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Will He Stay or Will He Go?: CEO Daily, Thursday 24th August

August 24, 2017, 11:02 AM UTC

Good morning.

Speculation about whether Gary Cohn will resign from his job as the President’s top economic adviser has become a popular parlor game in Washington and on Wall Street. The Trump adviser is said to be deeply offended by the President’s equivocation over the protests in Charlottesville.

But what’s become clear in the last few days is that Cohn, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, Speaker Ryan, Majority Leader McConnell, Finance Chair Hatch, and Ways and Means Chair Brady are quietly putting together the outlines of a tax plan that they still think has a chance—even if it’s a fading chance—of passage. And it’s a good bet Cohn won’t leave until the last hopes for that plan have been extinguished.

Ryan visited an Intel plant in Oregon yesterday in order to push for the tax plan, which he said would make it possible for the company to keep more manufacturing in the U.S. Brady did the same at home in Texas, saying a broken tax code is to blame for the lack of well-paying jobs for U.S. college students there.

A report in Politico earlier this week said the six are fashioning a plan that would lower the corporate tax rate to the mid-20s, further limit the mortgage interest deduction for homeowners, scrap the deduction for state and local taxes, eliminate businesses’ ability to deduct interest expenses, and allow expensing for small business investment. Many of the cuts likely will be temporary, in order to allow the plan to meet the test of 10-year deficit neutrality, and enabling it to pass the Senate with only 51 votes. That’s not as bold a plan as many had hoped, but would still be a significant accomplishment.

But can the gang of six succeed, given a President who seems determined to undercut their effort by threatening to shut down the government, attacking Senators of his own party whose votes he needs, and waging relentless war on the press? That’s the great mystery of the moment. If they do succeed, they’ll deserve the nation’s gratitude.


More news below.

Alan Murray

Top News


Uber's Revenue Is Up Despite Turbulence

Uber's 2017 has been a wild ride, with a string of scandals that led to the ouster of former CEO Travis Kalanick. But, the turmoil didn't slow down Uber's improving financial performance, as the ride-sharing company generated $1.75 billion in adjusted net revenue in the second quarter of 2017—up 17% from the previous quarter—and the company narrowed its losses by 9% to $645 million. Uber's revenue numbers do not include one-time payouts to New York City drivers the company had mistakenly underpaid. Bloomberg

Yellen, Draghi, Others Head to Jackson Hole

The world's leading economists and central bankers are convening in Jackson Hole, Wyo. today for the Fed's annual economic symposium, which will focus on this year's theme: "Fostering a Dynamic Global Economy." Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen and European Central Bank President Mario Draghi will both speak tomorrow. Wall Street Journal, subscription required

Mitsui Sumitomo Buys First Capital for $1.6 Billion

Canada's Fairfax Financial Holdings agreed to sell First Capital, the Singapore-based non-life insurer, to Japanese insurer Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance for $1.6 billion. The deal would give Fairfax, which will hold onto a 25% stake of First Capital's insurance portfolio, access to the Japanese insurance market while allowing Mitsui Sumitomo to expand in the U.S. Reuters

Digital Currency Ripple's Value Jumped 70% in 24 Hours

Ripple, a cryptocurrency that is popular with banks, saw its price surge more than 70% to nearly 30 cents in just 24 hours yesterday. As of Wednesday, the Bitcoin rival's total value had grown to $11 billion, which briefly made Ripple the world's third most-valuable digital currency (behind Bitcoin and Ethereum). Fortune

Around the Water Cooler

Investors' $12 Billion Railroad Wager

Fortune magazine's Shawn Tully profiles Hunter Harrison, the 72-year-old longtime railway executive who now serves as CEO of CSX, America's third-largest rail carrier. Since the announcement of Harrison as the new CEO in January, CSX's valuation has grown by $12 billion (to $46 billion total), a jump of 36% as investors bet that Harrison can overhaul CSX after he turned around the fortunes of the Illinois Central, Canadian National, and Canadian Pacific railroads in his previous stops.   Fortune

Billionaires Back 'Clean Meat' Startup

Billionaires Bill Gates and Richard Branson were among the investors participating in a Series A funding round that raised $17 million for the "clean" meat startup Memphis Meats, which grows real meat using living animal cells rather than slaughtering animals. Venture Capital firm DFJ. Cargill led the fundraising round. Fortune

Elon Musk's 'Boring' Prize for Most Influential Tesla Owners

Tesla CEO Elon Musk wants current owners of his company's electric vehicles to convince their friends to buy Teslas, as well. So, Tesla now has a referral program where the top prize is a chance to test-drive the electric tunnel boring machine that Musk's The Boring Company says it will one day use to dig tunnels for a high-speed, underground hyperloop line. Fortune


Summaries by Tom Huddleston Jr.