By on October 21, 2008

The mainstream media suffers from “opinion inertia.’ Once the press corps adopts a certain angle on a story, its superglue city, facts be damned. To wit: TTAC’s been slamming Chrysler for horrendous product quality, bizarre model choices, asinine marketing and a bloated, piss-poor dealer network since… ever. Meanwhile, our colleagues have been playing the underdog American automaker meme. Post Cerberus purchase, they’ve been ignoring Chrysler’s failed products and telltale gaffes, such as CEO Bob Nardelli’s infamous “operationally bankrupt” admission. But now that rumors of a GM – Chrysler merger have surfaced, the media’s woken up. And the fangs are out.

Detroit News contributing author Alisa Priddle normally puts her keyboard to use for Car and Driver’s blog, where she’s more PR repeater than news reporter. In September, she parroted “Chrysler shows it has a slew of electric vehicles in the pipeline, including a Chevy Volt competitor, and they’re coming to a road near you soon.” Not only was this blatant press release regurgitation, it was also patently false. “They” weren’t going into production; a fact that Priddle acknowledges later in the article (only one, at best, would be produced).

And now, Priddle pens “Chrysler, GM deal confronts obstacles,” which would better be titled, “WTF are these asshats thinking?” “Statements that Cerberus bought Chrysler for the long haul are falling on deaf ears,” Priddle writes. “Especially with the financial tiff that has broken out between GMAC (which is 51 percent owned by Cerberus) and GM, which is now paying dealers an incentive for sales financed outside GMAC.” Well, someone’s ears are open, now.

Co-writer David Shepardson is also a recent convert to the growing “Chrysler’s up excrement creek” camp.

In an August 6, 2007 column called “Controversial CEO,” Shep responded to CEO Nardelli’s critics. “But Nardelli improved the company [Home Depot] by several measures. Sales jumped from $46 billion to $91 billion in 2006, while profits doubled to $5.8 billion.” Shep quoted the usual (anonymous) sources, happily reporting that “A person close to the situation said Cerberus was deeply impressed with his financial performance. ‘If we get anywhere near what he has accomplished previously, we’ll be delighted,’ the person said.”

Now Shep’s taken off his rose-colored glasses and begun chronicling the folly of the mix ‘n match “too big too fail” theme. “Among the hurdles to any deal is whether Congress would agree to provide financing to help a merger. Congressional aides said any kind of money would likely include strings.”

Detroit News columnist Daniel Howes is also showing his ability to eviscerate a hometown hero. His October 2007 column “As Toyota falls, Detroit Big 3 rise” gives way to today’s “GM hasn’t learned bigger isn’t better.” “Forget the back-channel spin from those with self-interested agendas rationalizing the boss’s current negotiating position. Would this mega-deal, another stunning blow to Michigan’s wobbly economy, make sense to Joe the Autoworker and others not drinking the Kool-Aid of the moment?

In yesterday’s post on the Wall Street Journal blog, Heidi N. Moore asked “What If the U.S. Auto Makers Don’t Survive?” That’s a sharp turn from her June 10, 2007 post on Chrysler’s rosy prospects: “The honeymoon at Chrysler clearly isn’t over: Chrysler CEO Robert Nardelli couldn’t be happier about Chrysler getting rid of Daimler and public shareholders in one fell swoop.”

Clearly, the press has “reassessed the Chrysler situation,” working their way towards acknowledging Former CEO of American Motors Corp and current professor at University of Michigan Gerald Meyers’ assertion that “there is no economic justification for the existence of the Chrysler Corp.”

And now that press is beginning to face that uncomfortable reality, they’re showing remarkable insensitivity towards their former champion, newfound object of ire.

The current media group-think is, simply put, Chrysler’s going away. Get used to it. Whether through a merger or a sell-off, tens of thousands of jobs, hundreds of suppliers, thousands of dealers and tens of thousands of customers will soon be S.O.L. Chrysler’s presumed recovery has become Chrysler’s presumed oblivion. But is that necessarily true?

Even before day one, TTAC warned that Cerberus bought Chrysler to strip and flip the company. But before Chrysler is laid waste, someone in the media should stop for a moment to consider an alternative. Assuming the U.S. government is going to bailout GM, perhaps they should start by practicing on Chrysler. Where’s the talk of a Chrysler “intervention?”

The fact that a Chapter 11 reorganization isn’t part of the mainstream media discussion about Chrysler’s fate shows that the wolf pack press shares the same ADD and lack of imagination as Chrysler’s protagonists. In that sense, just like voters and their politicians, a story gets the coverage it deserves. We here at TTAC will continue to think independently, even as Chrysler is dismembered by greed, arrogance and indifference, on all sides of the story.

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37 Comments on “Editorial: Between the Lines – Throwing Chrysler to the Wolves...”


  • avatar
    indi500fan

    Colin Powell is on the Obama team.
    He might just be the right guy to head up American Leyland, although a cabinet position would be a lot less stressful.

  • avatar
    geeber

    I wouldn’t saddle Mr. Powell with the thankless task of heading up American Leyland. I think that his skills can be put to far better use.

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    Here’s another angle that I’ve just recently became aware of: What is the value of the credit default swaps on Chrysler and who owns them? When Delphi declared CH11 there was something like $20B of outstanding CDS’. Of course, there is no way of knowing, since this market is completely opaque. We may get much insight into this market today when holders of Lehman CDS are supposed to recieve payment. If there are hundreds of billions of dollars worth and some big names are taken down because of it, Paulson may be very hesitant about letting another big company go down.

  • avatar
    joeaverage

    How did you get a pic of our dog Fluffy? He gets a little ornery when we touch his food bowl. We’re glad the kids have a dog to play with…

    How bad does it have to get in Detroit to make lasting changes?

  • avatar
    faster_than_rabbit

    joe, there won’t be a detroit soon, and that will be a lasting change, won’t it?

  • avatar
    Stingray

    I said it some days ago and hold it: THE WORKERS AND EMPLOYEES should be given the chance to purchase the company, get the government bailout and try to save the company. I never mentioned the UAW representatives for a reason. Workers and employees, not executives. Maybe even, ala VW, some shares could go to Michigan state.

    Hell, they even “have” 11b in cash at hand.

    Nationalizing it is another option. I don’t agree or like on this one.

    It can be sold to Magna also.

    Merging with GM means will lead to one thing: dissapear.

    But as I see it from the input in this site, allpar and Delorenzo site, the fate of Chrysler is already written: Cerberus will exchange it for GMAC to GM.

    You’ll see the media talking about the virtues of this in the following days. And by talking, I mean expelling a lot of BS to put some lipstick to the pig.

    Once again, and not wanting to be annoying by repeating this: workers and employees should have the chance to buy and try to save.

    Hell, it would be even politically correct, right etc…

  • avatar
    NickR

    Don’t worry about Chrysler facing the wolves…Palin the cruel dunce will fly in and shoot them before they get to Chrysler.

    Seriously though, whether GM buys/merges with Chrysler or not, I see vast numbers of closures and layoffs in the works. I pity Michigan and Brantford and all the other places that will be affected. And I still lay most of the blame squarely at the feet of Daimler.

  • avatar
    Dr Lemming

    Good analysis. The biggest problem with the press isn’t usually blatant “bias,” but rather a remarkably myopic herd mentality. It’s really quite amusing to watch up close — for all of their espoused iconoclasm, individual journalists tend to be very sensitive to venturing in a different direction than the rest of the pack.

    By the same token, just because the automotive press usually functions as a pipeline for industry p.r. doesn’t change the fact that journalists will show their fangs on occasion. Once the herd rallies round it can be pretty brutal. Mmmm — Chrysler for lunch!

  • avatar
    brettc

    Bob Nardelli did indeed “fix” Home Depot. And by fix I mean make insane amounts of short-term profit at the expense of the company’s image, and the expense of HD employees and customers.

    HD is supposed to be getting better since Frank Blake took over, but I don’t see it. The wife and I were at HD and stopped to look at a front-load LG washer/dryer over the weekend. The sales guy came along, and told us “I personally don’t like buying stuff that’s made in Korea”. My wife and I were shocked. I was only at HD to buy a $13 bag of Speedset mortar, so I paid for it and got out of there. I’ve spent thousands at Lowe’s in the past year, but very little at HD.

    I don’t like to reward companies that piss me off, which is why I’ll never buy a car from GM or Chrysler. These companies think they’re the cat’s ass, but they’re not, and they’ll never realize it until it’s way too late. Good riddance to both GM and Chrysler. Ford can stay, because at least they’re trying.

  • avatar
    Lichtronamo

    This is about as brutal as it gets from Mr. Howes:

    “The industry’s strongest players — Toyota and Honda in Japan, BMW and Daimler in Germany — have fewer brands. They shun (or unwind) acquisitions because they drain resources, create distractions and pollute corporate cultures. Instead, they focus on making what they have better, not getting bigger. That none of those companies is joining Feinberg’s feeding frenzy says as much about them as it does about GM.”

    Chrysler is going away – its only a matter of how. Renault-Nissan acquiring Dodge trucks make a lot of sense, but nothing about GM acquiring parts of Chrysler seems to unless you’re talking about Jeep. If GM could get the minivan and Jeep for its 49% of GMAC, there may be some merit to a deal. However, even that means more long term obligations, unneed manufacturing capacity and more products to integrate into the too many models/too many brands structure GM already has.

    How about a Lambda based Commander or Grand Caravan, anyone???

  • avatar
    BlueEr03

    The current media group-think is, simply put, Chrysler’s going away. Get used to it. Whether through a merger or a sell-off, tens of thousands of jobs, hundreds of supplier, thousands of dealers and millions of customers will soon be S.O.L.

    Millions of customers… really? I mean, maybe a few hundred of die-hard Chrysler fans, but certainly not millions.

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    I was rather surprised by Howes assessment in the Detroit News. It was not his usual cheering of the home team.

    JP Morgan Chase and other unnamed banks put up the Cerberus financing to acquire Chrysler from Daimler.

    According to the Detroit News financing amounted to 10 billion dollars and neither JPM Chase or the other unnamed banks were unable to repackage the loans in time to get out from under them. So they are stuck with the iffy loan portfolios.

    Other than Cerberus, the push for GM to absorb Chrysler looks to be coming from JP Morgan Chase. They are the ones stating that a combination will save GM 10 billion bucks in future operating costs.

    By coincidence, GMAC – which is 51% owned by Cerberus – has decided that it no longer wants to business with 40% of GM’s customer base or underwrite a dealer floor plan.

    In the mean time the GM is distracted from saving its North American operations.

  • avatar
    BostonTeaParty

    Brettc whi is GM not trying? product is getting better and better, the problem being is how people have been treated in the past and also getting past the public perception problem. Yes these are big issues but the product is good in most cases now.

  • avatar
    jg1708

    Basically, no one–not the government, not the venture capitalists, and not the banks–thinks Chrysler should continue to exist. As a result, Chrysler will die, soon. The only question left is how should it should die.

    It is in everyone’s best interest if GM pulls the trigger, and yes, even GM’s. It is becoming rather clear that the government will do whatever is necessary to ensure that GM and Ford are not forced to file for bankruptcy. However, if the government was to give financial support to GM and Ford, it would be political suicide to then let Chrysler fail. Thus, the government is faced with “saving” the entire U.S. auto industry or letting it all crash and burn. However, if GM buys and then summarily executes Chrysler, the government is then free to bail out the entire U.S. auto industry without supporting Chrysler.

    For example, suppose the government has decided that it can afford to give the entire automotive industry $30 billion. To keep this hypo simple, assume that the government intends to distribute the bailout evenly amongst GM, Ford, and Chrysler (i.e, they each get $10 billion). Assuming that the $30 billion pay-out is fixed, regardless of how many automakers exist when the funds are distributed, GM would be willing to pay up to $5 billion for Chrysler just to get Chrysler’s share of the bailout.

    Notice how rumors of the Chrysler-GM merger began to pop up only after the government began to hand-out bailouts left and right?

  • avatar
    jkross22

    @ Justin:

    Good analysis of the groupthink and utter lack of vision of the media. They report the truth when they think there’s enough cover to do so.

    Mainstream journalism has been dying a slow death for some time.

  • avatar
    1996MEdition

    Stingray:
    I said it some days ago and hold it: THE WORKERS AND EMPLOYEES should be given the chance to purchase the company

    They have the opportunity to do this, just make the offer. I’ll throw out some numbers….Let’s say $5B, divided among 70,000 employess……comes to about $70,000 each. Shouldn’t be too hard to round up everyone for a contribution.

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    The train wreck of details doesn’t concern me (other than my taxes going up to bailout crap firms – but what can I do?). I hope that when Chysler dies, someone (Nissan?) can put together a 1 1/2 ton pickup with that Cummins diesel and a six-speed…

  • avatar
    Ptrott

    Where is American pride in leadership? Where is American pride in manufacturing success? Where is American leadership period? Its sad to watch greed and utter stupidity kill our industries. Its wrong.

  • avatar
    Airhen

    indi500fan :
    October 21st, 2008 at 9:39 am

    Colin Powell is on the Obama team.

    So that they can also spread the wealth around there too?

    Stingray :
    October 21st, 2008 at 10:14 am

    Nationalizing it is another option. I don’t agree or like on this one.

    No kidding… this is America after all.

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    “NickR :
    October 21st, 2008 at 10:16 am
    And I still lay most of the blame squarely at the feet of Daimler.”

    I couldn’t agree more. It was Daimler’s arrogance, short-sightedness and elitism that brought Chrysler to this stage. Daimler had a fantastic formula in using previous-generation Mercedes platforms for new Chrysler vehicles – with unique, American styling and powertrains. The Chrysler 300 model should have been carried over to use of the previous-generation C-Class platform for mid-size and compact cars. But too many at Daimler were worried about diluting the Mercedes brand – as if many people ever cross-shopped a Chrysler and Mercedes. Instead, they continued to crank out mediocre – at best – cars and focus on big, heavy and thirsty trucks and SUVs. Who says myopia is restricted only to the Detroit automakers? I truly hope Chrysler survives. If it can’t be independent, then I hope they end up as part of a firm that will keep the brands alive and allow them to produce unique vehicles.

  • avatar

    and they’re coming to a road near you soon.

    Well, she didn’t say to a dealer near you. I don’t doubt that Chrysler will send its little fleet of cobbled-together electric prototypes out on the road to drum up publicity? Sell them? You must be mad…

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    So, it looks like the original Chrysler bailout failed after all. Maybe we should learn from that lesson and let GM go as well?

    Or, I suppose we could risk billions to ensure that yet another generation of people risk their economic futures in order to work for the UAW thugs building cars.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    So, it looks like the original Chrysler bailout failed after all.

    Quite the contrary, it was rather successful. The government made a profit on the bailout, and Chrysler subsequently provided much employment, both directly and indirectly, as well as tax revenues.

    The downside of the Chrysler bailout is that the products didn’t improve in comparison to the competition. They should have used the opportunity to substantially improve their vehicles and service, but they didn’t.

    Like people, corporations don’t live forever. (If you don’t believe me, look up the original components of the Dow and see how many of those companies are still in business today.) A medical procedure that allowed a sick human to live an extra 25 years would be considered a home run.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    PCH,

    We have had this fight. I have a much longer term view, and a much broader perspective on the actual costs. I also think the medical anaology is completely narrow.

    How about the analogy is that we can do a medical procedure that will keep the subject alive 25 more years. If it works, the subject will not likely be as healthy as his peers. His peers will have some of their life force sucked out of them as a result, reducing their life spans, and thousands of peoples lives will be sent down a doomed path resulting in the need to do an even more costly and risky procedure all over again. (Okay, the last part is hard to fit into the analogy).

    How about we go back to the eighties and try to sell the deal all over again? Only this time we admit that it will ONLY last twenty five years, and that at the end of that time, all the remaining domestic companies will be in trouble.

    Do you really think it would sell?

    The damage to the market, the moral hazard, and the misdirection to young people starting careers completely overwhelms the equation. Add to that the increased damage done to our political process by the increased UAW bribes and it’s REALLY a bad deal.

  • avatar
    200k-min

    “were at HD and stopped to look at a front-load LG washer/dryer over the weekend. The sales guy came along, and told us “I personally don’t like buying stuff that’s made in Korea”.”

    I’m chuckling since it’s what I said when buying Kitchen Aid over Samsung. That said, every sales guy I know pushes the more expensive models, which LG is.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    I have a much longer term view

    People outlive most businesses. Even reasonably successful companies die more quickly than people do.

    Squeezing another 25 years out of a company is a pretty good run, no matter how you slice it, assuming that you don’t hold an unrealistic view of how the business world works.

    His peers will have some of their life force sucked out of them as a result, reducing their life spans, and thousands of peoples lives will be sent down a doomed path resulting in the need to do an even more costly and risky procedure all over again.

    Keeping Chrysler alive did nothing to harm anyone else. It kept suppliers in business and people employed. They couldn’t prevent Toyota and Honda from evolving into even better companies, either.

    How about we go back to the eighties and try to sell the deal all over again?

    That was a very easy deal to do. It turned a profit for the government, in more ways than one. A no brainer, by every measure.

    Unlike the last one, the current deal isn’t a no brainer. Circumstances are different now because it is not clear that a bailout today has much chance of success.

    Bailouts need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes they work, sometimes not. Rather than approaching it with a predetermined political bent, it makes more sense to weigh the benefits against the costs and make a determination based upon likely outcomes. Chrysler has a far lower chance of recovery today than it did in the past, which should lower the likelihood of a check being cut.

  • avatar
    menno

    Cerberus? I have $30.15 on my person right now. I’ll take Chrysler LLC off your hands. Just leave the $11 billion in the bank in my name…

    Don’t worry, I won’t make any sudden trips to Switzerland with the money…. heh heh.

  • avatar
    kovachian

    No…more…**sniff**…Viper?!

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

  • avatar
    windswords

    Landcrusher,

    Hindsight is always 20-20 but if Eaton had not sold out Chrysler to Dumbler in 98, better yet if Lutz had been selected instead of Eaton, then things would be a lot different today. Chrylser might still be in the red, but the product mix would have been different and much better. Your analogy is missing something: the patient has the procedure, does great, and then about 18 years later is hit by a truck (Dumberl) and critically wounded. Not the fault of the original procedure at all.

  • avatar
    Lichtronamo

    kovachian:

    Cerberus is probably still busy trying to pawn the Viper off on somebody like Steve Saleen’s new company.

  • avatar
    CommanderFish

    As a Chrysler fan, this past week has been one of the more depressing ones in recent memory.

    My favorite car company is going to get gobbled up and dismantled by my least favorite car company

    The two technologies that had the capability to carry Chrysler through this mess, Phoenix V6’s and the AMT’s, are all but gone

    And nobody will talk. At this point, I just want something straight from the horse’s mouth, Wagoner, Nardelli, hell, Ghosn, I don’t care what happens anymore. Just put the damn company out of its misery.

    The Jeep curse was bad enough, but I think another curse is now upon Chrysler: The Plymouth curse. Plymouth was Walter P. Chrysler’s creation and baby when he took control of Maxwell and eventually created Chrysler Corporation. It was also credited with more or less saving the company during the Great Depression.

    So, with the brand that has carried the company through economic hardships in the past gone, Chrysler faces the latest round of economic turmoil and is now dying. In fact, Chrysler has not really been successful at all since they killed off Plymouth in ’01

  • avatar
    blindfaith

    Chrysler was doing fine until Dumbler purchased the company. Chrysler per car net profit was the highest in the industry when Dumbler purchased Chrysler.

    Dumbler dismantled design/development moved it to Germany where it was then done for a price. The price was was like $150 per man hour charged to Chrysler. I am sure there are more of these situations that I am not aware of.

    The purpose of Dumbler buying chrysler was to help Dumbler penetrate the US market with Dumbler vehicles not improving Chrysler.

    Generational transitions for every company takes place every 20 years (bosses,designers, owners, engineers, scientists get old and tired). Many companies fail during the transition. Maybe no US companies building Cars?

    US $10 trillion in debt, where and what will the US sell to the world to maintain our current life styles with 10 trillion in debt and needing 1 trillion a year to buy imported gas?

  • avatar
    Flarn

    Chrysler was a cash cow when Daimler purchased it. That’s why they did it.
    The Germans finally managed to kill the Jeep.

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    One thing that seems abundantly clear: Chrysler, as we know it, will seize to exist. I’m quite surprised that all the media actually takes that for granted, as a fact. And what does that tell you?

  • avatar
    menno

    What a sad end to the company started by a guy who started out as average Joe the mechanic, was seen to be brilliant (and hard working) and who helped save General Motors (Buick – the cornerstone of GM) – well, see for yourselves.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_Chrysler

    After he left GM a millionaire and went on to save (ironically) Willys-Overland (the descendent of which would become part of Chrysler Corporation via AMC in 1987), he started his own car company, and went ahead and bought Dodge Brothers from bankers who’d bitten off more than they could chew (the more things change, the more they stay the same?) Chrysler Corporation was very small, Dodge was VERY big – it was like a minnow swallowing a whale. But he did it.

    This man also had cajones the size of bowling balls and gambled hard on the 1934-1936 Chrysler and DeSoto Airflow cars which combined safety and strength with aerodynamics. Unfortunately, they flopped.

    This company, Chrysler, was known for many decades as the engineer’s car company, and did many advanced engineering firsts, including mass producton Hemi V8’s (1951-1958), Simpson gear set 3 speed automatic transmissions (1956 on – the Torqueflite) – you have to understand how bad the old style automatics were to get this one. Also, torison bars from 1957, and unit construction (except Imperial) from 1960. The CAP (clean air package) developed to help California and put into production in 1963, which none of the other car companies could make work (instead, they jerry-rigged air pumps etc.) First disc brakes in 1950-1951 (they were unlike the current crop of disc brakes; they were “inside out” and I can’t explain it any better than that – but it was aircraft technology from back in the day).

    Later, the (now) much maligned (then) well thought of Dodge Omni and Plymouth Horizon (1978) and K-cars (1980) and minivans saved the company.

    Then in a “why purchase Alaska?” moment, Chrysler bought out American Motors and Jeep from Renault and US stockholders in 1987, which actually helped save the moribund company.

    Chrysler’s biggest mistake was to crawl into bed with Daimler, IMHO. Better they should have snuggled up with another company more their size who had NO presence in the markets where Chrysler was strong. Someone like FIAT maybe. And also, a 3rd leg to the stool, Mitsubishi (which Chrysler once owned a portion of and relied upon for much technology, from the 1980’s on).

    A Chrysler-FIAT-Mitsubishi combine might have stood to this day, if they’d have done it right.

    Too late for “what might have been” now, or at least – very very soon.

    Anything described as Chrysler henceforth will be a mere shell of what was.

  • avatar
    Geotpf

    Pch101 :
    October 21st, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    Like people, corporations don’t live forever. (If you don’t believe me, look up the original components of the Dow and see how many of those companies are still in business today.)

    11 of the original 12 Dow components are still in business today. From Wikipedia:

    Of those original twelve, only General Electric remains part of the index. The other eleven were:[2]

    American Cotton Oil Company, distant ancestor of Bestfoods, now part of Unilever
    American Sugar Company, now Domino Foods, Inc.
    American Tobacco Company, broken up in 1911 antitrust action
    Chicago Gas Company, bought by Peoples Gas Light in 1897 (now an operating subsidiary of Integrys Energy Group, Inc.)
    Distilling & Cattle Feeding Company, now Millennium Chemicals, a division of Lyondell Chemical Company
    Laclede Gas Light Company, still in operation as The Laclede Group, removed from the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 1899
    National Lead Company, now NL Industries, removed from the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 1916
    North American Company, (Edison) electric company broken up in the 1940s
    Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company in Birmingham, Alabama, bought by U.S. Steel in 1907
    U.S. Leather Company, dissolved 1952
    United States Rubber Company, changed its name to Uniroyal in 1961, merged private with B.F. Goodrich in 1986, bought by Michelin in 1990.

    So, your point fails. However, you will note that many of said Dow components are now small portions of bigger companies (although vice versa occurred in two cases where the government broke up the companies in anti-trust actions). I guess this means, if you take the analogy further, that it’s more likely GM will buy Chrysler and the combined company will survive than anything else.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    So, your point fails.

    Your link proves my point. The companies on the original Dow are unrecognizable today, and those who survived in some form have experienced numerous twists and turns, with varying fortunes and owners.

    In the last few decades, Chrysler has gone through substantial ownership and management changes, from self-contained public company to a subsidiary of the public Daimler to a wholly-owned LLC of the private Cerberus. This is fairly normal stuff, and in and of itself not a sign of failure.

    Businesses change, and expecting them to remain constant is a false yardstick by which to judge them. The Iacocca-era bailout made sense at the time and paid dividends to the US government and taxpayer. The fact that Daimler and Cerberus aren’t very capable operators does not negate the benefits that came from that earlier rescue package.

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