THE leaders of America’s multinational firms are usually a picture of self-control, with sincere handshakes, grown-up hair and scripted sound bites. But ask them about the election and emotion takes over. At a drinks party in Manhattan, a mega-bank’s boss froths that Donald Trump is a madman. Thumping an office table, the head of one of the country’s biggest technology firms, and a rare Republican in Silicon Valley, solemnly vows to vote for Hillary Clinton. The chief of a huge transport firm giggles uneasily that a Trump presidency will destroy free trade—and his firm’s booming business with Mexico.

The feeling of contempt is mutual. On June 29th Mr Trump laid into the Chamber of Commerce, big business’s favourite lobbying organisation. “It’s totally controlled by the special-interest groups,” he said, to wild cheers from a crowd in Maine.

Big international firms do not share Mr Trump’s diagnosis of America as a country that has stopped winning. For them, it has been a golden decade. Share prices are near an all-time high; the operating earnings of S&P 500 firms have risen by 137% since the crisis year of 2009. Many of...Continue reading