Maybe there is a tomorrow for U.S. carmakers

News item: General Motors lost another $1.2 billion in its third quarter.
News item: General Motors expects to make a $6.7 billion payment on the $50 billion it borrowed from the federal government to keep its doors open. It also expects to pay $1.4 billion to the Canadian government, which also ponied up to save GM jobs north of the border.
So what gives? Is the company recovering or is it too much in debt to survive?
Too early to tell, the experts say.
As of now, GM has pockets full of ready money to invest in new models and continue along the trail of self-renewal. Ray Young, GM’s chief financial officer, told the New York Times the company has $42.6 billion in cash and marketable securities, including $17.4 bilion in escrowed funds it re-ceived from the United States and Canadian governments.
The escrowed funds are bailout money not spent. That’s the account from which it would repay a portion of its debts to Washington and Toronto.
The U.S. government owns 60 percent of General Motors. Federal officials say they are “encouraged” by signs of revival. GM is stil hanging on to 20 percent of the U.S. car market, despite that fact that it dropped four of its brands and went through the process of bankruptcy, scaring off customers in droves.
It is making money in China and Europe but not yet breaking even in the U.S. market, which remains the world’s largest. Still, it is generating cash again and vehicles such as the Cadillac SRX crossover are selling well.
Meanwhile, Ford, which took no federal money, is making money again and whittling away at its monstrous debt.
Maybe that is a flicker of light, at last.

— Emerson Lynn, jr.