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At What Cost Did the U.S. Government Rescue GM?

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- With General Motors (GM - Get Report) set to release first-quarter 2014 results Thursday morning, it's time to ask whether GM was really saved by the Obama administration starting in 2009.

One must ask whether instead it merely won an expensive reprieve from the negative, forestalled effects of the restructuring of the global automotive industry.

Moreover, did unprecedented moves favoring GM inside the U.S. vs. other competitors end up compromising efforts to foster fair competition in key markets worldwide, while casting a pall over the integrity of U.S. capital markets?

Examining GM Performance vs. 2009 Base Case Projections

Must Read: Salmon: The Problems of HFT, Joe Stiglitz Edition

When professionals evaluate the success or failure of restructuring efforts such as those attempted with GM, they generally compare actual performance with estimates made at the time a given company was transformed.

The emergence of New GM from the bankrupt husk of Old GM occurred in a remarkably short period of 40 days between June 1, 2009 and July 10, 2009.

Unless they are buried in a filing I have not found, base-case financial and operating projections for New GM from July 10, 2009 forward have not been exposed to public scrutiny.

These projections, admittedly cobbled together in haste and under great pressure, are certainly material to any informed assessment of whether government efforts with GM succeeded.

Given passage of time and events, releasing information contained in the original projections cannot possibly harm New GM from a competitive standpoint. However, doing so would certainly set a proper context for judging the GM rescue attempt.

Taxpayers deserve to know what returns government leaders bargained for as they pieced together the opening capital structure of New GM.

Union members and retirees ought to know what their representatives traded for as they altered contract terms and work arrangements in exchange for ownership interests in New GM securities.

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