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Davos CEOs Hope for the Best Under Trump

Good morning from Davos.

There has hardly been a conversation in Davos this week that hasn’t turned at some point to concern about the new U.S. president, his unconventional approach to foreign policy and his attacks on much of what this global gathering holds dear – including a united Europe, a strong U.S.- European relationship, and global free trade.

The exception has been U.S. business leaders, who have surprised others with their optimism. Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan, who I met with this morning for coffee, is an example. Moynihan is co-chair of this year’s meeting – a position he accepted last summer, he says, because the forum’s theme of “responsive and responsible leadership” fit with his goals for the U.S. bank.

 

He’s not worried about Trump’s protectionist threats. If the new president “wants America to grow at a faster rate, you have to use the world’s demand to do it.” He and other U.S. CEOs here are more focused on prospects for regulatory and tax relief. And they say they’ve found the president-elect to be more reasonable in private conversations than his Twitter feed might suggest.

“The optimism of the business community is palpable,” he said. “Consumer confidence is up, small business confidence is up. This is a time for optimism.”

Let’s hope the optimism is justified.