If CEOs Think Consumer Demand Is a Problem, They Should Demand Economic Policies That Address It

| Fri Jan. 24, 2014 2:27 AM EST

The Wall Street Journal reports that American CEOs are worried about the lousy state of consumer demand:

Chief executives at top companies expect to face a series of pitfalls over 2014, including wage stagnation in the developed world, uneven growth in the developing world and looming cuts in the U.S. health-care sector.

....In the U.S., executives highlighted wage stagnation and underemployment as undermining demand for their goods and services. For instance, although car sales have helped prop up overall growth in the U.S., Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said the 15.7 million cars sold there last year was still below the level reached in 2007.

Alan Clark, chief executive of beer giant SABMiller PLC, said in an interview that growth for premium light beers, which make up a quarter of the U.S. market, is still slow because of higher unemployment or underemployment rates among beer drinkers.

....The problem of passing along high costs to employees also looms large. "It is not a solution to pass (health-care) costs on to the working class, who haven't seen real wage increases," said Bernard Tyson, chief executive of Kaiser Permanente.

This seems very sensible. Wage stagnation and unemployment are huge challenges for companies that make consumer products—which, eventually, includes just about every company in the world. So why aren't these CEOs clamoring for economic policies that might actually address this?