Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Jim Puzzanghera writes in the LA Times that the federal government has sold its remaining shares of General Motors stock, ending the controversial $49.5-billion bailout of the automaker begun in late 2008 under former President George W. Bush that helped avoid a collapse of the US auto industry. Although the GM bailout ended with a $10.5-billion loss for taxpayers, Treasury officials say the goal never was to turn a profit. The rescue prevented further damage to the economy and the potential loss of 1 million jobs says Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew. "This marks one of the final chapters in the administration's efforts to protect the broader economy by providing support to the automobile industry." At its height, taxpayers had a 60.8% ownership stake in GM. The auto bailout will rank as “one of the most important interventions, maybe the most important, in US economic history,” says Sean McAlinden, chief economist for the Center for Automotive Research. Without it, “the upper Midwest would still be a gaping, double-digit unemployment hole in the economy, 600,000 retirees would’ve lost their pensions.” The success come after five tense years that were filled with uncertainty and change for GM but the automaker is being helped by having some of its best products in a generation, bringing out 18 new or refreshed cars and trucks this year and 14 next year as part of GM’s effort to transform its lineup into one of the industry’s newest from among the oldest. The Cadillac CTS was picked as Motor Trend’s car of the year and the Chevrolet Impala was the first US car chosen as the best sedan on the market by Consumer Reports, a first in at least 20 years. “We will always be grateful for the second chance extended to us and we are doing our best to make the most of it,” says GM CEO Dan Akerson. “Today is not dramatically different from the hundreds of preceding days during which we have worked to make GM a company our country can be proud of again.”"