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Priorities for the new President

January 11, 2021, 11:03 AM UTC

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Good morning.

Last Tuesday, after business groups came out in force to support the legitimacy of the November election, I wrote in this space: “Can we just move on now?” It was not to be. The insurrection at the Capitol on Wednesday has kept Donald Trump where he always wants to be, at the center of national attention. 

But nine days from now, one way or another, there will be a new president. And there is much to do if the U.S. is going to “build back better.” My priority list:

—Accelerate the roll out of vaccines, so the nation can get back to business as quickly as possible.

—Provide additional, but targeted, financial support to those who desperately need it.

—Launch a bipartisan infrastructure effort, defined broadly enough to include measures that would move the country toward universal broadband and better green energy infrastructure.

—Launch a nationwide education and training effort, designed to ensure expanded opportunities for those at risk of being left behind by the technological transformation that accelerated during the pandemic.

—Craft a coherent national climate policy around the ambitious goal of reaching net zero emissions by 2050.

—And finally, do all of the above with some degree of bipartisan support, to ensure the solutions are stable, and aren’t reversed as soon as the political winds change.

That’s an agenda that much—perhaps most—of the business community could support and help implement. In extensive conversations with business leaders in our CEO Initiative last year, Fortune learned it’s an agenda many of them crave. (See more on that effort, and its results, here.)

It would have helped if, in his studied effort to assemble a diverse cabinet, President-elect Biden had seen fit to find at least one experienced CEO to include in the mix. He had many who supported him and were willing to serve. By avoiding them, he has followed the path of Barack Obama, not Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Lyndon Johnson, and John Kennedy—in other words, every other Democratic president in recent history. That’s too bad.

But he has stuck to the center, choosing pragmatic and business-minded economic appointees like Janet Yellen, Brian Deese, Pete Buttigieg and, last week’s new addition, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo. (See this smart piece Fortune did on the governor last June, and this report on her comments to the CEO Initiative in October). The opportunity still exists for a new era of business and government collaboration to address pressing needs. Let’s get on with it. 

More news below.

Alan Murray


One year

It may have felt like a lot longer, but today's the first anniversary of the first reported coronavirus death in Wuhan, China. Nearly 2 million people have been taken by COVID-19 since then. International experts investigating the pandemic's origins will finally arrive in China on Thursday, after being blocked by the Chinese authorities, who now say it was a "misunderstanding." Fortune

China pushback

Beijing has responded to U.S. sanctions with a new law that would punish companies for complying with such restrictions. The new measures went into effect immediately on Saturday, leaving companies doing business there with quite a headache: if they do what the American authorities are telling them to do, they could be sued in Chinese courts for compensation. Meanwhile, the big U.S. banks are about to delist hundreds of Hong Kong-listed structured products, to comply with President Trump's executive order. New York Times

Political funding

JPMorgan and Citigroup have paused all donations to both Republican and Democrat political action committees over the coming months, while Marriott International and the Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance group have paused donations to GOP lawmakers who objected to Biden's Electoral College win. The moves come in the wake of last week's Trumpist insurrection. Wall Street Journal

Bitcoin plunge

The value of one bitcoin soared past $40,000 just before the weekend and held up until late yesterday, when gravity perhaps inevitably kicked in. Down it went to $32,400—a drop of more than 20%—before recovering slightly to an at-the-time-of-writing value of around $35,000. It appears some miners cashed out, which triggered panic selling. Coindesk


Terra Carta

Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, has asked companies to join Terra Carta (Latin for "Earth Charter"), a set of 100 actions for businesses to help fight the climate emergency and protect biodiversity. Launch supporters include Unilever, BP, BlackRock and others. The charter was designed by none other than former Apple design guru Jony Ive. BusinessGreen

TikTok vs Trump

TikTok has banned President Trump (or at least, some videos of his speeches—he doesn't actually have a TikTok account.) The outgoing President, however, has thus far not managed to ban TikTok. Fortune

Parler game

The right-wing social network Parler "will likely be down longer than expected," CEO John Matze has conceded after Amazon (hosting) and Google and Apple (app distribution) effectively shut it down. According to Matze, the companies' "statements to the press about dropping our access has caused most of our other vendors to drop their support for us as well. And most people with enough servers to host us have shut their doors to us." Fortune

What's up, Doc?

Dr Martens is planning a flotation on the London Stock Exchange. Private equity outfit Permira, who bought the boot company in 2013, reportedly plans to sell down its stake in the IPO. Financial Times

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.