Is General Motors Worth Saving?

The automaker may not deserve a bailout, but losing it could wreck the economy

Illustration by Eddie Guy for TIME

For months, General Motors had been telling everyone who would listen that bankruptcy was not an option. It had a $30 billion cash pile and plans to restructure the company as the economy rebounded and 2007 U.S. auto sales topped 16 million units.

Then came October. Sales plummeted an astounding 45% over the same period last year, a result of a slowing economy and a dearth of financing for would-be car buyers. Total U.S. car and light-truck sales this year could come in at 13.5 million, 2.6 million fewer...