The Norman Transcript

Nation/World

April 25, 2014

Manufacturers see better times for economy, jobs

NEW YORK — Companies are finally starting to spend some of the cash they’ve been sitting on, and that could mean a stronger economy and more jobs are on the way.

Industrial companies such as General Electric, Honeywell and Caterpillar have been posting strong financial results in recent weeks and telling investors that orders are strong. That means other large companies are investing in expensive equipment they need to grow their business, economists say.

“We’re on the brink of that inflection point where the economy can really take off,” says Diane Jaffee, a portfolio manager and managing director at the Trust Company of the West. “What’s different now is that the industrial companies are saying there is real demand.”

In the years since the Great Recession, big manufacturers have cut costs, slimmed down their operations, and accumulated cash. They’ve had to because their customers — other big businesses — were too worried about some part of the global economy to hire people or buy equipment that takes years to pay off.

Political wrangling in the U.S. shut down the government and led the country to nearly default on its debt — more than once — even as the U.S. economy was struggling to improve. At the same time, the enormous European economy was mired in a debt crisis and a subsequent recession.

Now, finally, the economies of the U.S. and Europe are showing steady progress, and while Chinese growth appears to be slowing, it remains strong.

“U.S. gets a little bit better every day. Europe is improving. The growth markets continue to expand and will provide growth during the year even with volatility,” General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt told investors last week.

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