DETROIT -- Adding to the political debate over whether to raise the U.S. federal debt limit, General Motors (NYSE:GM) chairman and CEO Dan Akerson said today political leaders should not play chicken with the nations credit rating, and that doing so risks our national honor.
Akerson made the comments to reporters prior to his speech to the GM annual stockholders meeting in Detroits ornate and historic Fisher Theater.
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I dont think it would behoove our great nation to default on its debt, he said, responding to a question on his concerns about the national economy. I think that would shake credit markets tremendously.
Akerson, a long-time corporate leader and former managing director of the Washington, D.C.-based Carlyle Group private equity firm, based his warnings on history from the 1980s. During that time, he noted, the country was spending about $100 billion per year more than it was collecting.
Were running about a $60-$65 billion deficit a week now, Akerson added. I dont think thats a sustainable model.
Todays stockholder meeting was GMs first since 2008, when the company received a government rescue amidst bankruptcy.
Since then, the companys fortunes have improved. The automaker re-issued public shares in a November 2010 initial public offering, and has been profitable for five consecutive quarters.
Todays meeting -- only an hour in length, and attended by about 50 shareholders -- was also the companys first in Detroit since 1990.
In addition to debt, Akerson cited the specter of a jobless recovery as his other worry for the nations economy.