Might more stimulus be needed? Not yet, says Geithner.
The Obama team won't seek another spending jolt for the US economy, the Treasury secretary said Sunday, until it assesses effects of the first one.
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In fact, the number of planned job cuts fell 19 percent to 150,411 in March, said Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a Chicago outplacement firm, on Wednesday. This was the second consecutive decline and the lowest number since last October. It usually takes several months after a company announces layoffs for the workforce cuts to actually occur.
Despite the rising jobless rate, some economists see some encouraging signs. For one, it appears fewer pink slips were handed out in March. On a nonseasonally adjusted basis, the loss of jobs was just 58,000. But businesses normally begin hiring workers in March in anticipation of stronger orders for the summer. This did not happen, so the Labor Department found that the nation, on a seasonally adjusted basis, had shed 663,000 jobs.
“The job losses are like a ski slope: They were steep at first, and now we are leveling off,” says David Wyss, chief economist at Standard & Poors in New York. “When we get down the bottom of the mountain, there may be a chair lift in the distant future.”
Some kind of chair lift for General Motors appears to be in the offing, although it’s not clear if the automaker will have to go through bankruptcy first.
“GM will be a part of this country’s future,” said Geithner, adding that the company will need substantial restructuring. The Obama administration’s goal, he said, is for GM to emerge from that restructuring so it can survive without government help on an ongoing basis.
Only a week ago, the Obama team forced out GM CEO Rick Wagoner. CBS’s Bob Shieffer wanted to know if the same would befall executives of banks such as Citigroup and Bank of America, which have received billions in bailout money from the government. Geithner answered obliquely.
He pointed out that when the government needed to act, as in the case of Freddie Mac and insurance giant AIG, it replaced top management. “We will do it in the future if necessary,” he said.
The key factor, he seemed to indicate, would be whether the large financial organizations are loaning money to help the economy. “To make sure they are supporting the recovery, we would make changes in the management if necessary,” he said.