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The U.S. flag and Chinese flags fly at a welcoming ceremony between Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Trump in Beijing last November. Photo: Thomas Peter, Pool / Getty Images

Unveiling the annual Edelman Trust Barometer in conjunction with tomorrow's opening of Davos, president and CEO Richard Edelman told Axios that the U.S. has fallen to "an Iraq war level of trust" around the world.

"It’s the first time we've seen such a trust drop delinked from either a major event, or economic chaos."

Among the key takeaways from my interview with Edelman about his firm's study, which found the U.S. has suffered a "trust crash," internally and externally:

  • “As to brand USA” — how the rest of the world sees the U.S. — “you can see deterioration … over the last four or five years. It doesn't begin with Trump, but it certainly was accelerated.”
  • "So if you're an American company, you now have a trust weight around your ankles.”
  • The U.S. score is "better than China or India [and other] developing countries. But among the developed countries, we're at the low end.”
  • On the massive drop in trust in government within the U.S., for so-called normal times: “This not tied to a specific catastrophic event like 9/11 or Fukushima [nuclear disaster] in Japan. It's also not tied to an economic downturn like the Great Recession.”
  • China, meanwhile, in the opposite direction: “The government is the highest trusted institution, … whereas in the United States, it's the lowest trusted institution.”
  • “It has to do with a sense of confidence and belief in direction and a clear plan and following through, as opposed to freelancing.”

Be smart: These results show the limits of "America first" bravado, both internally and externally. With such a strong economy, the U.S. could be in a confident position in these times thanks to tectonic disruption.

  • Instead, U.S. leaders have a huge repair job ahead and no obvious plans to tackle it.

Go deeper, both by Axios' Sara Fischer ... "Red alert: America suffers record drop in trust; China rises" ... "The institutions Americans and Chinese call 'broken.'"

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Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden adviser Cedric Richmond sees first-term progress on reparations

Illustration: "Axios on HBO"

White House senior adviser Cedric Richmond told "Axios on HBO" that it's "doable" for President Biden to make first-term progress on breaking down barriers for people of color, while Congress studies reparations for slavery.

Why it matters: Biden said on the campaign trail that he supports creation of a commission to study and develop proposals for reparations — direct payments for African-Americans.

Cyber CEO: Next war will hit regular Americans online

Any future real-world conflict between the United States and an adversary like China or Russia will have direct impacts on regular Americans because of the risk of cyber attack, Kevin Mandia, CEO of cybersecurity company FireEye, tells "Axios on HBO."

What they're saying: "The next conflict where the gloves come off in cyber, the American citizen will be dragged into it, whether they want to be or not. Period."

Cedric Richmond: We won't wait on GOP for "insufficient" stimulus

Top Biden adviser Cedric Richmond told "Axios on HBO" the White House believes it has bipartisan support for a stimulus bill outside the Beltway.

  • "If our choice is to wait and go bipartisan with an insufficient package, we are not going to do that."

The big picture: The bill will likely undergo an overhaul in the Senate after House Democrats narrowly passed a stimulus bill this weekend, reports Axios' Kadia Goba.