Summers said the economy will pick up as manufacturers rebuild depleted inventories and consumers replace aging cars. “These imbalances can’t continue forever,” he said. “When they are repaired they will be a source of impetus for the economy.”
Labor leaders and U.S. officials seeking a way to pay for Chrysler LLC's and General Motors Corp.'s benefit programs for retirees might find an important source of aid in an obscure federal subsidy covering certain retiree health-care costs.
Under the provision, known as the health-coverage tax credit, the federal government can pay health-insurance premium costs for early retirees -- those between 55 and 65 years old -- if their former employer runs into financial problems and can't pay promised benefits. In recent years, some early retirees from the troubled U.S. steel industry have used the tax credit, which was created by Congress in 2002. Now some retirees from auto-parts makers also want to take advantage of it.