Hold the Presses: Government Loses Money on General Motors Bail-Out!

The Administration continues to claim that its auto bail-out was a wonderful success.  If was, if you don't worry about cost.  I mean, what's tens of billions of dollars among friends?

Over at Reason Shikha Dalmia writes:

The Treasury Department yesterday revised its loss estimate for the Government Motors bailout from $14.33 billion to $23.6 billion, thanks to the company’s sinking stock price. GM’s Sept. 30 closing price, on which the new estimate is based, was $20.18, about $13 less than its December IPO price and $35 less than what is needed for taxpayers to break even.

The $23.6 billion represents a 25 percent loss on the feds $60 billion direct “investment” in GM. But that’s not all that taxpayers are on the hook for. As I explained previously, Uncle Sam’s special GM bankruptcy package allowed the company to write off $45 billion in previous losses going forward. This could work out to as much as $15 billion in tax savings that GM wouldn’t have had had it gone through a normal bankruptcy. Why? Because after bankruptcy, the tax liabilities of companies increase since they have no more losses to write off.

This means that the total hit to taxpayers, who still own about a quarter of the company, could add up to $38.6 billion. That’s even more that the $34 billion on the outside I had predicted in May.

Of course, this should surprise no one.  And the expense is not just the direct financial loss.  It is whatever could have otherwise been done with the money wasted, what economists call "opportunity cost."  When the government gives away your money, it denies you whatever you could have used the cash for, which might have been far more valuable than the dollars themselves.  After all, throughout human history politicians have proved to be far better at losing than making money!

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