Why GM Is in Trouble

Alex Taylor III is a senior editor at Fortune Magazine, who has spent the better part of his career covering the automotive industry. Over the years he has seen a lot of changes at GM — but not the kind that were needed to save the company.

The story of General Motors since the 1960s is a tale of accelerating irrelevance. Customer preferences changed, competition tightened, technology made big leaps, and GM was always driving a lap behind.

Should the government bail GM out of its financial tailspin?

If Washington wants to bail out GM, it’s fine with me. A lot of short-term angst will be avoided, and taxpayer money has been spent for worse purposes. But you have to wonder whether the insular, self-absorbed culture that still dominates GM is up to the job of restructuring the company quickly enough to make it profitable and competitive again. GM has been on a downward path ever since I began covering it. What is going to make it different this time?

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