Aug 17, 2018

Axios PM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

Situational awareness: ESPN will not be broadcasting the national anthem before "Monday Night Football" games this year, President Jimmy Pitaro told reporters today.

1 big thing: Trump's CEO-friendly tweet

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

President Trump today proposed a major change to corporate transparency, in a tweet calling for the Securities and Exchange Commission to change quarterly reporting for publicly-traded corporations.

"In speaking with some of the world’s top business leaders I asked what it is that would make business (jobs) even better in the U.S. 'Stop quarterly reporting & go to a six month system,' said one. That would allow greater flexibility & save money. I have asked the SEC to study!"

That "one" was outgoing Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi, who told Axios today in a statement:

  • "Many market participants, as well as the Business Roundtable which we are a part of, have been discussing how to better orient corporations to have a more long-term view."
  • "Most agree that a short-term only view can inhibit long-term strategy, and thus long-term investment and value creation. My comments were made in that broader context, and included a suggestion to explore the harmonization of the European system and the U.S. system of financial reporting."

One case for ending quarterly guidance (but not reporting, as Trump proposed):

  • "The pressure to meet short-term earnings estimates has contributed to the decline in the number of public companies in America over the past two decades. Short-term-oriented capital markets have discouraged companies with a longer term view from going public at all, depriving the economy of innovation and opportunity." [Jamie Dimon and Warren Buffett]

The other side:

  • "Scrapping the quarterly requirement 'is a solution in search of a problem,' said Charles Elson, a professor and director of the University of Delaware's Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance. 'Earnings manipulation can take place whether quarterly or every six months.'" [AP]

Between the lines, from Axios business editor Dan Primack:

  • Europe only requires publicly-traded companies to report full financials on a semi-annual basis.
  • But some European exchanges still require quarterly reports, at least for large companies, while many European companies continue to report at least top-line numbers on a quarterly basis (often to satisfy shareholders).
  • Halving the number of reporting periods is certain to reduce the amount of information available to investors, without solving the core problem of CEOs trying to meet artificial data deadlines.
  • A much more commonly-suggested fix would be to change CEO incentives, primarily by decoupling compensation from short-term stock price goals.

The bottom line: This was just a request to study the idea, but it gives Trump another talking point in addition to deregulation and the tax cuts when he hears CEO concerns over social issues and immigration.

Bonus: GIF du jour
Satellite loop showing wildfire smoke drifting across the Atlantic, towards Western Europe. Credit: Data: RAMMB / CIRA; GIF: Harry Stevens/Axios

Smoke from devastating wildfires burning from California to British Columbia has traveled all the way across the Atlantic Ocean, having hitched a ride with west-to-east moving storm systems.

2. What you missed
  1. At it again: Trump said he'll be taking away Justice Department official Bruce Ohr's security clearance "very quickly... I think Bruce Ohr is a disgrace." Go deeper.
  2. More Trump tweet news: The president has cancelled his request for a D.C. military parade in 2018, blaming local politicians. D.C.'s mayor mockingly called his tweet "sad" in response.
  3. Live from New York: Governor Andrew Cuomo walked back his earlier statement this week that America "was never that great," prompting Trump to compare the gaffe to Hillary Clinton's "deplorables" comments. Go deeper.
  4. U.S. and Chinese negotiators are working on a framework to end the trade dispute between the two countries, which would revolve around talks between Trump and Xi Jinping when they meet for international summits in November, the Wall Street Journal reports, citing officials from both countries.
  5. The U.S. has sanctioned four commanders in Myanmar's military and Border Guard Police as well as two military units for their involvement in ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims and other human rights abuses. Go deeper.
3. 1 beach read

Illustration: Axios Visuals

When I was a young pup at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, I learned that one of the most exotic spots in Virginia was Tangier Island in the Chesapeake Bay, where residents speak a unique dialect descended from Elizabethan English.

"Chesapeake Requiem: A Year with the Watermen of Vanishing Tangier Island," by Earl Swift (who circumnavigated the Chesapeake Bay by sea kayak) opens with shoreline maps showing rising seas that threaten this living time capsule.

  • "It is a community unlike any in America. Here live people so isolated for so long that they have their own style of speech, a singsong brogue of old words and phrases, twisted vowels, odd rhythms."
  • "Its virtually amphibious men follow a calendar set by the Chesapeake Bay blue crab, and they catch more of the prize delicacy than anyone else."

Thanks for a great week, and enjoy the weekend — only 17 days until Labor Day.

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Mike Allen