P&G Boss Tells Presidential Hopefuls to Lighten the Gloom

27 June 2008

CINCINATTI: The contenders in this November's US presidential election have been urged to ease up on gloomy economic rhetoric by Procter & Gamble chairman/ceo AG Lafley who fears they will talk the nation into "worse recession".

Lafley (pictured) believes there was too much "negativism" in the battle between Democrat candidate Barack Obama and his rival for the party's nomination, Hillary Clinton.

He wants a "different dialogue" between Obama and Republican hopeful John McCain.

In an interview with the UK's Financial Times business daily, Lafley said: "You know we are in a business where psychology matters – even in the staples business – and in the economy psychology matters. It could go negative on the economy, that could be a problem . . . We will talk ourselves into a worse recession."

He also hoped the race for the White House would less "rhetoric about the evils of trade and especially international commerce.

"I really do believe ... that while there are always winners and losers in any transition, by and large the standards of living have been improving around the world and that in the end is the measure right?" 

Nonetheless, the head of the world's biggest consumer products maker concedes that inflationary pressures on all commodities and fuel are a cause for concern.

He added: "We have never seen the energy cost and commodity cost scope or scale that we have today. There is not a material that we are buying that is not under inflationary pressure and I honestly haven't seen that before. In the 1970s it was oil and oil derivative materials, now it is agricultural products, it is the full range of minerals and everything is up."

However, Lafley said P&G was on target to achieve its organic sales growth target of between 4% and 6% this year.

Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff