Chapter 3

Your Country Is Getting Older, and Your Government Is Bankrupt

General Motors spent decades in crypto-bankruptcy, borrowing money to stay afloat and selling assets to keep its creditors at bay. Its basic problem (besides the unpopularity of its core product) was that it had made promises to its employees and retirees that were premised on constantly rising sales. For most of the past decade, it was apparent to observers that GM’s key demographic assumption was no longer true: that its employee base would shrink and be saddled with the support of a still-growing retiree population. Finally, the recent recession murdered GM’s autonomy: the company solicited a $50 billion capital infusion from the federal government and in exchange ceded ...

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