Would it be fair to say that Ron Bloom has a unionist's heart and an investment banker's soul? Or would that insult one or both parties? A Harvard-trained banker who later hired on with the hard-as-nails United Steelworkers, Bloom, now the nation's so-called car czar, is not easy to categorize. But his role in brokering the rescue of General Motors and Chrysler while preserving more than 100,000 jobs demanded a synergist who could work both sides of the equation with authority and respect.
The risks were huge. Had GM and Chrysler gone under, economists feared a series of cascading bankruptcies as thousands of partsmakers and other aligned businesses followed. Bloom's bottom line: the U.S. lent a bankrupt GM $52 billion and Chrysler $15 billion. GM has repaid $6.7 billion of its tab five years early. Chrysler hopes to break even by year's end and is a ward of Fiat rather than Uncle Sam. As a reward, President Obama has handed Bloom, 55, the job of senior adviser for manufacturing policy. He may only manufacture deals, but that's been more than enough to retool the Rust Belt.
Next Yukio Hatoyama