General Electric's first-quarter earnings are the latest victim of the financial sector's credit problems, and the results are the latest example of why hoped-for growth in the world economy won't be immune from problems in the United States.
Here are the numbers that matter:
Profit from the highly international infrastructure division: up 17 percent.
Profit from the commercial finance division: down 20 percent.
That bifurcation shows just how tenuous American finances still are and puts a chink in assumptions touted by many advisers that investors could hide out during market turmoil by putting money in huge multinationals that would stay afloat thanks to demand from abroad. GE's overseas orders were absolutely huge, up 8 percent to $24 billion in the quarter, but core earnings still lost four cents to 44 cents a share from a year ago.
Before the bell this morning, GE's shares fell as much as 9.5 percent.