It is never a good sign when a global corporation with customers across almost the entire world and a broad array of businesses says it will cut workers because of theĀ economic slowdown. ButĀ  A.G. (NYSE: SI), arguably the world's largest conglomerate after General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE), will begin the process to downsize. According to Reuters:

Germany's Siemens may outline job cuts and office closures on Thursday to stop profits sliding as customers put off ordering engineering equipment because of Europe's economic crisis.

Chief Executive Peter Loescher's strategy of boosting growth with energy-saving and infrastructure products has not worked and analysts expect him to present managers with a plan of up to 4 billion euros ($5.2 billion) in savings.

Siemens claims that it does business in more than 150 nations. It is a leader in energy technology, health care products, the building of industrial facilities and the creation of infrastructure for governments and private enterprise. In other words, it operates across a large number of sectors. And, in terms of its mix of businesses, it looks like GE. Conglomerates may not be a perfect proxy for global business activity, but they are probably the closest one available.

Douglas A. McIntyre

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