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2 | BUSINESS AND SOCIETY freshfields.com

n the morning of 9 November,

as the world awoke to the

news that Donald Trump

had been elected president of the

United States, clients of investment

bank Macquarie received an analyst's

note. 'Dawn of a new age,' it read.

'Populism reigns. Status quo - RIP.'

In truth the patient had been dead for some time.

The first signs that all was not well had been the

emergence of new political forces such as Italy's

Five Star Movement and Podemos in Spain,

whose anti-establishment rhetoric hit a nerve in

austerity-stricken Europe. Their rise was followed

by a surge in support for right-wing populists -

Marine Le Pen in France, Geert Wilders in the

Netherlands. Then the UK voted for Brexit and

America voted for Trump. Suddenly electorates

across the West were using the ballot box to express

disquiet not just at the prescription of austerity

but at what they saw as the disease itself -

globalisation and everything that came with it.

There is no doubt the financial crisis and its

aftermath have damaged the relationship between

business and society. Since 2008 there has been some

measure of economic recovery in the developed world

but the benefits have not been shared. Populists

are using the resulting anger as a source of strength,

which in turn is driving established politicians

to adopt more populist positions. The impacts

of this shift are profound - on an operational level

business must adapt to the breakdown of Western

multilateralism and its effect on international

trade, and the increasing influence of politics on

cross-border M&A. It is shaping the laws and

regulations that govern corporate tax, environmental

standards and the responsibilities of business in

There is no doubt

the financial crisis

and its aftermath

have damaged the

relationship between

business and society. O

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