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11 questions for Jack Welch

Former GE Chairman joined an live chat and answered viewer questions on the bailout and the stimulus package.

Mr. Welch, do you think we have only seen the tip of the iceberg in the current economic crisis?  -- Thomas Fender
Jack Welch:  No, I think we're getting our arms around it. And if we can get Congress and the government to focus on the banks and get them functioning, we'll see a recovery within the next 18 months.

"Buy America,"  how do you feel about this? -- Jim Thompson
Jack Welch:  I think it's a disaster, we went through this with Smoot-Hawley in the '30s and it reduced global trade by two-thirds in 24 months.

How is this stimulus package going to benefit struggling home owners with their mortgage? --David in Selinsgrove, Pa.
Jack Welch:  David, right now this package isn't going to do a thing for them. The government treatment of the banks has to include mortgage relief in some form and I think it will.

If the Fed would offer 4.5% mortgages across the board it would save many from foreclosure and put a ton of money into our economy. Do you agree and if not, why.  -- Dan Fenlon
Jack Welch:  I think you'll see something  like this in the banking resolution that comes out. It is needed.

Jack, Your 3 point plan is great. What will it take to ensure that job creation is outlined in any stimulus bill?  -- JJack
Jack Welch:  Dear JJ -- thanks. The best we can hope for is transparency where we look at every expenditure and tie it to jobs.

What advice do you have for small business owners and how might we take advantage of any  of the stimulus funds?  --Jason Barnes
Jack Welch:  Jason -- business owners of any size have two areas to focus on: one is preservation, and that means getting costs in line for the tough times ahead. And secondly, innovation has to be part of every employee's job. Every business needs new ways of doing business.

Mr. Welch, I've read your book on winning and it's was an interesting story about your rise in the business word. What are your recommendations for looking for a job in this economy? --Keith
Jack Welch:  Stay positive. Even if it's very difficult, keep your spirits up. Develop a line of thinking about how you can help each particular organization deal with the issues they're facing. Most of all though, stay positive.

Mr. Welch, Ii have 20,000 shares of PG,sell or hold??  --Anonymous
Jack Welch:  Proctor and Gamble is a great company. One of America's best. I like its long-term prospects. But I can't predict markets.

What would be your # 1 suggestion to Obama about this recovery bill? Do you speak to any of his economic advisors and give your input at all?  --Elaine
Jack Welch:  Elaine, no I don’t speak to the economic advisers except through television and our columns in Business Week. He has to create jobs first and foremost. He has to fix the banking system. Credit has to flow like blood in the arteries.

Jack: Why not have the Gov't buy all home mortgages and people pay it back like they pay taxes. The banks can lend money just to business (for the most part) and if you don't pay your taxes/Mortgage to the gov't, you loose what you would loose now -- Bob Belinke
Jack Welch:  I think you'll see something along these lines of government intervention in the mortgage market. The exact form it will take, I don't know.

Is President Obama going to cap the salary of Ben Bernanke and allow the American People (Congress) to have oversight of the Federal Reserve? --Thomas
Jack Welch:  Dear Thomas, I don’t think capping Ben Bernanke's salary is going to have any impact on the solution to our current crisis. And the last thing I want is Congress to determine Federal Reserve policy.