Ive seen a load of threads / posts on this subject, but a lot of them seem to be making assumptions about several things or ignoring (willfully or not) key information. So Ive tried to source several key pieces of info to try and get the numerous sides of the discussion into the open. I dont pretend this is an exhaustive list - merely an attempt to provide some degree of balance. 1. How many people does the auto industry employ / or how many total jobs does the industry support? Estimates seem to vary between 2 and 3 million, including those who are indirectly employed. Ive also seen it stated as about 10% of the US workforce. Here are a few links that support these figures. So, if the big three go to the wall, we are talking about potentially up to 3 million people unemployed. Automotive industry - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Economic contributions of the automobile industry to the U.S. economy. | North America > United States from AllBusiness.com http://www.ita.doc.gov/static/auto_reports_jobloss.pdf 2. If the Big 3 are not bailed out, is Chapter 11 an option? Chapter 11 seems like the best option. Gets the makers out of their ridiculous UAW contracts, allows them to focus on the business of retooling and making a better car / truck. But is Chapter 11 an option? From the reports Ive read, you have to have a viable business model with Chapter 11 - if your business is not a going concern, thats chapter 7 (liquidation), not chapter 11. Chapter 11, Title 11, United States Code - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Going concern - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 3. Could an automaker who has filed for Chapter 11 be deemed a going concern? One of the key criteria appears to be that the automakers revenue streams need to be tenable. Deal Journal - WSJ.com : Why GM Says Bankruptcy Is an Impossibility Why The Automakers Deserve To Be Rescued, New Republic: The Cost Of Letting Them Fail Could Be Greater Than The Cost Of Saving Them - CBS News Auto bankruptcy would drive away buyers: survey | U.S. | Reuters 4. If Chapter 11 is not an option, whats left..... Seems clear to me - bailout or liquidation. Liquidation under Chapter 7 - this is where the UAW (surprise) says no bailout will lead to - means several hundred thousand jobs disappear immediately, with several million more possibly following. Federal, state and local government would lose $156bn in tax and spending on welfare programs over 3 years (if you believe the numbers - see earlier Wiki link). Shares become worthless - which is less of a worry as I see it as far as individual investors are concerned (shares can go up and down and they took the risk) and more of a worry for pension funds that are heavily invested - rightly or wrongly - in auto stock. Plus of course the vast number of auto retirees lose their pensions (this could happen under Chapter 11 as well). The stocks of other industries (particularly certain commodities) will be impacted as well. On the other hand, bailing them out means inflated UAW contracts may remain in place, incompetent or at best short-sighted management may remain in place, it will still take years to turn the ship around (we all know what happens to ships that take a long time to turn), and there is a likelihood (some would say certainty, with some justification) that more handouts will be needed by the autos. Plus of course, an alarming precedent is being set. Where does it all stop? One thing is certain - whatever happens it will be a mess and the pros and cons of each potential direction will be so convoluted as to allow plenty of room for dems and reps to blame each other for years to come.