Obama at General MotorsFollowing General Motors' historic return as a publicly traded company Thursday, President Barack Obama said the U.S. government is on track to more than recoup the nearly $50 billion it invested in the Detroit automaker.

With GM once again becoming a public company, Obama said, the government's 61% stake in the carmaker was cut nearly in half. "What's more," he said, "American taxpayers are now positioned to recover more than my administration invested in GM."

Obama said the controversial bailout saved 1 million jobs in all 50 states at a time when Americans needed them and helped reinvigorate a moribund U.S. auto industry. He noted that all three domestic automakers -- GM, Ford Motor (F) and Chrysler Group -- "are in the midst of their strongest period of job growth in more than a decade."

Since GM and Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy in mid-2009, the auto industry has created more than 75,000 new jobs, Obama said.

Avoiding a Catastrophe

More important, the president said, the U.S. auto industry is once again competitive, "capable of going toe-to-toe with any other manufacturer in the world" -- a feat that two years ago "seemed impossible." He also noted that all three companies, for the first time in six years, are operating at a profit. GM announced last week that it earned $2 billion in the third quarter, while Chrysler reported a net loss of $84 million during the same three months, but it was profitable on an operating basis.

Critics of the domestic automakers had written off the industry, Obama said. But if the government hadn't acted, the fallout would have resulted in catastrophic job loss, devastated communities and costs to governments measured in tens of billions of dollars in additional safety net programs and lost revenue.

The president acknowledged that the last two years, which have seen the nation's jobless rate rise to around 10% and stay there, haven't been easy on anybody: "They haven't been without pain or sacrifice. . .and obviously we still have a long road ahead and a lot of work to do to rebuild this economy [and] to put people back to work."

'We Know What Went Wrong'

GM shares ended the day's trading at $34.19 a share, up $1.19, or 3.6%, from the $33 a share IPO price set on Wednesday. Shares moved as high as $35.74 shortly after trading began but moved steadily lower throughout the day.

The company's triumphant return to Wall Street included the sound of a car horn blaring shortly after the bell was rung at the New York Stock Exchange, signaling the beginning of trading. More than 100 million shares of GM stock traded hands within the first 15 minutes that the market was open.

Despite the celebratory mood, GM executives remained subdued, noting that challenges lie ahead. "There is a lot of optimism and a lot of confidence in GM these days," said CEO Daniel Akerson in a conference call with reporters. "But we know how we arrived here. We know what went wrong, and we believe we've learned a lot from that."

Notwithstanding the successful IPO, some issues remain, including the government's remaining stake in GM. The U.S. Treasury raised $23 billion in the sale of its shares today, but it's barred from selling more shares for six months. Further, when Treasury does decide to sell again, the remainder of its stock would have sell at roughly $53 a share to recoup U.S. taxpayers' full investment in GM.


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joaquinabco

MADOFF SAYS WHAT?

November 22 2010 at 3:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
gon123hi

yeah great...Not! what can I do with my old Gm stock certificates? A souvenir from Obamas' not so popular now socialist agenda.Maybe if the Goverment did not take over the old Gm they could have restructered and let the forces of American capitalism determine the value.Is it true that 51% of workforce are goverment jobs paid on taxpayer's shoulders?

November 19 2010 at 5:45 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to gon123hi's comment
Don

I too lost money on old GM stock....it's done! Get over it! Now the government has invested our tax dollars in GM....guess what? That too is a done deal, and we have to live with it. Now let's hope that GM and Chrysler become success stories and that we get our investment back. THAT is what this is all about, not crying about what has happened in the past...Pick up the pieces and go forward! Quit crying over spilled milk!

November 19 2010 at 6:52 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
linmarco

Obama is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't. There are some people you can never please. They want all of heaven and the coolest part of hell. You'll hear from their counterparts when the new president takes office. He will also be damned if he does and damned if he doesn't.

November 19 2010 at 5:05 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Don

I can not beliewe the stupidity of the anit GM raves on this comment board. Do you people have a brain? Whether it was a good decision or not is irrelevant....our tax dollars are invested in GM. If we want to get paid back, don't you think that we should be hoping that GM is sucessful? Would you anti GM folks go to your broker, invest heavily in a company and then wish for it's demise? Think a bit before you make yourselves look like idiots.

November 19 2010 at 4:02 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Don's comment
Erbie's

Seems as if the 5 that don't believe this may also believe the Japanese should have won WWII.

November 19 2010 at 10:18 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
tallonplumb

f-bo

November 19 2010 at 3:55 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
czy3

Obamo praises GM? How about a thank you to the American tax payers, and share holders who got shafted. Invest in our future, buy a Ford.

November 19 2010 at 3:39 PM Report abuse +12 rate up rate down Reply
sfields435

butteparts1: "a leftie handout"?? BUSH was the 1st to "handout" $$ to GM, back in Dec '08 -- $25 Billion. I guess you don't pay attention when Republicans are up there handling these emergencies. QUESTION: Since the bailout saved 3 million American jobs (including dealers & related industries), don't have to pay UE benefits to those workers, and are getting every DIME of this "handout" back, what are you so PO'd about????

November 19 2010 at 1:47 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to sfields435's comment
butteparts1

Bush did a leftie Handout! - - Assuming I am a Repub. is an error on your part. You (assumption here) Progressive types can't spend enough of our future generations money! There is a limit and we passed it a long time ago! Life has pain and if you over spend or run your company into the ground you and unfortunately those you employ pay the price for your stupidness! Let me put it this way, you want MOMMY government to cake care of your little behind your whole life- then just fine- DO NOT ASK ME to pay your way! I refuse! Libertarians live and let live- LEAVE US THE HECK ALONE!

November 19 2010 at 2:27 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
wiley77

ARE YOU KIDDING? THOUSANDS OF DEALERSHIPS WERE YANKED FROM PRIVATE OWNERS, CAUSING HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF JOBS LOST FROM PEOPLE WHO HAD BEEN IN BUSINESSES FOR YEARS. A GOOD SHARE OF THESE DEALERSHIPS WERE REOPENED BY MINORITIES. YEA, NATIONALIZING AUTO CO'S, INSURANCE CO'S, BANKS, HEALTHCARE, YEA BERRY IS A GOOD LITTLE MARXIST!

November 20 2010 at 11:18 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
butteparts1

Let me see if I get this right- I can buy GM (which still owes about $30+ Billion just to We the People) for about $34 a share or I could buy a Great American Icon who didn't take a Leftie handout and is building some of the finest cars in the world and gaining market share for about $16 a share- - - - FORD!- - - - Gosh, is this really a hard decision? DUH!

November 19 2010 at 1:30 PM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply
John/Kristine

Let us not forget who got screwed here, it was the bondholders of General Motors. The bond holders should have rightfully been the owners after bankruptcy not the US Government or the unions. The bond holders got the shaft!

November 19 2010 at 1:19 PM Report abuse +12 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to John/Kristine's comment
Phil

And what about All the enployees who lost their JOBS AND their pensions AND their Medical bebnefits ~!!!

November 19 2010 at 7:19 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
sasha

And if nothing had been done, you would have gotten nothing anyway. The bigger issue is that the GOP needs someone to be angry with, Never nind the facts, let's just stay pissed at Obama. And don't buy a GM car because you are so mad! Such a threat!

November 19 2010 at 7:36 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
BUFFALO

When the government does not own any GM stock I will call the debt payed if we get all our money back plus intrest. Now the bailout of the unions is another thing all together and that was the only reason that Obama bailed out GM. So get every dime back get the government out of the auto business and out of the labor business and then you can make these claims.But right now our government is still is the auto business and don't let anybody tell you different.

November 19 2010 at 1:04 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to BUFFALO's comment
sasha

25,000 union workers were laid off. If GM had gone under suppliers for all carmakers would have gone with it. SOMETIMES the government HAS to do something other than spend $1 trillion for two worthless wars.

November 19 2010 at 7:38 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply