2:07 pm June 19, 2009, by Henry Unger
General Electric Vice Chairman John Rice said today the economic recovery is not around the corner.
“We are in a tough, tough part of the economic cycle,” Rice told reporters in Atlanta. “I’m not particularly of the green shoot group yet,” he said, referring to those who think favorable signs are emerging. “We don’t see the rebound in our order patterns. … We’re preparing for 12 to 18 months of rough sledding.”
Rice, who lives in Atlanta, heads the $46 billion segment of GE called Technology Infrasture. It includes health care equipment, aircraft engines and locomotives.
He said the credit restraints still being imposed on “good consumers with good credit” are hampering a turnaround.
“Until that changes, I don’t think you’re going to see a consumer-led recovery,” said Rice, former chairman of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce.
He also spoke about health-care reform, which is dear to his heart because of all the equipment and information technology GE sells.
GE recently launched what it calls a “healthymagination” initiative it hopes will increase the affordability and accessibility of health care.
“We’re going to get costs out of the system,” Rice pledged.
To do that, he said, GE knows that some of its top-of-the-line diagnostic imaging equipment is too expensive for some community hospitals and clinics here and abroad. So, he said, the company is developing “the right bells and whistles, instead of all the bells of whistles,” for those providers.
That will be good enough to serve the overwhelming majority of patients in a cost-effective way, he said. Those who need the more sophisticated equipment would then go to the bigger, more comprehensive hospitals that can afford it.
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