Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Don't Bailout Detroit

The big three automakers are in a death spiral. Their labor costs $75 and hour where their competitors, the transplant makers, pay only $50. They have too many me-too models of cars, and none of them are as desirable as Toyota or Honda. They are afflicted with brain dead management, particularly GM. No way can Detroit be profitable with higher costs and inferior products. Detroit's small cars must sell better than Corolla and Civic for them to stay in business. Giving them $14 billion now just lets them keep on losing money for a few more months.
Put them into chapter 11, rewrite their labor contracts to $50 an hour like the transplants, reduce the number of car models to something reasonable, replace their senior management and boards of directors, write off their debt, and close excess car plants. Reduce executive salaries to $250,000 max. Require that dividends and bonuses be paid out of profits after taxes. No profit, no dividends or bonuses. And clean up their books. Last year GM "wrote off" $35 billion of phantom assets they had been carrying on their books for years. What other scams are still hidden by the big three accountants?
Chrysler has a parent company, Cerberus, which has plenty of money to keep Chrysler afloat. I see no reason why us taxpayers should subsidize Cerberus.
GM is too big to be profitable ever. Break it up into four companies, Corvette, Chevrolet, Cadillac, and General Motors Acceptance Corp (GMAC). Ford might be able to make it on their own. Don't merge Chrysler and GM. Tying two troubled firms together merely assures that they both sink together. Leave them independent, there is chance that one might float by itself.

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