Thursday, March 5, 2009

Is GM touching the void?

There was a documentary that came out a few years ago called Touching the Void. It focused on the story of two young English mountaineers, Joe Simpson and Simon Yates, who ran into trouble descending the Andean peak of Siula Grande.

A storm had slowed their progress and, tied together with 100 meters of climbing rope, they fumbled down the flank of the mountain in waist deep snow. Simpson missed a step and plunged through a cornice of wind-blown snow shattering one of his legs.
The two climbers were stuck. Simpson, at the bottom end of the rope, dangled helplessly, while Yates, at the other end, was slowly being dragged through the powder snow towards the edge of a cliff.


After several hours, Yates recognized that maintaining his hold on the rope only meant that both climbers would die. He summoned all his courage and cut the rope with a Swiss Army knife letting Simpson plunge to a certain death.

But Simpson did not die.

He awoke in darkness on a ledge in a deep crevasse. Unable to climb the sheer icy walls, he opted to find the bottom of the crevasse. Instead of struggling to climb out, he went deeper and deeper still.

I don't want to ruin the story if you haven't read the book or seen this documentary but Simpson, against insane odds, found that bottom of the crevasse, crawled along it, emerged onto blinding sunlight on the glacier and, somehow, managed to make it back to the base camp.
The Stock Market is down again, today. This time, it was for 280 points. I heard the host of Marketplace, Kai Ryssdal, refer to the Market's recent behaviour as "aggressively seeking the bottom."

I think he meant it in an ominous way but I take a certain amount of comfort that the bottom exists and that the faster we go for it, the faster we will get there.

General Motors is going to fail. Bankrupt. Gone. Chapter 11 will become chaper 7. Liquidate the assets.

It's going to hurt but it's going to hurt either way. Carve up the pieces of GM and let it become what it once was; energetic automobile manufacturers nimble and independent enough to match products with consumer demand. Today's GM is bloated and confused, mismanaged and overmatched by other manufacturers. It's painful to consider letting it fail but more painful to watch it twist and suffer like a kill tormented by lions on the savannah.

Let the Stock Market find the bottom. Let GM find the bottom, too. It's going to hurt a lot. But we need to find the bottom before we can climb out.

No comments:

Post a Comment