Stephen Foley: Washington battened down for a storm in a Starbucks coffee cup
Stephen Foley is a former Associate Business Editor of The Independent, based in New York. He left in August 2012. In a decade at the paper, he covered personal finance, the UK stock market and the pharmaceuticals industry, and had also been the Business section's share tipster. Between arriving with three suitcases in Manhattan in January 2006 and his departure, he witnessed and reported on a great economic boom turning spectacularly to bust. In March 2009, he was named Business and Finance Journalist of the Year at the British Press Awards.
Saturday 27 August 2011
US Outlook: Howard Schultz has brewed up a storm with his pledge to withhold campaign contributions to US politicians until they stop their destructive squabbling and put a proper budget deal in place – a budget deal that cuts the national debt in the long term with the mix of cut and tax rises that every economist says are necessary, and also gives an urgent boost to the economy now.
The Starbucks chief executive has a long and growing list of major company bosses who have signed up with him, from AOL's Tim Armstrong, through Walter Robb of Whole Foods supermarkets, to Pete Peterson, the Blackstone private equity co-founder.
As far as starving the beast is concerned, Mr Schultz's boycott will be about as effective as taking one box of Tic Tacs out of the candy store. A corporate pledge never to fund lobbying operations, either their own or indirectly through industry pressure groups – now that might start to drain some of the money from US politics and get some attention in Washington.
But Mr Schultz's campaign is more interesting than just another howl of rage about the state of US politics, revealed in its full horror by the antics of the Tea party and the half-ass, eleventh-hour, anti-stimulus deal that was signed last month to raise the debt ceiling. The open letter he wrote last week that kicked the movement off, and which has now spawned a website – uphillspiral.org – has two parts, and the second part is more interesting than the first.
"We also believe in leading by positive example," he wrote, by way of segue. The world's largest economy is frozen in a cycle of fear and uncertainty, with companies afraid to hire, even though record levels of cash are piling up in corporate treasuries. "The only way to break this cycle of fear is to break it," he said.
So the second part of the pledge to which he and his fellow chief executives have signed up is to start hiring. Now. In numbers.
A favourite pastime of corporate bosses in the last couple of years is to bleat about "regulatory uncertainty" or "anti-business rhetoric" from the White House, as if there is someone, somewhere refusing to wave their wand and magic away the economic woes caused by the bursting of a spectacular credit bubble. Yes, politicians can make things worse or better, and in very profound ways, but Mr Schultz might be about to re-teach a lesson first taught by Henry Ford 97 years ago.
The best way for businesses to ensure demand for their goods and services is to create it themselves.
- 1 The BBC has just done more to eradicate ‘terrorism’ than all our wars since 9/11
- 2 Does the path to true love really lie in these 36 questions?
- 4 Presidential optical illusion offers clues to how brain processes faces
- 5 Roald Dahl letter warning student to 'eschew beastly adjectives' rediscovered after 35 years
King Salman: Just five days in, Saudi Arabia's new king has already overseen a beheading
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary: Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
Presidential optical illusion offers clues to how brain processes faces
Chilling drone footage captures Auschwitz ahead of 70th anniversary of liberation
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Louise Mensch says 'F**K YOU' in explosive tweets about David Cameron, Saudi Embassy and the Queen over King Abdullah tributes
iJobs Money & Business
£16500 - £16640 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing Finance compa...
£30000 - £32000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding business...
£25 - 28k + Bonus: Guru Careers: An In-house / Internal Recruiter is needed to...