By John Lott
Only the government would consider it a success to buy stock at $43.84 a share and sell it at $33. — But President Obama and those who supported his bailout of General Motors and Chrysler are claiming just that today.
First, the alternative to the government bailout wasn’t to “give up” as Obama claimed on Thursday at his press conference. Bankruptcy didn’t mean that all jobs were going to be lost. It didn’t mean that all the factories producing cars would be closed.
Yet, the president made that claim in his announcement again today and he continually misstates what would have happened in a normal bankruptcy. Courts don’t just close down bankrupt companies. In fact, that rarely occurs. Any part of a company that can continue operating profitably continues to do so.
Some are pointing out that just a year and a half ago GM stock was trading at just $1 a share and claim that today’s closing price of $34.19 is proof of the bailout’s success. It simply doesn’t account for the over $50 billion in direct bailout funds and the tens of billions of dollars in other breaks President Obama gave the company and its unions.
It also ignores that GM’s stockholders and particularly its bondholders had their wealth stolen from them when the government took over ownership of the company. Traditional property right protections were shredded by the Obama administration, making corporate investments in America riskier as a result.