May 27th, 2009
06:58 PM GMT
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NEW YORK - General Motors announced Wednesday that investors who had lent the company money over the years, through purchases of bonds, overwhelmingly rejected the company's offer to swap out that debt for stock.

It now seems certain the company is headed toward a bankruptcy filing.

Whatever the outcome, this event will surely be a critical turning point for the U.S. economy.

Analysts say if the bankruptcy is quick and surgical it could help give another boost to fragile confidence.

But, if the long list of creditors engage in a drawn out legal battle it raises the risk that GM may not survive at all.

It reminds me of a scene from a racing movie where there is a horrendous crash on the track and all the drivers in the back are racing for this big cloud of smoke. Most hit the brakes. But the leading man grips the wheel and hits the gas.

The driver is either going to crash into another vehicle in that smoke or avoid the crowd and come out in the lead. In Hollywood the hero comes out in the lead, having conquered both the competition and his fear.

But this is real life and things tend to be messier in real life.

The automotive industry is not as central as it once was, but its economic footprint extends to suppliers, dealers, restaurants and entire towns. Industry experts say GM only has about 3 or 4 weeks to prove it can emerge from bankruptcy quickly.

Many believe GM is too big and too complicated to achieve that.

But Chrysler’s journey through bankruptcy has defied the skeptics. The troubled company looks set to emerge from Chapter 11 next week. With the government’s heavy hand in the game, GM could also surprise.

What do you think? Will GM be able to come out stronger or is this the end of the road? Any optimists buying a GM car right now?

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Filed under: Auto industryBusiness


soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. Rick Strickland

    GM will be a car crash. Unlike Ford who has a strong European Division in fact Ford is number one in Europe outselling Toyota, Honda and VW, GM has Opel which is doing as bad as GM is in the States. GMAC is broke Delphi is Broke so all the wheels have fallen off the wagon. GM will Fade like Chrysler has a slow death. Ford will be the number one U.S. and Eurpoean Automaker. I loved the old GM (1950's-1979) sad to see it go.

    May 27, 2009 at 7:33 pm |
  2. zamora

    The case of GM is clear indication of the declining trend of American Empire. The world is going to see dark days where countries with communist mind set and never worried about human values are going to lead and shape the world. Very sad but this is the reality

    May 27, 2009 at 7:47 pm |
  3. Mohammed Nsouli

    I believe that they will come out on top, the new Camaro and Cadillac CTSV are just a reminder of the quality GM has in it DNA. The people they have are able to take it out of the slump it is just a matter of faith.
    I work with Mars and great companies have a way of ensuring they win in crisis and I believe like Mars GM is a great company that will immerge on top of its crisis and supply its customers for the cars they long to own.

    May 27, 2009 at 7:52 pm |
  4. Hank in Chapel Hill, NC

    We need to think about it like this: GM has already crashed, it's done – over and out. It exists only at the tax payers largess. Anything the government can do is a positive. Bondholders, shareholders, employees, etc. are all lucky to get ANYTHING at all. They should just shut up, be grateful and take what they can get.

    In reality they deserve nothing. The workers are lazy, careless and way overpaid. The management is a picture of ineptitude, stupidity and bureaucratic mediocrity and is also way overpaid. The bondholders made stupid bets and didn't do their homework. Nor did they demand change from the Board.

    But it's GM management that really deserves the brunt of the blame and consequences. For 40 years they've been blind to change and the warnings of both the experts and their own declining market shares. Hard to believe some like Wagoner who oversaw a 90% decline in stock valuation and a 20% erosion of market share wasn't removed by the Board years ago and had to, finally, be removed by the government.

    Every last Executive at GM should lose their job.

    May 27, 2009 at 8:05 pm |
  5. sam

    i do believe GM will come out stronger only if it can have a stronger control over the unions. point blank...

    May 27, 2009 at 8:21 pm |
  6. Gerald Klaffke

    Let me get this straight. The UAW and the bondholders have the same level of legal claim in GM. The UAW is getting 20% of the company for $10 billion in debt. The bondholders are offered 10% of GM for $27 billion owed them!! The bondholders aren't taking a haircut–they are being raped!! Just as the legacy of George Bush is the Iraq War, the legacy of Barack Obama will be the total destruction of the American automotive industry.

    May 27, 2009 at 8:53 pm |
  7. Hernan Pisani

    You can not survive in the 21th century manufacturing years 70's conceived cars. GM cars are antiques...

    May 27, 2009 at 8:55 pm |
  8. James Anthony

    Sure Ill buy a new GM car. The new Cadillac's look amazing! (SRX, CTS Wagon)

    May 27, 2009 at 9:02 pm |
  9. Rodrigo Martinez

    It's about time that GM went bankrupt after what they did to Ralph Nader. in the 60's. No one needs an MBA to come up with such a simple plan to increase share holder value by simply lowering the quality of your products while investing heavily in marketing to deceive consumers into thinking they are buying quality just because of buzzwords and/or celebrity endorsements. It's about time that CEOs worldwide start to understand that consumers are going to stop buying new cellphones every six months, refrigerators every couple of years, etc, etc. This is simply unsustainable...Look at the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch"! Companies that insist on this faulty model should and will go bankrupt. It's time to change!

    May 27, 2009 at 9:11 pm |
  10. William Lupton

    I reckon it will be out of bankruptcy very fast as they have had since the end of last ro build the plan to enact the chapter 11

    May 27, 2009 at 9:16 pm |
  11. FLEMMING DYREMOSE

    The turning point for US economy, and western word economy, will be marked by the return of rising realestate prices. What primarily fuled this crisis was escalating realestate prices, rising to level where the average houseowner was not able to buy his own house. The debt created by partly loans that was based on an unstable privat economy, and a consumer marked fuled by capital having its roots in realestate values that was bound to crash at some point, is the foundation of the present economic crisis. Rising realestate prices will be the signal of an economy in recovery and a warning that this proces could repeat itself, if new measurements are not taken to limit the influence of realestate prices on consumer growth.

    May 27, 2009 at 9:17 pm |
  12. Terrence Deagle

    This is the end of the American Empire. How can you even consider inserting the phrase "winning manoeuver" when the game is already lost? Look, for over 100 years, automobiles were the backbone of the American economy and during those 100 years America had productive capacity for domestic customers, as well as international ones. The productive capacity has now diminuished to the point whre it is only a shadow of its former self. So, the Obama government is trying to deceive the American people by putting fancy spins on everything that is happening in the economy right now. The problem for him is that most Americans are not buying it.

    May 27, 2009 at 9:50 pm |
  13. F van Staa

    Come out stronger? What about the people who put in money... or long hours, will loose their jobs, dealerships?

    Oh BTW... *IF* I had the cash, I'd like (maybe even love) to own a SAAB. But then I'm European and there's no accounting for taste, right? I hope Saab can continue independently; it's in a class of it's own quality-wise. I think they do not have many return customers... those cars last forever!

    May 27, 2009 at 9:53 pm |
  14. Brian

    I am really tired of hearing and reading about all of this. GM and Chrysler are inferior products. They have been for years. This is exactly why they find themselves in the trouble that they are in. Listen, in the short term it's sad that millions of people and businesses will be hurt by the collapse of these companies. It's terrible. Capitalism doesn't work on charity though. You wouldn't buy a terrible tasting/cleaning toothpaste just because you want to keep the company running, and provide jobs for the toothpaste stuffers. It's bizarre. It's not the way we work. Chrysler and GM have had years to seriously improve their products, and they have failed. The American market has proven that. The U.S. govt. should stop trying to prop these companies up and let nature take its course. Better car companies will surely fill the void, because god knows, Americans need and love their cars. They will get a better product in the end, and all of those people/businesses who lost out working for GM/Chrysler will end up with new work for the new car companies that come and take the place of the old.

    May 27, 2009 at 9:58 pm |
  15. liv @ greensboring

    I think my next car will be a bicycle... that's what I think

    May 27, 2009 at 10:01 pm |
  16. Mel Man

    It is unfortunate the bond holders will not swap debt for stock. This society loves debt and we are so hung up on it that we can't see the future.
    I say let GM file for bankruptcy and if they survive, then the company will be stronger–or at least start fresh. AND, let's hope they don't make the same mistakes the second time around.
    Bond holders knew the risks when they invested, so I trust they realise their situation is merely one of risk.

    May 27, 2009 at 10:03 pm |
  17. Mihir M.

    GM's move towards bankruptcy seems to be more of a certainty than a mere possibility. Personally, I am still skeptical of the proposed short and surgical nature of the bankruptcy, given the sheer size of GM and the number of entities involved. In all likelihood, it would be a streched out process with multiple legal and political interventions.
    Though, for the sake of the thousands of workers and suppliers, I really hope that GM comes out as a stronger, innovative and leaner company. All said and done, I hope the GM management refocuses on the main issue of developing quality cars which people would "want" to buy rather than producing a piece of metal & plastic with four wheels which goes from A to B.

    May 27, 2009 at 11:21 pm |
  18. Bill

    I would like to make a couple points:

    1./ Quite some time back, I think it was eight years ago, Rick Wagoner visited Washington to raise the of the 35-% currency advantage the foriegn automakers had over their U.S. counterparts. Washington did nothing.

    2./ I think it is little too easy to criticize the Big Three. These companies make good cars that customers want to buy. If not they would have been out of business long ago.

    3./ Obama and his crew has imposed a political solution that ignores the rule of as it pertains to senior secured debt holders.

    4./ Obama had no business in firing Wagoner. That would be job of the board and shareholders. The political nature of the dismissal is all the more apparent when Obama praises Ron Gettelfinger.

    5./ It has been reported that the White House has threatened bondholders. What a great cre in the White House. One term wonders – they will get creamed in next years mid-term elections. The old saying that goes: "People get the government they deserve." richly applies to the American electorate who stupidly elected a left-wing idiot who will everything in his power to flush the prosperity of the U.S. down the toilet.

    6./ I applaud the bondholders – let's get the rule of law!

    Bill

    May 27, 2009 at 11:45 pm |
  19. Per Holmlund

    Stop dreaming

    Citicorp, AIG, GM and still one to go: Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart the last cow – when brokers are milking the market – still standing and staying in the band from 2000, 42-62. Keep it as a key object because if it moves south sweet dreams of the return to the 1990ties will become horror dreams of the 2010s crisis economy. But as long as it stays in the band here is Hope.

    When cows became bears Citi November 2007, AIG February 2008 and GM May 2008, DuPont October 2008…

    Look at the GM stock price from 1962 and compare it with S&P, minus 95 percent visa via plus 1000 percent. And now GM will rice like a phoenix bird? Why don’t you make a program with clips of interviews with Wagoner from 2000?

    May 27, 2009 at 11:56 pm |
  20. Alex

    Like Chrysler, GM is like a dinosaur. Once reigned many parts of the world, but now find themselves unable to survive due to changing conditions.
    Lazy, overpaid top managment with no idea what type of cars the future really requires. No more GM for me, cars or shares. Give new smaller and harder working car companies a chance. Once they grow they provide heaps of jobs and tax dollars. Dont put dieing companies on expensive and totally useless life support. If your time has come, you need to go.

    May 28, 2009 at 1:09 am |
  21. Raul Martinez

    You really can't blame them. Shipping factories little by little to Mexico so it doesn't have to pay a decent wage, nor provide anymore benefits or retirement plans to its workers.

    Other companies did this long ago. They reason they are almost bankrupt is because of this. God bless the United States and its citizens. We will have no more manufacturing jobs in the US.

    We have lost our manufacturing base, because government overtaxed and overburdened business with regulations and filing requirements and made the cost of doing business prohibitive. So they left.

    Why stick around when you can make more money be going overseas. Sometimes, right across the border.

    May 28, 2009 at 1:14 am |
  22. Andy

    I think only a business opportunity! I can not believe the GM is going down! its is a winning manoeuvre only and time to buy GM shares, because its cheap prices!
    It is a strong company!

    May 28, 2009 at 11:35 am |
  23. Nam(South Korea,Busan)

    Today's Green Shoots will create the great GM.

    May 28, 2009 at 3:58 pm |
  24. Carlos

    I believe GM will do good in the future, right now it needs a slap in the face to weak up and realize that the Industry has changed and people is demanding something different than what they are offering.

    I hope Government helps them out even more but with strictly internal controls.

    May 28, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  25. wolfgang

    I live very close to the former Iron curtain in Europe and my girlfriend is from Romania (Communist country until about 1990).
    Amazingly it seems the U.S. of A. governement (and the people? – who voted for that administration) need to be reminded of what happens when Governements own and rule companies.?
    It has been done many times before and is still done in North Korea or Cuba for example.
    And look at all the happy wealthy citizens there.

    Over here in "Old Europe" the mood is quickly changing. Money will be leaving the US until the law and justice comes back into the society. And it will most likely happen without any media attention. Quietly but steadily.

    What I do not get is why the GOP has left the stage completely? That is simply unbelievable.

    May 29, 2009 at 2:51 pm |
  26. joe

    wake up, cars from US auto makers are out of time and if there is no immediate change from 18 miles per gallon gas guzzlers to 50 miles per gallon cars, none of the 3 will survive.
    European car makers can manufacture comfortable and reliable cars with a gas mileage of 50 and more miles per gallon without a expensive to maintain hybrid, nobody know about the aftermath for the environment.
    what will happen if the gas prices will be close or similar to European gas prices with $9 – $12 per gallon. good night US automobile industry. concentrate in new technologies, take the bailout money and change your politics of bigger, faster and more thirsty cars.
    does nobody think about the reason why the gap between export and import cars is that dramatic?

    May 30, 2009 at 2:09 pm |
  27. Patrick Gauthier

    Here is a way for the new GM to save some money on their future new cars: As everyone in this country is an undercover agent, or work deep under for the CIA ....there is no need to install blinkers and directional lights in any of the new cars, no one in this country wants you to know which direction they are going while driving.... are they all undercover agents or is the 24 USD divers license!!!! Anyway remove the blinkers and corresponding lights and save money.... GM will need it...

    May 30, 2009 at 3:17 pm |
  28. J. L. W.

    It was clear 20 years ago GM was headed in the wrong direction. Over paid inept management, lazy, antagonistic and over paid union workers and the board caused the problems. GM should have gone into bankruptcy, removed management , re-negotiated union contracts in combination with other changes that could have been made under bankruptcy.

    The government should have offered bridge financing until the privet sector could re-organize the company. Obama's new plan will fail and more tax dollars will be lost. Government bureaucrats can not run the business. Unfortunately the American auto industry is headed down the road to destruction.

    May 31, 2009 at 3:13 pm |
  29. Deepak Kashyap

    Its no doubt that the American cars are powerful, spacious and gorgeious too but they lack fuel efficiency and that is the talk of the town now a days. Even though I have been living so far from USA but still I was also concerned about the gradual increase in the market share of these cheap Japanese and Chinese auto manufacturers in USA.
    Today after all GM is going to get bankrupt and that is a thing which GM car lovers don't want to be done but the things got so late that no body can save this prestigious company from going to the floor.
    Still if companies like Renault can prosper I think if americans want to show their will and to save their prestige GM will again stand tal and will launch more brands that are already going to be phase out.
    I will definately purchase a new hatchback going to be launched in India to show my support to the great american automotive manucturer and will urge every american to support their manufacturers and to purchase only American Cars.

    June 1, 2009 at 6:32 am |
  30. Wayne

    Why worrry over Americian Companies when your Goverment plays right into the hands of the EU,China and any other interest Groups that have other plans for America. What about Bill Clinton and his super move that allowed the Chine to invest and take over control of the Americian Markets.
    What we are seeing right now is years of work and planning by Countries that want America to fall and insure that they can fill in the gaps with items produced outside of Americian borders . What is Obama doing about this , nothing, just talking. He could pass laws to limit imports from abroad and thus create manufactoring jobs just like here in the European Union. The proctectism idea is in full swing here in the EU, they want all produceds stop from the Non-EU countries. Why can America put it,s workforce ahead of ideas from outside. Made In America should be the same as Made in Germany.Don,t worry about the image of America when someone in kicking you in the backside.

    June 1, 2009 at 7:21 am |
  31. Kunal J

    General Motors forgot that the President of the USA drives a Cadillac and not a car by the General Motors.

    June 1, 2009 at 8:35 am |
  32. Europe

    As far as GM will make only minivans, pickup trucks and SUV-s they can survive the current situation. Please don't let them to make passanger cars as they are in lack of design and engine innovations.

    June 1, 2009 at 9:01 am |
  33. RogerC

    I am concerned what this does to healthy, well managed businesses.

    GM has received 50 BILLION (!!!!!) in Federal assistance to acheive a market share of less than 15% when this is all said and done. A few facts:

    A reorganized GM with federal backing in loans could do much better in private courts. GM 's unions are not the whole problem with GM, but they are a least a very significant part. The administration is not letting market forces correct the ship, bad policies are being ingrained with massive amounts of cash.

    It also penalizes Ford, who has taken NO government aid, and now has a 30 Billion dollar socialist funded enterprise to compete with. Now that the US government is involved, they may have to keep pushing money into GM, perpetuating failed market socialism. I guess Obama has fond memories of the Lada and Yugo....

    This also makes a laughingstock out of the adminstrations concern that a bankruptcy filing would irretrievably hurt the US market. GM will be at less than 15% market share when this is over, probably not much less than if other car makers took over the plants, why the $30 billion?

    Karl Marx anyone?

    June 1, 2009 at 9:29 am |
  34. Christian Wenger

    Ford is number one in europe? The Best-Selling car brand in europe is Volkswagen/Porsche clear ahead of Ford. Strange how quick its forgotten that Ford sought financial aid at Congressional hearings in Washington and that Ford had to announce a loss of 14.6 Billion Dollars, making 2008 the worst year in Ford history.
    Its not just a GM Problem, the full american Car Industry lost the contact to the people and continued to build cars that nobody wanted anymore. Now they have to pay the price. Ford and Chrysler are next to file bankruptcy.To save the brands is a big waste of tax money, cause they still dont understand, how to produce a modern car , that is also in sync with the environmental worries of the people..

    June 1, 2009 at 9:47 am |
  35. Brian,Ohio

    I'd like to know how many GM plants OUTSIDE the U.S are being closed ,So far I've only seen the closing lists of US plants and warehouses.
    Now that the Government i.e tax payers own 60% of this company. We need to close all non US productions and move them back to the US to stave off the 20,000 jobs that will be lost.

    June 1, 2009 at 2:23 pm |
  36. Tony

    It's no problem at all. We will all be driving little Baracks, it will run on rubles and will only get pravda on the radio. This communist president is getting carried away quickly. The real Americans need to stop this runaway government acquisition and put an end to ridiculous deficit spending. Next on the our Comrades list is health care! The American people got what they wanted but that is the issue, they got more than they bargained for.

    June 1, 2009 at 11:54 pm |
  37. dan in Tucson

    Here we go again. I am just waiting for the whiner stories about how someone got a great deal on a GM vehicle but now have to travel 100's of miles to get it serviced because of all the dealership closings. GM is now protected by bankruptcy laws, which means if you have a serious issue, like the tires fell off because of a disgruntled factory worker, you are on your own. If you sue them, you have to get in the back of the line. And that is an enormous line! They will not recover from this, especially when there are more stable options out there. And my option is they deserve it after what they did to the EV-1. Bye, bye GM.

    June 2, 2009 at 1:20 pm |
  38. Michael Jordan

    Well have you been to a GM dealership lately? They still don't get it. This recession is crippling people, losing their jobs, houses, and quality of life, yet 75% of vehicles are as much or more than the average family yearly income. It doesn't seem GM or the others get it. They have no problem putting you into a small death vehicle which is far overpriced, to say it gets good gas mileage. These discounts that they are so loudly claiming is nothing, remember a dealership is making money one way or another on each car sale. I wouldn't care much if GM and all the auto makers went bankrupt. They all sell overpriced cars and give lousy customer service. And the unions they are also the blame, not the members as much as the greedy union heads, Unions are a business, they make money for it's officials and lobby our government for the better of the union not the people. I ask all who read this, If you do not buy a new car for the next three years maybe it will send a message to all the auto makers, the people need to come first. Make your car prices reasonable and people will buy more frequently, which will keep the wheels turning. If not You don't deserve to survive. Bye -Bye GM

    June 4, 2009 at 2:38 pm |

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