More Business Reaction to SOU

By January 26, 2011Economy, Trade

Nice roundup by WSJ, “CEOs React to State of the Union“:

President Barack Obama made some concessions to the business community in his State of the Union address Tuesday, saying he’d like to lower the corporate tax rate and foster U.S. job growth and innovation. Many CEOs reacted with skepticism as to the President’s ability to deliver on these areas, but noted positively the President’s changed tone in addressing the business community.

Lots of good comments, including Greg Babe of Bayer talking about trade.

Greg Babe, CEO of Bayer North America, was encouraged by President Obama’s mentions of innovation. Bayer’s North American operations spent $700 million on research and development in 2010, and Mr. Babe says the yearly uncertainty on whether R&D tax credits will be renewed is a stress to the company. Mr. Obama didn’t specifically mention these credits.

Mr. Babe says he would have liked President Obama to speak more on free trade. “A lot of other free trade agreements are in the queue waiting for [Korea] to move,” he says. Mr. Babe says the lack of agreements negatively affects the company’s business globally.

Reuters, reporting from Davos, “Obama dose of austerity gets two cheers from CEOs“:

John Studzinski , senior managing director of U.S. private equity company Blackstone, told Reuters Insider in Davos that “the devil is in the details” of Obama’s words.

“Innovation is very important. We have to look at American workers,” he said. “The debate on spending and spending freeze is predicated on the fact that it’s been difficult.”

On trade, the President again alluded his desire to resolve issues with the pending Free Trade Agreements with Panama and Colombia. But what are they? Are we ever going to hear specifics?

President Obama’s speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Feb. 7 would seem like a good opportunity to provide a detailed plan for moving these Colombia and Panama FTAs. We’d be happy with a clear statement: “I am submitting these agreements to Congress for action.”

UPDATE (3:30 p.m.): Christian Science Monitor, “What businesses liked in the State of the Union – and what they didn’t,” which includes this funny observation from Brian Bethune, chief US financial economist for IHS Global Insight in Lexington, Mass.: “After being estranged from someone for two years, you can’t just call them up out of the blue and say, ‘Let’s go out on a date.'”

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