We are entering a new era of enlarged government expenditure and business is going to pick up a hefty part of the tab.

Notes from the CEO – September 2021

DE - Cirlce

Duncan Edwards
Chief Executive Officer
BritishAmerican Business

With the UK August Bank Holiday and Labor Day now behind us it feels like we are all properly back at work either physically in the office (increasingly) or virtually.  Much as I like the summer, I am always glad when this comes around…perhaps it’s a hangover from school but it somehow feels more like a new year than January 1st. 

It’s also a good time to take stock of what is going on in the political world that might impact our members and our mission, to encourage trade and investment between the US and the UK.  Unsurprisingly, the energies of both governments are focused on domestic issues (pace Afghanistan) but there are several items in both the negative and positive columns of the ledger that require focus.   

Until the start of 2021, the list of issues always started with the UK government and Brexit but now, it feels like our members’ concerns are much more toward issues in the US government’s court.  The list starts with the fact that the US remains effectively closed to visitors, unless you have managed to get an exemption, including from the UK which has arguably the best vaccination record of any large country in the world and which has itself opened, with appropriate safeguards, to visitors from America.

Whilst it may be moot with the borders closed, there is also a real problem with the availability of visas for people to come and work in the US or to remain here when their current visa expires.  Trade policy seems to be in limbo and US interventions in the ongoing EU-UK post-Brexit settlement run the risk of being tin-eared. 

On the positive side, I hear from our members that both the UK and US governments get credit for the economic response to the pandemic (and much applause for the roll-out of the vaccine) and the UK’s ambitions for liberalizing trade agreements and for new bi-lateral data adequacy agreements, including with the US, are promising.  But in the words of the song, “what have you done for me lately”. 

What is for sure is that we are entering a new era of enlarged government spending and that business, either directly through corporate income tax and payroll taxes or through increased personal income taxes for employees, is going to pick up a hefty share of the tab.  Opinions about the wisdom of this new spending will vary amongst our members as we have a complete range from flinty hard fiscal conservatives to ‘deficits don’t matter’ social democrats in the membership, but we all need to be clear-eyed about what is happening and how each of our businesses will navigate this new environment.   

Fortunately, BAB members will have access to a range of programs and events over the coming months to keep you up to date with these issues and a whole lot more, as well as a chance to hear from some of the best business thinkers and leaders in the world.  We will continue our series on Sustainability up to and beyond COP26 (including a round table featuring Sandy Boss of BlackRock and one with  Lloyds CEO, John Neal); The Stir will bring you the latest on DE&I and the changing nature of the workplace; our Transatlantic Finance Forum is back in October with a series of events for FS professionals (we kick off with Bank of America CEO, Brian Moynihan during the week of Oct 18th) and there will be a regular suite of briefings for those of you focused on policy and government relations.  I should also highlight what will be a terrific discussion with Delta CEO, Ed Bastian and Virgin Atlantic CEO, Shai Weiss on Purpose as a business tool with our good friend MaryLee Sachs, US CEO of BrandPie. 

We are determined to restart in-person events as much as safety allows and our members want.  First up will be a networking reception hosted by United Airlines in NYC on Sept 23rd.  We know that the chance to meet people physically is highly valued and we will do everything we can to make this happen over the coming months. 

After a year during which we have been cautious with our resources on your behalf, we are now building the team of BAB back up in London, New York and Washington and we all welcome feedback from members.  We are all here for you.