Steven Rattner, the man who headed the Auto Task Force, saved Michigan from bankruptcy, shepherded the still-contentious resurrections of General Motors and Chrysler and will soon have a book on his time in the trenches, has said his little lambs are doing better than he expected they would a year ago. Not only are they outstripping the targets set for them, but he thinks the government could get $40 billion of the $50 billion it threw at GM last year.

Ratter wouldn't be surprised if GM posts a profit this quarter, but that assessment is "based on public statements by GM executives," and it's probably better to wait for the slightly harder fact of the bottom line than to expect some gravy. More solid might be Rattner's belief, based on the price of old GM's bonds, that the government could get back $40 billion of the $50 billion it threw at the company last year, once GM begins selling stock.

[Source: Automotive News – Sub. Req'd | Image: Neilson Barnard/Getty]