’s wealthiest 400 people have lost…
…nearly $200 billion since the Brexit vote. Europe’s richest were the hardest hit. Fortune
The best workplace for millennials…
…is a digital marketing company where 91% of workers are under 34. Fortune
You’re about to hear the ‘Happy Birthday’ song…
…a lot more often on television. It enters the public domain next month after a court ruled a long-standing copyright claim invalid. Fortune
Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and SpaceX, turns 45 today. Biography
Comcast CEO Brian Roberts turns 57. Reference for Business