Worst Business Conditions in 30 Years, Say Big Three

September 19, 2008
Singing with a chorus that includes Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and AIG, the Big Three's top men (GM - Wagoner; Ford - Mulally; Chrysler - Nardelli) this week continued beseeching congressional leaders for $25 billion in low-interest federal loans. The U.S. auto giants claim to be facing the worst business conditions "in more than 30 years," according to Detroit Free Press.

Continuing to link the health of their industries to the fates of the U.S. economy and the American worker, the three powerful CEOs insinuated negative impacts on "tens of thousands of employees" and a "lasting effect on industrial production in the U.S." if no assistance is given. They also cited the housing crisis, high oil and commodities prices, and restrained credit as compounding auto industry struggles that make government assistance critical.

The executives also asked Washington leaders to "widen" the loan terms, loosening items like last year's mandate of 25 percent better fuel economy before funds would be released. Widening would allow more parts and vehicles to qualify under the loan's terms.

Wall Street is suddenly asking a lot of its governmental overseers, but can a penny-pinched, debt-laden U.S. afford another $25 billion on the heels of expensive moves like the $85 billion AIG bailout? And will domestic automakers really change approaches and vehicles this time around, or will it be back to business and SUVs as usual when the sun comes out again? Or can we afford not to? Let us know what you think in a comment below.--Colin Mathews, image from Ninjapoodles

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