Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Goldman Does Something Good

The lower the fee, the more money raised by the IPO that actually goes to pay back the taxpayer.

Doesn’t change that Michael Moore’s analysis of GM is likely much more true than not (especially the likely reasons for the abrupt sidelining of Ed Whitacre), but every little bit helps.

In related news, it’s Economists (and the NYT) 0, Market 1 (h/t for the latter link, Don Marron).*

*I don’t believe Andrew was the only economist gulled by Niedermayer’s tripe. For instance, Brad DeLong also linked to it, and was an early detractor of the plan for it. But it should be noted that Niedermayer’s ignorant review was thoroughly dissected by “melly mel” long before Andrew discovered that he had “missed” it.

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GMAC Flashback

The whining has started, with most people (e.g., Chris Whalen at The Big Picture) making the obvious mistake of confusing GMAC with General Motors.

In the interest of history, I quote myself from the Dark Ages (March 2007) at Tom’s Place:

The next time GM explains that its pensioners need to take a hit, it won’t be because car sales have fallen.

It will be because of their subprime mortgage lending [original link expired]:

GMAC’s ResCap unit, which specializes in housing finance, reported $48 billion in subprime loans — about 76 percent of its mortgage portfolio as of year end.

ResCap increased its allowance for loan losses to 2.17 percent at year-end from 1.55 percent a year earlier and reported a spike in nonperforming loans to 10.5 percent of its mortgage portfolio.

GMAC said it earned $1 billion in the fourth quarter of 2006, compared with $112 million a year earlier. The results included a $791 million tax benefit from its conversion to a limited liability company.

Translation: that’s another $791 million that GM pensioners and others will have to pay into the general fund.

Loaning to the auto industry may be dicey, but it pales compared to a mortgage portfolio that was 76% subprime at the end of 2006.

GMAC may “need” to be bailed out, but that’s not because of its auto industry exposure.

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Was GM et al asking for Central Planning (as in communism)?

by: Divorced one like Bush

Ok, the auto CEO’s are all lined up. They get asked the populist setup question: Are you going to sell your jets? And they just sat there, as dumb looking as could be. They didn’t say a word. Not a word! To me, that proved they were the wrong people for the current job because either they did not know to answer or did not know what to answer with.

If the CEO’s not knowing to answer a basic setup question that should have been anticipated (read they should have gotten coached better if they did at all) is not enough to question their management ability (it also suggests the boards have not been asking any unexpected questions either over the term of their positions) well, consider the following:

Last year General Motors ranked as the fifth-largest company in the world, with sales of $207 billion and a loss of around $2 billion. Toyota, meanwhile, ranked in 2007 as the sixth-largest company in the world, with sales approaching $205 billion and a profit of $14 billion.

Those numbers changed dramatically in 2008, with GM falling from fifth to ninth with sales of $182 billion and a loss of nearly $39 billion, while Toyota moved up to fifth place with sales of $230 billion and a profit of $15 billion.

But, here is what really got me as I watched GM’s CFO, Ray Young (Mr. Young was instrumental in putting together GM’s long-term restructuring plan after Congress demanded that the Big Three present such plans…) on Washington Journal on 12/5/08

…and that’s the reason why we support the concept yesterday, of this oversight committee to supervise the restructuring of our industry.
I think from our perspective, we’re very open. There’s talk about having an automotive Czar designated by the government to look at the entire industry.
…the advantage of having this oversight committee and having an industry czar is the fact that they can look at the American automobile industry on a wholistic basis and determine how we can restructure the industry to be globally competitive.

In all this time of GM’s existence they have not been able to assess the market as a whole including globally to determine what was needed in order for them to be “globally competitive”? What the hell have they been looking at? Isn’t this suppose to be part of basic business management skill? Now they want government help to figure this out? Is this not asking for central market control light, as in China and Russia American style? I don’t know whether to laugh at them or cry for us.

Remind me, what freakin’ side of the fuel mileage standard argument were they on back in the 80’s and 90’s?

July 21, 1992
CLINTON: “In my administration, we’ll…seek to raise the average
goal for automakers to 40 mpg by the year 2000, 45 mpg by the
year 2020.”

And which industry took the positive concept of dynamic obsolescence (continuous improvement to promote sales, excluding the wastefulness issue, that’s a different post) and turned it into the negative of planned obsolescence(early demise of the item to promote accelerated sales)?

Maybe I’m reading this response by Mr. Young wrong, and it is not that they are admitting that they don’t know what they have been doing, that they don’t know how to assess the market local or otherwise, in a way that leads them to be sustainably competitive.

Maybe they are playing congress. Sort of a: Hey, sure we’ll agree to some government oversight (is that all we have to say to get the money?). But, if that is true, then they are being dishonest in their genuineness. They are acting as frauds which means we would be fools to give them the money without expecting some management personnel changes. We will have been played.

Personally I think it is both that they don’t know how to manage by virtue of the market profitability numbers presented above and by their very own CFO’s admission to wanting a communism economics inspired concept put in place for their market. Though Mr. Young mostly noted Japan’s automotive market approach, so I guess he wants more of a socialistic form of central market control. Imagine that, GM wants some form of socialism with a dash of communism. They even use the Russian term for a central planner. So, what say you of the republican persuasion?

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