It wasn’t long ago that the Detroit Three were fending off the Japanese on home soil as the Land of the Rising Sun cranked out reliable car after reliable car for the American masses. Then came the Koreans — Kia and Hyundai — who brought over cheap metal to win market share but quickly turned around their quality and reliability woes and produced some of the best products in the industry.
So why is it that, after 108 years of building automobiles, General Motors still manufactures abysmal garbage?
Back in 2004, perfectionist homemaker and well known TV personality Martha Stewart was charged with insider trading. As presented, the facts in the case were simple. Martha owned stock in a medical research company called ImClone and, like a lot of people who invest in tech firms, she was hoping for a big payout when their product, a promising new cancer treatment, went on the market. Unfortunately, the FDA chose not to approve the drug and the value of the stock looked set to take a beating once the decision was announced. According to the charges initially brought against her, Martha and many of the company’s top executives learned of the FDA’s decision though their inside connections the day before it was publicly announced and were able to sell their shares before they crashed. That’s against the law and many of the people caught up in the scandal, including Martha who was convicted on the charge of making false claims to a federal investigator, ended up going to jail. Read More >
GM’s European dealers had their run-ins with the company lately, but wait until their read GM’s annual report to the Security and Exchange Commission. In its 2012 10K, GM writes about its European dealer network:
“To determine the estimated fair value of the dealer network, we used the cost approach with adjustments in value for the overcapacity of dealers and the sales environment in the region. We determined the fair value to be $0.
So you think GM had a big profit last year? There are other people who say that GM should have reported a $30 billion loss. At least as long as GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) are applied. How did that happen? It’s a puzzle palace of assets out of thin air, of non-paid taxes on assumed future earnings. It started in 2010 … Read More >
What’s 10 million these days – give the man a raise!
Up until the mid-1800s, debtor’s prison did await those who could not pay their debts. To this day, more than a third of U.S. states allow debtors to be jailed for non-payment. If you run a company called GM, Ally, or AIG, not only do you keep your freedom, you will be bailed out by the government, and given a $10 million salary. Waitaminute, you say, aren’t executive salaries of bailed-out companies limited to a still very generous $500,000? This is exactly the question the special inspector general for the Troubled Assets Relief Program asked. The answer, provided in a report to Treasury Tim Geithner, and the public, is scathing: The Treasury Department ignored its own rules and approved “excessive pay packages” for the leaders of bailed-out companies. Read More >
Europe’s second-largest automaker and GM alliance partner PSA Peugeot-Citroen is being saved from the brink for the time being. PSA is putting the final touches on an agreement with creditor banks on 11.5 billion euros ($14.9 billion) of refinancing, in addition to 7 billion euro ($9 billion) in government guarantees for its captive financing arm Banque PSA Finance, Reuters says.Read More >
The French government will provide multi-billion euro guarantees to GM’s alliance-partner PSA Peugeot-Citroen via PSA’s banking arm, Reuters says. Don’t bet on it happening: There is already opposition from Germany, and wait until Brussels officially hears of the deal. Read More >
Longtime reader and new contributor Tyler Vandermeulen is a financial analyst by day. He took a deep dive into the EDGAR database to unearth how much of GM’s money flows abroad. Please welcome Tyler with the respect he deserves. Rude comments will not be tolerated.
Before the bailout of General Motors, it was well understood that the world’s largest automaker was losing huge amounts of money in the US and was staying afloat thanks to stronger performance in overseas markets. Since the bailout, however, that dynamic has been turned on its head. Thanks to a leaner manufacturing footprint, debt eliminations and steadily recovering sales, GM’s US operations have generated the lion’s share of the company’s profit since the bailout. And now, as the rest of the world economy slows, GM is spending more and more of its taxpayer-enhanced cash pile to shore up its faltering foreign divisions. In fact, according to an analysis of GM’s SEC filings, the company is likely to incur over $6.5 billion in losses and expenditures overseas in the 2011-2014 period, not counting over $1.6b in foreign potential legal liabilities or several other incalculable expenses that could add up to billions more. Not only are these expenses a challenge to GM’s overall financial health at a time when it also faces billion-dollar expenditures on pensions in the US, it shows the basic problem with national bailouts of global companies. Taxpayers who were told they were saving an American company are now seeing their tax dollars flowing overseas by the billions. Read More >
Ford did not receive a government bailout. Not directly. It would have gone down the tubes along GM and Chrysler, if they would have been allowed to die, Steve Rattner, the head of the auto task force, told Bloomberg. Read More >
Old habits die hard. Whether it’s GM’s desire to slice-and-dice its fuel economy achievements to make them look better than they are, or our instinct to correct the record, it’s all just a little bit of history repeating.
Today’s Rasmussen poll results, which show that Americans are arguably less likely to buy from a bailed-out automaker, raise some interesting questions. Like, does receiving a bailout constitute an inviolable black mark on an automaker? Do the size of the bailout, and the amount the government recovers make a difference? With a presidential election looming, these factors are worth knowing: after all, the government still has the choice of when to divest its shares in GM. And with GM’s stock down over 40% from its $33 IPO price last November, the government is looking at a significantly larger loss than it would have endured had it divested immediately aftter the IPO. So, should the government dump now, anticipating larger losses in the near future, or should it hang on in hopes of a rebound, increasing the risk that “Government Motors” will become a political hot potato going into 2012? The latest clue, via CNBC, remains as cryptic as ever…
Mark Modica, a former Saturn dealer GM bondholder, has leveraged his financial loss at the hands of the government bailout into a blogging position at the National Legal and Policy Center, a conservative nonprofit that “promotes ethics in public life through research, investigation, education and legal action.” At the NLPC, Modica focuses on what he believes to be corruption surrounding the auto bailout, and has written a series of anti-GM posts that make TTAC look like a Detroit hometown newspaper (TTAC “bias police,” take note). Most recently, Modica has caught the attention of the auto media, including Automobile Magazine and Jalopnik, with a series of posts accusing Chevy dealers of “scamming” taxpayers by claiming the Volt’s $7,500 tax credit and then selling Volts as used cars. TTAC welcomes anyone seeking to cast more light on the bailout, but unfortunately, Modica’s attacks are too focused on making GM look bad and not focused enough on providing relevant information to the American people. Let’s take a look and see why…
This is the Memorial Day weekend, when we commemorate our fallen heroes and raise our cancer risk by burning chopped beef. Listening to the media, it looks and sounds like the fallen heroes of the year are not the ones who gave and give their lives in ceaseless wars, but the auto industry. It didn’t quite die. It was medevaced in a TARP and helped by the PTFOA to get over its PTSD.
Instead of thanking the nation’s heroes (he did so in an afterthought, asking for “single acts of kindness”) VP Biden thanked himself: Read More >