The General Motors story is complicated; it’s always been complicated. Right now, the company is doing well and just announced a $2 billion investment in 17 U.S. plants, mostly in the Midwest, that will create (or save, depending) 4,000 jobs.
At the company’s Toledo transmission plant, CEO Dan Akerson told the cheering crowd: “We’re committed to investing in the infrastructure of this company and manufacturing jobs in the United States.” Hoorah, Dan.
How ironic that the auto press is also celebrating the contribution of Bob Stempel (above), the ex-CEO who just died, praised as a true “car guy” who just happened to oversee two years of GM’s free-fall and demise in the 1990s.
GM CEOs have been generally a sorry lot, the most recent demonstration of that being the tenure of Ed “Doofus” Whitacre. The jury is still out on Akerson.
Anyway, Dan pointed to the multiplier effect that the 4,000-job investment will generate—another 28,000 U.S. jobs and $2.9 billion more to the country’s gross domestic product. And the company made a feel-good video about this.
In another irony, the White House sent congratulations on the $2 billion GM investment and then congratulated itself on President Obama’s bold intervention to provide the “tough love” needed to save/create the 4,000 jobs.
Even as they disperse their production abroad and build cars with fewer and fewer U.S.-made parts, “American” auto companies crow about saving U.S. jobs. I still happen to think the bailout was the right choice, but few are being honest about its consequences.
Industry apologist Daniel Howes wrote a truly incredible puff piece, advising us that GM and the other Detroit automakers are all smiles as they head into the future. About GM, he informs us that the company has moved on from its blighted past. It has good financials, improving sales, strong presence in global markets and a revitalized product development cycle.
With all that good news, why is the stock price dropping? I think the company’s future looks positive, but why don’t these cheerleaders point out some of the potentially serious pitfalls ahead? How can they consistently praise themselves for saving jobs when some 400,000 were lost before and during the bankruptcy process?
Should we cut our automotive and government leaders some slack as they try to put the best face on the recovery? Why, or why not?