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Google chief voices economic optimism at Aspen Ideas Fest

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Lynn Goldsmith/Special to The Aspen Times
ALL |

ASPEN – The United States will emerge from economic recession, but it may be business more or less as usual when the recovery is complete, Google chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt told a packed crowd Tuesday at the Aspen Ideas Festival.

Despite the mixed prognosis, Schmidt offered a dose of optimism on one of the prominent topics at this year’s gathering – the national and global economy.

Like most Americans, Schmidt said he found himself wondering last fall how the country wound up in this mess in the first place, but recovery, he said, is assured and progressing on schedule.

“How do I know this? Because the people who got us into this have told us that,” said Schmidt, earning a laugh from his audience in the Greenwald Pavilion on The Aspen Institute grounds.

And history says so, he added.

“We’re in a classic deep recession and recessions recover,” he said. “In fact, a month from now, things will be better. The signs are there,” he added later.

Quizzed by interviewer Kai Ryssdal, host of American Public Media’s “Marketplace,” Schmidt predicted a U.S. recovery to lead the way globally, crediting the American consumer and the American mindset for pulling the country out of the malaise, though politicians will want to take the credit.

“Americans are optimists. Americans believe in nation,” he said. “We have the fastest growth cycle in terms of jobs.”

Schmidt said he supported the federal stimulus package, but called on the public to make sure the government keeps it promise to withdraw from the marketplace when it’s time.

Asked by “What Would Google Do?” author Jeff Jarvis if a fundamental transformation of the country’s economy would result from the crisis, Schmidt was less optimistic.

“Am I going to far?” Jarvis asked from the audience.

“You’re good at it,” laughed Schmidt, acknowledging Jarvis’ analysis of Google’s success and the author’s application of the principles to other business models.

“I would like it to be true,” Schmidt said, but he noted most of the federal dollars are going to the “incumbents” – the traditional big players in business and industry.

“The majority of power and control is not around innovative business,” he said. “That needs to change.”

Schmidt grouped Google, the Internet information giant, in the innovative sector, but rejected the suggestion from one audience member that the company has become so big it should be regulated.

“Would you prefer government running innovative companies or would you rather have the private sector running them?” he responded.

janet@aspentimes.com


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