Goodbye, United States

Much has been made of the United States’ isolationist position regarding climate change at the recent G-20 summit. At the gathering of the national governments of the twenty largest economies on earth, nineteen spurned the United States and endorsed the Paris Accord.

Nevertheless, that was solely a political event. What about the business community? Will private corporations throughout the worlds’ leading economies spurn the U.S. market as well?

The jury is still out on that question, but a few days ago, one global financial organization offered an implicit response. Manulife, the insurance company and financial services organization that is headquartered in Canada, indicated that it is interested in spinning off its John Hancock subsidiary.

Manulife acquired the Boston-based John Hancock in 2004 to gain access to the United States financial services market. After thirteen years of disappointing returns, it is apparently considering a withdrawal from the U.S. market to focus on more promising opportunities elsewhere.

Where? They haven’t publicly declared their intentions. But Dow Jones reported that “the Canadian insurer is instead focusing on expanding in Asia.”

Dow Jones also reported that the spinoff transaction is being considered after “some months of work by investment bank Morgan Stanley to sell pieces or all of the John Hancock unit.” Apparently, these assets failed to prove attractive to potential buyers.

The Manulife story raises the possibility that global investors and businesses are no longer flocking to the shores of the United States to purchase its corporate assets. Is it possible that the current political environment in Washington DC is contributing to their disinterest?