Our Fortune 500 CEO poll went into the field last week. We will publish full results in the June issue of the magazine. But in the meantime, here’s an early result: CEOs are abandoning the Republican Party in droves—but they aren’t moving to the Democratic Party. Instead, so far it looks like roughly half of Fortune 500 CEOs now identify as independents. Fewer than half identify as Republicans—a big change from days past, when most big company CEOs saw the GOP as their party. Only a minuscule number are identifying as Democrats—down from the Clinton days, when Democrats were trying to show a more business-friendly face.
The late Democratic wise man Robert Strauss used to tell the party’s presidential candidates that they couldn’t hope to win the support of business—but they also couldn’t hope to win an election with business united against them. If Strauss’ wisdom still holds, the leftward-lurching Democratic Party may be blowing a significant opportunity.
By the way, business misgivings about President Trump don’t necessarily reflect misgivings about his policies. Our past polls showed strong support for the President’s tax bill and his deregulatory policies. This one shows overwhelming support for his trade policy toward China.
If you are a Fortune 500 CEO and haven’t responded to us, please do so by Friday. More detailed survey results here next week. News below.
President Trump roiled the markets by tweeting that he will raise tariffs on Chinese products this week—tariffs on $200 billion in goods will go up from 10% to 25%, and tariffs on a further $325 billion in goods will be introduced at 25%. Trump’s phrasing suggested he believes China, rather than American importers, pays U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports. The Hang Seng responded by falling 2.9%; the Shanghai Composite is down 5.6%; Europe’s Stoxx 600 is down 1.5%; oil’s down too; and U.S. futures look red too. But China still intends to continue trade talks. CNBC
Apple is reportedly about to become the subject of a formal antitrust investigation in the EU. Spotify is the complainant; it says Apple has been abusing its dominance in the App Store to give an advantage to its own music-streaming service. Apple released a lengthy rebuttal of Spotify’s claims back in March, with its argument boiling down to the claim that Spotify simply wants to participate in the iOS platform without sharing revenue with Apple. Financial Times
Boeing knew about a cockpit safety alert software issue in its 737 Max aircraft a year before the Lion Air crash that has been linked to that issue (though causation has not yet been definitively established.) The company said in a statement that its engineers had determined “the issue did not adversely impact airplane safety or operation.” CNN
A Russian Aeroflot plane caught fire while making an emergency landing in Moscow. At least 41 people on board are known to have died, including two children. According to authorities, 33 people survived. The Russian-made Sukhoi plane apparently landed with full fuel tanks, having turned back after talking off around seven minutes earlier. Al Jazeera
Around the Water Cooler
Foxconn chair Terry Gou, who wants to become Taiwan’s next president, says he told President Trump he wanted to facilitate peace between the U.S., China and self-ruled Taiwan. Gou wants Beijing to acknowledge Taiwan’s independence, and is hitting back at critics who say Foxconn’s massive Chinese investments make him untrustworthy on the issue. Reuters
The U.S. hopes to send Iran a “clear and unmistakeable message” by sending a carrier strike group and bomber task force to the Middle East, according to National Security Advisor John Bolton, who warned of “a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings.” The U.S. recently said it will cancel sanctions waivers for countries that want to buy Iranian oil. CNBC
The U.K.’s election regulator wants online political ads to carry the same information as printed campaigning material, including clear identification of the organization paying for the ad. The Electoral Commission’s regulation director said a legal change was needed—the watchdog apparently asked for such a change around 16 years ago, and is still waiting for the results of a government consultation. BBC
Fortune has a couple of pieces extolling the virtues of the winelands near Cape Town, South Africa. As I (David here, not Alan) happen to come from Cape Town, I would add one recommendation for a place to drink and stay in Franschhoek: Rickety Bridge, the utterly charming estate where I got married. Their Malay prawn curry is exquisite and well-paired with the Semillon. Fortune