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GM Runs Out of Road?

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Struggling company now on sixty days of borrowed time.

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Taking money from the US government isn't just risky; it can cost you your job.

Just ask Rick Wagoner, the now former Chief Executive Officer of General Motors (GM). After accepting billions in aid from the Treasury Department -- but failing to produce an acceptable restructuring plan -- Wagoner was forced out of the beleaguered automaker over the weekend.

The Wall Street Journal reports that, in addition to removing Wagoner, the Obama administration's auto-industry team floated the notion that bankruptcy may be the best option for Chrysler and GM. Although the government said it doesn't have plans to oust Chrysler CEO Robert Nardelli, it did suggest that it's growing tired of propping up the struggling company.

The shakeup at GM didn't end with Wagoner: A large part of the board of directors was also asked to leave, and Chief Operating Officer Frederick "Fritz" Henderson was named Chief Executive. He, along with a new-and-improved board and management team, will receive a 60-day credit lifeline by which to devise a more rigorous turnaround plan.

After the AIG (AIG) bonus debacle, financial firms are scrambling to return TARP money, lest they be subject to similar scrutiny (or similar witch-hunts). Goldman Sachs (GS), JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and others have suggested they're working on plans to repay billions in government aid.

Whether its bonuses at AIG, corporate jets at Citigroup (C), or executive-suite redecoration at Merrill Lynch (BAC), the federal government is taking a rather more active role in any company that's required federal money in order to stay afloat.

The US government now controls some of the biggest companies in the world. And if this weekend's actions are any indication, it plans to fully wield that power.



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