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CEO Daily Brief – Feb. 8, 2011

Obama Speaks to U.S. Chamber of Commerce U.S. President Barack Obama has encouraged CEOs and other business leaders to support …

Obama Speaks to U.S. Chamber of Commerce

U.S. President Barack Obama has encouraged CEOs and other business leaders to support America by spending money now being held as savings.

“Now is the time to invest in America,” Obama told a U.S. Chamber of Commerce audience on Monday.

“As we work with you to make America a better place to do business, I’m hoping that all of you are thinking what you can do for America,” Obama said. “Ask yourselves what you can do to hire more American workers, what you can do to support the American economy and invest in this nation.”

However, Bloomberg News quoted Johanna Schneider, who heads external relations for the Business Roundtable, “who said corporations owe their shareholders a duty to make investment decisions based on economic conditions.”

“Jobs will follow demand,” Schneider told Bloomberg. “Unless you see sustained demand for your product or your service, you cannot from a fiduciary standpoint invest in more employees.”

She is absolutely right.

Obama also reminded the audience how he advocated for a free- trade agreement with South Korea, the Bush-era tax cuts, and called for more innovation. These were good starting points, and his reaching out to business leaders is a good thing too.

But with the massive federal deficit, health care reforms and various other new mandates enacted under the Obama presidency, there are still more actions needed to improve the business climate. In the meantime, businesses need to represent their shareholders.

For more about Obama speaking at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as reported by Bloomberg News, please click here.


Groupon CEO Issues Statement after Super Bowl Ads

Groupon ran Super Bowl ads that caused viewers to get angry because of how they poked fun at celebrity endorsement of charity causes, such as Tibet.

In response, CEO Andrew Mason “issued a carefully crafted letter that stopped short of an apology,” The Wall Street Journal reports. “We would never have run these ads if we thought they trivialized the causes,” his statement said. Mason chastised other company’s ads for “crass objectification of women” while explaining Groupon’s ads “were spoofs of celebrity-endorsed public service announcements,” The Journal said.

“We would never have run these ads if we thought they trivialized the causes – even if we didn’t take them as seriously as we do, what type of company would go out of their way to be so antagonistic?”

Groupon is in a damage control mode. But the purpose of the ads aired during the Super Bowl is to get the brand name out the public. The ads have achieved that purpose. The fact they are still being discussed may be a positive for the quickly-growing company.

For more about the Groupon ads during the Super Bowl, as reported by The Wall Street Journal, please click here.


Layoffs Less Frequent with Higher Unemployment

Even though almost one out ten Americans is out of work, those who do have jobs find they are not getting laid off. But they may be asked to do more for about the same salary.

Many businesses cut jobs during the height of the recession. What they found out is that they did not need larger staffs to produce the same amount of goods or services. That means the remaining employees worked harder – a good thing for business.

Still, corporations are hesitant to add too many jobs – in large part because they are still waiting to see what will happen with government regulations and mandates. In a recent story on Yahoo News, it was reported that an average of 4.6 unemployed people are competing for each job opening. In a better market, no more than two unemployed applicants would be trying out for a single opening.

But as customer demand increase, businesses will find they need to hire more workers, Yahoo says. They will do intelligently. They should also expect that their new employees will work hard.

For more about workers and unemployment, as reported by Yahoo, please click here.

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