Final Word from Friday, June 5, 2009

Mitt Romney, a former and probably future U.S. presidential candidate, wants the U.S. government to give majority ownership of General Motors to the taxpayers. He hasn't explained how he would do it, and the Obama administration isn't likely to listen to him anyway, but some form of vouchers might be a possibility. If a cleaned-up GM is worth $25bn, as one analyst calculated, each of the U.S.'s 300m people would be entitled to shares worth about $83. That's roughly what a Czech coupon booklet was initially worth. The Czech coupon scheme, due to confusion, abuse and lack of a shareholder culture, did little to convince the people to get behind their national champions. At GM, though, it could be a way to make Toyota-drivers care about what happens to the domestic car industry. The alternative, as the Czechs know, is to watch as foreigners come in and pick through the pieces.[Czech Republic privatization]

Glossary of difficult words

to get behind something - to take up or support (an issue, person or thing);

national champion - a major company in a given field that sometimes enjoys special government attention or support;

to pick through the pieces - to rummage through what is left of something in shambles.


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