GM Bankruptcy: 40 Days and 40 Nights to a New Era

Last Updated Jul 10, 2009 10:06 AM EDT

Noah endured 40 days and 40 nights on his ark, the Hebrews traveled for 40 days and nights before the parting of the Red Sea and now, after 40 days and nights, General Motors has emerged from bankruptcy as of 6:30 this morning.

The new GM is leaner: it's exiting bankruptcy with $48 billion in debt, a massive reduction from the $176 billion it was carrying when it started the process; it will have four brands (Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac and GMC) versus the eight it had before; the number of manufacturing facilities will now be 34 from 47; and the number of employees eventually will be reduced by nearly a third from the end of 2008.

In a press conference this morning, CEO Frederick "Fritz" Henderson said that the new GM would focus on three things: customers, cars and culture. That's a nice slogan, but now the hard work begins. GM must now create and produce cars that consumers want to buy. Maybe they're on the way--GM sold 9,300 Chevrolet Camaros in June.

Henderson said that the goal "is to make each and every General Motors car, truck and crossover the best-in-class." I would settle for the company producing vehicles at a profit, which would be a welcome new development for a company that lost $80 billion over the last four years.

It's been a long road (pardon the pun) for GM and much has gone wrong over the years. But on the dawn of GM's new era, I want to believe that the company can succeed. Sure, that might be wishful thinking, but considering that US taxpayers now own 60.8% of GM, we should all root for its success.

Image by Flickr User Stomashek, cc 2.0

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    Jill Schlesinger, CFP®, is the Emmy-nominated, Business Analyst for CBS News. She covers the economy, markets, investing and anything else with a dollar sign on TV, radio (including her nationally syndicated radio show), the web and her blog, "Jill on Money." Prior to her second career at CBS, Jill spent 14 years as the co-owner and Chief Investment Officer for an independent investment advisory firm. She began her career as a self-employed options trader on the Commodities Exchange of New York, following her graduation from Brown University.