Here's an interesting analysis of the Chrysler-FIAT deal by John Berlau at OpenMarket, selected by Laura Ebke's long-standing German supporter and (self-styled) European correspondent, Georg Thomas:
Government aid to a specific business is something free market advocates can never support. But Chrysler’s politicized bankruptcy took away a more fundamental guarantee — the rule of law — and many American workers will suffer as a result.
(My emphasis, G.T.)
In my view, the qualifier 'specific' is all-important, in that it may well be compatible with the rule of law and the principles of freedom to enact rulings that provide business in general with government support - for instance, through enforcing contractual law.
Incidentally, FIAT is short for Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino, which I would translate as Factory of Italian Cars in Turin.
Turin is beautifully situated. The city has almost the feel of an amphitheatre, being splendidly encompassed by the Alps. While Italian in architecture and many other ways, obviously, Turin seemed to me to be populated by people more Germanic than my compatriots - a somber and totally work-oriented lot.
Here's more on the Chrysler-FIAT deal:
At the beginning of 2014, Detroit may be bankrupt, but they’re cheering the five-year-old U.S. auto bailout in Italy. That’s because after being the beneficiary of billions in U.S. taxpayer largesse, Fiat, the leading Italian auto company, is going to buy its final stake in Chrysler from that other big bailout recipient, the United Auto Workers (UAW).
“Chrysler’s Now Fully an Italian Auto Company,” reads the Time magazine online headline. But wait a minute! Wasn’t the bailout supposed to be about saving the American auto industry?
As Mark Beatty and wrote in The Daily Caller in November 2012, after presidential candidate Mitt Romney made the controversial claim that Fiat would be expanding production of Chrysler’s Jeep in China (a claim that turned out to be correct),
The real outrage arising from the 2009 Chrysler bailout is not that its parent company, Fiat, is planning to build plants in China. It’s that the politicized bankruptcy process limited Chrysler’s growth potential by tying it to an Italian dinosaur in the midst of the European fiscal crisis. The Obama administration literally gave away ownership of one of the Big Three American auto manufacturers to an Italian car maker struggling with labor and productivity issues worse than those that drove Chrysler to near-liquidation.
As we noted in the piece, much of Chrysler’s profits from its overhauled line are going to prop up Fiat’s failing, money-losing Italian business, rather than to expanding production and jobs in the U.S. Moody’s had downgraded Fiat’s credit rating to “junk” even before the Obama administration arranged for it to acquire a Chrysler stake, and in Autumn 2012, Moody’s gave Fiat another downgrade that the Financial Times described as even “further into ‘junk’ territory.”
Around this time, Barron’s put it like this in a headline, “This time, Chrysler could bail out Fiat.” Actually, the Barron’s headline is slightly misleading in one respect — Fiat didn’t contribute much of anything to the Chrysler’s bailout.
In the 2009 deal overseen by the Obama administration’s auto task force, Fiat paid no money to acquire its initial 20 percent stake in Chrysler — only contributing some of its intellectual property, instead. Fiat would later pay $2.2 billion to raise its stake in the company to 58.5 percent.
Continuing the bailout shell game, Fiat will now pay fellow bailout recipient UAW $4.4 billion for its stake in Chrysler. All the while, the U.S. government has pitched in more than $12 billion in taxpayer infusions.
In “saving” the American auto industry, Obama gave an American company away. And he gave it away at the expense of pension funds and other secured creditors, which were given a much smaller stake in the new company than they would have been given under traditional bankruptcy proceedings. American manufacturing workers also lost out on the deal; many are now hostages to the woes of Fiat and the Italian economy.
Make sure to read the entire piece.