General Electric Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Immelt reportedly had harsh words for President Barack Obama and China in remarks at a recent dinner with Italian executives.
The president is anti-business, and China is hostile to big foreign companies like GE, he said, according to the Financial Times.
It’s very rare for the CEO of a major company to make such remarks. GE claims the FT took them out of context.
As for Obama, Immelt complained that the White House has sought too much regulation in response to the financial crisis and that its policies endanger the “tepid” U.S. recovery.
“People are in a really bad mood (in the United States),” he said.
“We are a pathetic exporter. We have to become an industrial powerhouse again, but you don’t do this when government and entrepreneurs are not in synch.”
Business doesn’t like the president, and he feels the same way about business, Immelt said. He contrasted Obama’s attitude to that of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who defends German industry, Immelt said.
He also went after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, saying that while Bernanke pledges to keep interest rates at zero as long as necessary, European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet “worries about inflation every day.”
As for China, Immelt said its adversarial attitude toward foreign companies is making GE look elsewhere.
“I really worry about China,” he said. “I am not sure that in the end they want any of us to win, or any of us to be successful.”
GE faces its toughest business conditions there in 25 years, Immelt said.
“China and India remain important for GE but I am thinking about what is next,” he said, citing “most interesting resource-rich countries” in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and Indonesia.
GE’s issued the following statement in response to the story:
“The comments attributed to GE CEO Jeff Immelt by the FT were taken out of context and, in some instances, inaccurately reported."
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