😎 Good Monday morning! Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,280 words ... ~ 5 minutes.
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
New: The Business Roundtable today made a small, symbolic but significant move: 181 of the nation’s top CEOs agreed that driving shareholder value is no longer their sole business objective, Axios CEO Jim VandeHei writes.
The big picture ... Truth is, even the most press-shy, introverted CEOs need to be de facto politicians, thanks to several unambiguous social trends:
Watch for: Mischievous shareholders could use this BRT document to accuse CEOs of worrying about things beyond increasing the value of their shares, a fiduciary responsibility.
Interesting historical note: A half decade ago, Steven Pearlstein, who won a Pulitzer for his WashPost columns on the economy, partly blamed the BRT’s focus on shareholder value alone for the corruption of capitalism.
Tuck away … The BRT members that didn't sign the new document: Alcoa, Blackstone, GE, Kaiser Permanente, NextEra, Parker Hannifin and State Farm.
Swelling employee protests and consumer boycotts have CEOs at large corporations spooked over how and when to respond to hot-button issues during the Trump administration, Axios' Courtenay Brown and Sara Fischer write.
By the numbers: Guns, abortion, immigration and nationalism are among the most controversial issues for companies to take a stand on, according to a Morning Consult poll, "Corporate Social Responsibility in the Trump Era."
Between the lines: Younger, liberal Americans are more likely to want corporations to get involved.
A top executive of a U.S.-based multinational is pushing back hotly against a White House official's assertion that companies are preparing to pull production out of China as part of President Trump's squeeze there.
On ABC's "This Week," White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said that during an Oval Office meeting with a group of executives:
But a source at a major U.S.-based company with a supply chain in China tells Axios:
A former administration official explains: "You can’t site and build factories, train workers, etc., on a dime. And the investments required are enormous, so companies usually wait for certainty in conditions before taking such big steps."
A basketball jersey believed to have been worn by former President Obama at a Honolulu prep school was auctioned for $120,000 in Dallas this weekend, AP reports.
"I don’t see a recession. ... I'm prepared for everything. I don’t think we're having a recession. We're doing tremendously well. Our consumers are rich."— President Trump, speaking to reporters before Air Force One took off from New Jersey yesterday
Three-quarters of 226 economists surveyed by the National Association for Business Economics, in a twice-yearly report out today, see a recession in the next two years.
Why it matters: The economists, who mostly work for corporations and trade associations, think President Trump's tariffs and higher budget deficits could eventually dampen the economy. (AP)
Experts argue that restricting high-capacity magazines "will not stop mass shootings, but they could make the attacks less deadly, giving potential targets precious seconds to escape or fight back while the shooter reloads," reports the Washington Post's Griff Witte.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Despite fervor both at home and abroad, progress on climate change policy remains elusive, as Axios' Amy Harder examines in her "Harder Line" column.
The big problems:
The New Yorker's Susan Glasser profiles Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, 55, as "a heartland evangelical ... the President’s most loyal soldier," and the rare official who "gets the President":
Pompeo has derived his power by being better than anyone else at anticipating where Trump is going to end up ... As Senator Chris Coons, a Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, put it, Pompeo has cultivated a "special skill," figuring out "how to get Trump moving in the direction he wants."
Pompeo in public often refers to the "mission set" he’s been assigned by Trump, presenting himself as ... executor of the President’s commands. "He’s very focussed on whatever the mission is. He’s a West Point guy: Trump wants a deal, so I’ll get a deal," [a former official] said. ...
This ... is the reason that Pompeo has succeeded in becoming the lone survivor of Trump’s original national-security team.
Photo: Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images
Howard University will add Division I men's and women's golf teams, funded by NBA superstar Steph Curry, the WashPost's Wesley Lowery reports:
Why it matters: As such programs at historically black colleges and universities struggle to survive, Curry is making a seven-figure donation to cover Howard golf for six years, giving the school time to raise an endowment, per The Post.
📱 Thanks for reading Axios AM. Invite your friends, relatives, co-workers to sign up here.