“The interaction between government and business will change forever. In a reset economy, the government will be a regulator; and also an industry policy champion, a financier and a key partner.” – Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of General Electric
From the first days of this site we have chronicled GE’s mastery of the crony capitalist system. The company is extremely good at leveraging its size and political connections. Arguably there’s no company that works the system better.
When its finances were imploding GE got the government to back stop them. GE got the government to mandate its expensive light bulbs. Governments often pay for the training of GE employees if GE agrees to locate in a certain area. The company is a key part of the military industrial complex. If there’s a wind turbine in your county it was likely made by GE and subsidized by the taxpayer. And on and on. The company knows how exploit government and the citizenry. It seems as if it is always looking for such opportunities.
And Jeff Immelt, GE’s CEO, sees opportunity in sub-Saharan Africa. It is the last part of the world largely devoid of electricity. It’s a giant potential market, but it’s risky. However, if GE could find a way for the US taxpayer to underwrite the risk, to mitigate the downside, then maybe the giant company could do business there.
Luckily for GE President Obama is happy to oblige.
G.E. CEO Jeffrey Immelt, who until early this year chaired the president’s Council on Jobs and Effectiveness, is accompanying Obama on his Africa trade mission. Immelt will clearly appreciate a financial backstop from Uncle Sam. Federal guarantees will reduce G.E. financial risks in Africa and will help it compete better against Chinese companies, which have been falling over themselves to invest in Africa.