Behind The Scenes Of The Auto Bailout

If you, like me, were wondering what was going on behind the scenes when GM and Chrysler were fighting for their lives, we now have one insider's account. The government's "car czar" Steven Rattner tells his story in Fortune magazine.

Rattner has harsh words for both companies.

At GM's Renaissance Center headquarters, the top brass were sequestered on the uppermost floor, behind locked and guarded glass doors. Executives housed on that floor had elevator cards that allowed them to descend to their private garage without stopping at any of the intervening floors (no mixing with the drones).

Saving Chrysler, he writes, was a tougher call.

Larded up with debt, hollowed out by years of mismanagement, Chrysler under Cerberus never had a chance. We marveled, for example, that Chrysler did not have a single car that was recommended by Consumer Reports.

The question for us — and ultimately, the President — was whether any restructuring could save Chrysler.

Rattner does not discuss what I think is the big question. How much of the bailout money will taxpayers lose? (Evan Newmark at the WSJ wonders the same.)

Rattner spoke at the Brookings Institution yesterday, you can grab the full audio here.

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