Friday, February 6, 2009

Immelt in your hands Daddy Guv

By Justin Baer and Francesco Guerrera in New York
Published: February 6 2009 02:00
Financial Times

The US economy is suffering its steepest downturn since at least the 1970s and could descend into a depression, Jeff Immelt, General Electric's chief executive, warned yesterday.

He said businesses and consumers alike were struggling to contend with tumultuous markets and a financial services industry under siege.

"Unlike the other downturns that I've been a part of, this one is faced with limited liquidity," Mr Immelt, GE's CEO since 2001 told a conference. "Once you break through '74-'75, you don't stop 'til you get to 1929."

When asked whether he would call the current slowdown a recession or a depression, Mr Immelt joked that he would need to refer to his college economics textbook for a precise answer but said "it is one of those" two.

He contended that governments were "firing as many bullets" as they could to stimulate economic growth and stabilise the credit markets. Those measures, he said, should begin to take hold by early next year.

"Governments are all in," he said. "And in my view, government always wins."(Hopefully it ain't a Pyrrhic victory. - AM)

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