April 24, 2007

FLASH: GM runs out of gas, blames housing crash

I guess the fact that GM makes overpriced gas guzzling crappy cars nobody wants is just a side note.


Seriously, for a company this screwed and mismanaged (a car company that owns subprime loans!), I don't know how they can avoid bankruptcy. And the fact that (as HP predicted) the housing crash helped kill the US automotive industry is mind boggling.

For GM, all that cash-out refi loot is gone, never to return. I'd guess HELOC money bought half the new cars purchased these past few years (anyone know the #?). And how many trucks were purchased by people in the homebuilding profession? Those days are over...

Had enough? Here's more... The yen is undervalued. Toyota is kicking their behind. Their pension situation is a time bomb. Their cars are crap. Their workers make a hundred times someone in China would require. They still own 49% of subprime cancer GMAC. And now desperate homedebtors are flooding the used car market with inventory in an attempt to raise cash.

And yes, I'm short GM via put options at time of writing...

Mortgage 'meltdown' hits auto sales: GM's Lutz - Vice chairman sees entire sector hit by problems in home financing market, truck sales to suffer.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Reuters) -- The crisis in the U.S. mortgage market has hurt U.S. auto sales this month, General Motors Corp. Vice Chairman Bob Lutz said Monday.

"The market as a whole has been a little weakish. That has come as a result of the housing market problems and the mortgage industry meltdown," Lutz told Reuters. "A lot of people are finding themselves in a position of reduced affordability and that has had an impact, not just on us, but across the industry."

44 comments:

GreedKills said...

I read somewhere that in 2006 40% of all new car purchases were bought with a HELOC.

And those were probably the people that said they paid cash when asked what their payment was for their new European sedan or American SUV.

I'll be willing to bet that they didn't say their mortgage was going up.

Rao said...

When one connects the dots, this is beginning to look like a system breakdown.

Anonymous said...

Their employee pricing, other very generous incentives/rebates and fleet sales have simultaneously pulled forward several years worth of new car demand & flooded the used car market depressing used car prices. They are now trying to step away from all this but with new car demand weakening due to the loss of HELOC cash & housing costs skyrocketing (Toxic loan adjustment shock) no one is buying. If fact housing cost increases is causing the FB/homedebtor to now dump the HELOC cars for cash further adding to used car inventory. Toss in stiff foreign car competition and you've got the perfect storm to derail any turn around plan for the big 3.

Rao said...

When one connects the dots, this is beginning to look like a system failure.

Rao said...

Latin America Feels Pain
Of U.S. Housing Slump

OAXACA, Mexico -- The slowing U.S. housing market already has taken a bite out of the U.S. economy. Now, the fallout is spreading to Latin America.

That's because home construction is the principal gateway industry for immigrants entering the U.S. labor market. Those immigrants contribute the lion's share of the estimated $50 billion in cash sent annually from the U.S. to family members and others in countries south of the border. That tide of cash appears to be ebbing.
Data showing what appear to be fewer illegal crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border adds to the evidence of a housing-related plunge in remittances. Apprehensions of attempted crossers are down just over 10% during the first quarter of this year from the same period in 2006, according to federal law enforcement. The Bush administration claims the decrease is because of tighter border security. But those on the Mexican side say traffic has slowed for a simpler reason: There are fewer jobs waiting for those who make it across.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB117728927909778544-search.html?KEYWORDS=bcp+securities&COLLECTION=wsjie/6month

anonymous wimp said...

Keith, could you provide a citation for your statement regarding FB's flooding the used care market in an attempt to raise cash? This is something that I've been looking for myself.
Thanks

Anonymous said...

See "Who Killed the Electric Car Yet"? Fairly balanced presentation (despite the title). These guys slit their own throats; their cars aren't only crap, but they've rigged the system so it's plug and play and repairs are no longer an option.

And don't blame the GM retirees, if the company had properly funded and invested the funds GM wouldn't be in that mess either.

Stuck in So Pa said...

Hey, GM still makes damn good trucks! Don't know about their cars anymore, I bought a new Toyota in 96 still looks good, still runs good, have had to replace NOTHING except normal wear and tear, same with the Chevy PU, also 96.

Anonymous said...

"The market as a whole has been a little weakish."

But not too weakish, mind you.

This will be the NAR's headline later today.

Anonymous said...

I sure am glad GM didn't blame the weather...

Anonymous said...

As that rusty hulk indicates, nothing lasts forever.

Anonymous said...

My brother works at Wescast in Canada, ...

Wescast is a Canadian corporation providing exhaust solutions for an extensive range of engines in the global automotive market. We are the world’s largest supplier of cast exhaust manifolds for passenger cars and light trucks. Leveraging our competence in casting complex products for high temperature exhaust applications, we also manufacture turbine housings, integrated turbo-manifolds and catalytic converter containers.

He says the plant he works at has about two years at the most before it's shuttered. Seniority won't mean anything. It'll just be gone.

George W. Groovy said...

Lutz is practicing what the Italians call “dietrologia,” the art of finding dark, ulterior motives behind seemingly unrelated issues.

Anonymous said...

how convenient. make shit ass cars for 30 years, pay union thugs $120K a year for screwing in a bolt then blame the housing market because you can't make money.

GM was a dead company long ago. It has nothing to do with housing.

Anonymous said...

Said "I read somewhere that in 2006 40% of all new car purchases were bought with a HELOC."

That's because HELOC's were touted as a way to purchase cars and write the interest off on your taxes...

Smart, if could actually afford the car...

Natural Eyebrows said...

An idle factory is very very expensive to maintain. Car companies went into lending years ago to move product. Would you make a seven year loan against an asset that depreciates to zero in five years?

I disagree that GM's plight has nothing to do with housing. It's all part of the "let's lower lending standards to keep the company growing" mentality. It doesn't matter if the company is GM, KB Homes, or Washinton Mutual.

phd said...

i think GM sells cars here over in manila, i don't even know why are they here since all cars here are mostly toyota and honda!

anon54321 said...

If I remember accurately, one of the articles mentioned in other housing blogs about a week ago mentioned that 15% of car sales in southern Florida had been from housing refinancing in the recent past.

David in JAX said...

I think a lot of American's (like me) would prefer to buy Ford or GM products but don't because of their poor quality. I would buy a GM product if I knew it wouldn't be a maintenance nightmare. But, I've been burned by GM products in the past. I want a car that will be maintenance free and last for many years so I drive a Toyota.

Anonymous said...

And don't blame the GM retirees, if the company had properly funded and invested the funds GM wouldn't be in that mess either.

actually, according to the movie you mention, millions would probably be out of work-- all those in the ecosystem formed around making, selling and repairing gas engines and transmissions, although it would take time to transition over. heck, we wouldn't even need ethanol, unless the trucks would use it.

if you've read deflation, some predict that deflation will become the rule and if that's true, who would have the money to buy a gas powered vehicle?

It's hard to believe that GM can handle the perdicted deflation because huge parts of their businesses are gutted and no longer needed so cash flow would plummet.

Mort said...

Screw GM, those corporate fascist bastards, their cars suck, and they are in bed with the oil companies and the politicians. Corporate fascists all. I'll walk before I buy another Ford or Chevy.

borkafatty said...

I have owned nothing but Chevy, and every single one of them, the front end went to shit after 40,000+- mile..chevy is shit and will never buy another again.

eager beaver said...

Lower the dam price of the cars! Their cars are way overpriced.I'm looking forward to more foreign vehicles hitting out market.I want to but a cheap economy car so I don't take it in the arse every week at the pumps.

Of couse heloc money has been keeping the car market alive.When people have to actually pay for cars with earned money watch out.

Anonymous said...

>> ...pay union thugs $120K a year for screwing in a bolt...

Ain't THAT the fucking truth! Or the union thugs on the West coast docks earning $100k+ for moving fucking boxes!

My father-in-law is a now-retired union thug. Anytime someone tries to put down unions in his presence, he'll swear up and down that "...the union is what enabled me to raise a family, send a kid to college, afford a home, buy a new car every few years, take a vacation twice a year, yada yada yada..."

That's right, dad - the union LET you do that stuff! Imagine how much MORE money you would have made being self-employed, not having "the man" limit your income potential!

I still love the guy, but sometimes I gotta just say WTF?

I own a Kia said...

Simple GM sucks - ROCK on KIA - Love my Kia

Anonymous said...

I've been a GM loyal customer for 16 yrs now. But not anymore. Except for the Cadillac brand, they are making really ugly cars now. Also, I won't feed their uncompetitive, union loving company anymore. If they are not going to compete in the global economy and also start to make nicer looking cars, RIP GM. I'm starting to look at the Acura TL as my next car. Looks really good, like most other imports.

Anon E. Moose said...

GM is making products that nobody wants. Period. For a while Lutz and Wagoner could manipulate the public with their cash back schemes, aggressive advertising (remember “American Revolution” and “Like a Rock” commercials?) and obnoxious statements that “American people don’t care about fuel economy”. Well, the game is up.

The oil price hasn’t been much lower that $60/barrel for a while and people are starting to feel it as their discretionary income is wasted on moving a bunch of air in an oversized cars. The Japanese and Koreans have been producing good quality econoboxes that just don’t break and seemingly run forever. And as free money spigot is drying up, there just won’t be any demand for overpriced, low quality, gas guzzlers no matter what GM headquarters show in commercials.

It is unfortunate that GM management has been so short sighted with their product line. It is unfortunate that thousands of people will be fired. But it’s almost a good thing if GM will face bankruptcy, be broken into smaller brands and have individual brands compete on open market by providing quality products once again.

GM had EV1, maybe we’ll see it once again.

Loki said...


When one connects the dots, this is beginning to look like a system breakdown.



Bingo, we have a winner!

Anonymous said...

GM is doing pretty well over in China. That's why, like Philip Morris, they've given up on the US market. 20% of the Chinese population is more than all the US combined. And we're talking pent up never had a car in my life type of demand. Folks that haven't figured out the General makes a crap product yet.

This also helps them strongarm their US operations into submission. "Oh sorry guys, you'll have to take cuts in benefits and salary or we're going out of business". When they've emaciated the company's earnings to the point where unions give them every concession imaginable, then you'll see cars that sell again.

Anonymous said...

in North Scottsdale today... took my Saab in for svc...at LEGENDS Cadillac Hummer Saab.

Let me TELL YOU!!! The customers were all stuck up idiots. Out of 30 vehicles in servic only 3 were Saabs. 3 were Caddy cars. 12 were H2/H3 and the rest were ooooh ESCALADES.

So I sat there, thinking how mad I was that my 9-3 only gets 31Hwy and about 22mpg around town, and I wish it was 30city and 40+ hwy... and WTF are these morons thinking...wasting gas...etc.

I respect their right to choose, but guys are dying in Iraq so these milf whores can go to starbux at 9mpg... with a exhaust pipe 5inches in diameter... idiots... polluting the crap air of Phx more so than it was.

I moving out of here in June. Thank God!!

Anonymous said...

I think that's an old Buick in the picture.
It might one day be the star in the new program 'Flip That Car', which will replacing....well, you know.

Hayley said...

Personally I'll pay the guy 100K for moving boxes gladly over some hack pushing buttons moving around other people's money.

Everyone of those guys you pay 100K probably has a family, owns a home, pays school and property taxes, buys a car or two, etc.

Versus 1 CEO who makes 100 million dollars and buys manhatten loft, shelters most of his income and keeps most of his money offshore where its safe and sound.

C'mon whose side are you on?

Yeah, that movie about the electric car would obviously mean displacement of some sort, but for who, how many of those car parts actually made in America? And I can't believe the displacement wouldn't be taken up by a burgeoning solar/clean power technology. Once you start driving a clean car it obviously leads to thoughts of why not put solar panels on your roof, etc.

No one ran to ATT's aid when cell phones started to take over, which effectively killed their long distance business. I pay as much for my cell as I used to pay in long distance charges every month.

In other words this type of move strikes me as wholly different from outsourcing.

Anonymous said...

"That's because HELOC's were touted as a way to purchase cars and write the interest off on your taxes..."
_____________________

I bought my Taho in January with a HELOC.
I sold my rental property in March.
I paid off my primary residence and the HELOC in April with proceeds from the property sale.

I am in cash positions across the boards in my 401K, IRAs and CBA's.

I have CD's in the bank. I own gold and silver.

I am concerned that US currency will slide further.

Anyone have a suggestion where to be instead of US Dollars without being exposed to the coming stock market crash and declining dollar?

keith said...

By the way, I haven't driven a car in over a year and a half.

If only the US could figure out mass transit.

Pete said...

>>>Their workers make a hundred times someone in China would require.<<<

So we're going to complain when US Corporations like GM send jobs overseas AND we're going to complain when US Corporations like GM pay Blue-Collar Americans a decent living? There is much to criticize GM for, but paying their workers "100 times" what a Chinese worker gets paid is not one of them.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately I have to post anonymous here because I know too much about GM's situation. (I post regularly on this blog.) This is going to be about as honest of an opinion you're going to get, from someone who should know, but does not work in the automotive industry, nor has money riding on the ultimate outcome.

GM is in a rough situation, but Ford is even worse. While GM had assets to sell (like 51% of GMAC and Allison Transmission), Ford decided to take out a "home equity loan" on virtually the entire company to keep going. But GM is actually in a good spot in their product cycle, so things don't look terrible right now. They will get worse over the next 18 months.

The UAW contract expires in September, so you can bet the UAW will be butting heads with the Detroit 3 over the summer. I can't express how important these contract negotiations are for all parties involved.

The GM pension plans are actually in very good shape, i.e. the fears of some pension meltdown are false. In fact, GM's asset manager head is probably the most effective executive in the company. GM also did something very smart recently regarding the pension plans. They shifted 20% of the portfolio from stocks into bonds to help reduce volatility in the portfolio and help maintain their funded status, in case stocks take a nosedive later.

However, the unfunded health care liabilities are a major, major problem, as there are no rules for properly funding these liabilities. GM will want more healthcare concessions, which they already got recently from the UAW. I don't see how the UAW will allow more concessions now. But I can tell you there is absolutely no way that GM can make up the underfunding of those liabilities as they currently stand. We are talking tens of billions of dollars in underfunding.

People say the quality of GM's cars and trucks stink compared to Toyota and Honda. They are actually similar from years 1-3, but it's the years starting at year 4 that are the problem. The Saturn Aura was voted North America Car of the Year. It's a really nice sedan. But will a new 2007 Aura run well in 2012? I don't know, and a lot of people aren't willing to find out.

Keith says he can't see how GM can avoid bankruptcy, but I believe they can avoid bankruptcy for at least 4-5 years. They have a lot of liquidity, and they haven't mortgaged the company yet like Ford has. But like I said, that UAW contract is a big key to GM's success or failure going forward. China and India aren't going to save GM for at least 20 years.

However, I have heard from some pretty reputable sources that if GM is on the brink of bankruptcy, the creditors will probably do a rework outside of bankruptcy, or do a "prepack" where everything gets worked out, the company files bankruptcy, and comes back out 1-2 months later. This is because a full-fledged bankruptcy would kill the dealer base. Nobody will want to buy a GM vehicle if they think the warranty won't be honored, so it's critical that bankruptcy is avoided, or GM will crater itself in a matter of weeks. There are way too many jobs on the line, including at GM, its suppliers, and its dealers, to allow that to happen.

Anonymous said...

Worse situations than GM running out of gas...

Imagine having an ex beotch from hell, like Kim Basinger. Now that would probably ruin every day for a long, long time.

Frank said...

What's funny is that Daimler/Mercedes is now frantically trying to dump Chrysler. What the hell were they thinking when they bought that piece of crap in the first place?? Owning a U.S. automaker is financial suicide. All it means is you get to pay hyper-inflated wages to the incompetent redneck union workers who demand 4x as much pay and benefits as their job is actually worth.

The entire population needs to read "Atlas Shrugged" because if they did, no one would tolerate unions and their greed any longer.

Anonymous said...

All of the housing crash and high energy prices stuff aside; pretend it was still 1999 and gas was 99 cents a gallon....You would still have to be a TOTAL IDIOT to buy a new American car.

The average sedan is around 30 grand. In under 4 years it will not be worth half. For around 20 grand you can buy a premium used Japanese or European car that is about 4 years old and retalied for over 40 grand new. When you sell your losses will not be as high since it will not depreciate as much and so fast.

A new Chevy Impala with cloth seats, plastic dash, and plastic wheels covers or a used Lexus/Mercedes with leather, wood grain dash, alloy wheels, and loaded with luxury.

No contest.

borkafatty said...

The Saturn Aura was voted North America Car of the Year. It's a really nice sedan. But will a new 2007 Aura run well in 2012? I don't know, and a lot of people aren't willing to find out

============

Yes I just bought one for my wife...and I must say what a sweet ride..actually it is fun to drive..and fast to..never in my life did i ever think I was going to buy a saturn never..but the car actually sold itself...and the wife loves it...so ill give GM 2 thumbs up for that product...hopefully the front end holds up before 40k otherwise I give up.

Hayley said...

Funny, I though you only read Atlas Shrugged if you wanted an education in sanctified selfishness.

Then again, maybe you're right, it's not greed or avarice or short sighted profit pandering that has destroyed the fiscal well being of the US...

It's collective bargaining agreements....

Hope everyone has a nice day at work and watch out for those labor laws!!!! They're e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Senator... I will give you 50% of the profits on the sale of these useless, troublesome,incompetent, badly built parts, you write the rule forcing people to buy and have installed in their automobiles and i produce and sell. and when were done shall we try fuels and drugs also!!!!

Brian O said...

The LS1 V-8 is the best engine ever produced :-) See Corvette :-)
Also, the Corvette Z06 is the fastest, best performing sports car on the planet, and sells for half of its nearest competitor.

I own GM shares.

Brian O said...

Corvette Z06, faster than Porsche and Ferrari and sells for $30,000 less than the cheapest of the others.
- Just sayin'