Not So Fast, Sparky

Author:
Updated:
Original:

It is, of course, the goal of everyone involved to shift businesses with large government stakes back into the private sector quickly. The question is, how do we define "quickly," exactly. How about almost two decades?

GMAC LLC, which is giving the U.S. Treasury Department a 35.4 percent equity stake, said on Friday it might take 17 years for the government to shed its investment if the auto and mortgage lender were to go public.
The timetable suggests that federal involvement in GMAC's affairs could persist long after troubles plaguing the economy and the auto industry end.

The reality is that if time lines like this are the only realistic alternative, we should consider another option:
Punt.
Directly related to this issue is a missive on credit penned by Megan McArdle recently. She closes with:

But maybe it's worth remembering that the tyranny that credit scores exercise over our imagination have everything to do with the fact that we've built a society so utterly dependent on credit. If you didn't need a credit card, an auto loan, and probably a mortgage to be considered middle class in this society, these opaque and unresponsive bureaus wouldn't be the most important source of information about us.

Of course, we recognize that to save UAW jobs you have to save car companies and that means boosting car company revenue and that means getting consumers to buy more cars than the situation would generally warrant and that means providing them (all of them) with loads of cheap debt to finance their purchases and that means subsidizing loans and that means saving GMAC no matter what the cost and even if it takes 18 years, $750,000 per UAW job and hundreds of lives. We also recognize that this is supposed to be the brilliant "new way" to reform crony capitalism.
We repeat: Punt.
U.S. could take 17 years to exit GMAC after an IPO [Reuters]

Related