Monday, October 15, 2012

As we approach the election, GM is anything but a long-term success story


So it is now time to start commenting on the GM bailout as we approach November 6. I saw an article in this morning's Dayton Daily News from a Columbus Dispatch writer that  suggested that the bailout benefited the entire auto industry as it kept parts suppliers in business.  That may well be true, and some good thinking was going on in the writing of that article.  But the key question is what will happen long-term related to the bailout -- not just short term, which is the way our political system is configured and the way Americans typically react to an economic crisis.
As of today, GM is still in a horrendous slide, which could be much worse if it were not for its success in China.  In the U.S., their cars are being sold as with deep discounts, or taken off the lots via fleet sales.  The GM Volt is manufactured for more than 60k per unit, and sold for half that! In Europe, GM is doing all it can to distance itself from the Opel brand and replace it with Chevrolet badges. Would any good German buy a Chevrolet knowing what GM has done to Opel, and of course in the recent past Saab? GM management located in the U.S. has thrown the Europeans under the bus, and the latter know it.
GM market share in the U.S. has slid from 23% in 2007 to 17.5% in 2012. The UAW made no real sacrifice with the bailout, while here in Dayton Delphi retirees have lost their pensions. And then stock values and wealth after the $33 share opening in November of 2010.  Now that stock value is at about $20 a share, which represents  a 49% government loss relative to he Dow Jones rise since 11/10 of nearly 20%.
All this begs the question of whether or not we will have to experience another bailout after the election.  If so, Mr. Romney, who has caught plenty of heat for his 2008 remarks, may have been right after all. Growing up Mit often listened to father George, whose old-fashioned business sense is perhaps worth following now.

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