The. Looniest. "Rescue." Ever.
Just so we're clear on the Fiat rescue of Chrysler that the White House is counting on:
* Fiat lost a ton of money ($785 million U.S.) in 1Q '09.
* Fiat has such a sound grasp of the markets in which it sells that it has, in the past few months, "revised" its 2009 profit forecast from roughly $1 billion (U.S.) to, uh, $100 million (U.S.).
* Case-New Holland, the farm and construction-equipment business that is Fiat's only exposure to the North American market, is a moneyloser that will, Fiat announced Thursday, lay of 1,500 Americans.
* Fiat has emerged this week as a rumoured buyer of Opel, GM's large German carmaker.
* And of Vauxhall, GM's large British carmaker.
* Fiat emphatically restated this week it won't invest a dime in Chrysler, not now, not ever.
Hell, if Washington is giving away a 20 per cent stake in Chrysler, give it to me. If Fiat won't be taking on any of Chrysler's debt and retiree obligations, and Washington is giving away Chrysler's massive minivan plant in Windsor, one of the biggest - if not the biggest - vehicle assembly plant in the world, I'll take it. The Jeep brand, free for the asking if your name is Sergio Marchionne? I've have some business experience - met a budget at a magazine I ran for a few years, operated a successful yard-maintenance business in my teens, bought a French-made Mercier racing bike with my paper-route earnings...(Fiat probably wants to buy Mercier, too.)
Man, somebody's being played for a sucker here.