Change, or Else

Bashing big business used to be the preserve of politicians on the left. But so unpopular are America’s corporate titans—ranking below even newspapers (see chart)—that attacks on them were as much a feature of this month’s Republican convention as they were of the just-concluding Democratic bash. Unsettled by this hostility and harbouring some concerns of its own, about things like the accuracy of reported results and the structure of public companies and markets, the business community is responding. Hence the release, on July 21st, of a report labelled “Commonsense principles of corporate governance”, containing 77 suggestions compiled by 13 of America’s most prominent chief executives during a year of secret meetings. None of the bigwigs’ suggestions are particularly exceptional. They may not soften the hearts of those who are fundamentally opposed to business. But any attempt to meet concerns that companies are feckless and undeserving of trust is worthwhile. More such initiatives might mean that four years hence, rather than facing a storm of criticism, there might even be a convention willing to give a cheer.

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