It strains credulity to believe that, in the course of that year, the cash pile that Wilson had gifted GM at the taxpayers’ expense had gone from being a major factor in the firm’s newfound success to being an inefficiently-allocated drain on its value and a target for corporate raiders. In fact, the only thing that had changed was that Wilson was leading the consortium of hedge funds now poised to elect him to GM’s board in return for their share of GM’s erstwhile “fortress balance sheet.”
What is clear is that this scheme would not be possible if Wilson and company had truly improved GM’s ability to turn cash into real shareholder value. Because GM’s “product-led turnaround” has failed to translate into improved pricing power or operational efficiencies, GM’s stock has been largely unable to attract investors who might be interested in its long-term value creation rather than simply raiding its cash pile. In short, Wilson’s scheme isn’t just extremely suspicious it’s also a repudiation of the myth that the bailout really solved GM’s deep operational, organizational and cultural problems. As a result, there’s little to no chance that value investors will try –let alone be able — to stand up to Wilson’s hedge fund cash raid.
This is a problem for GM, which will once again find itself vulnerable to market shocks once its “fortress balance sheet” is raided by Wilson and his cronies. It’s also an absolute disaster for taxpayers who are currently eyeing their latest tax bills and are unlikely to believe Wilson’s Wall Street raiders need their tax dollars more than they do. But most profoundly, this is a nightmare for an Obama Administration that has struggled to convince markets that its policies are rooted in fair play and a level competitive playing field. With the administration’s major economic policy now revealed to be little more than a transfer of wealth from taxpayers to Wall Street, the United States seems to be sliding towards a cynical kleptocracy which threatens not just General Motors but the very foundations of this nation’s success.