Trump-era volatility has business leaders ‘incredibly frustrated’ in private: Box CEO

Max Zahn with Andy Serwer
·3-min read

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) has surged nearly 10% since Election Day — a rally likely spurred by progress on the development of a coronavirus vaccine but also undeterred by the defeat of President Donald Trump.

While Wall Street has shown a willingness to move on from Trump, business leaders have expressed private frustrations over economic policy under his presidency, according to Aaron Levie, CEO of data storage company Box (BOX) and one of the most outspoken executives in Silicon Valley.

In a new interview, Levie said business leaders have grown exasperated with what they consider chaotic operations and erratic policy decisions within the Trump administration.

“In private, business leaders were incredibly frustrated with just the level of volatility that was happening and the level of chaos that was occurring within the Trump administration,” says Levie, a vocal critic of Trump since before he took office.

“You want to be able to to trust that your government is thinking over many, many years, or many, many decades in terms of the policies that they're enacting,” he adds. “Not that you're going to wake up one morning, and all of a sudden you're going to have a new trade war with a country that now is going to impact your own ability to execute your business.”

Business leaders will welcome a ‘more stable’ policy approach

Over his first three years in office, Trump oversaw the reduction of the unemployment rate to a 50-year low and enacted business-friendly measures such as a corporate tax cut, but some critics in the business community such as Levie pointed to immigration restrictions and trade confrontations that hurt economic performance.

The economy entered a recession this year amid the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19, for which critics have faulted Trump’s mishandling of the virus response and allies have blamed issues beyond Trump’s control, such as the Chinese government’s failure to contain the virus when it emerged in Wuhan, China.

Box CEO Aaron Levie appears on "Influencers with Andy Serwer."
Box CEO Aaron Levie appears on "Influencers with Andy Serwer."

Levie said the business community will welcome a “more stable” policy approach under Biden, regardless of the priorities taken up by his party.

“What I think business leaders want is that stability, that consistency, that thoughtfulness of policy,” he says. “Whether that's Democrat or Republican, I think matters a lot less than then just the ability to have a much more stable political and governance environment.”

Levie spoke to Yahoo Finance Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer in an episode of “Influencers with Andy Serwer,” a weekly interview series with leaders in business, politics, and entertainment.

Trump continues to make the false claim that election fraud determined the outcome of the election, despite a statement on Tuesday from Attorney General William Barr disputing such claims. President-elect Joe Biden won 306 electoral votes compared to Trump’s 232.

Meanwhile top executives like Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos (AMZN) and Walmart (WMT) CEO Doug McMillon earlier this month acknowledged the election results and congratulated Biden. JPMorgan Chase (JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon went so far as to call for a peaceful transition of power and urge supporters of both presidential candidates to accept the outcome.

Levie said he doesn’t expect that Trump will ever concede.

“We probably shouldn't anticipate that there's ever going to be a moment where he accepts that he lost the election,” Levie says.

“I'm guessing that he's going to claim that the whole process was fraudulent until the very end, so I don't hold out much hope, nor do I really care whether he officially concedes at this point.”

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