Jeff Immelt

Grading Jeff Immelt

February 10, 2011: 5:00 AM ET

The GE chief executive has been at the helm for almost a decade now.  How has Obama's job-council czar done?

When the business world woke up on Jan. 21 and heard about the White House's overnight announcement -- that General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt would become chief of the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness -- the buzz quickly focused on just one question: Was he leaving GE? Was the long-standing speculation that he was seeking a way out -- a "graceful exit," as a blogger had put it -- proving true? No, was the answer. But the fact that everyone asked the same question that morning is a message, the world's grim verdict on Immelt's tenure so far: not good.

It's been almost 10 years since Immelt took the helm from the legendary Jack Welch, and this anniversary year invites particular scrutiny. GE (GE), like the economy, is just emerging from some hellacious years; in the depths of the financial crisis, the stock fell briefly to its lowest level since 1991. This year is also the midpoint of Immelt's presumed two-decade term as chief, an extraordinary stretch of runway; the average big-company CEO gets just 6.3 years, says Booz & Co. Like Welch, he got the job at age 45 so that, like Welch, he'd have 20 years to put his stamp on one of the world's most admired companies.

So how has he done? More

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