29 March 2009

GM's CEO takes the fall - UPDATED UPDATES

GM's CEO, Richard Wagoner, has abruptly resigned at the request of the Obama Administration as a condition of new federal funding. While the recent moves by the Administration toward tighter control of private industry are of great concern, at least this resignation will force some restructuring of the company (along with Chrysler). Of perhaps greater concern, however, is the continued flood of tax dollars to prop up failing industries. The sad truth is that the American auto industry (particularly as centered in Detroit) started failing long before the current recession, and should have restructured themselves years ago. Ford is the closest thing Detroit has to a success story, and that is not saying much.

The newest requests from GM and Chrysler total $21.6 billion, and even before meeting the requirement to present a restructuring plan to Congress, the Obama Administration appears to have promised a new bailout (although a figure has not been named). There is no indication on how far Congress and the Administration are prepared to go with the bailouts, what the final total will be, what the vetting process is, or if there is any kind of a plan whatsoever in place to ensure that the companies will be successful in the end. It all seems a little like fiddling while Rome burns.

President Obama stated today that a short bankruptcy/restructuring period may be necessary for GM and Chrysler, and is giving them a 30-day extension on the original deadline to present a recovery plan. Additional federal funding is the carrot in all of this. Chrysler is also expected to complete a merger with Fiat within that time-frame. The shotgun wedding is being negotiated, in part, by the Administration, with pot-sweetener of $8-$10-billion likely. GM shares dropped like a rock (22.9%) in response to the firing of Wagoner and today's announcement.

One has to wonder if Wagoner is being punished for funneling more GM pac-money to the GOP instead of the DNC. If they had been more like Sores, would he have survived?

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