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Business lines up behind bipartisan infrastructure effort

July 26, 2021, 9:43 AM UTC

Good morning.

A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators hopes to seal a deal today on an infrastructure bill that will not only be a test for American governance, but also for the influence of big business in government. Business leaders have lined up behind the effort.

“There is no better means to ensuring long term prosperity in the U.S. than infrastructure,“ former Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris wrote me this morning. Liveris is co-chair of Build Together, a coalition whose members include Doug McMillon of Walmart, John Donohoe of Nike, and Mary Barra of GM. “The business community knows that these investments will create tailwinds for the U.S. economy. It is good for the country—all the more so because it is bipartisan.”

The question on Capitol Hill, however, is how much big business support matters these days. As the Wall Street Journal’s Gerald Seib writes this weekend, corporate America has become a political orphan, neither comfortable nor welcome in either party. Many business leaders have broken ranks with Republicans over issues like racial justice, voting rights, LGBTQ rights and climate change. And they find themselves equally uncomfortable in a Democratic party where President Biden recently signed an executive order encompassing 72 separate actions to rein in big business. Neither party sees much to gain from listening to business entreaties.

Still, Liveris said he is optimistic on the prospects for the business-supported bipartisan effort. “I do think it will get done. This time feels different.”

More news below. 

Alan Murray


Bitcoin surge

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have leapt on rumors that Amazon is about to enter the space. Bitcoin is, at the time of writing, just north of $38,000; it was very recently below $30,000. Amazon posted a job ad for a "digital currency and blockchain product lead," and a spokesperson reportedly said over the weekend that the company believes "the future will be built on new technologies that enable modern, fast, and inexpensive payments." Yahoo Finance

Chinese plunge

Chinese crackdowns on various sectors continue, knocking a wider array of stocks. Education technology has been whacked by a new ruled banning companies that teach school curriculums from making profits, raising capital or going public. Tencent's shares fell around 6% after the firm was told to end its exclusive licensing agreements with labels around the world. New regulations on the food-delivery sector have removed 15% from Meituan's share price, and Didi's descent continues, pushing SoftBank's bet on the ride-hailing firm $4 billion into the red. Fortune

Chinese nuclear

The British government is reportedly trying to shut China General Nuclear out of future U.K. power projects, starting with the new Sizewell plant in Suffolk that is being planned. CGN is state-owned, and diplomatic relations between the U.K. and China are in a bad place right now. Financial Times

COVID treatments

Japan's Shionogi has become the latest drugmaker to start human trials of a prospective COVID-19 treatment. Pfizer and Merck have already progressed to later-stage tests of their treatments, which could also be self-administered at home. Wall Street Journal


CEOs vs China

Nick Merill and Dan Schwerin, both former advisors to Hillary Clinton, urge U.S. CEOs to stand up to China in this piece for Fortune: "The trajectory in China may continue to worsen, so CEOs should begin building up production capacity in other markets and reinvesting in America. China’s repression at home and aggression abroad are likely to intensify, and competition with the United States could veer into conflict. Already, the widespread discrimination against foreign companies in China is prompting some Western executives to say enough is enough." Fortune

Ransomware suits

Class-action suits are emerging in the wake of large ransomware attacks, against the companies that were attacked, such as Colonial Pipeline and Scripps Health. Boom time for lawyers; not so much for companies that fail to protect their systems. Washington Post

U.S. population

The U.S.'s population growth is close to zero. It was already slowing, but the pandemic has compounded the problem. For the year ended July 1, 2020, growth was a mere 0.35%. It's expected to be flat this year, perhaps even shrinking. Wall Street Journal

U.K. optimism

The U.K.'s third wave of infections may have peaked, with the number of confirmed infections falling for five days straight. Experts had feared the peak would take place only in late August, and everyone is rather surprised right now—and waiting for more data. There's still strong reason for caution: it was only last week that coronavirus restrictions were lifted. Times of London

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.

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