Saturday, December 20, 2008

Mark Steyn's holiday cheer

Steyn has a typically biting, yet funny look at all the bailing out going on.
"See the USA in your Chevrolet!" trilled Dinah Shore week after week on TV.

Can you still see the USA in your Chevrolet? Through a windscreen darkly.

General Motors now has a market valuation about a third of Bed, Bath & Beyond, and no one says your Swash 700 Elongated Biscuit Toilet Seat Bidet is too big to fail. GM has a market capitalization of about $2.4 billion. For purposes of comparison, Toyota's market cap is $100 billion and change (the change being bigger than the whole of GM). General Motors, like the other two geezers of the Old Three, is a vast retirement home with a small money-losing auto subsidiary. The UAW is AARP in an Edsel: It has three times as many retirees and widows as "workers" (I use the term loosely). GM has 96,000 employees but provides health benefits to a million people.

How do you make that math add up? Not by selling cars: Honda and Nissan make a pretax operating profit per vehicle of around $1,600; Ford, Chrysler and GM make a loss of $500 to $1,500. That's to say, they lose money on every vehicle they sell. Like Henry Ford said, you can get it in any color as long as it's red.
Enjoy the rest.