WASHINGTON (Reuters) - High tech is so essential to the world economy that the industry will eventually emerge healthy from the recession but the speed will depend on government stimulus packages, said Intel Chairman Craig Barrett, who expressed concern about massive U.S. deficits.
Intel was confident enough about its future that it was keeping its research and development spending and its capital investment steady through 2009, Barrett told Reuters in an interview.
Barrett cited a study by the Semiconductor Industry Association, which predicted a generally down year for 2009.
“Then everybody’s looking for some sort of strengthening going on to 2010. Frankly, that depends on the stimulus packets that the governments are running,” he said. “If you can find a government official that can guarantee the outcome of a stimulus package, let me know. I don’t think they know.”
He also expressed concern about the U.S. deficit spending inherent in financing a $787 billion economic stimulus package and a $700 billion financial bailout program intended to unfreeze the credit markets.
“Pretty soon your currency has, by definition, less value,” he said.
Last month, President Barack Obama forecast the biggest U.S. deficit since World War Two — $1.75 trillion for fiscal 2009 which ends on September 30.
Barrett and top executives from Advanced Micro Devices, Qualcomm Inc and other high tech firms met with U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday to argue for more visas for skilled workers and against a plan to tax corporations on profits made overseas. “We’re not going to pick up and move but you are adding a disincentive (to invest in U.S. facilities) with this sort of tax policy,” said Barrett.
Reporting by Diane Bartz; editing by Richard Chang