Thursday, December 4, 2008

Yes! The Wall Street Journal's Live-blog of the Senate Banking Committee and the Auto Honcho's

Yesterday we posted "Just Once I'd Like to See This Headline in the Wall Street Journal".
Today, be still my heart, the Journal's Deal Journal live-blogged the hearing:

...10:03: Cameramen and political operatives are swarming the chamber.

10:06: The call to order.

10:07: Banking Committee chairman Chris Dodd notes that the turnout is high and thanks everyone for being there. Then he gets all verklempt about how this is the last hearing of the Banking Committee in the current Congress. He gives shout-outs to Chuck Hagel and Elizabeth Dole, who lost their elections and thus their spots in Congress and on the Committee. After pouring out a metaphorical 40 for his homies, Dodd also says he wants things to move fast. Please let it be true.

Chrysler doesn’t have to disclose its financial information to Congress because it’s a private company.

10:10: Dodd says the hearing will answer three questions: Are the Big Three in danger of failing; if they fail, what would be the consequences; and will the U.S. government do anything to help? The camera pans to GM CEO Rick Wagoner, who looks miserable and full of dread. Then Dodd dispenses with the whole “asking questions” thing and proceeds to answer all his own queries. The upshot: yes, Virginia, terrible things will happen if the automakers fail, including the failure of everything from auto parts suppliers to the financial sector because the automakers hold 10% of the high-yield bond market and billions in credit-default swaps.

10:14: Dodd says openly that he is for a bailout, and pitches his points hard. He points out that if the government can bail out Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, AIG and Citigroup, the automakers should get a shot too. His assistants display a chart showing the relative size of the bailouts so far, with Citigroup’s $306 billion handout eclipsing the relative pittance that the automakers are asking for. During Dodd’s speech, Wagoner perks up. Dare to dream....MORE

A big 'ol hat tip to Environmental Capital who commented:

...For those of you who couldn’t follow the five-plus hour hearings, our colleagues at Deal Journal offer an entertaining blow-by-blow chronicle....
...Mr. Wagoner still defended GM’s course to date:
“We made decisions that were right for the times…collective bargaining agreements, investments in full-size trucks and SUVs that consumers wanted, and others.”

But that course brought GM to Congress twice in the past two weeks cap in hand. With government help, GM can morph into something entirely new and different, Mr. Wagoner said—such as a profitable company that makes quality products:

“It’s a blueprint for creating a new General Motors…one that is lean, profitable, self-sustaining, and fully committed to product excellence and technology leadership, especially in alternative propulsion.”

If those are all the things that GM isn’t today, then maybe those decisions weren’t right for the times after all.