The Great Debate UK
- Professor David Bailey works at the Coventry University Business School. The opinions expressed are his own. -
General Motors announced its exit from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Friday, and pretty speedy it was, too. The firm has quickly transferred its good assets to a new carmaker (“new GM”) which is majority owned by the U.S. government, and the whole bankruptcy process has taken just 40 days.
It used to be said that “whatever’s good for GM is good for the U.S. economy”. While GM is no longer the world’s biggest automaker, by some estimates it still accounted for 1 percent of the U.S. economy before going into bankruptcy. The latter has been not only hugely symbolic of the fate of the ailing U.S. car industry, but has also been of huge importance for all the workers, suppliers, dealers and creditors caught up in its travails.
The “new GM” that has emerged from Chapter 11 last week is a much smaller and leaner firm which has shed tens of thousands of workers, closed factories, cut loose hundreds of dealerships (further reductions will be needed), ditched several brands, and – with union agreement – changed employment contracts so as to cut costs.
Mon Dieu! Are the Germans starting to behave like the French?
Berlin’s efforts to salvage carmaker Opel from the wreckage of U.S. auto giant General Motors pose as big a challenge to Europe’s single market as French attempts earlier this year to tie loans to its carmakers to keeping jobs and factories in France.