Politics

Your General Motors

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What's in Obama' plan for General Motors? Says the Wall Street Journal:

According the Treasury-GM debt-for-equity swap announced Monday, GM has $27.2 billion in unsecured bonds owned by the public. These are owned by mutual funds, pension funds, hedge funds and retail investors who bought them directly through their brokers. Under Monday's offer, they would exchange their $27.2 billion in bonds for 10% of the stock of the restructured GM. This could amount to less than five cents on the dollar.

Now THERE'S a car I'd buy!

The Treasury, which is owed $16.2 billion, would receive 50% of the stock and $8.1 billion in debt — as much as 87 cents on the dollar. The union's retiree health-care benefit trust would receive half of the $20 billion it is owed in stock, giving it 40% ownership of GM, plus another $10 billion in cash over time. That's worth about 76 cents on the dollar, according to some estimates.

In a genuine Chapter 11 bankruptcy, these three groups of creditors would all be similarly situated — because all three are, for the most part, unsecured creditors of GM. And yet according to the formula presented Monday, those with the largest claim — the bondholders — get the smallest piece of the restructured company by a huge margin.

This seems to be by political design.

Seems to be! For a huge notebook-dump about the Obama administration's run-up to this move, I would recommend (though I can't quite unlock) Peter Boyer's recent novella-length "The Road Ahead" article in The New Yorker, which is good enough journalistically to undermine (IMHO) his general pro-Obama vibe. For a much shorter and far more cynical take, there's Mickey Kaus:

Let the UAW, as new owner of GM, pay the price for the overgrown work rules of its locals. Let the UAW demand above-market raises from itself. Let the UAW try to raise money from new lenders after the previous round of lenders has been royally screwed (thanks, in part, to the UAW). And then let the UAW try to sell the cars that result.

Aye, but then let us pay for the next round of bailouts….