Debt Crises Not A Damper For Some U.S. Businesses | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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 http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

U.S. Officials Believe North Korea Was Behind Sony Hack

The recent attack on Sony Pictures' computer network that resulted in a flood of confidential data has its origins in North Korea, U.S. intelligence officials say.
NPR

Japan's Butter Shortage Whips Its Cake Makers Into A Frenzy

For the Japanese, Christmastime means sponge cake. But a nationwide butter shortage has lead to mandatory butter rationing, forcing cake bakers to seek out substitutes.
NPR

Satanist And Christian Holiday Displays To Go Up At Michigan Capitol

The situation has brought controversy — and energized Christians who realized that a planned Nativity scene was in danger of being canceled.
NPR

U.S. Officials Believe North Korea Was Behind Sony Hack

The recent attack on Sony Pictures' computer network that resulted in a flood of confidential data has its origins in North Korea, U.S. intelligence officials say.

Leave a Comment

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