Michelin North America is asking US political leaders to find a solution to the country’s deficit issues and capitalise on business expertise in tackling the challenges.

The US is currently running a US$700bn to US$800bn deficit – considerably down from last year – but a figure nonetheless many observers think too high.

“We are trying to ask political leaders to do something in the long term that will not benefit them in the short term,” Michelin North America chairman and president, Pete Selleck, told just-auto at today’s (14 January) Detroit unveiling of the manufacturer’s new Premier A/S tyre.

“Obviously there was a [political] deal at the end of the year, which was a basic step. There [does] not seem to be the sense of urgency or the political courage to do the big deal. The deficit, which was US$1.2tn dropped last year to US$700bn-US$800bn

“If nothing is done, the debt will take off again. That is where business leaders come in. We are involved with ‘Fix the Debt’ – it is hundreds of corporations to try to get this message out. More and more leaders are realising they can’t be passive on the issue.”

Despite concerns surrounding the debt and deficit, the US economy is recovering from its serious downturn, although Selleck categorised growth of around 2% as “nothing to jump up and down about” and that it could be a lot better.

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“If we were running a balanced economy, we would see a lot more investment and a lot more job creation,” he said.

Some speculation at NAIAS this week has raised the possibility of downturns occurring in seven-year cycles, but the Michelin North America chief says it is “not engineering another cataclysmic event” into its strategic planning, preferring to ‘invest very aggressively’ in a difficult situation.

Michelin did not reduce headcount during the recession, preferring to use creative practices such as reduced hours, but is now recruiting again, hiring some 1,200 people in a combination of attrition replacement and new jobs.