Today, what was once one of the most influential companies on the planet, fell into bankruptcy and its shares were removed from stock exchange listings.

General Motors is now 60 percent owned by the US government. President Obama calls the US state a ‘reluctant shareholder’ which would ‘refrain from making decisions’ about the re-invention of the company. And that’s despite the US government planning to plough another £30bn into restructuring GM.

The US government wants to see a ‘New GM’ rise quickly from the ashes of a global carmaker that currently has $82bn (£50bn) in assets and $172bn (£105bn) in debts.

Despite skepticism from some experts, the government has said that GM’s financing will only go ahead if the transition to ‘New GM’ is completed by 10 July. And there’ll be no more money after the new company is established.

The pain to come will be intense – as Obama made clear in his speech this afternoon. GM could cut its remaining factory worker numbers from 54,000 to just 33,000.

But that’s probably the price of making GM structurally profitable with US new car sales running at 10 million units per year. The recent US new car market peak was 16m annual sales.