Government Involvement Still Weighs Down General Motors

GM shares trade at half the value needed for taxpayers to break even


Nine months ago, money manager Jim Kee took a gamble on General Motors (GM) that has yet to pay off. He says that's because the "Government Motors" tag that dogged GM throughout the presidential campaign is depressing the price of the 500,000 shares he bought. "GM has still got the dead weight of government involvement limiting their flexibility," says Kee, president of South Texas Money Management in San Antonio.

President Obama managed to fend off attacks from the right and turn the GM bailout into a winning issue with voters in Ohio and other Midwestern states. Now comes the hard part for his administration: unloading the government's stake in the company. While taxpayers have recouped $24 billion of the $51 billion pumped into the failing automaker in 2009, the federal government still owns 32 percent of the company, and shares are trading at less than half the $53 price Washington needs to break even. Taxpayers are looking at a loss—$14.4 billion at Nov. 14's closing price—yet selling could be good for GM's image and its stock.