Here’s a good one: What do Confederate dollars, Monopoly money, and the old equity of General Motors (OTC: GMGMQ.PK) have in common?

They’re all worthless!
Really, folks, this is not a drill. Your old GM shares -- the ones stuffed under your mattress, the ones in your brokerage account, and the ones you’re seeing quoted on Yahoo! Finance -- are truly worthless. Don’t get caught up in the excitement that GM emerged from bankruptcy court today. The shares of old GM trading on the over-the-counter market have literally no claim on the assets or earnings of the newly reborn General Motors.

Again, this isn’t a drill, fancy, or conjecture. Consider this press release from GM last week:

GM management has noticed the continuing high trading volume in GM's common stock at prices in excess of $1. GM management continues to remind investors of its strong belief that there will be no value for the common stockholders in the bankruptcy liquidation process, even under the most optimistic of scenarios. Stockholders of a company in chapter 11 generally receive value only if all claims of the company's secured and unsecured creditors are fully satisfied. In this case, GM management strongly believes all such claims will not be fully satisfied, leading to its conclusion that GM common stock will have no value. [Emphasis added.]

It doesn’t get much more black and white than a company’s own management telling you that its shares will soon be rendered worthless. In case you missed the above memo, though, consider the following comment now on GM’s website:

General Motors Company (the "new GM") currently has no publicly traded securities. Please note that none of the publicly owned stocks or bonds issued by the former General Motors Corporation (now renamed "Motors Liquidation Company"), including its common stock formerly traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol "GM", are or will become securities of General Motors Company, which is an independent separate company.

That’s to say, the shares of the old GM you might own have no relation whatsoever to the GM that just emerged from bankruptcy. They are completely separate corporate entities.

Sadly, it seems many, many folks missed this memo -- these old certificates are trading up 40%. Barring an incredible twist of fate, it is almost unfathomable that someone buying these stubs today will end up not losing their entire investment, let alone make a profit.

The endgame
If you’re able to sell your shares of GM, I (clearly) would recommend doing so before you lose the chance. You’re not hurting America, GM, or anyone else by selling. In fact, the only person who loses out if you dump your worthless shares is the person ill-informed enough to take them off your hands.

But what if you’re dead-set on investing in the “new GM”? You’ll have to invest in either Ford (NYSE:F), Toyota Motor (NYSE:TM), Honda Motor (NYSE:HMC), or Nissan Motor (NASDAQ:NSANY) to get your automaker fix for the time being, as the new GM likely won’t go public until at least next year.

To reiterate ...
The new GM will be leaner and far more stable than its predecessor, but the shares currently trading under the GM banner are completely unrelated to that enterprise. This game of musical chairs is about to stop for traders of GM’s old equity. Don’t be the fool caught standing.  

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Joe Magyer has no interest, long or short, in any of the companies mentioned in this article. Nissan Motor is a Motley Fool Global Gains pick. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.