Former car czar said he could have pushed for more cuts to make U.S. auto indystry more competitive

Article by Christian A., on December 18, 2011

Steve Rattner went before the Detroit Economic Club and told them although the bailouts in 2009 surpassed his expectations, he would have done more to streamline GM's cost structure if he had been given more time. Rattner had previously headed the auto task force and in doing so, had led the efforts of the Obama administration to rescue GM and Chrysler. He believes that the U.S. auto industry could have been made more globally competitive if he had pressured auto workers, management and creditors to agree to deeper concessions.

He said that he is now having doubts on several details of the bankruptcy restructurings. For instance, he mentioned that active workers who were represented by the UAW didn’t get a pay cut and they also weren’t asked to forfeit a portion of their pensions. In addition, creditors received a lot more than they would have gotten in the event of a liquidation.

Rattner informed reporters that if he got more time, he would have urged the stakeholders to sacrifice slightly more. Rattner also clarified that at the time, GM wasn’t in a “near-death experience” but rather, it was already dead. Under the terms of the bailouts, the U.S. government got a majority stake in GM and Fiat SpA took over to manage Chrysler. After GM’s initial public offering, the U.S. government's stake in GM had dropped to around a third of what it was. [source: Reuters]

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