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Click the name to view the vignette of each bondholder:
Residence: Bellingham, Wash.
Household income: $25,000
Amount invested in GM bonds: $5,000
Date of purchase: 1988
Percent of portfolio that were GM bonds at purchase: 100 percent
Percent of portfolio now: 100 percent
Reason for purchase: A gift from his grandfather
Reason for holding after downgraded to junk status in 2005: Wasn’t sure exactly how they worked
Original investment goal: College education
David Talbot’s grandfather bought GM bonds for him when he was 4 years old. The bonds were supposed to mature at $20,000 in 2012, and Mr. Talbot hoped to pay off his college loans with the proceeds.
But Mr. Talbot said he’s “pretty grumpy” about the prospects of making any profit. He said he would be lucky to get back the principal investment of $5,000.
Mr. Talbot blames the government and union involvement for weakening GM’s ability to compete. But in the end, it doesn’t matter who was to blame, he said. His nest egg has all but disappeared.
He would prefer that GM did not have to go into bankruptcy. His real worry is that the government is so deeply involved as a large owner of the firm. “I like the idea of GM sorting its own stuff out,” he said. “The more [the government] gets its hand mixed up in the pot, the more I expect to lose that investment.”
Family: Wife, two children and two grandchildren
Date of purchase: N/A
Percent of portfolio that were GM bonds at purchase: 33 percent
Percent of portfolio now: Negligible
Reason for purchase: “It was a trustworthy company.”
Reason for holding after downgraded to junk status in 2005: Thought GM was reliable
Original investment goal: Early retirement
Jim Graves was one of the many GM bondholders listening to a conference call in May about the impending bankruptcy. He was also one of many participants who ended the call in confusion.
“We’re supposed to write an e-mail to some anonymous address, saying we support the offer. It just felt like we were being strong-armed,” Mr. Graves said.
Mr. Graves said he would survive the GM downfall, but he’s upset by the way the situation was being handled.
“I’m glad the government stepped in,” he said. “I wish they could keep them out of bankruptcy, because Americans need those jobs. I just wish they would be fair about it.”
The sudden loss and confusing statements also are troubling Mr. Graves’ mother, Vivian Floyd, 80.
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