Wednesday, May 13, 2009
General Motors gets rear-ended by its executives
Top executives at General Motors finished running the once-proud automaker into the ground Tuesday as they dumped their remaining shares of stock and watched the company's stock price fall to its lowest since the Great Depression in the 1930s. The stock sank as low as $1.09 on the New York Stock Exchange before closing at $1.13, a 22 percent decline, according to the Reuters international news service. Former GM vice chairman and product chief Bob Lutz and five other execs revealed Monday in Detroit that they were selling their last holdings in the largest U.S. automaker, including $315,000 in stock, Reuters said, as GM approached a government-imposed deadline for reorganizing or filing for bankruptcy protection. It was a humiliating collapse for the carmaker, one of the original members of the NYSE, which for decades symbolized the strength and success of U.S. capitalism. But GM came to stand for corporate atrophy, as the automaker doggedly refused to build energy-efficient small cars to compete with its overseas rivals despite a plunging market share. Instead, GM used its wealth to lobby for tax changes and environmental law waivers that kept profits high in the short term but actually sealed its doom. Few Americans will forget seeing the chief executives of the three largest U.S. carmakers waste tens of thousands of dollars flying to Washington, D.C., in private jets to beg Congress for taxpayer bailouts. Now, that's out of touch! Of the three -- Rick Wagoner of GM, Bob Nardelli of Chrysler and Alan Mulally of Ford -- only Mulally remains in his post. Not coincidentally, Ford is the only one of what used to be known as the Big Three to have refused government loans so far.