Friday, January 21, 2011

Obama appoints GE's Jeff Immelt to join his staff of bankers

President Obama has appointed GE's CEO Jeffrey Immelt head his newly renamed outside panel of economic advisers, replacing former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker. Obama touted Immelt to lead his President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness noting that the economy is “in a different place” from where it was and called for a new effort to put the economy into job-creation "overdrive."

It's logical I guess because GE has been a  leader in building stuff elsewhere. And, according to it's latest financial report just released GE earned about a third of its revenues for the year from GE Capital Services, the largest single beneficiary of a key federal banking bailout program. Just a quick reminder from a November 2008 Bloomberg article:
General Electric Co. said the U.S. government agreed to insure as much as $139 billion in debt for lending arm GE Capital Corp., the second time in a month it has turned to a federal program designed to help companies during a global credit crunch.

Granting GE Capital, which isn’t a bank, access to a new Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. program may reassure investors and help the unit compete with banks that already have government protection behind their debt....

GE’s finance businesses are able to seek FDIC debt coverage because its GE Capital subsidiary also owns a federal savings bank and an industrial loan company, both of which already qualify. GE last month started using a new Federal Reserve program designed to revive demand for commercial paper amid the global crisis.

The company’s exposure to the deepest global financial crisis since the 1930s has cut its market value by more than half this year....
This is, of course, just a continuation of "The Bankers White House" as I posted previously. From GE's own web site we learn:
Mr. Immelt has held several global leadership positions since coming to GE in 1982, including roles in GE's Plastics, Appliance, and Medical businesses. In 1989 he became an officer of GE and joined the GE Capital Board in 1997. A couple years later, in 2000, Mr. Immelt was appointed president and chief executive officer.

Mr. Immelt is also a member of The Business Council, and he is on the board of the New York Federal Reserve Bank.
He's on the board of the New York Federal Reserve Bank not because he's an economist but because he controls one of the world's largest banks.

So within two weeks, Obama has now appointed bankers as his Chief-of-Staff, his Chief Economic Advisor, and Chairman of his Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.

Could anyone have anticipated this? Is there a precedent for this in a Democratic Administration and I just missed it?

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