Opinion

Chrystia Freeland

Immelt on America going “all-in”

Chrystia Freeland
Oct 20, 2011 21:38 UTC

I had breakfast this week with Jeffrey R. Immelt, the chief executive of General Electric, and the main dish on the menu was tough love. In an interview before a packed hall in Times Square, the boss of the more than a century-old $177 billion global behemoth told me that Americans can still win in the global economy — but that they need to fight harder.

“We are not trying that hard,” Immelt said. “We haven’t really tried as hard as we can to compete, educate and sell our products around the world and I think we can do better.

“The world just plays harder than we play,” he said. “Whether it is on exports or whether it is on foreign direct investment, the rest of the world plays for keeps. And we just don’t have a similar philosophy.”

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany has her own reasons for feeling grim, but she can take some comfort from the fact that Immelt pointed to Germany, whose version of capitalism Americans are accustomed to dismissing as plodding and inflexible, as one nation that is outselling the Yanks.

“Chancellor Merkel flies from Berlin to Beijing, there’s 25 German C.E.O.’s that get off the plane right behind her. And they connect the dots. They play hard, they play to win, they play for exports,” Immelt said. “We’re not all-in the same way that the Germans are all-in.”

Wall Street protesters challenge Reagan Revolution

Chrystia Freeland
Oct 14, 2011 13:59 UTC

On a drizzly evening in Zuccotti Park this week, where the Occupy Wall Street protesters are camped out with the modern revolutionary’s gear of iPhone, blue tarp and cappuccino, I spotted one young man wearing a T-shirt with an image of Ronald Reagan and the words “Bad Religion.”

It was the right outfit for the occasion. That’s because the greatest significance of the wave of leftist demonstrations that started in Lower Manhattan and rippled across the United States over the past few weeks is the potential challenge it poses to the Reagan Revolution.

During the 2008 campaign, Barack Obama drew shrieks from the Democratic base, particularly its Clinton wing, by naming Ron rather than Bill as a president who had “changed the trajectory of America.”

The “seagull” citizens of anywhere

Chrystia Freeland
Oct 7, 2011 14:12 UTC

Immigration is always a hot issue when the economy is weak and jobs are scarce, so it should be no surprise that it has jumped to the top of the political agenda in Europe and the United States. But much of the debate today around these centuries-old themes of us vs. them and newcomer vs. old-timer is missing an essential point: in the age of the Internet, the jet airplane and the multinational company, the very concepts of immigration, citizenship and even statehood are changing.

“This is the new wave, the new trend,” Wang Huiyao, founder and president of the Beijing-based Center for China and Globalization, told me. “We had the globalization of trade, we had the globalization of capital, and now we have the globalization of talent.”

Wang recalled that three decades ago, when he first came to North America as a student, there was only one flight a day to China. Today, he said, “there are two or three dozen, if not more.”

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