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Chrysler's marriage in bankruptcy

Call it what you will: trousseau, tocher, or the more familiar term, dowry, and Chrysler-the-bride-to-be might be in more tangible trouble in another day, another time.

Chrysler has agreed to a marriage with Fiat of Italy that President Barack Obama said yesterday gives the company a "new lease on life."

And yet Chrysler is coming to the marriage in bankruptcy, filing for Chapter 11 to let a judge figure out who gets what of the billions Chrysler owes to creditors. In certain countries, in certain times, a bride showing up with no dowry could mean the end of a marriage, and psychological and physical torment at the hands of her in-laws.

But Obama assured all yesterday that going the Chapter 11 route is needed to convince potential future customers — and current owners of Chrysler products — that the company, by merging with Fiat, is on the right path.

"The hard path is the right path,’’ the president declared.

It was a different — though not necessarily expected outcome from just 24 hours before — when it appeared that the acquiescence of the four banks holding the bulk of Chrysler’s debt to take a $2 billion payoff would help save the company.

And yet other creditors that hold about 30 percent of the debt, notably hedge funds, would not agree to what The Associated Press reported was a $2.25 billion cash payout.

The hedge-funders — wealthy investors — are the Texas Hold 'Em poker players of today’s financial markets, dealing outside normal rules of regulation and playing such games as selling short, leveraging, arbitrage, and derivatives.

And boy, don’t they hate to lose.

Their bet in this case: that a bankruptcy judge will give them more than the $2.25 billion offered.

Wonder how many of them drive a Chrysler?