The Decline and Fall of General Motors' Empire





GM stood atop the Fortune 500 nine years ago; it now stands on the brink of bankruptcy court as sales decline and cash becomes scarce. Moreover, GM bondholders are intensely unhappy with the terms they were offered as part of a plan to avoid bankruptcy, so even though the United Auto Workers struck a deal with management on Thursday, bankruptcy still looms as the probable course.

How did such a once great company become so desperate? Perhaps the better question is, how did GM's well-paid management fritter away a treasure chest of brand loyalty and corporate wealth? There's not a single bad decision or one misguided executive that we can point to and say, "but for that GM would still rein supreme." GM's is a long-term management failure with a litany of losing moves over the decades, from the Chevy Corvair to the acquisition of Hummer — a rolling insult to the environment — that have collectively destroyed GM's balance sheet and sent its customers wandering.


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