Quote Of The Day: Parsing Chrysler's Payback Edition

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

Now, our strategy continues to be to exit these investments, and just today Chrysler announced that it intends to raise the money it needs to repay the government. Two years ago, no one would have expected us to be in this position today, and it shows the success of the strategy the President implemented and the skill and dedication of Chrysler’s employees. We are looking forward to the full repayment of our loan to the company.

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, speaking in Detroit, makes strategic use of the singular tense in order to use the phrase “full repayment” without actually revealing the losses taxpayers have already taken. After all, the $1.9b Debtor-in-Posession loan made to “Old Chrysler” in May 2009 isn’t the loan Geithner is referring to (that one was “extinguished” in liquidation). Nor is the $4b “bridge loan” from January 2009 the loan Geithner is referring to, as a mere $2.1b repayment was counted as “satisfaction in full of the remaining debt obligations associated with the original loan.” Geithner may be “looking forward to full repayment” of the one loan he considers “ours” (as are we), but that’s not the whole story. Once again, a slickly-phrased “payback” claim trumps any sense of responsibility at Treasury to be transparent with taxpayers. And a quick survey of the media indicates that Geithner’s use of the singular has worked quite effectively.

Edward Niedermeyer
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  • Getacargetacheck Getacargetacheck on Apr 29, 2011

    I can understand the point of view that Chrysler and GM and any other poorly-run company should be left to fail under our "capitalist" system. However, there are two sides to every ledger and a price for every decision. If we had let GM and Chrysler (and many of their suppliers) fail then we "taxpayers" would have been making unemployment, food stamp, and Medicaid payments to the projected 1 million unemployed. Possibly for a full 99 weeks in the case of unemployment insurance. Also, don't forget lost property and income tax revenue which would have led to even more layoffs in the public sector. Even if the true unemployed number was half of that, government payments would have exceeded any losses we'll realize from the sale of GM and Chrysler stock. By the way, because of Obama's action we also have a larger industrial base than we would have had otherwise.

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    • Wsn Wsn on Apr 29, 2011

      getacargetacheck, obviously you are not good at math. The total bailout cost about 50~100 billion, depending on who you ask. 50B, at 6% long term national debt interest, would be 3B/year. If you pay a worker $15/hour * 8 hour * 200 days = $24k/year. Not high paying, but still OK. The 3B is able to pay for 125,000 workers doing nothing for one year. In other words, the 50B is able to pay for them forever. GM has 202,000 employees. And no, not everyone would be out of work when it files a C7. Many auto makers would be glad to buy the assets and rehire people, once the UAW is gone for good.

  • Tparkit Tparkit on Apr 29, 2011

    Let's parse "Chrysler announced that it intends to raise the money it needs to repay the government." Translation: Not one dime is going to come out of Fiat's pocket. Never has, never will. Remember, dimes go INTO Fiat's pocket - that's the quid pro quo for partnerning with Washington to provide a figleaf and an exit for the Democrats' massive transfer of stolen assets and US taxpayer cash to its friends at the UAW. Again, keep your eye on the pea under the shell. Money will move hither and thither, by one means or another, all reported by Washington's getaway drivers in the media. At the end of the day, Fiat will profit massively, the UAW will keep everything it got so far and then some, and the taxpayers will never actually get anything back.

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    • Windswords Windswords on Apr 29, 2011

      @highdesertcat Except that it's not. The government loaned Chrysler/Fiat at high interest rate ("schister" loans). Now that business prospects have improved they are refinancing with private banks at much lower interest rates. This is a win/win. Win for the government because it gets its money back and a win for Sergio because he doesn't have to pay interest rates 3 times higher than the market. No different than when you refi your house. You still owe money but it's a much better deal.

  • Jkross22 Jkross22 on Apr 29, 2011

    What happened to hope and change? Oh, right. Tim "Turbo Tax" Geithner is running the Fed. It really only benefits the taxpayers when someone says the emperor is running around in his birthday suit. Shhh. We don't want people to get mad.

  • Praxis Praxis on Apr 30, 2011

    So.. Goldman Sachs is going to receive 0.25% interest loans from the Federal Reserve, loan the money to Chrysler, who will then hand the funds over to the Department of the Treasury? And in the process transfer the profit from these loans from the Treasury to a private bank.

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    • Highdesertcat Highdesertcat on Apr 30, 2011

      @Robert.Walter 11 banks have failed so far in 2011 with lots more to follow. In most cases the FDIC picked up the amounts that were short in order to facilitate a quick sale or consolidation. If Fiatsler refinances with funds from American banks, the FDIC would cover losses if those banks were to go belly up. But if Fiatsler refinances with non-American banks, I would not care what would happen to them. If Fiatsler refinances with bailed out banks and investment houses we will have accomplished nothing since the money was the tax payers' to begin with and to end with. Just a sleight of hand financial reshuffling of fungible assets. That's why we need to wait and see how this all unwinds in the coming days, weeks, months. I'm hoping for the best but I anticipate the worst in financial shenanigans and chicanery and yet another pulling the wool over the eyes of the tax payers that our government is infamous for.