THIS should have been one of the very darkest weeks in the history of General Electric (GE). The firm founded by Thomas Edison has been a member of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, a stockmarket index composed of leading American companies, for over a century. Alas, mismanagement and a failure to move with the times have turned the erstwhile icon of innovation into a disorganised, debt-laden mess. GE’s shares have plunged to below a quarter of their peak value in 2000. On June 26th GE was ejected from the Dow index and replaced by Walgreens Boots Alliance, a big health-care firm.
Yet on that same day a ray of sunshine also fell on GE. John Flannery, an insider known for his number-crunching skills who has been the troubled firm’s boss since last August, announced details of a much-awaited restructuring plan. Over the next couple of years GE will spin off its healthcare division and unwind its newish stake in Baker Hughes, a…