GM IPO Raises Billions, But Company Faces Hidden Challenges; Bailout Still Not Repaid

General Motors raised more than $20 billion in an initial public offering (IPO) this week, selling millions of shares owned by the federal government, and reducing the government’s ownership of GM from 61 percent to 33 percent.

GM stock is worth money partly because its government ownership stake allows it to claim up to $45 billion in tax savings that it would otherwise have had to forfeit as a result of its bankruptcy. GM is also receiving lots of taxpayer subsidies for its Chevy Volt, despite recent revelations that it lied about that car, which it was trumpeting in a “publicity stunt” to curry favor with politicians crusading against global warming.

GM still owes taxpayers at least $29.4 billion, and its finance arm owes taxpayers an additional $14.6 billion. In a sense, taxpayers lost money on the sale. (They got at least $9 billion less for the stock that was sold in last week’s IPO than they originally paid for that stock.)

Slate’s Mickey Kaus, who reluctantly supported the auto bailouts, thinks that people who bought GM stock were “suckers,” since GM faces hidden perils, still has too much red tape and inefficiency, lacks “effective internal controls,” and is the beneficiary of accounting gimmicks and unrealistic assumptions about its future market share.

John Berlau, who studies financial markets at CEI, had a much more grim assessment of the GM bailout and its IPO.

Earlier, GM lied about whether it had paid back taxpayers for its bailout, triggering an FTC complaint by CEI.

Image credit: hanneorla’s flickr photostream.