The Davos Plutocrats Warm Up to Trump

The Davos Plutocrats Warm Up to Trump


“The attitude of the business community toward the Trump Administration appears quite positive,” said Mr. Schwarzman, who runs one of the world’s biggest investment funds. Among the reasons for the warm feelings, he said, are the strength of the economy, trade deals with China, Mexico and Canada, the tax bill and the elimination of regulations.

Still, if there is one topic expected to dominate the week here besides Mr. Trump himself, it will be an issue that he and the Davos community vehemently disagree about: climate change

Just last week, Satya Nadella, the chief executive of Microsoft — and a Davos participant — announced the company would be carbon negative by 2030, and by 2050 it would seek to remove all of the carbon it has ever emitted since its founding in 1975. The World Economic Forum itself announced the meeting would be carbon neutral after it bought carbon credits to offset carbon emission from the event.

Of course, Mr. Trump doesn’t believe in climate change and pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement to the horror of most of the executives and attendees of Davos.

He is likely to hear criticism from activists like Greta Thunberg, the high school phenom who has become a global icon for the climate. And he may get some nudging from C.E.O.s, but, unlike the activists, they will be unlikely to confront him publicly out of fear that he might turn on them or their companies.

“The Davos crowd are well respected followers of fashion and love whomever is in power,” said Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, the senior associate dean at the Yale School of Management and an expert on corporate leadership. “They celebrate when the people are rich and powerful.”

Mr. Sonnenfeld pointed out that, despite the stock market run-up, only “12 percent anticipate economic conditions will improve over the next six months, up from just 4 percent in the third quarter,” according to the Conference Board’s most recent survey of chief executives.



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