Wagoner: out. Wall Street execs: remain
So John Wagoner was forced out as CEO of GM by the White House. Good. I wish they'd do the same to the banking sector but the double-standard that was on display between the TARP money and the auto bailout remains firmly in place.
Wagoner has been at the helm at GM for long enough to not be held responsible for the fact that GM is now in the toilet. I wish they could get rid of the entire tier of upper-management, but that would probably be disastrous in the short term for obvious reasons. I wish they would do the same for Wall Street and the financial sector but they won't. The financial sector guys who would be fired are the ones with their fingers on the levers that move the financial industry. Unfortunately, making cars is a lot easier to understand than whatever goes on in and around Wall Street. Someone last week (was it Obama?) called the financial sector guys suicide bombers because if they are forced out they're going to take the entire world economy with them. They have some serious bargaining chips while the auto industry execs are not that powerful and don't hold a special knowledge that makes them irreplaceable.
I accept that this could be all smoke and mirrors, that the Wall Street execs could be fired and the world economy would not fail and people who understand the industry enough to navigate out of this could be found and brought on board (also important in this exercise is the fact that the new execs would do things differently than those they replaced). But between the suicide bomber-execs and the people in Washington who believe every word they say, I don't see this as a political feasibility. Unlike the auto execs who everyone loves to crap on.
I'm also fine with the fact that just the GM CEO was booted. For one, Ford hasn't asked for federal money (yet), so they're clearly better managed than GM and the government doesn't have any leverage to push them around. Chrysler would probably be dealt the same fate except no one believes that Chrysler is going to be around any longer than they have to be. Everybody is just trying to find someone to fold Chrysler into, so there is no point in firing an exec if he is just trying to shut his company down ASAP.
It is disheartening that there is political will to play hard ball with the auto industry and not Wall Street, but I suppose this is the reality of the situation and I admit that it is possible that the Wall Street execs could be so specialized that they are the only ones who can lead the financial sector back into solid ground.