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Despite losses totaling (please sit down, Mr. Wagoner) $8.6 billion, 2005 still wasn't GM's worst year on record. In 1992, GM took a $23.5 billion hit brought on primarily by a change in accounting procedures that forced the company to include retiree health-care costs in earnings. At the time, Rick Wagoner, then the company's CFO, called the writedown a "paper hit," that was understood and expected by the financial community. On a cash-flow basis, the company's loss for 1992 was $4.5 billion, which looked positively miniscule compared to the company's 1991 loss of $7.9 billion. By 1993, the company was profitable to the tune of $2.5 billion, mainly from cost cutting measures and despite a $982 million loss in North America. By 1997 profits were up to $6.7 billion, mainly on light-truck sales. Could GM make a similar turnaround, or are things more dire this time around? Watch this space.

Oh General!: GM s Fourth Quarter 05 Losses Total $4.8b [internal]