Intel CEO Paul Otellini delivers some kind of reductio ad absurdum of the argument that “uncertainty”—caused by the fact that Democratic Party politicians have proposals to change laws—is impeding recovery:
“The decisions so far have not resulted in either job growth or increased confidence. When what you’re doing isn’t working, you rethink it and I think we need to rethink some plans,” Otellini told CNN Money. “Swimming pools in Mississippi are not going to create lasting jobs,” he added.
Companies can’t invest because they don’t know what their health care, energy or tax costs will be in the coming years, Otellini said.
I’d be fascinated to hear Otellini describe to me the past era in which firms knew exactly what their health care, energy, and tax costs were going to be. This was a time in which the future trajectory of oil prices was entirely predictable, and it was clear that congress would never again alter the tax code. A time when general macroeconomic conditions were not subject to any vagaries of fortune. A magical time.
I wish I thought that the CEOs making this kind of argument were just deliberately misrepresenting things out of self-interest. If they were, though, then they’d also be saying true things that would serve their self-interest. For example, the rationally self-interested CEO would be pushing for looser monetary policy to try to do something about the collapse in retail sales. But unfortunately the average American executive is inflicting with ideological self-interest rather than a cooly rational selfishness, so faced with economic problems he thinks the issue must be the mere possibility of progressive legislation passing in the future.
Meanwhile, back in April 2009 Intel seemed to think the stimulus was the greatest thing since sliced bread.