President Trump’s demand that U.S. companies look for alternatives other than China doing business should not be taken seriously, according to one Nobel Prize winner.
“Je can say what he likes, I think they can ignore it,” Oliver Hart told Fox Business’ Jon Hilsenrath during “WSJ at Large.” “I don’t think they should take it too seriously.”
Hart, a Harvard professor who was the co-recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 2016, was reacting to the president’s tweet on Friday, in which he blasted China for hitting the U.S. with more tariffs.
“Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China,” Trump said in the tweet.
“I wouldn’t have thought they need to pay much attention, frankly,” Hart said. “That sounds more like something, you know, made by President Xi in China, if he would order Chinese companies to do it, well, maybe they have to.”
Ken Bertsch, the executive director of the Council of Institutional Investors, a non-profit that focuses on corporate governance, said he feels the same.
“He can say what he wants to, but companies need to have a much broader vision than that,” Bertsch said. “It’s not the role of the president to order companies what to do.”
Hart then added the president really doesn’t the power to order businesses to do anything.
“Unless Congress passes laws on this, I don’t think the president is the one they should be listening to,” he said. “I think they could be, again, sort of thinking to themselves what would our owners want on this?”
And Hart believes those “owners”– the shareholders of companies– might want to follow the president’s call — or not.
“It’s possible the owners, you know, would say, ‘Yes, let’s do this because,’ even though it’s not profitable, it’s good for the country,” he said. “But it’s possible that they would say the opposite. We don’t know. So I think that’s the way to thinking about it.”
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