General Electric's chairman and CEO wrote this in the depths of the great recession.
This is a quote from Jeffrey Immelt, the highly respected Chairman and CEO of GE (2008 annual report released in March of 2009, page 8).
"I have also learned something about my country. I run a global company, but I am a citizen of the U.S. I believe that a popular, thirty-year notion that the U.S. can evolve from being a technology and manufacturing leader to a service leader is just wrong. In the end, this philosophy transformed the financial services industry from one that supported commerce to a complex trading market that operated outside the economy. Real engineering was traded for financial engineering. In the end, our businesses, our government, and many local leaders lost sight of what makes a nation great: a passion for innovation."
Conventional wisdom often, slowly, swings to the correct view, and this is an important step. GE is a major multi-national corporation that has manufacturing and sales all over the world. Historically, multinational companies have been advocates and practitioners of importing to the US, so Immelt's statement is noteworthy.
One question is whether there will be a critical mass of manufacturing remaining in the U.S. when conventional wisdom finally sees the light. Another question is whether Immelt would support tough actions against China's predatory currency and trade practices since GE has invested heavily there. In 2013 GE announced a new goal to manufacture more in America, and time will tell if it is only marketing or a reality.
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