Saturday, January 24, 2009

Was that the good Ford or the bad Ford?

Hopefully, Saturday's pronouncement from New Orleans that Ford Motor Co. does not need money from the federal government was a little good economic news in a month of deteriorating conditions. Speaking at the National Automobile Dealers Convention, Ford CEO Alan Mulally said his company had enough money to survive the downturn, at least for now, according to the Reuters international news service. "We don't want to borrow any more money," Mulally told reporters. "We have sufficient liquidity to fund our transformation plan, which means our business is in a relatively good shape." But no one knows whether that was an assessment by the good Ford, which plans to make itself more efficient by building more efficient, and therefore desired, automobiles, or if that was the other Ford, the one like the other U.S. automakers who were seemingly locked into building vehicles that were behind the times while sales plummeted year after year. And no one knows whether Ford will be back next year with its hand out, asking for some of the $17.4 billion in loans General Motors and Chrysler got in December. Ford has asked for a $9 billion credit line from the government, but has not received a replay. Mulally said his company was in better shape than GM and Chrysler because it borrowed $23 in 2006 by putting up most of its assets, and said he expects the U.S. economy to rebound later this year. "Right now, I think with everything planned in the fiscal and monetary policy, I am very comfortable that we are going to start to turn things around through the second half of the year," he said. Sounds good, depending on which Ford is doing the talking.

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