Forward contracts on popcorn skyrocketed at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange as former TTAC Chief Editor Ed Niedermeyer drew massive fire for his recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. On Sunday, GM’s PR Chief Selim Bingo blasted Niedermeyer for “stepping through the looking glass” and for “carelessly comparing GM’s spending in China to that in the U.S.”
The former marine jet attack pilot and Korean war veteran Lutz (never mind that the aging alpha male loves to be depicted with an un-American French/German Alpha Jet) did not use sissy Alice in Wonderland imagery, but overwhelming firepower. He calls Ed’s articles “rants” and accuses him of swapping “truth” for “cheap political pandering.” He blames Ed of the written equivalent of showing his genitals in Central Park, saying Ed “exposes his naiveté by not knowing (or acknowledging) the rules a foreign automaker must follow to participate and profit in China.”
Indicative for the massive pain Ed is causing GM, Lutz sees it necessary to dig into Ed’s meager finances. Lutz (or whoever did the digging) did not find much: Ed “was paid $27,000 by a Tea Party organization in the last election,” says the article. If Niedermeyer would have remained with TTAC, he could have made more. Not much, but more. Lutz quickly says that there is “nothing wrong” with it – but then why mention it at all?
Once through with invectives and digging into personal finances, Lutz ploughs the furrow laid down by Bingol the day before, namely that no American money ever went to China, instead, it went the other way. Lutz catches Ed making a “most egregious error:” Ed said that GM invested only $8.5 billion in its U.S. operations since the bankruptcy. Wrong, wrong WRONG, shouts Lutz: “Since 2009, GM has invested about $9 billion in plants and people.” The firefight (I understand Ed is on his way to the armory) is loud and making headlines.
Ed has struck a raw nerve at GM. In the shooting business, they call that reconnaissance by fire. If a hail of bullets answers, there usually is something worth defending.
I have my own beef with Ed: Instead of giving the impression that GM is sending money to China (he never said it, but he has been readily perceived as such) Ed should look deeper into money GM had received from China. The story of GM having been bailed-out by SAIC and hence the Chinese government in times of severe cash flow problems, the co-signing of loans, the back and forth of the Golden Share, the India business, all of that has never been properly explained. All I can tell you is that one does not want to be the recipient of Chinese generosity in times of need. The interest payments on that typically are very big and very painful. The Chinese won’t do what Washington did. They want their money back, in full, again, and again, and again.