Most CEOs desperately want to avoid getting caught up in the Roe v. Wade abortion firestorm
Businesses are understandably struggling with the correct way to respond to Friday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision to strike down Roe v. Wade. Most CEOs I’ve spoken with want to ensure their employees have adequate options to deal with their own family’s health care challenges, but they aren’t interested in finding themselves at the center of a heated and divisive partisan political debate.
Fortune’s Phil Wahba notes research from Edelman shows “60% of employees globally believe CEOs should speak publicly on hot-button issues.” Even if they can avoid the public controversy, they face an immediate need to communicate with their own employees who may be affected by the change. A typical case, cited by Wahba, is Citibank, which in March said in an investor deck that “in response to changes in reproductive health care laws in certain states in the U.S., beginning in 2022 we provide travel benefits to facilitate access to adequate resources.” No press release; no use of the word abortion. You can read Wahba’s story here.
Separately, how much of the recent housing boom was driven by investors? Quite a lot, according to Fortune’s Lance Lambert, who has been parsing the data. It looks like investors could have accounted for more than a quarter of single-family home sales in the first quarter of this year, and over 30% in cities like Atlanta, Jacksonville, and Charlotte. That’s far above historical levels. Worth reading Lambert’s deep dive into the data here.
Other news below.
Russia has defaulted on its foreign debt for the first time in over a century. It’s not that it doesn’t have the cash—it’s swimming in the stuff, thanks to high fossil-fuel prices that it largely caused by invading Ukraine—but rather that it has been forced into default by Western sanctions. Fortune
A series of European mayors (Berlin, Vienna, Madrid, Budapest) last week held video calls with Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko—except it wasn’t him, but rather a faked version that arose suspicions by asking some very weird questions. There are good reasons to suspect this wasn’t a true, A.I.-generated “deepfake” as some of the mayors claimed. But whatever the methods used, this should be a wake-up call for executives as well as politicians. Fortune
NATO has torn up its existing strategy for “defending” its Baltic members, which essentially amounted to letting Russia take Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia, and then trying to recapture them. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg now says the alliance will fortify its eastern defenses, and Russia would be unable to take Estonia’s capital, Tallinn. Financial Times
G7 vs. China
The G7 countries have stepped up their efforts to counter China’s Belt and Road project, by pledging to raise $600 billion for infrastructural development in developing countries. President Joe Biden said Sunday that the investment would help countries “see the concrete benefits of partnering with democracies.” Reuters
AROUND THE WATERCOOLER
Crystal ball gazing
Noted bear Michael Wilson reckons it’s time to buy the dip, as the current rally could see the S&P 500 rise as much as 7% before returning to losses. Fortune
Exxon Mobil CEO Darren Woods claimed that transitioning away from fossil fuels too quickly would mean higher gas prices for consumers, owing to underinvestment in the dirty stuff—never mind that underinvestment in renewable energy is precisely what has placed Europe at Putin’s mercy. Fortune
Electric cars are getting more expensive, partly owing to rising demand, and partly because battery materials are becoming costlier. Tesla, Ford, and GM are all hiking their EV prices. Wall Street Journal
Are consumers right to blame greedy corporations for price gouging during these inflationary times? There are plenty of other explanations for soaring prices, though it does seem market power is at least a driver of inflation. Fortune
This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.
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