Nate’s right, of course: Chapter 11 would have worked just fine for Chrysler and GM, and so the claim that somehow their recent financial success proves the value of the bailouts is misplaced. (I had previously argued that they should file bankruptcy). More to the point, chapter 11 would have accomplished the reorganization without the collateral damage of politicizing the reorganization process, screwing the Indiana firefighters and retirees out of their pensions, shredding the rule of law, and further destabilizing credit markets.
Moreover, just as I had feared, Congress has found it irresistible to meddle in the bankruptcy cases in order to try to prevent dealerships from being closed in their districts. The result has been to politicize those economic decisions, meaning that the companies themselves will likely turn out to be weaker than if they had simply run the chapter 11 process.