No one likes to bandy on with clichés, but in some cases avoiding a cliché is to ignore a long history of facts and experience that brought it into existence. The cliché we speak is the one about hurling good money after bad. After the government hosed down GMAC with another $3 billion, Uncle Sam's stake in GM and Chrysler's official lender is anywhere from 56 percent to 70 percent depending on the kind of shares the government holds.

The money IV, though, hasn't come close to stemming the losses at GMAC – specifically its Residential Capital unit that was a subprime lending fiend not so long ago. The parent company looks to report a $10B loss for 2009 – its largest yearly loss ever – due to a fourth quarter loss of $5B, which also sets a company record for one quarter.

As to the wisdom of combining good money and bad, the government doesn't have a lot of choice: other bailed-out banks' lending practices would make Scrooge say, "Wow, that's stingy," and if GMAC goes under then a lot of GM and Chrysler dealers take fatal hits. Nevertheless, don't expect this year to bring better results: delinquencies will peak next year while home prices bottom out, and the government's subsidies for mortgage-holders will probably end this year. All of that probably equals a prognosis that could come from the Book of Cataclysm: "Let there be pain."

[Source: Business Week | Image: Craig Jones/Getty]