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Government sells last of its GM shares

5:20 PM, Dec 9, 2013   |    comments
File photo of General Motors world headquarters in Detroit. (Photo: Paul Sancya, AP)
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U.S. taxpayers no longer own any of automaker General Motors. The Treasury sold the last of its remaining 31.1 million GM shares today.

The taxpayer loss on the GM bailout finishes at $10.5 billion. The Treasury department said it recovered $39 billion from selling its GM stock, and had put $49.5 billion of taxpayer money into the GM bailout.

GM shares closed today up 73 cents, 1.8%, at $40.90. Within a few minutes of market close, the shares zipped to $41.50, then sagged back toward the closing price.

The administration emphasizes that the loss it took on GM shares is far less constly than had GM been allowed to fail.

"Inaction could have cost the broader economy more than one million jobs, billions in lost personal savings, and significantly reduced economic production," Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said in a statement announcing that Treasury had sold all its remaining shars.

GM and Chrysler both went through government-scripted Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganizations. Treasury put $12.3 billion into Chrysler and recovered $11.13 billion of that. Chrysler no longer is involved in the bailout.

At GM, the end of government ownership means:

• No longer will executive compensation be capped. CEO Dan Akerson has said the pay cap could keep him from hiring the best brass, which would harm GM in the long run even though it saved money temporarily.

• The automaker now should be free and clear of the "government motors" slur flung at it by opponents of using taxpayer money to bail out corporations. Still, some die-hards no doubt will continue using the term to remind people the automaker needed to feed at the public trough to stay alive. GM has maintained ever since the government took 500 million shares, and 60.8% ownership of the automaker in 2010, in return for $49.5 billion, that it hasn't government officials haven't meddled in its business.

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