Economic coverage in Europe continues to be dominated by the plight of the euro and of the Greek government. In a way, that’s too bad, because there are plenty of other simmering problems which lose the spotlight when crises pop up elsewhere – even though that hardly means that their own situation has been resolved. One such remaining problem is the question of what to do about Opel, the European-based subsidiary of General Motors which got into trouble last year more-or-less because its parent company actually had to declare bankruptcy (on 1 June 2009) and be restructured, with a majority ownership share going to the US Government.
Reviewing my own Opel coverage on this blog, I have to confess to also being guilty of that “follow-the-spotlight” syndrome, in that my last Opel post, on September 14 of last year, came prior to the latest and most intriguing development in that saga. That happened in November, when GM decided to go back on an agreement that had been reached two months before with the German government to sell off Opel to a consortium led by the Canadian auto parts-manufacturer Magna. Yes, that deal was suddenly canceled, so it was back to the status quo ante: Opel remained a GM subsidiary and the German government could resume worrying about how much in subsidies to let GM extort against the threat of shutting down some or all the Opel plants in Germany and thereby throwing thousands out of work. (Then again, at least it had seemed back in September, before GM reneged on the deal, that the German government had found a solution to keep Opel going, and it was that timing that was the most important consideration – there was a nationwide election held in late September 2009, after all!) (more…)