There’s no way to measure just how cheery this period really is — not if you’re the CEO of a major company. Just as the World Economic Summit was opening in Davos, Switzerland, and President Donald Trump was flying in to put his mark on the moment, PwS, a global consulting firm, released its annual survey of 1,300 CEOs. “The report,” wrote the Washington Post‘s Tory Newmyer, “found CEO optimism at a record high — with 57% predicting growth would accelerate worldwide this year — after lodging its biggest single-year leap, up from just 29% who predicted as much last year.” In the wake of the passage of staggering tax cuts for corporations and the truly wealthy, the most ebullient among them were, of course, North American CEOs!
And that wasn’t even the best news, not if you lived in a penthouse somewhere on this planet anyway. As Davos began, Oxfam issued “Reward Work, Not Wealth,” its new report indicating that “82% of the wealth generated last year went to the richest one percent of the global population, while the 3.7 billion people who make up the poorest half of the world saw no increase in their wealth.” Oh, and here’s a footnote of further cheer from Oxfam: “It takes just four days for a CEO from one of the top five global fashion brands to earn what a Bangladeshi garment worker will earn in her lifetime. In the U.S., it takes slightly over one working day for a CEO to earn what an ordinary worker makes in a year.”
In that context, Donald Trump gave an America First, exceptionalist pep talk at Davos filled with expectable falsehoods, lies, and exaggerations to a crowd — “some of the remarkable citizens from all over the world,” as he put it — primed to applaud (though there were a few hisses and boos and the rare protest, too). “There has never been a better time to hire, to build, to invest, and to grow in the United States,” the American president insisted.
“America is open for business, and we are competitive once again… I will always put America first… but America first does not mean America alone. When the United States grows, so does the world… America is roaring back, and now is the time to invest in the future of America. We have dramatically cut taxes to make America competitive. We are eliminating burdensome regulations at a record pace. We are reforming the bureaucracy to make it lean, responsive, and accountable. And we are ensuring our laws are enforced fairly.”
Yes, indeed, it could all hardly be fairer — if you happen to be a CEO or a billionaire. There’s only one possible small hitch in the general global exuberance and, maybe because it’s so minor, few in a media world obsessed 24/7 with the president and his team have even bothered to bring it up. That’s why we need TomDispatch regular Nomi Prins, author of All the Presidents’ Bankers, right now. Who else even thinks to point out that the millionaire and billionaire deregulators extraordinaire of the Trump administration might be taking a “brand-new America” (as the president called it) down a rather old path leading to… well, not to put too fine a point on it, economic meltdown. But let Prins, whose must-read new book, Collusion: How Central Bankers Rigged the World, is slated to appear in May, fill you in herself.