Task Force on Autos: I Smell a RattnerThe folks over at The Truth About Cars, although their posts are often insufferable and don't always live up to their promise, have been doing some interesting work regarding Cerberus' tangled financial dealings.
And although I'm not one to just mindlessly report on what other people are reporting on, some recent news from TTAC deserves to start getting wider play.
As most people know, Pres. Obama is looking to form a special Task Force on Autos to kind of oversee things in the auto industry. In theory, federal input certainly makes sense, if only because so much government money is involved. But you have to wonder what kind of 'guidance'? will come from Steve Rattner, who is currently in line to be the lead advisor on the Task Force.
The problem isn't (only) that Rattner has no experience in the industry. Because we're dealing with the world of high finance here, things are '” unsurprisingly '” much messier than that.
Rattner is/was a founding partner of Quadrangle Group, a private investment firm headquartered in New York. According to TTAC, a complicated chain of events has Quadrangle Group owing a certain other investment firm either $125 million or ownership of Maxim and Blender magazines.
Now, does it really surprise anyone to find out that the 'other'? investment firm is Cerberus Capital Management?
So, just to keep things straight, someone whose last business is in debt to Cerberus will now be providing oversight to Cerberus' plans to revive Chrysler. As TTAC so rightly points out, I think that's what they call ye olde conflict of interest.
This is exactly the kind of thing one expects from the financial sector, which, it bears repeating, got a lot more cash '” and a lot less oversight '” from the government. But in the auto industry, it's also exactly the kind of thing that gives more ammo to the Detroit haters.
And frankly, it doesn't reflect too well on our Prez, either.
If we're going to spend all this time and money on creating a new auto industry, it's going to take some new thinking from everyone, not just another round of 'business as usual.'?