He was one of the crony “kings” until yesterday. Once the toast of the Obama White House, (he headed the “Jobs Council”) the shareholders of General Electric gave him the ole’ heave ho earlier than expected.
Of course Immelt leaves the scene an extremely wealthy man and much of this wealth comes courtesy of US taxpayers.
The broader market has performed even better. The S&P 500 is up 124 percent. Total shareholder returns have been 207.63 percent.
Immelt came in as an evangelist for globalization and technology. These were the forces that were going to drive GE’s growth, he told Business Week in an interview published just before he formally succeeded Welch. He promised that the company would thoroughly globalize, including hiring more “global leaders” and fewer “Americans with passports.”
Immelt was also a supporter of Obamanomics. He supported the Obama administration’s attempt at economic stimulus, the passage of Obamacare, and environmental regulations. He has long been one of corporate America’s most vocal supporters of policies aimed at curbing climate change, particularly through caps on carbon emissions. In 2011, President Barack Obama appointed him to head a new panel on job creation, which would be remembered for its lack of achievement if it were remembered at all. During the Bush and Obama administrations, GE became perhaps the company known as the embodiment of “crony capitalism.”
“Immelt is a classic example of a rent-seeking CEO who may know what’s good for his own company but not what produces economic growth and private sector job creation,” Fred Barnes wrote in 2011.