So unless you just crawled out of bed still in your Greenspan Underoos because you no longer have an office to go to, you probably know that General Motors is looking at a 2008 loss of $31 billion. Don't worry though, because this is about what we expected.
Perhaps it is our cynical side, but does anyone really believe that these firms are going to be anything but a huge gravity well for cash for the next 20 years? In all seriousness, under what scenario is it possible to imagine that anything resembling General Motors can even arguably make back a fraction of what has been and will be dumped into it in the next five years?
In 2006, Nissan- the best of the Japanese manufacturers that year on this metric- pulled in about $2,100 in profit per car (Honda and Toyota were in the $1,200 - $1,500 range). Assuming General Motors could manage to recover Nissan's margin (and this is Disneyland levels of fantasy) they would have to push over 14 million vehicles out the door just to cover the 2008 loss. For perspective, GM sold about 8.3 million vehicles in 2008 with more than a dozen brands, and not only have they been forced to cut capacity and brands, but demand might not even get that good again.
Ok, that's probably not a fair analysis, since the $31 billion is sunk cost. Surely, we aren't going to have to dump that much money into GM again... right? Ok, what about the $12 billion in underfunded pension liabilities yet to come? The $[whatever] billion in cash they are about to ask for? The however much they burn through in the next five years?
It might be time for GM to punt.
General Motors Corp posted a nearly $31 billion loss on Thursday for 2008 and said its auditors were likely to cast doubt on its viability as it seeks an expanded federal bailout to stay afloat.
GM, which asked for up to $30 billion of U.S. government aid, posted losses in all of its major units during the fourth quarter and it burned through $6.2 billion of cash. Revenue plunged by more than a third.