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Daily History

March 29 2009 General Motors CEO Ousted By White House

Senator Obama and Rick Wagoner at an economic discussion in Pittsburgh on June 26 2008

On March 29, 2009, US President Obama and his administration requested and received the resignation of Rick Wagoner, the chairman and chief executive of troubled auto giant General Motors (GM). Wagoner spent more than 8 years in the top job at GM, during which the company lost billions of dollars. In 2008, GM was surpassed by Japan-based Toyota as the world’s top-selling maker of cars and trucks, a title the American automaker had held since the early 1930s.

G. Richard Wagoner Jr., who was born on February 9, 1953, spent his entire career at GM. He went to work for the company after graduating from Harvard Business School in 1977, eventually becoming president of GM in 1998 then chief executive in 2000. As chief executive, Wagoner undertook some restructuring measures, including shrinking the size of the work force, shuttering plants, ditching the money-losing Oldsmobile brand and working to slash enormous health-care costs for GM retirees. However, critics charged that GM was slow to innovate and in recent years the company continued to focus on its small trucks and sport utility vehicles even as gas prices soared and consumer interest shifted to smaller, fuel-efficient cars and hybrids. In November 2008, Wagoner was sharply criticised by the public for flying to Washington, D.C., on a private corporate jet to ask Congress for a bailout loan. (The CEOs of Chrysler and Ford were also knocked for taking private planes to the congressional hearings.) Nevertheless, the following month, GM, which had been hard hit by the global economic crisis and slumping auto sales, received $13.4 billion in federal aid.

On March 30, 2009, the day after the White House announced Wagoner had been asked to step aside, President Barack Obama stated that GM would have to undergo a fundamental restructuring in the next 60 days in order for the government to consider loaning it any more money. On June 1, 2009, GM filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Bankruptcy was a move once considered unthinkable for the company that was founded in 1908 and became a giant of the U.S. economy in the 20th century. GM pursued a strategy of selling a vehicle “for every purse and purpose,” in the words of Alfred Sloan, who became president of the company in 1923 and resigned as chairman in 1956. By its peak in 1962, GM produced 51 percent of all the cars in the U.S. However, according to The New York Times, during the 1960s the automaker “began a long and slow process of undermining itself” as it failed to innovate fast enough in the face of competition from foreign car manufacturers.

About Craig Hill

Social Justice Campaigner, Writer, Teacher and Business Consultant. Lived in China and USA. Dealing with disability. My articles have been cited in New York Times, BBC, Fox News, Aljazeera, Philippines Star, South China Morning Post, National Interest, news.com.au, Wikipedia and many other international publications. Please consider donating, to support our social justice campaign, by clicking on the "Donations Page" button in the top menu.


5 thoughts on “March 29 2009 General Motors CEO Ousted By White House

  1. My brother who works in Michigan for a Japanese firm that supplies car lighting on the big 3 car co. said that it is getting better now. Unfortunately for his company, the yen is not as strong so the marginal income is way down but all is well. Remember the time when that was happening……….

    Posted by jennysserendipity | March 29, 2012, 00:12
  2. Sloan’s times coming to an end…

    Posted by Dugutigui | March 29, 2012, 00:48
  3. Rick Wagoner ? … sounds like the name of a Jedih… It’s that jewishworldreview bothers about him too much in “Why Is Rick Wagoner Fired and Nancy Pelosi Still Working?” 🙂


    Posted by retrofilms.in | March 29, 2012, 03:03
  4. Thanks for the reminder, as if I needed it!

    Posted by Ray | March 29, 2012, 08:12
  5. interesting post again!

    Posted by viveka | March 29, 2012, 18:04

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