Morning Bell: Our Economy Can’t Afford More GM “Success” Stories
James Gattuso /
Celebrating the company’s Wednesday initial public offering, President Barack Obama last night called his government takeover of General Motors a “success story.” “American taxpayers are now positioned to recover more than my administration invested in GM,” he said. Left unsaid is the fact that if the Obama Administration keeps selling their GM stock at the IPO price, the U.S. taxpayer will lose $10 billion on the deal, and that does not include the loans GM still owes, cash for clunkers, the Chevy Volt subsidies, or the millions of unseen costs the unprecedented intervention has inflicted on our economy.
No matter what you hear from the President’s defenders, always remember that it did not have to be this way. As late as April 30, GM’s bondholders were willing to take a 58 percent equity stake in the company in exchange for canceling their $27 billion in unsecured GM bonds. But under their deal, the federal government would have had no control over this new company, while the United Auto Workers union would have received a minority share of the company and the taxpayers would have been protected as a secured creditor. An even better outcome would have been for the federal government not to have supplied taxpayer cash at all and let all creditors take their lumps from an unbiased bankruptcy judge. But President Obama just couldn’t keep his government out of it.
So he publicly bullied the GM bondholders into accepting a much worse deal. Under the White House plan, the federal government was awarded a 60 percent stake of GM, the Canadian government got 12.5 percent, and GM’s unions got 17.5 percent while the bondholders walked away with just 10 percent. Defenders of the bailout say all this was worthwhile because the effects of a failure of GM would have been catastrophic. But that ignores both the deal the bondholders first offered the unions and the possibility of an expedited—but non-political—bankruptcy proceeding. (more…)