The current economic downturn has brought significant financial stress to the auto manufacturing industry. Recent deteriorating financial, real estate, and labor markets have reduced consumer confidence and available credit, and automobile purchases have declined. While auto manufacturers broadly have experienced declining sales in 2008 as the economy has worsened, sales of the "Big 3" (General Motors, Chrysler, and Ford) have also declined relative to those of some other auto manufacturers in recent years because higher gasoline prices have particularly hurt sales of sport utility vehicles. In addition to causing potential job losses at auto manufacturers, failure of the domestic auto industry would likely adversely affect other sectors. Officials from the Big 3 have requested, and Congress is considering, immediate federal financial assistance. This testimony discusses principles that can serve as a framework for considering the desirability, nature, scope, and conditions of federal financial assistance. Should Congress decide to provide financial assistance, we also discuss how these principles could be applied in these circumstances. The testimony is based on GAO's extensive body of work on previous federal rescue efforts that dates back to the 1970s.
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