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FedEx CEO Raj Subramaniam gives his assessment of the global economy amid recession fears

July 12, 2022, 9:52 AM UTC
Updated July 12, 2022, 3:52 PM UTC
FedEx President and CEO Raj Subramaniam
FedEx President and CEO Raj Subramaniam during the final round of the World Golf Championships - FedEx St. Jude Invitational on July 28, 2019 in Memphis, Tennessee.
Michael Wade—Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Good morning.

CEOs who replace founders have always been part of the conversation at Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen. But Raj Subramaniam, who appeared on stage yesterday, holds unique status.  He has just replaced a founder who served as CEO for 50 years—FedEx’s Fred Smith. Says Subramaniam:

“It’s been such an incredible journey with him. He’s not just a business school but a history school, a geography school… Whatever happens in the future, I’m eternally grateful for the fact that I’ve had that opportunity.”

The prospects for recession were a big part of the conversation yesterday, and Subramaniam gave participants a review of the global economy, as seen through FedEx data:

If you look around the world, China went through a pretty tough period in in April and May, when all the numbers and volumes were down. Now, manufacturing is back online. But at the same time, consumer demand is definitely slowing. Europe is in the worst situation. The energy crisis is definitely driving all aspects of that economy down. And in the U.S., on the consumer side of the equation, the spending is there, but there’s a dichotomy between higher wage earners and lower wage earners. And there is also a dichotomy between goods and services, with more being spent on services now… There is also a little bit of a reset on e-commerce. Before the pandemic, e-commerce represented about 16% of retail.  At the height of the pandemic it had reached 22%.  It is now back down to 20%. 

Does all that add up to recession?

“l don’t know. But our volumes across all lines of business in our just-reported quarter were all down.”

Earlier in the day NYSE President Lynn Martin was asked when the depressed IPO market would return to life—a topic of deep interest to the many entrepreneurs and venture capital investors in the room. She said that if inflation showed signs of abating, the IPO market would come back to life. But it would take time.

“Everyone is going to look at each other for a little longer and say ‘You, go first. No, you go first.’”

You can watch today’s proceedings from Brainstorm Tech online today here, and follow coverage on fortune.com.  Other news below.

Alan Murray
@alansmurray

alan.murray@fortune.com

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This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.

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