Archived Content

'This is Not an Ideological Issue For Us'

Oct 4, 2013

Jim McNerney, chairman and CEO of Boeing and chairman of Business Roundtable, commented on the government shutdown and threat of a U.S. default in an interview Thursday with The New York Times. Jackie Calmes reports at the Times' blog, Fiscal Crisis,  in a post, "Bankers and Business Leaders Concerned About Debt Limit." Excerpt:

“This is an issue about the functioning of the U.S. government,”  Mr. McNerney said. “This is not an ideological issue for us. I think the best role we can play is to make it clear that this is an economy, job-threatening and competitiveness issue.”

Even if Congress and the White House reach some accord to avert the worst outcomes – the first-ever default by the United States government – the repeated cycles of self-imposed crises over the budget since 2011 could well have an ongoing cost, he said.

“I think markets are worried that there is a permanent government-generated volatility that the stock markets or the credit markets really haven’t taken into account in the way they price things,” Mr. McNerney said.

On Wednesday, leaders of the Financial Services Roundtable talked with President Obama and other top officials at the White House.  Among those attending were BRT-member CEOs Brian Moynihan of Bank of America, Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs, Michael Corbat of Citigroup and Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase.  “[Both] sides have a pretty good appreciation for what's at stake here," Corbat said, adding that executives are trying to encourage both sides to engage."   (See Reuters article, CNBC video of Blankfein and Moynihan.)

Generally speaking, CEOs are most concerned about the prospect of a government default if Congress refuses to raise the debt ceiling.

 "You can litigate these policy issues. You can re-litigate these policy issues in a political forum, but they shouldn't use the threat of causing the U.S. to fail on its ... obligations to repay on its debt as a cudgel," Blankfein said.

Also, from The Wall Street Journal's blog, Washington Wire, "Business Leaders Say D.C. Impasse Already Hurting U.S. Image Abroad":

Business Roundtable President John Engler could already feel the impact of the political stalemate in Washington during a recent trip to Romania.

“I had people say to me, ‘We wanted to be like you, but now we’re not so sure,’” Mr. Engler said Wednesday. “The overseas assessment is they can’t figure out what in the world we’re doing, and I think they’re embarrassed for us.”

He added:

“There are a lot of CEOs whose jobs consist of negotiations, and successful negotiations are almost never done with one side walking away with everything they wanted and leaving the other side broken and defeated on the negotiating table,” he said.

“You’re advised to be looking for a win-win outcome.”

Apropos international image, Der Spiegel reported this week on the views of German commentators, "Shutdown Spectacle: 'America Is Already Politically Bankrupt'." And from Yahoo News, "Four ways the U.S. shutdown could affect Canadians."