Foreign Exchange Hedging Strategies at General Motors: Transactional and Translational Exposures

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Introduction

General Motors was the world’s largest automaker and, since 1931, the world’s sales leader. In 2001, GM had unit sales of 8.5 million vehicles and a 15.1% worldwide market share. Founded in 1908, GM had manufacturing operations in more than 30 countries, and its vehicles were sold in approximately 200 countries. In 2000, it generated earnings of $4.4 billion on sales of $184.6 billion. The company is trying to accurately calculate the risk of a potential devaluation to the ARS. In doing so the company had to decide between two options on how to proceed; was it worth the costs to increase the size of GM’s hedge position beyond the standard policy or should GM Argentina rely on other approaches to cope with the expected
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Usually, the most common risk management strategies can be subdivided into multi-stage approach in order to obtain a better impression of the underlying risks and thus to increase the probability of mitigating the firm’s risks properly and successfully. Also General Motors Corporation has developed various rules and guidelines to help manage minimize the risks associated with their business and investment operations.
The first stage in defining a risk management strategy includes the formulation of superior objectives as basis for the firm’s foreign exchange risk management policy. Only with respect to these objectives embedded in the firm’s risk management strategy can an appropriate policy in managing foreign currency risks be developed. For instance, GM Corporation has identified three primary objectives which should be met by the foreign exchange risk management policy to ensure the ongoing business results. 1) Reduce the volatility of cash flows and earnings in foreign currencies 2) Minimize the cost associated with the foreign exchange risk management strategy, i.e. the management and hedging costs 3) Align foreign exchange management in a manner consistent how GM Corporation operates its automotive business
According to these it can be concluded that GM Corporation’s risk management policy is based on a mostly passive hedging strategy. In general, passive hedging is used by highly risk-averse companies that

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