GM Fatigue Setting In

June 16, 2009 at 5:30 am Leave a comment

PJ005930

Yaaaawn. Sorry to be cold-hearted and insensitive, but I have to admit all this bankruptcy car talk is making me tired and fatigued. According to the Associated Press, General Motors is cutting 21,000 jobs in North America, about 34% of the total workforce – these cuts include pending dealership, plant, and warehouse closings. Twenty-one thousand certainly is not a minor number, but how do you think the other 6,000,000 Americans feel who have lost their jobs in this economic recession since the beginning of 2008?

GM share

Chart Source: The Economist

Don’t get me wrong, I like every other American do not want to see our historic industry vanish into thin air, but as the chart above shows, we have been witnessing this slow motion train wreck developing for decades. Detroit’s combined market share in 1980 was around 75%, and today that share amounts to less than 50%…ouch. Our auto industry needs to become more competitive, and to do so will require tough decisions like the ones being made today.

Does $65 billion in government bailout feel right? Definitely not, especially vis-a-vis the industry track record of government bailouts (i.e., 1980 Chrysler lifeline). History and current industry trends tell us that the odds of taxpayers earning any reasonable return off our bailout contributions will be extremely challenging to salvage.

Politics and votes always play a role when large numbers of jobs are impacted by government decisions, and this case has proved no different. On the flip side, nobody can say the automakers are not suffering tremendously from this bankruptcy solution. I truly believe the surviving entities will be much leaner and meaner to compete in this dog-eat-dog global economy. Sacrifices have been immense, but we’ll never know the true net economic effect had the administration not  bestowed the billions and billions upon this selective slice of industries.

Money goes where it is treated best, and I would have preferred seeing the capital naturally migrating to its most productive use. Perhaps the $65 billion could have provided 65,000 different companies access to $1,000,000 each in financing for creative, and innovative job creating purposes? Only time will tell if our billions in taxes were properly used, but in the mean time I’m going to turn off the CNBC car debate and take a nap. Zzzzzz….

Entry filed under: Financial Markets, Government, Stocks. Tags: , , , , , .

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