NPR : News

Filed Under:

Debt Crises Not A Damper For Some U.S. Businesses

Despite concerns about Congress and the European debt crisis, most U.S business owners remain optimistic and expect growth to continue this year, the heads of both General Electric and FedEx said Thursday.

"There's still a lot of growth," GE CEO Jeff Immelt told about 600 executives attending a conference on middle-sized businesses. "It's a long, slow recovery ... but it is getting better."

FedEx CEO Fred Smith agreed, saying that shipments of goods continue to reflect a growing economy. "We don't see a contraction," Smith said, "just slow growth; steady as she goes."

Immelt, who serves as chairman of President Obama's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, and Smith were featured speakers at the "Leading from the Middle" conference, focused on businesses with annual sales of $10 million to $1 billion. That group covers about 200,000 firms, with 41 million jobs. GE sponsored the event in partnership with Ohio State University's Fisher College of Business.

Immelt said GE's customers have "a lot of cash ... and a fair amount of optimism." But growth is being restrained by worries that the European debt crisis could evolve into a global banking crisis, and that political paralysis will prevent Congress from taking actions to help businesses.

"Congress doing just one bipartisan thing would help" build confidence by showing that the political process is not completely broken, Immelt said.

Smith also said Congress' inaction is restraining growth. Existing policies on taxes, trade, energy and regulations are "optimally designed to impede growth," he said.

Still, based on goods being shipped, Smith expects holiday retail sales to grow by 2 to 3 percent. That would be down slightly from last year, but still positive, he said.

The evidence of business optimism is showing up in the bellies of FedEx planes. "People are voting with their shipments," he said.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit


From Solitary To Stardom On The Court: What It Means To Be 'Tuff'

Before his success in the NBA, Caron Butler overcame a rocky youth in the inner city. Drugs and violence nearly derailed him — but, as he writes in a new memoir, he managed a dramatic turnaround.
WAMU 88.5

Invasive Insect Could Wreak Havoc On U.S. Tomato Crop

A virginia tech plant pathologist says it's time to implement quarantine measures on tomatoes being imported from other countries where the South American Tomato Leafminer has already taken hold.

Chaffetz Leaps Into Race To Succeed Boehner As Speaker

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, announced he will run for speaker of the House, challenging GOP majority leader Kevin McCarthy to become the successor to outgoing Speaker John Boehner.

#MemeOfTheWeek: That Article From The Onion About Mass Shootings

The article reveals what the writers really feel about mass shootings in America, something mainstream media couldn't do.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.