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Opinion
Barry Ritholtz

CEOs Exit the Trump Era With Reputations Intact

Maybe the idea that "shareholder primacy” is no longer the sole purpose of a corporation is finally taking hold.

Corporate America is focusing on some new constituents.

Corporate America is focusing on some new constituents.

Photographer: Bloomberg

U.S. chief executive officers had a pretty good 2020 despite the ravages of the pandemic and a severe economic contraction. Polls show that the country’s biggest companies and its leaders are enjoying the highest levels of approval among the public relative to almost any other institution. As a group, they are perceived as capable and competent.

This stands in sharp contrast to the ineptness toward the Covid-19 pandemic exhibited by governments at every level. State and local leaders showed a spectrum of incompetence, but the failure was greatest at the federal level. The White House exhibited weak leadership, confused the public with misinformation, failing to even encourage mask wearing. Highly effective vaccines were created in a miraculously short period of time, only to have the Trump administration botch the vaccination roll out.