IN AN effort to understand their new reality, many American bosses have been studying “The Art of the Deal”. Donald Trump’s autobiography, published in 1987, begins by describing his working week, which mainly consists of frequent calls with his stockbroker, sitting in his office as other businesspeople pay him lavish tribute, and drinking tomato juice for lunch.

If Mr Trump’s routine is anything like the same today, he must be delighted. The broker has good news: the S&P 500 index has returned 6% since his election and on January 25th the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 20,000 for the first time. There have been chief executives-a-plenty lavishing praise on him both in public and in private. Their devotion seems extraordinary. Before the vote, many of the same C-suiters lambasted him as a menace to capitalism and much else.

One theory is that executives are simply terrified of Mr Trump. But many are supportive of him in private, too. They offer two explanations: that they can’t help but respond to his personal charm offensive to big business, and that they are persuaded that there is some substance there. Consider the…Continue reading