Congressional Oversight Panel; Printed from

The Use of TARP Funds in Support and Reorganization of the Domestic Automotive Industry

The Congressional Oversight Panel's September oversight report, "The Use of TARP Funds in Support and Reorganization of the Domestic Automotive Industry," follows the money and examines how tens of billions of taxpayer dollars have been used to support Chrysler and General Motors. In protecting the interests of taxpayers, the Panel found Treasury negotiated aggressively with all the players in the automotive industry. While Treasury has conceded that it is unlikely to recover the entire amount invested, other goals also influenced Treasury's overall strategy.

Even before last year's financial crisis, the American automotive industry was facing severe strains. In 2008, U.S. automotive sales fell to a 26-year low. By the end of the year, a long-term slump became an acute crisis, with Chrysler and General Motors (GM) unable to secure credit and facing reduced consumer demand. Without new financing, they faced collapse – a potentially crippling blow to the American economy that could eliminate nearly 1.1 million jobs. Facing this prospect, the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) was used to provide American automotive companies with short-term financing and additional loans to finance the bankruptcy reorganizations of Chrysler and GM.

American taxpayers now own 10 percent and 61 percent of the new Chrysler and GM companies respectively. Treasury's support for the automotive industry differed significantly from its assistance to the banking industry. The bulk of the funds were available only after the companies had filed for bankruptcy, wiping out their old shareholders, cutting their labor costs, reducing their debt obligations and replacing some top management. The government's role raises serious oversight issues, particularly Treasury's conflict between competing objectives.

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