Friday, November 19, 2010

The White House on G.M.

Regardless of your politics, this is worth watching.


  1. Ummm...Goolsbee is actually saying that the company's turnaround occurred at the point in time when Wagoner was fired for refusing to be part of taking the company away from the stock and bond holders and giving a big chunk of it to the UAW?

    Huh. I was under the impression that the Buick Enclave in my garage was designed by a product group turned around by Lutz and Welburn, and built by a manufacturing group turned around by Henderson and Reuss.

    I had no idea that Wagoner, Lutz, Welburn, Henderson, Reuss et all actually had nothing to do with the cars and processes over the past few years, and my Enclave actually was designed and manufactured per direction from Mr. Goolsbee and Mr. Rattner.

    That's pretty impressive.

    Oh...also, Mr. Goolsbee's historical valuation numbers are US operations only, and are significantly shaped by the anchor around Mr. Wagoner's neck of retiree pension and healthcare costs. Obviously the only way to turn around that particular death dive was to rejuvenate the company's products from also-rans to top rankings...and Mr. Wagoner's team amazingly had pulled that off. All that they needed was three normal market years plus share increases due to hot models, and the company's US value would have been stabilized. Instead they got a recession, and they got to take the blame. Oy.

    But anyway, thanks for the lecture, Mr. Goolsbee.

  2. Goolsbee makes it pretty clear he doesn't understand that GM is a GLOBAL automotive company - not just a U.S company.

  3. Where are the Flint jobs?

  4. How can I politely say this...Flint has nothing but an historical connection to G.M. now. The jobs are not coming back. It's over. Let it go. It's a waste of time to link every item on G.M. with a question of what's in it for Flint. The answer for a decade or two has been NOTHING. That will not change in the future. Time to move on.

  5. A lot of GM's plants are "singles" now...the company's capacity having been cut so much that most of their geographic manufacturing distribution is gone.

    When they eventually have enough confidence of sustained volume exceeding their economic ability to supply with single plants, they're likely to build on a geographic-distribution basis, per their demand pattern. So, little of that eventual plant growth will occur in Michigan.

    But actually GM has had a pretty good experience with the Delta Township and Orion plants, and of course the Van Slyke complex. My guess is that their understanding of the complex interaction of current-generation vs. long-term worker characteristics will be such that Genesee County might get serious consideration when GM next adds a new platform and builds a new "single" plant.

    I'd think everything will depend on evolution of the UAW relationship. If the UAW wants to encourage expansion in their north-central-states stronghold, perhaps they should find ways to assure that local unions and local management will be symmetrically cooperative instead of antagonistic.

  6. Flint's hay day population was over 200,000 and currently under 80,000. Detroit, 1.7 million, now less than 700k. A unique predicament for GM is the abrupt mass migration from these areas. Now, what do you think all those expatriates are telling others about GM? My best guess is it's not nice. GM needs someone proficient in psychology on their board of directors. Bringing jobs and hope back to the company's birthplace would be the best decision they could make. Flint did back flips for GM, and the like should be returned.

  7. I think it is way too early to consider this a successful turn around. Get real.

  8. Again, still, they are assuming GM would have been liquidated. Most analysts say if they had gone through normal bankruptcy, they wouldn't have liquidated and millions of jobs would not have been lost. The big difference would have been the stockholders wouldn't have been screwed as much and the unions wouldn't have gained at all like they have. In other words, GM was redistributed from the rich to the unions. The underlying problem, union pensions, has not been solved.


Thanks for commenting. I moderate comments, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at