Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Other GM Bailout

According to a WSJ article:
“In a 2011 working paper, J. Mark Ramseyer of Harvard and Eric Rasmusen of Indiana University argue that by manipulating corporate tax rules by fiat, "Treasury gave the firm (and its owners, including the UAW) $18 billion more in assets." Thus a Democratic Administration gave "a massive tax benefit to one of the party's biggest supporters." The other problem is that the move put Ford and GM's other competitors at a disadvantage, as bailouts always do.
Mr. Obama crowed yesterday about GM's "highest profits in its 100-year history." We'd be interested to hear how its effective tax rate compares with Warren Buffett's secretary's.”

The article brings up a few good points, not the least is of which is the legal or ethical payoff to a constituency, namely the UAW. What is does not do is point out the success of the one automobile company that did not take a government handout, FORD (FULL DISCLOURE: I own FORD stock). FORD paid a dividend last quarter, the first since the economic collapse. Currently FORD is not posting the highest profits in 100 years and is not “the #1 automobile company in the world”, like GM according to President Obama. Then again how do you compare companies that were given an $18 billion dollar tax break on top of an $81.8 billion bailout that taxpayers surrendered to General Motors and Chrysler with a company like FORD, which is run by family and took no bailout money, but remains successful. The answer is you can’t. I very seldom make predictions, but here is one:

"FORD will be the strongest, most profitable US auto maker in less than 3 years"

P.S.  How do you earn the highest profits in 100 years, if you still owe $50 billion to your stock owners (ie the American tax payer)?

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