Government Motors is no more. Five years after the first round of bailouts of two of the three American automakers, the U.S. Treasury Department this afternoon sold off its last shares of General Motors.
On Twitter GM North America president Mark Reuss probably best expressed what all of his employees are feeling right now (Update: Which has since been deleted):
"Free at Last, Free at Last" - thanks to all of the hard work and those who gave us a chance.— mreuss (@GMdudeinNA) December 9, 2013
While the bailout of GM (and Chrysler) certainly saved the company from near-certain liquidation, and there's no question that their post-bailout product line is better than it's been in decades, the "Government Motors" label left them with a sullied reputation with many buyers from which they have yet to fully recover.
More importantly, the final cost of the bailout was a loss for taxpayers. GM received $49.5 billion in federal funds, but as CNBC reporter Phil LeBeau states, the Treasury Department ended up losing about $12 billion in the end. That means taxpayers were out $10.7 Million every day the government held a stake in GM.
GM was quick to put a more positive spin on things, citing a new report by the Center for Automotive Research which claimed the bailout saved 1.2 million jobs in 2009 and preserved $39.4 billion in personal and social insurance tax collections in 2009 and 2010.
As the Detroit News reports, GM is now free of government pay restrictions and can again pay dividends on its common stock. GM stock closed at nearly $41 a share this afternoon, their highest level since returning to public trading three years ago.
Photo credit AP