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US auto bailout cost keeps rising

August 14, 2012

WASHINGTON: The US Treasury raised its estimate of the net cost to US taxpayers of rescuing the country’s auto industry by US$3.3 billion, as the weak economy restrains the industry’s rebound.

The Treasury told Congress in a new report seen on its website yesterday that the cost of the government’s massive bailout of Detroit in the economic crisis of 2007-2008 would hit US$25 billion, based on figures to May 31.

That compared a forecast loss of US$21.7 billion based on figures to Feb 29, according to Treasury data.

The US government rescued General Motors and Chrysler at the height of the financial crisis, pouring US$80 billion into the two.

Both have since graduated from the programme, and are making solid profits on reasonably strong auto sales.

But the Treasury continues to prop up GM’s former financing arm, now dubbed Ally Financial, which lost US$898 million in the second quarter mainly due to the bankruptcy of its home mortgage arm, forced by its huge book of defaulted home loans.

A year ago, when hopes were that the economy was solidly recovering and the housing market might turn around, the Treasury was projecting losses on the industry bailout of just US$14.3 billion.

Treasury spokesman Matt Anderson defended the bailout as having had a broader impact on reviving the overall economy.

“The auto industry rescue helped save more than one million jobs throughout our nation’s industrial heartland and is expected to cost far less than many had feared during the height of the crisis,” he told AFP.

- AFP


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