Unilever CEO: America Has An ‘Emerging Poor’ Class Dependent On Government Benefits

Paul Polman

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It sounds like Unliever CEO Paul Polman would agree with Mitt Romney’s comment on the “47 per cent.”Polman told Bloomberg:

the U.S. grapples with the rise of an “emerging poor” class dependent on government benefits.

Polman said declining consumer confidence in the U.S. has “people worried” and the recovery in the world’s largest economy will be muted, with 2 per cent growth in gross domestic product “if you’re lucky.” With 46 million people relying on government benefits to buy food, “people scrape by until the end of the month,” the executive said.

Polman is gloomy about Europe too, where he is operating under the assumption that growth will stagnate for at least a decade. He hopes it’ll be better, but isn’t about to bet his business on it.

According to Polman, the strategic response is to take a pessimistic view as a starting point. That way, you aren’t caught off guard should the worst come to pass. Unilever’s strategy has been to focus on emerging markets and lower cost brands in hard hit parts of the world.

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