GMAC – and ergo General Motors – just got another Christmas present: the Federal Reserve has granted GMAC bank holding status. GMAC has billions of dollars of bonds coming due over the next 12 months, but doesn't have the liquidity to cover the obligations. As of last week, the financing company was in the midst of a bond buyback effort in order to raise enough money to qualify for bank holding status. Now that it's been granted, GMAC can tap the Troubled Asset Relief Fund intended for financial institutions, pay its debts and (probably) avoid bankruptcy.

It isn't clear, however, whether or not GMAC actually raised enough money through the bond buyback. The Fed said "emergency conditions" justified its actions, which makes us think the Fed just said "Here, take it." Looked at from a dealer perspective, it makes sense: if GMAC had gone under, one dealer estimated that it would have taken 30-40% of GM dealers down with it, and that could imperil GM itself. It wouldn't make much sense to let that happen when the government just loaned GM a bunch of money to stay in business.

And while GM is still a long, long way from getting the kind of money that any number of banks have, it's still beginning to add up. As a result of the new status, both GM and Cerberus are required to lower their stakes in GMAC. Cerberus has been told to lower its share to 33%, down from 51%; GM has said it will go below 10%. As for Cerberus' other headache, Chrysler Financial, it has said that if dealers don't stop making a run on its funds, it will cease financing for dealer inventories.

[Source: Yahoo!]