Opinion Brief

Can General Motors rebound?

It repaid a bailout loan early, but GM has fallen off Fortune's Top 10 for the first time in a century — and some observers predict it may never get back in gear

A year ago, General Motors was teetering close to financial ruin, and — though things are starting to look up — the now-leaner giant has fallen from the top 10 of Fortune magazine's fabled 500 list for the first time in 101 years. The automaker has shed dead weight through massive layoffs and plant closings, trimmed a once-bloated roster of dealers, and paid back $8.1 billion in loans from the U.S. and Canadian governments. Will it be enough to get GM back on top? (Watch GM CEO announce the good news)

GM is clearly on the mend: General Motors gets points for paying back the $8.1 billion early, say the editors of the Port Huron, Mich., Times Herald. It's making more money than expected from newer models, such as the mid-size Chevy Malibu, and its recovery "appears strong enough" to last. The massive Detroit bailouts are arguably paying off."GM's loan repayment is a good sign"

The company's still tainted: Though GM execs are trying to shed the "Government Motors" image, says John Rosevear in The Motley Fool, the U.S. government pumped $50 billion into GM, giving taxpayers a 60 percent stake in the company. GM can't overcome the "bailout stigma" until it takes the stock public again, and pays back every penny."General Motors still owes you"

Returning the bailout money means nothing: "Draconian" job cuts and plant closings were bound to improve GM's finances, says Jon Talton in The Seattle Times, but paying back taxpayers won't put GM back on top or resolve the real problem: GM's failure to make cars people want to buy. And it's too early to say whether GM will ever do that."GM's challenge isn't repaying debt but making sexy cars; worry about the second half of '10"

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