June 1 marks the 5-year anniversary of General Motors filing for Chapter 11, which had been preceded by Chrysler Motors’ declaration of bankruptcy. The combination of burdensome labor contracts, a legacy of massive pension and health-care costs, a run-up in fuel prices, falling market shares, and the financial crisis had come to a head by late 2008, leading to financial aid from the government under both the Bush and Obama administrations. Five years later, what are the results of the government’s interventions in the auto industry, and what is the state of manufacturing and manufacturing policy in the United States?
On May 21, the Economic Studies program at Brookings explored these questions. Keynote speakers included Sergio Marchionne, chairman and CEO of Chrysler, and former National Economic Council Director Larry Summers. In addition, one panel focused on the implications of the government’s intervention in the auto industry, and the second on the broader question of the state of manufacturing and manufacturing policy in the United States.