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Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

Intel's Brian Krzanich last week became the latest CEO to appear alongside President Trump, pledging to create thousands of new, high-paying American manufacturing jobs. Never mind that Intel last year laid off thousands of workers. Or that it had requested thousands of H1-B visas. Or that the factory in question was actually built long before the election (albeit not put online). That was all rear-view. Looking forward, Intel would invest under the aegis of tax and regulatory reforms aimed at improving its domestic bliss.

And it all makes sense, except for one pesky problem: Almost none of these reforms have been formally proposed yet, let alone become law. And at least some other CEOs seem to have noticed, judging by the relative paucity of corporate mergers and acquisitions so far this year.

To be clear, I do believe we'll see some sort of corporate tax reform in 2017. And of course there will be regulatory changes (likely including to Intel's beloved H1-B program). But it seems strange to make major corporate play calls, let alone multi-billion dollar investments, before seeing the rules of the game.

But there does seem to be one area where corporate America is standing pat, waiting for the GOP's grand vision to solidify: Mergers and acquisitions.

According to Thomson Reuters, strategic M&A for U.S. targets was down 2% through Feb. 9 from the year-earlier period. The overall M&A figure was up 11%, but that was based on a whopping 340% increase in private equity-backed deals.

This is a pretty large disconnect. If CEOs are basing hiring and facilities decisions on expectations of lowered costs, then shouldn't they be buying? If you can commit billions to a new factory in Arizona based on last November election, certainly there's been enough time to sign merger agreements. Or perhaps folks like Krzanich, hawking their silicon wares from the Oval Office, are over-publicized exceptions to the rule.

Go deeper

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden readies massive shifts in policy for his first days in office.
  3. Vaccine: Fauci: 100 million doses in 100 days is "absolutely" doable.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode again.
  5. Tech: Kids' screen time sees a big increase.
  6. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.
Dave Lawler, author of World
6 hours ago - World

Alexey Navalny detained after landing back in Moscow

Navalny and his wife shortly before he was detained. Photo: Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny was detained upon his return to Moscow on Sunday, which came five months after he was poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok. He returned despite being warned that he would be arrested.

The latest: Navalny was stopped at a customs checkpoint and led away alone by officers. He appeared to hug his wife goodbye, and his spokesman reports that his lawyer was not allowed to accompany him.

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

Biden's "overwhelming force" doctrine

President-elect Biden arrives to introduce his science team in Wilmington yesterday. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

President-elect Biden has ordered up a shock-and-awe campaign for his first days in office to signal, as dramatically as possible, the radical shift coming to America and global affairs, his advisers tell us. 

The plan, Part 1 ... Biden, as detailed in a "First Ten Days" memo from incoming chief of staff Ron Klain, plans to unleash executive orders, federal powers and speeches to shift to a stark, national plan for "100 million shots" in three months.

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