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GE's Immelt to head Obama's new economic panel

world Updated: Jan 21, 2011 14:30 IST

US President Barack Obama will name General Electric Chief Executive, Jeffrey Immelt as head of a new advisory panel focused on promoting economic growth by investing in business, the White House said on Friday.

The new "President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness," will work to find ways to encourage businesses to hire and invest in US competitiveness. "Jeff Immelt's experience at GE and his understanding of the vital role the private sector plays in creating jobs and making America competitive makes him up to the challenge of leading this new Council," Obama said in a statement.

Bringing Immelt on board solidifies Obama's efforts to improve his relationship with the business community, with whom the White House has had strained ties for the last two years. Obama will make the formal announcement during a visit to a GE plant in Schenectady, New York, later on Friday.

Earlier, the White House said that former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker was stepping down from his role as head of a separate outside panel advising the White House on economic policy. That group dissolves in February.

Immelt also served on the Volcker chaired panel.

He wrote in an opinion piece published on The Washington Post website, that businesses shared a responsibility to boost the economy. "The president and I are committed to a candid and full dialogue among business, labor and government to help ensure that the United States has the most competitive and innovative economy in the world," he wrote.

"There is always a healthy tension between the public and private sectors. However, we all share a responsibility to drive national competitiveness, particularly during economic unrest. This is one of those times."


The White House said the Immelt led council will work to promote growth by training workers to compete globally and to attract good jobs and businesses to the United States. The new presidential panel is meant to pick up where Volcker's group left off, focusing on growth after the last two years were spent pulling the United States out of the biggest recession since the 1930s.

Obama thanked Volcker and said he would continue to rely on him for advice. "From his bold vision around how to reform our financial system to his thoughtful insight on how to make our economy work for working families again, Paul brought his brilliance and vast experience to bear on a host of difficult challenges," Obama said. "I have valued his friendship and skill over the years, and I will rely on his counsel for years to come," Obama said.

The former central banker was the driving force behind the "Volcker Rule," a provision in last year's financial reform bill that puts limits on proprietary trading by US banks. Many on Wall Street vigorously fought the Volcker Rule and some sought to portray Volcker as out of touch with the modern financial system. But he has also received credit for reining in financial industry excesses that prompted the global economic crisis.