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Behind The Bankruptcy, What Does Chrysler Mean For Wall Street?

Chrysler sent shock waves through the nation Thursday as it filed for bankruptcy protection. The move signals a pivotal moment in American history as our nation struggles to remain relevant in a rapidly changing auto industry.

Of course these events are critically important to Main Street, but considering Chrysler is a private company, why does Wall Street care so much?

Perhaps it’s because Chrysler touches an emotional nerve. In 1925, Walter P. Chrysler established Chrysler Corp. Three years later, the company laid the cornerstone for the Chrysler Building, briefly the world's tallest building and still an unmistakable part of the Manhattan skyline.

Perhaps it has to do with Chrysler's suppliers, dealers and the hundreds of thousands who rely on the industry for their livelihoods.

Or maybe it’s because of the deal on the table from Fiat. Chrysler has entered into an alliance with the Italian automaker where it sold a stake starting at 20 percent and in which Fiat can become the majority owner once the government loans are repaid.

However, it seems likely that Wall Street’s intense interest has more to do with GM as much as anything else. What happens at Chrysler could well lay the foundation for what happens with America’s largest automaker, when or if they too, should declare bankruptcy.

In fact, CNBC's Phil Lebau tells Fast Money he would now be stunned if GM doesn’t move into bankruptcy. That's because Chrysler's situation makes it clear that the Obama administration is intent on playing hardball with bondholders.

Lebeau says the government is offering 10 cents on the dollar and there's no way bond holders will agree to that. His opinion is that debt holders will take their chances in court.

Of course we don't know for sure, but we'll be watching.


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