Economic Outlook: Stimulus game

By ANTHONY HALL, United Press International  |  Feb. 6, 2012 at 10:13 AM
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A deal on mortgage relief for homeowners caught up in a paperwork scandal is nearly complete, officials are saying.

This is, of course, the new stimulus package, put together through the judicial system, rather than the legislative process. President Barack Obama probably could not ask a confused Congress for $25 billion in a deal to help struggling homeowners. But Attorney General Eric Schneiderman of New York and 49 other attorneys general, along with lawyers from a banking trade group can pull it off quite nicely. It's a wonder if the administration will pick up on the hint. Here come the lawsuits.

Two years ago, as Congress began to chant of deficit reductions, it was frequently written that the next big pot of money for economic stimulation would come from corporations, which are sitting on mountains of cash and still posting profits. Turns out, that was true.

Among the more startling Super Bowl advertisements was a General Electric 45-second spot that included a worker from Appliance Park in Louisville, Ky., who said, "We're on the forefront of revitalizing manufacturing in this country." Another, in the opening shots, talks about how "my dad and grandfather spent their whole careers here." Yet another says: "What does that mean? It means work. It means work for more people." This woman's comments are followed by a man who says, "There's a bright future here."

The ad is called "Building something big in Louisville."

They're building something big all right.

Isn't GE the company that closed 54 light bulb plants starting in 2007, eliminating 16 percent of its lighting work force -- on top of a previous layoff of 3,000 workers?

In the 1990s, that would be well before GE not only downsized with vigor, but was so good at it HRMagazine in June 1999 wrote, "Emboldened by the success of management gurus like General Electric Co.'s Jack Welch, chief executives have jumped on the downsizing bandwagon in droves."

In March 2011, the Web site Moral Low Ground wrote that GE earned a profit of $14.2 billion in 2010, paid no federal taxes that year and laid off 21,000 workers under GE's current CEO Jeffrey Immelt.

In international markets Monday the Nikkei 225 index in Japan rose 1.1 percent while the Shanghai composite index in China was flat, up 0.03 percent. The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong fell 0.23 percent while the Sensex in India rose 0.58 percent.

The S&P/ASX 200 in Australia rose 1.05 percent.

In midday trading in Europe, the FTSE 100 index in Britain lost 0.19 percent while the DAX 30 in Germany shed 0.1 percent. The CAC 40 in France gave up 0.74 percent while the Stoxx Europe 600 dropped 0.2 percent.

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