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Today's Outrage: GM Bondholders Make Bad Bet on Bankruptcy

Today's Outrage publishes every weekday at 9:30 a.m. EDT and is available as an RSS feed.

I'm baffled by the bad bet bondholders are making on a General Motors (GM - Get Report) bankruptcy.

Don't they realize that the Obama administration is calling the shots inside or outside the courts? That's how this will play out because the government will be pumping billions of dollars of taxpayer money into the carmaker and will therefore be brokering the bankruptcy terms.

I just can't see what these unsecured creditors think they will get from the courts after rejecting the restructuring offer to swap debt into stock.

I get that bondholders didn't like the idea of giving up their rights to interest and repayment on $27 billion in loans to the company in exchange for 10% of GM's shares.

A 10% stake is not a particularly good deal, and it must have been irksome that the United Auto Workers was slated to receive a 39% stake. Even after agreeing this week to trim its stake to 17.5%, the UAW was still going to get more than bondholders.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration was laying claim to 50%, with some reports indicating the government might end up with as much as 70% of GM when it later pumps more money into the company.

Facing all that risk to getting repaid, bondholders must feel they'll have better chances in bankruptcy court.

What they may not be considering is that just like in the apparently failed restructuring effort, the government will still hold sway in bankruptcy court because it will be funding the reorganization.
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