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Washington (AFP) – The U.S. Treasury sold its last shares in General Motors on Monday, ending the dramatic rescue of the auto giant at the height of the financial crisis five years ago.

The Treasury took a loss of more that $10 billion on the $49.5 billion bailout, but said that saving the U.S. auto industry, the jobs of millions of auto workers and the pensions of many retirees was worth it.

The 2008 rescue, controversial at the time, “helped stabilize the auto industry, and prevent another Great Depression,” Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said.

He said that President Barack Obama “understood that inaction could have cost the broader economy more than one million jobs, billions in lost personal savings, and significantly reduced economic production.

“As a result of his efforts, which built on those of the previous administration, more than 370,000 new auto jobs have been created, and all three US automakers are profitable, competitive, and growing,” he added.

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