U.S. Saved $28.6 Billion in Auto Bailout, Study Says

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The U.S. government avoided a $28.6 billion loss and saved more than 1.45 million jobs by bailing out the automotive industry, a research group said today.

The loss would have been caused by increased public welfare payments and lost tax receipts from workers had the government not provided $82 billion of assistance to the industry, said Kristin Dziczek, director of the labor industry group at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The study was released as General Motors Co., which received $49.5 billion in U.S. aid, prepares an initial public offering to help pay back the Treasury Department. The government also provided $13 billion of assistance to Chrysler Group LLC and $17 billion to automotive lender GMAC Inc., which later became Ally Financial Inc.

“This economy would be a big pile of dust at the moment” had the government chosen not to save the banks and auto companies, said Steven Rattner, the former head of the U.S. Automotive Task Force.

The government may lose $5 billion to $7 billion on its rescue of the auto industry, Rattner said today in a Bloomberg Radio interview with Tom Keene and Ken Prewitt.

“Anything in that range is gravy, because we would have had to spend or lost so much more,” Dziczek said today in a telephone interview.

Jobs Saved

The bailout saved 1.14 million jobs in 2009 and 314,400 more this year, according to the study. GM has created or retained 7,900 jobs in 21 U.S. plants since leaving bankruptcy in July last year, the company said in an Oct. 28 statement.

“You could argue that because the auto industry is one of the most productive and integrated industries, putting the money there was a better place to put it than job creation in any other sector,” Dziczek said.

GM may raise $15.8 billion in its IPO after the Treasury and United Auto Workers’ retiree health-care trust increased the shares they are selling, the Detroit-based company’s filing today with the Securities and Exchange Commission shows.

GM’s offering would lower the Treasury’s stake to 37 percent, or 33 percent if underwriters exercise an option to purchase additional shares. Including the option, about 550 million shares of GM common stock may be sold, generating about $18.1 billion for the Treasury and GM’s other stockholders.

Chrysler, the Auburn Hills, Michigan-based automaker now run by Fiat SpA, is preparing for an IPO to be held probably in the second half of next year, Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne told reporters at the Paris Motor show in September.

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