Geithner hails strength of US business sector

WASHINGTON — The US business sector is surprisingly strong, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said Sunday, cautioning that it will still take a “long time” for the wider economy to fully recover from the financial crisis.

By (AFP)

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Published: Sun 29 Jan 2012, 9:14 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 11:22 AM

“I think if you look at the basic health of the American business sector, it’s much stronger than I think anybody would have thought at the peak of our crisis and stronger than many of us hoped,” Geithner said.

“But to be realistic, it’s going to take a long time, still, for us to fully repair the damage, particularly unemployment,” he told CNN television’s GPS program, speaking from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

“We still face tremendous challenges as a country. We’re still repairing the damage caused by a devastating financial crisis that still has huge lasting impact on the basic fortunes of most Americans.

“Unemployment is still very high. Housing is still very, very weak. Construction is very weak. People still have too much debt,” said Geithner.

Nevertheless, the treasury secretary added, the indicators used “to measure basic business health,” are encouraging.

“Profits are higher than the pre-crisis peak. If you look at investment as a measure of confidence, private investment in equipment and software is up more than 30 percent since the trough in the first half of ‘09.

“Exports are up 23 percent. There is broad-based strength in energy, in agriculture, in manufacturing, not just high-tech manufacturing, but even in heavy manufacturing.”

Fresh data on Friday showed the US economy picking up speed in the fourth quarter, but it appeared to be still struggling to click into second gear as investment and consumer spending remained weak.

The economy grew at an annual clip of 2.8 percent in the quarter, according to the Commerce Department, a pick-up from the third quarter’s 1.8 percent and the best pace of the year.

But it fell below average forecasts of 3.2 percent and was hardly enough to give a boost to President Barack Obama, whose record trying to get the economy moving is under scrutiny as he faces a stiff re-election challenge this year.

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