It would appear to some that the latest and greatest financial technique might be to seek Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization.
Certainly among airlines, we've seen several huge carriers file for Chapter 11 protection and plan to emerge smaller, perhaps, but healthier.
Jack Smith, retired chairman of General Motors, was a director of Delta Airlines when Delta asked him to become nonexecutive chairman, and Delta promptly filed for Chapter 11.
There has been no bigger Chapter 11 filing in the auto industry than Delphi. CEO Steve Miller has more experience with Chapter 11 than just about anyone else, and has used it successfully when he was brought in to save troubled companies.
With Dana added to the rapidly growing list of automotive suppliers that have filed for Chapter 11 -- including Tower Automotive, Collins & Aikman and others -- we are bound to see several more suppliers go that route soon.
But there is a decided difference between an airline or an auto supplier seeking bankruptcy protection and an automobile company doing it.
Ford Motor Co. and General Motors, the two companies that are being talked about, would present far different scenarios.
One thing GM and Ford have in common is that their cars are bought by franchised dealers and sold to millions of customers who would not understand the subtleties of Chapter 11.
If you buy an airline ticket, particularly with a credit card, you won't lose any money if they don't fly you on the date of your reservation. And the cost of an airline ticket is small in comparison to the price of a car or a truck.
A car or truck costs tens of thousands of dollars, and the owner keeps it for several years. If an automaker filed for Chapter 11 protection, hundreds of thousands of potential buyers would simply go somewhere else.
There are so many models in the marketplace that a buyer would still have many other choices.
Thousands of dealers and their employees would be severely affected, with no recourse.
The present difficulties among labor, suppliers and vehicle manufacturers must be resolved without any automobile manufacturer going bankrupt. The results would be devastating.
Other solutions will be painful, but not nearly as painful as one of our car companies going into Chapter 11.
It's not an option under any circumstances.