President Obama’s Investment Skills

After the Obama administration bailed out General Motors by purchasing a 60.8% ownership share in the company for $49.5 billion, President Obama said, “We expect taxpayers will get back all the money my administration has invested in GM.” (I do like the way the president takes responsibility for the investment.) Now, the president’s administration has sold all of its ownership in GM and taken a $10 billion loss.

It is worth noting that what the president called an investment on behalf of the taxpayers lost 20% of its value, and that the president’s expectations on the investment his administration made did not pan out.

I don’t know whether the president actually believed the GM bailout would yield a profit or whether that was just political rhetoric he hoped people would forget over the years. Either way, it turned out not to be true.

The loss on the GM investment did not attract much notice, especially compared to other investments the president has made on behalf of the taxpayers, such as the $500 million it lost on the Solyndra loan guarantees. Interesting, considering that the GM loss was 20 times larger.

Randall G. Holcombe is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and DeVoe Moore Professor of Economics at Florida State University. His Independent books include Housing America (edited with Benjamin Powell); and Writing Off Ideas.
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