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Why it matters: The United States is facing the worst collapse in the trust of institutions — businesses, media, NGOs, government — ever recorded in the history of the Edelman Trust Barometer, an annual survey. But while trust in institutions has plummeted, trust in employers has inched up.

Expand chart
Data: Edelman Trust Barometer; Chart: Chris Canipe / Axios

The survey found recovering belief in CEOs, with 64% saying CEOs should take the lead on change rather than waiting for government to impose it.

  • In the U.S., trust in employers rose 15 percentage points over the past two years, more than double the global increase of 7 percentage points.
  • Globally, 72% say they trust their employer to do what is right.

“This is a moment of truth for corporations,” said Steven Hollingworth, President and CEO of the Grameen Foundation, at an Axios Expert Voices event this week. “The monkey’s now on the backs of corporations to show that they’re in it for their country, not just in it for themselves.”

The backdrop: The dramatic drop in public trust has led to political polarization and instability. Some of the factors that have contributed fraying trust levels, according to thought leaders:

  • Many red states feel left behind by the technological revolution that has largely taken place on the coasts.
  • Wage stagnation, particularly in lower income brackets. By contrast, public trust in institutions has risen in countries like China and Indonesia, where there is a growing middle class.
  • Big companies are less connected to the communities around them, thanks to the fall of manufacturing and rise of globalization.
  • Declining local media outlets, resulting in a lack of accurate information about municipal governments and communities.

What’s happening: Some CEOs are already stepping in to address pressing issues.

  • JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett recently announced plans to team up to crack the health care system.
  • Google invested $1 billion in an initiative to teach digital skills to young workers.
  • IBM launched apprenticeship programs — with a particular focus in red states — to teach skills needed for open jobs in those communities.

What to watch: The recent tax cuts present an opportunity for businesses to invest that extra cash in their employees and communities, Hollingworth said.

Go deeper

McCarthy jokes about hitting Pelosi with gavel if he becomes Speaker, in new audio

Kevin McCarthy. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) can be heard saying "it would be hard not to hit" House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with the speaker's gavel if Republicans retake the House in 2022 and he becomes speaker, according to new audio posted to Twitter by a Main Street Nashville reporter.

Driving the news: McCarthy made the comments during a fundraising event in Tennessee, as he was handed an oversized gavel by members of the Tennessee congressional delegation, reports CNN.

Updated 4 hours ago - World

U.S. and U.K. blame Iran for drone strike on oil tanker

Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. Photo: Sameer Al-DOUMY / AFP

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on Sunday that the United States and United Kingdom, respectively, now believe Iran was likely responsible for last week's drone strike on an oil tanker in the Arabian sea.

Why it matters: The United States and Britain now join Israel in accusing Tehran of being behind the July 29 attack off the coast of Oman. Iran has denied involvement.

10 hours ago - Sports

Suni Lee wins bronze medal in uneven bars

Photo: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

U.S. gymnast Sunisa "Suni" Lee won her 3rd Olympic medal on Sunday, taking home bronze in the individual uneven bars event.

Driving the news: Also on Sunday, U.S. gymnast MyKayla Skinner won the silver medal in the vault on Sunday after stepping in for Simone Biles, who withdrew from the event to prioritize her mental health and well-being.