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FedEx Chief Fred Smith Sees Slow-Growth Economy, Not Another Recession

FedEx Corp. (FDX) doesn’t see a recession or contraction, rather a slow-growth economy, Chief Executive Officer Fred Smith said.

Although holiday season shipments probably won’t increase as much as in 2010, they will still rise, Smith told an audience of chief executives at a General Electric Co (GE).-Ohio State University event for middle-market companies in Columbus, Ohio.

FedEx, based in Memphis, Tennessee, delivers goods ranging from financial documents to pharmaceuticals, making it an economic bellwether. A tax reform is critical to restart the economy in the U.S., where regulation is hampering private investment, a driver of growth, Smith said.

“Our tax policy, our trade policy, our energy policy, and our regulatory policy are almost optimally designed to impede growth,” said Smith, who was interviewed by GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt as part of the event. Smith called some of the regulations “well-intentioned regulations that are job killers, that impede investment and until we address those things it’s going to be very difficult to get back to a reasonable growth rate.”

Smith said he favors a so-called territorial tax system, in which businesses are taxed only on domestically generated income. Smith would also tie an investment tax credit to any repatriation of overseas funds to help boost growth.

“American business, including GE and FedEx, have enormous resources offshore, most of which were earned by making products for local markets,” Smith said.

If money does return to the U.S. is taxed too high, investment will remain weak, he said.

“It’s business investment that’s the horse that pulls the wagon,” Smith, 67, said. “So it’s no mystery why we’re not producing jobs. We simply have inadequate investment.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Rachel Layne in Boston at rlayne@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ed Dufner at edufner@bloomberg.net

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