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Economy on a Knife’s Edge: CEO Daily

October 11, 2019, 9:26 AM UTC

Good morning.

Is the economy headed into a recession? To try and answer that question, Fortune teamed up with SurveyMonkey to poll 1,470 executives who make purchasing decisions at a variety of companies. The result: we are on the precipice.

Only 49% of those polled said their purchases were up year over year in the most recent quarter. In times of expansion, that should be over 50%. Only 29% described their industry as “heating up,” while most said it was “holding steady.” And here’s the kicker: two out of three saw a recession in the next 12 months.

You can read more detail in Fortune Analytics, out this morning here. Also, big CEO news this morning—Bill McDermott is stepping down after nine years at the helm of SAP and being replaced by a duo: Jennifer Morgan and Christian Klein. The announcement comes only one month after rival Oracle’s co-CEO, Mark Hurd, stepped down for health reasons.

Morgan is number 43 on Fortune’s Most Powerful Women, and will no doubt move up the list next year.

Other news below.

Alan Murray


Iran Tanker

An Iranian oil tanker was hit and damaged by missiles near the Saudi port of Jeddah, according to Iranian state news. The damage reportedly caused an oil leak in the Red Sea, and a 2% jump in oil prices. Iran is claiming the missiles came from Saudi Arabia. Bloomberg

China Talks

Yesterday's U.S.-China trade talks went "probably better than expected," per a White House official. President Trump will be meeting with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He at the White House today, which also seems like a good sign. For now, futures are looking good. Reuters

Aramco Valuation

How much is Saudi Aramco, the Saudi state oil company—and by far the world's biggest polluter—worth? Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is thinking $2 trillion, but we will shortly hear a perhaps more realistic figure from the oil firm's investment bankers. Their recommendations could appear as soon as today. Wall Street Journal

Dyson Car

Dyson, maker of hand dryers and vacuum cleaners, is not going to be a maker of electric cars. The company has abandoned its electric car program, because—in the words of founder James Dyson—"we simply can no longer see a way to make it commercially viable." A buyer for the division could not be found. Fortune


WeWork Bailout

WeWork needs cash fast—as in, by the end of November. JPMorgan Chase is leading the financing negotiations, and any loans WeWork secures will be pricier than those in the not-so-distant past, when it was a hot ticket rather than a car-crash. Financial Times

Trump Tax

President Trump's last tax bill was supposed to help the middle class, but has actually knocked $1 trillion off the values of Americans' homes. As this collaboration between Fortune and ProPublica shows, house prices are on average 4% lower than they would otherwise be. Fortune

Brexit Effect

Nissan has warned that a no-deal Brexit would possibly threaten its entire European business, due to the export tariffs that may be introduced if the U.K. moves to WTO rules. Gianluca de Ficchy, Nissan's European chief, said the "entire business model for Nissan Europe will be in jeopardy" in such circumstances. Meanwhile, the U.K. and EU's top negotiators are meeting today in a desperate bid to find a last-minute Brexit deal that will fly. BBC

Zuma Trial

Former South African president Jacob Zuma will stand trial on corruption charges, after a court took all of five minutes to dismiss his application for a stay of prosecution. Zuma could end up in jail for 25 years, if he is found guilty of taking bribes from French arms firm Thales—the charges include corruption, racketeering, fraud and tax evasion. Business Day

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer. Find previous editions here, and sign up for other Fortune newsletters here.