With apologies to Vin Diesel and his Fast and Furious franchise, Chrysler's bankruptcy has been moving faster than any of the cars in the box office hit, and it turns out some debtholders are furious enough to get the Supreme Court involved.
The Indiana Pensioners, a coalition of the Indiana State Police Pension Trust, Indiana State Teachers Retirement Trust, and Indiana Major Moves Construction Fund are pursuing an immediate stay, and are challenging the authority and actions of the U.S. Treasury regarding this bankruptcy. If the Supreme Court overturns the Obama administration's fast-track bankruptcy for Chrysler, expect General Motors'
The merger between Chrysler and Fiat, which more than faintly reminds me of JPMorgan Chase's
I'm sure that the Chrysler-estimated $100 million-per-day cost of any delay isn't helping cooler heads prevail.
The Federal government sees itself as the protector of the American consumer, stabilizing the fragile economy by keeping automakers going. But what are the limits of that power in accomplishing those goals? The legal filing (which can be read here) addresses that topic on several fronts.
- Can the U.S. government, barring specific congressional approval, reorder private property rights through the bankruptcy system?
- Can TARP funds be used to fund the sale of an automaker, or are they allowed only for financial institutions?
- Is an alleged "unprecedented shift" in valuation methodologies, which essentially diverts value from first lien lenders to unsecured creditors, permissible?
If a deal is not consummated by June 15 and Fiat walks away, the resulting liquidation of Chrysler would lay off almost 40,000 more American workers. The only potential winner here, besides foreign competitors like Toyota
As a lifelong investor, I hate to see other investors get their rights steamrolled, and I am perpetually leery of government intervention. As a taxpayer, I would like to see an eventual sale of Chrysler to recoup some of the billions we have passively contributed. As an American, I don't want to see a legendary brand fail or tens of thousands more people unemployed, including, ironically, many in the state of Indiana. This is truly a no-win situation.
Whether the pensioners' motion is granted later today or not, at some point the Supreme Court is going to have to address the precedents set by Chrysler and potentially reaffirmed by GM's bankruptcy.
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David Williamson owns no shares or vehicles made by the companies mentioned; although he enjoys renting a Ford Mustang convertible when he travels. You can view his holdings here. Nissan Motor is a Motley Fool Global Gains recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy keeps you out of moral bankruptcy.