Monday, March 30, 2009

Auto industry restructuring

Today the Obama administration announced they are going to work with the auto manufacturers to restructure their companies so that they do not go completely belly up. First, they requested that the CEO of GM Rick Wagoner resign as part of their restructuring. He does not get severance pay for this (hallelujah) but does get his $20 million dollar retirement package. Although that might sound outrageous, retirement usually is not contingent upon performance and not giving him what he is entitled to this way could pose legal challenges from Wagoner and that is not a headache that the administration or the company wants to deal with.

There is also outrage (from the left) that the Obama administration is stepping in to help the auto industry put their house in order in terms of management, budget, staffing, etc. However, they are not doing this to the financial services area. The auto industry, compared to financial services, is much more centralized as opposed to finance which can include retail banking, investment banking, insurance, loans, mortgages and lines of credit and is therefore very broad. There are also many more financial service firms than auto manufacturers for them to work with. Moreover, working in finance requires a totally different skill set and mindset than government or even product manufacturing. Therefore at this point it is difficult for them to "takeover" the financial services side. However, the door is still open to request that financial service executives resign as many of the largest banks have just as a pivotal role as the auto manufacturers.

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