Vice President Joe Biden declared General Motors "the largest corporation in the world" in an April 1, 2012, interview on Face the Nation.
It was no April Fool’s joke.
We knew GM’s auto sales were back on top in 2011 — aided by its joint ventures in China and a tsunami-burdened Toyota — but the world’s largest corporation? We just had to check.
(Hat-tip to a reader who asked us whether he was right, emailing a a Fox News piece by Karl Rove that took Biden to task. Email, Twitter, Facebook — send claims our way!)
Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer had asked Biden to respond to comments by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney that President Barack Obama’s term had "been a failure."
Biden declared the former Massachusetts governor "a little out of touch."
"Look, you know, everything that he said, the American people don't think the policies have worked. Romney argued about let — not an exact quote — but let Detroit go bankrupt. Wasn't very popular action the president took. Now they're hiring people. You know, hundreds of thousands of new people instead of losing 400,000 jobs. General Motors is the largest corporation in the world again."
Romney had argued for a managed bankruptcy instead of a government-aided turnaround. Detroit automakers are hiring again. But the claim that GM "is the largest corporation in the world again"? It’s not.
Top companies lists
Fortune and Forbes both annually rank the world’s largest companies.
The Fortune Global 500 ranks them by total revenues. The Forbes Global 2000 ranks them by sales, profit, assets and market value.
GM didn’t make the top of either list last year.
Not even among automakers. Or among U.S. companies starting with the word, "General." Toyota and Volkswagen both beat out GM on the Fortune list. They were No. 8 and No. 13.
GM was No. 20. (That other American institution, General Electric? No. 16.)
On the broader-based Forbes list, Volkswagen weighed in at No. 24. Daimler (think Mercedes-Benz) hit No. 43. Ford and Toyota ranked No. 54 and No. 55.
General Motors trailed at No. 61. (General Electric? No. 3.)
When Forbes broke out its rankings by category, GM didn’t lead any of them. Rather, it was:
• No. 18 in sales
• No. 70 in profit
• No. 155 in assets
• No. 148 in market value
Biden may have been reaching for a different statistic — that GM’s sales led other automakers in 2011, subject to a few caveats. But he didn’t say that. He said, "General Motors is the largest corporation in the world again." Surely the vice president of the United States can pick his words more carefully. We rate this claim False.