T.S. Eliot famously wrote that “The last temptation is the greatest treason: to do the right deed for the wrong reason.”
I’m not sure if it’s doing the right deed for the wrong reason, or doing the wrong deed for the right reason, but I found myself thinking of Eliot as I read the terms of the Chrysler bankruptcy filing this afternoon. There’s no question that it made sense for Chrysler to file for Chapter 11, as also is the case with GM. But the U.S. government is essentially planning to commander the bankruptcy process, by pushing through a sale of most of Chrysler’s assets (not to a true third party, but to “New Chrysler”) early in the case. The only thing standing in the way of the government’s stratagem is the bankruptcy judge who will be forced to decide whether to approve the sale. It will be awfully hard for a judge to say no to the deal that’s about to be thrust on him or her. The end result may well be desirable, but the means are worrisome.