Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Taxpayers' $7B Gift To Fiat

Since Chrysler won't be repaying the $7B in taxpayers' money "loaned" to Chrysler by the federal government within the last year, as the debt will apparently be extinguished in Chrysler's bankruptcy, the sum in effect has become a gift to Chrysler's new suitor Fiat. (Having taken Chrysler, Fiat is next going to gobble GM's German unit Opel. I'm betting Fiat takes it free of US taxpayer obligation, too.)

My question is fairly simple: why is it that when AIG, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac wanted federal money, they had to pony up an 80% equity stake and submit to federal oversight of fundraising activities, but when the auto makers wanted money they just stuck out their hands? Sure, legislators gave them some trash talk and spoke badly of auto makers' apparent lack of plan to turn the money into success. This fact didn't keep them from handing the auto makers billions, though -- just maybe fewer billions than initially begged for.

I guess it's easy to write those checks when it's not your money.

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