Tag: government loans
Looks like GM may have done some creative accounting after all – at least according to Swedish Government and their consulting firm KPMG. As we’ve reported the last couple of days, Saab’s rescue has been hanging by a thread due to questions around the company’s financial situation prior to the start of the financial crisis. Saab needs the EU to approve the Swedish Government’s guarantee of an EIB loan to Koenigsegg group if the deal is going to go through. If Saab, during the summer of 2008 – when the financial crisis started – were not in sound financial condition, the EU cannot, will not, approve Swedish government’s guarantees to the EIB loan, and the loan will not be granted. And reports from di.se yesterday almost laid that possibility to rest, with reports that GM had lost $ 5.100,- on each Saab-car sold during the last 8 years. Now, as commentator dlfcohn and others at ttac, as well as several commentators at di.se have pointed out, creative accounting can be useful in major corporates i.e to avoid taxes in tax-heavy countries. This, apparently (at least according to Swed.gov’t/KPMG) was the case with GM/Saab.
According to GM’s 3rd Quarter financial results announcement:
GM plans to repay the United States, Canadian and Ontario government loans in quarterly installments from escrowed funds, beginning next month with an initial $1.2 billion payment to be made in December ($1.0 billion to the UST and $192 million to the EDC), followed by quarterly payments. Any escrowed funds available as of June 30, 2010 would be used to repay the UST and EDC loans unless the escrowed funds were extended one year by the UST. Any balance of funds would be released to GM after the repayment of the UST and EDC loans.
Though this sounds like positive news, don’t let it fool you. GM’s financials only acknowledge $6.7b in government debt, a sum that barely scratches the surface of the taxpayer “investment” in The General (let’s use $52b as a baseline). The escrow fund in question contains $13.6b of the final $30b GM was given as it exited bankruptcy. Having burned through nearly half of that princely sum, GM now plans on using at least part of the rest to pay off the “outstanding $6.7b.” The escrow account expires in June 2010, at which point whatever is left unpaid of the $6.7b will be returned to the government, and GM will keep the rest. GM will then declare victory and pretend like it has squared up with the tax paying public, when in fact the public will have merely paid itself back a paltry fraction of what GM actually owes. This “repayment” will then be dutifully reported without question by the mainstream media, and the stain of bailout will be symbolically lifted. Except, of course, it won’t. GM and the government are playing a classic shell game, taking advantage of the public’s inability to keep the billions straight. Shameful.
Responding to TTAC commentator Ohsnapback, Ford’s Communications rep defended his employer’s turnaround plan. “At Ford we have never said that we have won the battle already,” Jay Ward wrote. “Just that we are making considerable progress against our plan. You are right that the job is not done, but the evidence so far is overwhealmingly [sic] positive.” So far, so PR. And then . . . “We are managing our debt and working hard to pay it off. We are also going to pay back our loans unlike other companies (not just automotive – how about the banks while we are on the subject).” It’s a blunt and entirely accurate appraisal of GM and Chrysler’s chances of returning the government’s $72 billion (plus) “investment” in the failed domestic automakers. Ward goes on to underline Ford’s official position that its $10 billion no-to-low interest, 25-year “retooling” loan from the Department of Energy does not constitute a government bailout. ” . . . we did shun bail out money. We accepted government loans available to all auto manufacturers both domestic and foreign. We have committed to paying these back and I fail to see how we can be critisised [sic] for that.” And just in case you thought the attack on GM and Chrysler’s mega-suckle was a slip of the tongue, Ward makes a second strafing run. “If everyone else pays back every penny that Uncle Sam has ‘loaned’ them, I will eat my Mustang and my Flex.” Jay’s cars are safe. His ability to post on TTAC without interference from The Glass House Gang? Not so much.