Carpe Diem

Auto Bailout: Russian Style

NY TIMES If there is a country that truly needs a car czar, it is Russia, home of the czars — and Lada. The factory here has been stamping out the same version of the Lada, the typical boxy people’s car of the former Eastern Bloc, for four decades (see picture above).

Avtovaz is one of the least efficient automobile factories anywhere in the world — each worker produces, on average, eight cars a year, compared with 36 cars a year at GM’s assembly line in Bowling Green, Ky., for example.

Yet the government is giving Avtovaz billions of dollars in aid, no strings attached. No chief executive firings. No renegotiation of workers’ contracts. No demands to turn out better-quality cars, much less fuel-efficient hybrid cars.

But the auto bailout, Russian style, is intended more to ensure peace in the streets than restructure a business, much to the lament of some critics who think tough love might be better.

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