What’s the takeaway from this very interesting read and a rare glimpse of social networking in high places? Dean Baker, an economist for the liberal Center for Economic and Policy Research, offered a clue in a recent blog post. Baker pointed to a December 14th Washington Post story—Baker has been something of a thorn in the side of the Post—quoting David M. Cote, the CEO of Honeywell and an early member of the Campaign to Fix the Debt. “As head of Honeywell,” reported the Post, Cote “has frozen most hiring and capital investment because of uncertainty about the fiscal cliff—a strategy other corporate heads have followed as well to hedge against a new downturn.” Baker took a look at Honeywell’s website, and reported that the company was not putting its expansion plans on hold. In the last two weeks, it announced $20 million in new contracts to produce simulations for industrial companies, a new contract with Boeing, plus the purchase of another company for $600 million.
Is the line about businesses curtailing investments in the Campaign’s “tool kit?” Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini, one of the early members of the Campaign, also made a similar point on the NewsHour a few weeks ago, telling Judy Woodruff Aetna was “gating” its investments and “pulling back on employment” because of the uncertainty surrounding the fiscal cliff. Apparently this uncertainty has not stopped Aetna from making an acquisition of its own. In a press release announcing its third quarter earnings in late October, the company said: “We committed to deploy more than $7 billion of capital for our proposed acquisition of Coventry Health Care.” Perhaps this is another place for dot connection.