CEO Daily: CEOs still want to invest in the U.S.—and China

Despite the pandemic, the break down of whether CEOs want to invest hasn't changed
CEO Daily

May 22, 2020

Good morning.

One final insight from our annual Fortune 500 CEO poll: We asked the CEOs where in the world they saw the best opportunities to invest. Seventy-five percent of them said the U.S. was still number one on their list—the same as last year. Only 10% said China was the best place to invest—roughly the same as last year’s 11 percent.

That suggests that the pandemic hasn’t really changed the investment preferences of the 500. Some pundits had predicted rising nationalism after the pandemic would lead to a new look at Chinese supply chains. Others predicted China’s success in combating the virus would cause their economy to return to health first. But either those trends offset each other, or they had no measurable effect on the CEOs’ plans.

And since it is Friday, some feedback. I received a lot of response to my post on Geoffrey Colvin’s fine piece on Net Promoter Scores. A sampling:

“The number is almost an afterthought. The thought process, the mentality, the actions driven by customer verbatim comments, are paramount.” –J.D.

“I recommend that users of NPS modify their question with context and I propose that they’ll get even better response rates and more valid responses. For example, the new question might be something like this:

 On a scale of zero to 10, if a friend or colleague expressed an interest or need in a service or product similar to XX, how likely is it that you would recommend XX to them?” J.P.

“Net Promoter Score is about treating your customers right. The metric I think CEO’s should pay attention to first is treating their people right. As long as that does not rise to the top of their priority list, all other metrics will be impacted.” –J.G.

More news below.

Alan Murray


China drops GDP guidance 

China has dropped a longstanding tradition of giving a target for GDP growth, at least for this year, according to an annual address given on Friday. The break from decades of tradition was due to "factors that are difficult to predict" around the fall-out of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic crash. Fortune

Hong Kong security law

Mainland China is expected to tighten its grip on Hong Kong, with authorities planning to write a new national security law into the island's constitution. The law seeks to curb anti-government sentiment that incited widespread protests last year, but could also threaten to reignite those tensions. Markets in Asia sank Friday morning on the news. Fortune

21 states  

U.S. jobs data came out on Thursday, and it marked a rise to 38.6 million people registered as unemployed across the country—or roughly the population of 21 states. The 2.4 million weekly filings were down from last week, but experts warned that was not a sign of relief, with the Fed's unemployment estimates starting to look outdated. Fortune

Facebook Works From Home 

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg says the company's staff will move en masse to working remotely, in one of the highest-profile examples of a major company making some of the lockdown changes permanent. Zuckerberg said that over time he expects half of the company's current staff of 45,000 to work from home—but the program will be rolled out to senior engineers and high performers first, suggesting even Facebook thinks working from home is a privilege. WSJ

Content From Deloitte
Fading optimism around near-normal operating levels

As businesses look toward recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, when do chief financial officers think their businesses may return to near-normal operations? According to Deloitte’s latest survey, 60% of CFOs say this milestone may not be reached until 2021 or later.

Read more


A note from Fortune's editor-in-chief

When will economic activity return to the level it was before the pandemic?


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Clifton Leaf



Open for business  

As businesses reopen across the U.S., companies—especially small businesses—say that being open is almost as hard as being closed. Keeping workers and customers safe, including constant cleaning, comes with its own set of costs, even as prices of food and other staples have risen—with some businesses questioning how and whether they can pass those costs onto their customers. WSJ

Can Snoring Be Cured? 

It's surprisingly hard. But with the number of snorers growing, a vast constellation of products designed to muffle (if not exactly address) snoring—for the good of snorers' partners—has sprung up over the last ten years. Those tools range from "snore guards," to pillows and stickers, and contraptions to wear on your tongue or in your nose. Fortune

EasyJet Feud

EasyJet has not been having a good year. The pandemic has wiped out air travel—particularly the budget, European tourism—and it is reeling from a massive cyber attack. It's also in the midst of a feud between its founder, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, and its director—with the founder offering a GBP 5 million reward for information that would result in the carrier's orders for Airbus planes to be cancelled. He says the airline can't afford them. FT

Toilet paper party

When the great toilet paper panic buy of 2020 began, even toilet-paper start-ups were baffled. But they couldn't argue with demand: No. 2, a bamboo-based toilet paper brand popular on Instagram, saw its month-over-month sales on Amazon rise over 5000% in March, and over 3000% on its own site. After selling out, the brand came back with 15 times the production—and the company's founder says its growth means consumers are considering sustainable options, even in a pandemic. Fortune

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by Katherine Dunn.


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CEO Daily: CEOs still want to invest in the U.S.—and China