One for one, and all for me
Q: Although they now have record amounts of cash on their balance sheets, corporate executives have been reluctant to hire and invest, complaining loudly of a new "anti-business" attitude in Washington. Is this public criticism courageous business leadership or an abdication of personal and corporate responsibility?
After slashing overhead, laying off employees and raising consumer prices, many US businesses now have record amounts of cash on their balance sheets--often the result of tax breaks and government incentives like the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), made at taxpayer expense. Yet corporate executives across the board, from banks and mortgage lenders, to airlines and manufacturing, have been reluctant to expand and invest in the future by providing loans and rehiring employees. Rather than 'all for one and one for all', America's business leaders have adopted more of a 'one for one and all for me' approach, detrimental to our country's economic recovery
As the motto found in Alexandre Dumas' 1844 novel goes, the Three Musketeers stay loyal to each other through thick and thin, 'all for one and one for all'. Yet in our example, the three main players, government, business and taxpayers, seem to be operating under different perceptions of responsibility with little effort at grounding assumptions in reality. Rather than accept any responsibility for generating our economic crisis or responding to government and taxpayers urgent requests to loosen up purse strings and display some of the optimism they profess to consumers, business leaders respond with complaints about 'anti-business' attitudes. What this reveals is more of the same single mindedness that got the country into this predicament in the first place.
Many government leaders have congratulated themselves on their fast response to the Wall Street crisis. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner testified to a Congressional Oversight Panel last month that "the actions the government took have helped stabilize the financial system", "restore growth" and we are "well on the way to winding down TARP". Yet he concedes, "our economy is still going through an incredibly difficult period". Similarly, several authors have predicted that the US economy has not yet hit bottom. With the self serving protectionism, lack of responsibility and defensive attitudes we have seen lately from business executives, this prediction seems more and more likely to become a reality.
Posted by: n_mcguire | July 6, 2010 1:58 PM
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