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Old 06-02-2009, 12:48 PM   #61
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Well, I haven't expoused my latest purchase, so some secrets are safe. DW and I bought 6 new GM cars and SUV's over a 25 year period, so its not like I'm a GM hater..........
Oh, come on, your secret is safe here on FIRE. We know you wouldn't play outside your LBYM role, anyway!
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Old 06-02-2009, 04:09 PM   #62
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"GM's filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection is the largest ever for an industrial company. GM, which said it has $172.81 billion in debt and $82.29 billion in assets, had received about $20 billion in low-interest loans before entering bankruptcy protection. "

From a GM to sell Hummer article.....

SOOO, how can a company that has almost $173 BILLION dollars of debt and only $82 ish billion of assets not be in bankruptcy earlier And how can the kicked out CEO say that BK was not an option

To me it looks like their ONLY option.....
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Old 06-02-2009, 07:17 PM   #63
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"

SOOO, how can a company that has almost $173 BILLION dollars of debt and only $82 ish billion of assets not be in bankruptcy earlier And how can the kicked out CEO say that BK was not an option

To me it looks like their ONLY option.....
That has been obvious to anyone who looked at their balance sheet. FYI GM first had a negative net worth, back in 2006, and I believe had tangible negative equity (subtracting off good will, the actual value of dubious acquisitions like Hummer, and Opel) back in 2005.
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Old 06-02-2009, 08:05 PM   #64
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Liquidation? Of course the present "deal" is better for the bondholders than liquidation, but liquidation isn't seriously being considered. This is a Chapter 11 filing (reorganization).
Chapter 11 is only possible if one has access to Debtor in Possession financing, which GM does not. The government is providing $15B for this purpose. So without government help . . . liquidation.

It's important to recognize the significance of the DIP financing. Everyone who is frothing at the mouth over the treatment of bondholders implicitly assumes that they're carving up a pie of fixed value. They're not. Without government help (a.k.a. DIP financing) the pie is much, much smaller. So it's entirely possible (and in fact likely) that unsecured bondholders are getting a better deal by accepting a smaller slice of a larger pie than forcing a liquidation and getting a larger slice of a smaller pie.

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and the pain of this needs to be shared according to the established debt seniority.
If this were an ordinary situation, I'd agree. But it's not. All creditors are making out better here because of government largess. To the extent the government is making claimants better off than they otherwise would be, that excess value can be divvied up however the government sees fit.

If I had deep enough pockets, I could walk into any bankruptcy court in the country and do exactly the same thing . . . as in "Hi, I'm feeling generous today. I've got a spare billion I want to bestow on the creditors of ABC company. I want to give 10% to secured creditors, 20% to unsecured, 30% to junior subordinated, and the balance to the pre-petition wage claim of the secretarial staff. If anyone disagrees, nobody gets anything." That, by the way, is essentially what's happening at GM.
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Old 06-02-2009, 08:15 PM   #65
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And even the general bondholders here should be getting more than the UAW... or at least the same % on the dollar... but they are not...
It's fairly common for the claims of "critical vendors" to get preferential treatment in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The reason being, you need critical vendors to keep running. As I understand it, union claims in other bankruptcies have made out better than general unsecured creditors for this reason. The major difference between GM and other bankruptcies, I think, is the treatment of the VEBA trust.

But once again, bondholders are agreeing to this deal because it is better than the alternative.
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Old 06-02-2009, 08:23 PM   #66
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You don't sound like you have an axe to grind. You hate American cars because Ford almost caused you to go bankrupt? Maybe you almost went bankrupt because of your own doing and want someone to blame and somehow Ford got in the mix. Did they personally screw you over somehow? If they did why would you hate GM or Chrysler?

Bankrupt is a strong word because I had no appreciable debt. Nevertheless, in my early 20s a problem-prone 84 Ford Tempo kept costing me money I didn't have. And the damn thing was only 5 years old.

I have not owned a car since 1995 (a Nissan Maxima). Since then I have rented lots and lots of cars - almost all of them late model American cars because until recently that was pretty much the only thing the major car rental companies had on offer. I generally find them inferior to the imports. (Except in cup holders. The US leads the world in cup holders.)


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Somehow I hope your job is tied to the automobile industry.
Not so much. I work for an investment bank. One that took no money from any government and is quite profitable.


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You are a bitter person.
No, like millions of Americans I'm just not fond of American cars.
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Old 06-02-2009, 09:14 PM   #67
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No, like millions of Americans I'm just not fond of American cars.
Thank you for your generalization. May I exclude myself?
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Old 06-02-2009, 09:31 PM   #68
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Its not really a generalization, is it?

If I say "Californians support Obama" thats a generalization. If I say "millions of Californians voted for Obama" that's just a statement of fact.

At any rate, I wasn't presuming to speak for you or any other particular individual on this forum.
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Old 06-02-2009, 09:47 PM   #69
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When a thread degenerates into personal sniping, it's time to close it.
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Old 06-03-2009, 05:44 AM   #70
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After reconsideration by the moderators, we have reopened this thread. Please adhere to the Community Rules when posting. In general, this means

1. Avoid personal attacks and insults
2. Avoid ideological screeds and sensationalistic claims
3. Facts and objective analysis are always welcome.
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Old 06-03-2009, 06:14 AM   #71
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2. Avoid ... sensationalistic claims

I guess this means I should take back my comment about American car companies leading the world in cup holders. I have no empirical basis for such a claim.
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Old 06-03-2009, 08:39 AM   #72
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Maurice, I apologize for the personal remarks I made toward you about hating American made cars. That just got under my skin. As a GM engineer (retired), I spent 34 years with the company, the last third of which were spent trying to compete with Japanese auto makers. Those last ten years were tough with top management ramming it down our throats every day about how much ground we had to make up. The eighties were really rough years. We made inroads in the 90's, still were not there but I think we finally caught up in the 2000's. I'm talking quality. We are still behind in the fuel economy game and I guess right now it doesn't mean a thing. Just trying to survive. We'll see how the new GM makes out. Maybe I shouldn't have taken your remarks so personally.
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Old 06-03-2009, 08:56 AM   #73
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I feel really dumb about some things. Seems like in a bankruptcy, say GM's, the company going bankrupt may survive by voiding it's debt. While that may save the company, doesn't it just mean that the debt is passed to the vendors? So GM survives but Saginaw Gear and Firestone rubber and General Steel lose 170 billion? Is the idea that spreading the debt out to a bunch of the supplier companies makes a larger group shoulder the load and maybe be able to carry it? So maybe all the companies survive?

Thinking about the talking heads saying that 170 billion in debt gets wiped out and it just seems to me to get reapportioned. Sure i'm not looking at this the right way...
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Old 06-03-2009, 09:30 AM   #74
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I've wondered if some car company (maybe GM) couldn't effectively market a car to buyers seeking "lowest total cost of long term ownership." The idea would be to appeal to the most practical among us, people who want a reliable, cheap, safe car as a means of transportation, and people who don't define their self image by the type of car they drive. Think of "car as a transportation appliance," not "car as style statement.
Attributes of the vehicle:
- All the normal stuff: Good mileage, comfort, safety.
- Features specifically designed to reduce cost of ownership over time:
-- Body panels, light covers, etc that remain the same for at least 5 years (so that spare parts are available and cheap.) This would reduce the time ($) and parts costs for collision repairs.
-- All replaceable components specifically designed to be easily replaced (whether by the owner or the mechanic). Heater fan, wiper motor, AC compressor, all filters, etc can be easily reached, without removing other components, trim panels. Maybe that means more empty space under the hood--that's also good for crash safety. A larger car (volume) need not weigh much more than a smaller (volume) car, and it is weight, not volume, that has the largest impact on gas mileage.
-- How about some serious attention to corrosion? I'd pay a few hundred dollars more for a car designed with better resistance to salt/rustout. Easily replaceable wheel arches? Good attention to allowing everything to dry out without trapping water/salt?
-- Fewer trim panels and "snap-in" assembly parts (ever try to remove an interior door panel on a modern car without ruining it?). More exposed fasteners. This increases serviceability, might decrease parts count.
It seems like a car (or a small sedan and a minivan pair) of this ilk might be a good car for these times. Folks are cutting back, minimalism is cool, materialism is gauche, funky little square utilitarian cars (Scion, Honda Element, etc) are popular, etc. There's nothing greener than a car that can be effectively and cheaply kept on the road for 20 years. The marketing guys would have t take a page from the past to sell these cars--no 30 second commercials of cars whisking through winding roads, more print adds showing the careful attention to smart details and subtly showing why the car is cool in its own way.

JOHNIE36, in your time at GM, surely this concept was talked about. Any feedback?
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Old 06-03-2009, 09:43 AM   #75
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I've wondered if some car company (maybe GM) couldn't effectively market a car to buyers seeking "lowest total cost of long term ownership." The idea would be to appeal to the most practical among us, people who want a reliable, cheap, safe car as a means of transportation, and people who don't define their self image by the type of car they drive. Think of "car as a transportation appliance," not "car as style statement.
To some degree, I think "total cost of ownership" (TCO) is a function of the times and how one "consumes" vehicles.

In good times, for example, people who act as if the good times will never end may drive a car for three years and trade it in for a new one. In terms of *cost* (not necessarily overall customer satisfaction), reliability is less of an issue because the vehicle is under warranty for the entire period assuming no excess mileage. Fuel economy and insurance costs factor in, but the main factor here is probably resale value. For a three year ownership period, depreciation on a new car probably exceeds gas and insurance costs. And here, the U.S. automakers have suffered; Hondas and Toyotas have depreciated at a slower and more linear rate for quite some time now. I think at least part of Detroit's challenge is to address the market reality that their vehicles suffer substantially faster depreciation than the primary Japanese competition.

In harder times when "frugal is in," for a longer period of time (say 7-10 years of ownership), then reliability and maintenance/repair history become a lot more important. You're going to drive it until the car isn't worth much regardless of make, so depreciation is less of an issue in TCO (still a factor, but not one that dwarfs the others).

It would be interesting to know if some of the innovations you describe would help increase resale value and thus lower TCO for most people.
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Old 06-03-2009, 10:20 AM   #76
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It would be interesting to know if some of the innovations you describe would help increase resale value and thus lower TCO for most people.
They might. Detroit has done an excellent job of accelerating the styling obsolescence of their vehicles so that a five year old car looks dated. But if the sheet metal remained the same and the car was designed and marketed as a car that could be economically kept alive for 20 years, the depreciation on these models would probably be fairly low.
While this might sell some cars, I don't know if it would be a significant number. People who are inclined to trade in a car after 3 years probably aren't even looking at ownership costs or even the resale values, but maybe a sharp salesman could use that as an argument.
These "ease of maintenance" modifications would, however, make it less expensive for GM (or another manufacturer) to offer a free bumper-to-bumper warranty of extended duration. A transferable warranty would significantly increase resale value, and would help convince buyers that this car is truly different. A non-transferable warranty would be cheaper to offer, and would send much the same message while helping to enhance sales of new vehicles (while hurting the reale value of used ones).
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Old 06-03-2009, 10:21 AM   #77
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One of my good friends runs a very successful independent repair shop. He worked at a GM dealership for 10 years as a mechanic before he bought his own gig.

He has a very interesting theory about why domestics and imports are so different. Generally, he says, domestic buyers are tough on their cars. Not so much the Buick and Cadillac owners, who are older and wealtheir, but the average Ford and Chevy and Chrysler owner beats the heck out of their cars, doesn't do scheduled maintenance, etc, then complains when it costs a lot to fix, and blames the manufacturer.

Import owners take better care of their cars, and the service departments at those stores are much more proactive in getting the customer to do the scheduled maintenance. If the average domestic owner did the regularly scheduled maitenance, in his opnion, their car would provide as reliable service as an import.

His perception is based on years of observation, but I found it compelling. personally, I see WAY MORE beat up Cavaliers than Corollas, etc........
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Old 06-03-2009, 10:24 AM   #78
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They might. Detroit has done an excellent job of accelerating the styling obsolescence of their vehicles so that a five year old car looks dated. But if the sheet metal remained the same and the car was designed and marketed as a car that could be economically kept alive for 20 years, the depreciation on these models would probably be fairly low.
I think styling and perception matter. I see a TON of 10+ year old Lexus, Mercedes, Audi, BMW, Acura, etc. Those cars still look good and stylish after all that time...........
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Old 06-03-2009, 10:24 AM   #79
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His perception is based on years of observation, but I found it compelling. personally, I see WAY MORE beat up Cavaliers than Corollas, etc........
That is interesting. I have to wonder if the perception of very fast depreciation on domestic vehicles means that some owners don't bother spending the money to keep them in good condition -- feeling like it's "throwing good money after bad," since they'll lose 2/3 of their value (or whatever) in five years anyway.

And that could help the perception become reality.
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Old 06-03-2009, 10:30 AM   #80
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I think styling and perception matter. I see a TON of 10+ year old Lexus, Mercedes, Audi, BMW, Acura, etc. Those cars still look good and stylish after all that time...........
It is a rare 10 year old Pontiac that isn't missing a big chunk of that glue-on plastic "styling." That 12" high injection-molded crap didn't look good when the car was new, and it sure doesn't look good flapping in the breeze exposing the rusted metal underneath.
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